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Dave Davies explains how he REALLY got the raw guitar sound on The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’
05.21.2016
08:48 pm

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Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Dave Davies


 
The fuzzy riff of the Kinks’ epochal 1964 hit “You Really Got Me” is one of the great “opening statements” in rock and roll history. For so many of us, that lick was the first time we ever heard the Kinks—leading to countless hours spent listening to some of the greatest rock and roll ever recorded.

Recently, the origins of that notably fuzzy sound were the topic of a passage in Rich Cohen’s new book The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, which was excerpted in Slate a couple of weeks ago. In addition to writing this book, Cohen is one of the creators of the HBO series Vinyl, along with Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, and Terence Winter.

Dave Davies, who wrote the riff, is very annoyed at Cohen’s portrayal of how it came about. Davies spoke out on the Kinks’ official Facebook presence earlier today with a lengthy open letter to “Rich Cohen, Random House, and Slate magazine” in order to air his grievances.
 

 
The roots of Davies’ annoyance seem to relate to the notion that his brother Ray was involved in the incident, which involved a speaker being cut by a razor blade, when he actually was not involved at all. Obviously, the relationship between Ray and Dave Davies has been notoriously difficult for decades now. Dave once said of Ray, “I love my brother… I just can’t stand to be with him.”

According to Davies, neither Cohen nor Slate have responded to his requests to identify the source of the anecdote. Here’s the section of Cohen’s book that irritated Davies (boldface added):
 

When Keith listened to the new version, he knew what was missing. The riff! He had to crank it up. The next morning, Ian Stewart came back from the music store with a Gibson Maestro fuzz box, a new gizmo that distorted guitar, junked it up. The sound was akin to the lead on the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” which, according to legend, resulted from a fight between Dave Davies and Ray Davies. One of the brothers cut a speaker with a razor blade, causing the same sort of snarled line Richards achieved with the fuzz pedal.

 
And here’s the relevant portion of Davies’ response:
 

Mr. Cohen and Slate magazine editors have refused to provide a source for this passage despite repeated requests from my staff. As I have stated in interviews and print since 1964, I was alone at home in the front room of 6 Denmark Terrace in Muswell Hill North London when I got angry because I was upset about being separated from my girlfriend. I slashed the speaker cone with a razor blade IN A FIT OF RAGE. Ray was not with me. I was alone in my ANGER. IT had nothing to do with a fight with my brother.

 
The full letter is much longer—it’s definitely worth a full read. According to Dave Lifton at Ultimate Classic Rock, Dave Davies got bent out of shape in late 2014 when Ray stuck an incident along these lines into his musical-in-progress about the Kinks, which goes by the title Sunny Afternoon. Dave’s comment on the situation at that time was:
 

“My brother is lying. … I am just flabbergasted and shocked at the depth of his selfish desire to take credit for everything. I never once claimed songwriting royalties on “You Really Got Me,” yet this song would not have happened without my guitar sound.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Meet The Liverbirds: The all-girl Beatles who once toured with the Kinks and Rolling Stones

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“Girls with guitars? That won’t work,” quipped John Lennon as he watched four girls take the stage of the Cavern Club, Liverpool in 1963. The band was The Liverbirds and Lennon’s attitude was the kind of dumb prejudice these four faced every time they picked up their guitars and blasted an audience with their hard rockin’  R’n'B.

The Liverbirds were formed in Liverpool 1963. The original line-up was Valerie Gell (guitar), Mary McGlory (bass), Sylvia Saunders (drums), together with Mary’s sister, Sheila McGlory (guitar) and Irene Green (vocals). The band’s name was lifted from the liver bird—the mythical bird (most probably a cormorant) that symbolises the city of Liverpool and they were all girls (“birds” in the youthful parlance of the time). The group practiced every day until they were better than most of the local boy bands who were merely copycatting local heroes The Beatles.

The Liverbirds were apparently so good (if a bit rough around the edges) they were snapped up to tour with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Rockin’ Berries. However, it was soon apparent that the girls—unlike the boys—were were being cheated out of a big part of their fees by booking agents—a crushing disappointment that led to the loss of their lead singer and guitarist to other bands.
 
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It was beginning to look as if Lennon was right, but the girls refused to give up and continued touring with The Kinks. Unlike their northern counterparts, London’s all male bands The Kinks and The Stones were supportive of The Liverbirds—as Mary McGlory recalled in a letter to the Liverpool Beat in 2014:

The Kinks took us down to London to meet their manager, even booked us into a hotel, and told us to come to the studio tomorrow and bring our guitars with us (maybe there might be time to play a song for their manager). When we arrived there, the roadie came in and told The Kinks that their guitars had been stolen out of the van – so this was how The Kinks played our guitars on their hit recording of “You really got me“.

This isn’t exactly how it happened as the legendary Dave Davies of The Kinks points out regarding Mary’s claim over the stolen instruments:

Absolute nonsense- they were a cool band but this DID not happen.

On YRGM I use my Harmony meteor thru the elpico green amp and ray used his tele and pete used his blue fender bass…what a load of bollocks.

However, The Kinks did help save The Liverbirds from splitting-up by suggesting they bring Pamela Birch in as vocalist. Birch was a big blonde bee-hived singer/guitarist. She had a deep bluesy voice which harmonized beautifully with Valeri Gell’s vocals. Birch was a perfect fit for the band.

They were a hit at the Cavern Club. They were a hit across the country. They were a hit on tour. But the band hailed as the all-girl Beatles at the height of Beatlemania couldn’t even get a record deal in England. However, things soon started to shift.
 
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First Kinks’ manager Larry Page and then Beatles manager Brian Epstein wanted to sign The Liverbirds. But the girls were off to Hamburg to play the Star Club. The band was an instant hit in Germany as Mary McGlory recalls:

We arrived in Hamburg on the 28th May, 1964 and played the same night. The crowd was great and loved us right away. The Star-Club owner Manfred Weissleder became our one and only MANAGER.

A few days later he sent us to Berlin to play at a big concert with Chuck Berry, shortly before we went on stage we were told that it was forbidden to play any Chuck Berry songs. Well that was impossible for us, so when Val went to the mike and announced “Roll over Beethoven”, Berry’s manager ran on stage and tried to stop us playing, Val pushed him away and told him to “F. Off”.(She had probably had a shandy). Back in Hamburg, Manfred called us to his office, we thought he was going to tell us off, but no such thing, Chuck Berry’s manager wanted to take us to America. Manfred said he would leave the decision up to us, but then he added – he will probably take you to Las Vegas, and there you will have to play topless! Well of course that was his way of putting us off. After all, the club was still crowded every night.

The band had hits with the songs “Peanut Butter,” “Too Much Monkey Business,” “Loop-de-Loop,” and “Diddley Daddy.” Although in performance they played the very same Willie Dixon and Chuck Berry covers favored by the Stones and other boys, Birch also started writing original numbers, producing such favorites as “Why Do You Hang Around Me?” and “It’s Got To be You.” Though pioneering and incredibly popular, the girls (now in their late teens-early twenties) still faced the everyday sexism from record industry supremos who thought young girls should be on the scene, but not heard. Not unless they were in the audience screaming. These men wanted girls who dressed to please—not girls who played instruments better than the boys. Girls with guitars? That won’t work. Except for that, of course, it did. Splendidly!
 
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In 1968, on the cusp of a Japanese tour the band split:

Until 1967, we played nearly all over Europe, recorded two albums and four singles for the Star-Club label and appeared on many television shows. Our drummer Sylvia married her boyfriend John Wiggins from The Bobby Patrick Big Six and left the band. Shortly after Val married her German boyfriend Stephan, who had a car accident on his way to visit her and was since paralyzed. So when we got an offer from Yamaha to do a tour of Japan at the beginning of 1968, Pam and I had to find two German girls to replace them. Japan was great, and the Japanese people really liked us, but Pam and I did not enjoy it anymore, we missed the other two, the fun had gone out of it. We thought this is the right time to finish, even though we were still only 22 and 23.

Today McGlory, Gell and Saunders continue with their post-Liverbirds lives. Sadly, Pamela Birch died in 2009. However, this all-girl guitar band should be given credit for pioneering rock and roll, R ‘n’ B and being right up there for a time with The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones.
 

The Liverbirds perform on ‘Beat Club’ 1965.

More from the female Fab Four after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Kinks showcase a storming selection from ‘Sleepwalker’ live in 1977

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1973 was not a good year for The Kinks. Personal problems, changes in line-up and a whole shift in the music scene led Kinks frontman and main songwriter Ray Davies to question what he was doing with his life. In June of that year, Davies’ wife Rasa left him taking their children with her. It sent Davies into a major depression.

During the band’s headline concert in July at the White City Stadium in London, Ray Davies announced from the stage he was quitting the band. According Roy Hollingsworth in his review of the gig for music paper Melody Maker:

Ray Davies should never have been at London’s White City Stadium, on Sunday. Physically, and more important, mentally. Davies was in no fit condition to play. And in no fit condition to stand on a stage and say that he was quitting, He was a man neck-high in troubles, and when he shouted “I quit,” he should have shouted “Help!”

Ray looked frightening in dark glasses for the sun wasn’t shining … He was a wreck that evening … Davies swore onstage. He stood at the White City and swore that he was ‘F—ing sick of the whole thing … Sick up to here with it … and those that heard shook their heads.

After this tirade, Ray walked across to his brother, guitarist Dave, kissed him on the cheek and exited the stage. He then collapsed from a massive overdose of “valium.” According to Dave Davies this was the night Ray had “tried to top himself.”

I thought he looked a bit weird after the show—I didn’t know that he’d taken a whole bloody bottle of weird-looking psychiatric pills. It was a bad time. Ray suddenly announced that he was going to end it all—it was around that time that his first wife left him. … She’d left him and taken the kids on his birthday, just to twist the blade in a little more. … I think he took the pills before the show. I said to him towards the end that he was getting a bit crazy. I didn’t know what happened—I suddenly got a phone call saying he was in the hospital. I remember going to the hospital after they’d pumped his stomach and it was bad.

During his recuperation in hospital Ray spent much of his time listening to Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony The Resurrection—the story of one man’s redemption and resurrection after death, which Ray described as “a moving piece of music.” It made him think about taking the band in a more theatrical direction.

When Dave came to visit him, Ray told his brother he no longer wanted to just be a rock band but “wanted to explore the idea of rock theatre, something no one else had really done before.”
 
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In many respects this idea—or concept albums similar to this idea—exactly what The Kinks had been experimenting with since The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society in 1968, and had continued with in Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969), Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970), Everybody’s in Show-Biz (1972) and Preservation Act 1 in July 1973.

Out of hospital, Davies returned to the band and started mining his “rock theatre” idea with Preservation Act 2 (1974), Soap Opera—which was made into a TV musical extravaganza Star Maker (1974), and Schoolboys in Disgrace (1975). Though each of these albums has its merits—and all deserve considerable reappraisal—they performed poorly in the charts and did little to keep The Kinks relevant with a younger audience. In hindsight, none of this matters much as the quality of the songs and Ray’s ideas have outlasted the fickle fancies of pop fashion. However, the Kinks’ record company was not impressed and demanded that the band’s next album had to be a stand alone traditional collection of good songs—as if such a thing can be ordered to suit.

In 1976, Davies therefore started writing a non-concept album Sleepwalker, which was released in February 1977. Though the songs still reflect Davies’ own preoccupations—the title track dealt with the singer’s insomnia after moving to New York—it was the first album to give The Kinks a top fifty placing since the singles “Lola” and “Apeman” in 1970.

Sleepwalker was generally well received—Melody Maker said the record was “the group’s strongest and most organised album in years” which:

...emphatically testifies to the dramatic artistic revival of Raymond Douglas Davies, whose supreme talents as a writer have been so distressingly overlooked during the first half of this decade.

 
The Kinks showcase ‘Sleepwalker’ and more, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kristmas with the Kinks, 1977
12.23.2015
01:16 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
The Kinks


 
Who says the Germans have no sense of humor? Here we have the Kinks weighing in with an energetic rendition of “Father Christmas”; it appeared on the German TV show Plattenküche (Record Kitchen) on December 15, 1977, and it’s punctuated by the kind of jokes that used to appear on Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, you name it.

I don’t really understand what the fellow next to Mick Avory (as Santa Claus) says at the very start. For that matter I don’t really understand what Avory is saying either. The other guy ends by saying (I think), “And now our hair’s gonna grow.”

The first time the boss says, “Turn on the snow!” so the employee says, “Snow. OK.” The second time the boss is obviously calling for his employee, apparently named “Nagel” (German for “nail”), for more snow. To his credit, the boss afterwards thanks Nagel for a job well done.
 

 
A bit later, the guy says to the gal, “Have you seen the weather report? I hope it won’t be fog,” to which the gal says, “It doesn’t look good, Norbert. The barometer is falling!” (Bonk.)

The next bit isn’t easy to follow, it’s VERY loose. The boss says that the two guys resemble Starsky and Hutch, and the two guys laugh sarcastically. As the blond guy peers into his mug of smoky grog, he references “a new invention from Holland,” and the boss says, “Here’s how I imagine it. Here is the turntable and here [matchbox] is the female singer. ... It has to look like that!” I’m going to guess that some of this was a callback to other stuff in the episode.

You ever notice what a weird, almost bleak song “Father Christmas” is? Santa gets beaten up by some punks! The Steve Austin reference is a nice 1970s touch, though:
 

When I was small I believed in Santa Claus
Though I knew it was my dad
And I would hang up my stocking at Christmas
Open my presents and I’d be glad

But the last time I played Father Christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor

They said,
“Father Christmas, give us some money.
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed.
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.

Don’t give my brother a Steve Austin outfit.
Don’t give my sister a cuddly toy.
We don’t want a jigsaw or Monopoly money.
We only want the Real McCoy.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We’ll beat you up if you make us annoyed.
Father Christmas, give us some money.
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.

But give my daddy a job ‘cause he needs one.
He’s got lots of mouths to feed.
But if you’ve got one I’ll have a machine gun.
So I can scare all the kids on the street.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We got no time for your silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.

Have yourself a Merry, Merry Christmas.
Have yourself a good time.
But remember the kids who got nothin’.
While you’re drinkin’ down your wine.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We got no time for your silly toys.
Father Christmas, please hand it over.
We’ll beat you up so don’t make us annoyed.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We got no time for your silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed.
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.”

 
In the Plattenküche clip, Avory is the only one of the Kinks with a Santa Claus costume, but in this other video, the entire gang is dressed up like Santa.
 

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Kinks tear it up on German TV, 1965
Was The Kinks’ ‘Dead End Street’ promo film the world’s first ‘concept’ music video?

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Kinks visit a hair salon (complete with curlers), 1964
07.23.2015
02:31 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Kinks


 
This marvelous piece of news coverage was put together in 1964 by British Movietone. It’s just a couple of minutes long, but totally worth a look. It shows the Kinks visiting the salon of a Richard Conway and getting the full treatment, including the use of curlers and some time spent underneath the hairdryers. Ray Davies especially is described as being unhappy about it, but it’s hard to tell. There’s no audio from the event and while he doesn’t look overjoyed, things might have been much more normal on the scene.

It’s difficult to overstate how new the Kinks were to British audiences at this stage. “You Really Got Me” was their first hit, and that was released in August 1964. If this video truly does date from 1964, then we’re talking about an outfit that had been completely unknown only six months earlier.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Kinks: Blistering ‘Beat Club’ session with songs from ‘Muswell Hillbillies,’ 1972
04.15.2015
02:57 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Beat Club

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The Kinks-inspired stage show Sunny Afternoon won Best Musical at the Olivier Awards (the British equivalent of the Tonys) on Sunday night, while Ray Davies won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for his work on the show’s score.

Accepting his award, Davies said, “When you write songs you write about people. Without people we have no plays, we have no films. People are the source of my material. Next time you’re sitting in a park and you see someone like me looking at you, don’t phone the police—I’m just writing about you.”

The show was written by dramatist Joe Penhall and tells the story of the early life of brothers Ray and Dave Davies and their band The Kinks. The actors who play Ray and Dave, John Dagleish and George Maguire, won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively.
 
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Sunny Afternoon brings together over 30 of The Kinks’ songs including “You Really Got Me,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” “I Go To Sleep,” “Waterloo Sunset,” and tracks from the concept albums Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970) and Everybody’s in Show-Biz (1972). 

During his time with The Kinks, Ray Davies began to move away from writing singles to concentrating on concept albums/musicals, most notably The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968), Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969) (which was tied-in to a television drama), Preservation Act 1 (1973), Preservation Act 2 (1974), Soap Opera (1975) (which was made into a TV musical Starmaker), and later the film Return to Waterloo (1984), which Davies wrote and directed. 

Davies’ shift towards more theatrically-inspired albums came after the disappointing response to The Kinks’ ninth studio album Muswell Hillbillies (1971). In April 1972, The Kinks were touring and promoting that record when they appeared on German TV’s Beat Club, where they performed a selection of tracks from the album and more. This was The Kinks last recording session for the show, with Beat Club going off air later that year. In total, eleven songs were performed by the band, though only one (“Muswell Hillbillies”) was ever aired.

In spring 2009, Radio Bremen presented a “new” transfer that collected together all the known clips from the session, including previously unseen performances of “Holiday” and “Alcohol.” Taken from that package comes this edited version of The Kinks’ Beat Club session, presenting six of the tracks performed: “Lola,” “Holiday,” “Alcohol,” “Skin and Bones,” “Muswell Hillbillies” and “You Really Got Me.”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Starmaker’: Watch Ray Davies’ TV musical of the Kinks’ ‘Soap Opera’
02.10.2015
09:54 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
The Kinks
Ray Davies


 
Even the most passionate of Kinks fans will be forced to admit that the 1970s saw a few too many failed experiments in the rock opera direction. Taking all of the grandiose Kinks Koncept albums (see what I did there) after, what, Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part 1 perhaps (Muswell Hillbillies doesn’t count), one of the ones that probably stands up best today is The Kinks Present a Soap Opera from 1975. I’m none too fond of the central idea of the all-powerful musical demigod Starmaker masquerading as regular-bloke Norman for a day so that he can go off and imbue the lives of ordinary folks with his magical anthems, no sir I am not. But the songs are pretty decent and there’s at least some humor in it, which some of Ray’s other big concept albums sorely lack.

What I didn’t know until recently was that Ray Davies starred in a live staged version of Soap Opera taped for Granada Television about eight months before it was released as an album, with Ray playing the double role of Starmaker/Norman. In a rather demanding role, June Ritchie played Norman’s wife. It’s a full-on production with the Kinks acting as the backup band, and a whole host of singers and dancers. It was taped in front of a live audience on July 25, 1974, and broadcast on September 4 of the same year. The Soap Opera album wouldn’t come out until the following May.
 

 
One of the problems with Soap Opera is that the central conceit of the Starmaker is just waaaay too close to Davies himself for my taste. The staged version of the play suggests an uneasy mashup between kitchen-sink drama and a big, heavy-handed, idea-driven satire à la Network. And in fact Soap Opera probably would have worked better if Starmaker was a TV executive rather than a big rock star—it fits naturally, a soap opera is after all a genre designed for TV/radio to begin with. What you’re left with is Davies trying to say something about the entertainment industry and ordinary life but in fact seems to really be all about Ray’s ego, and that’s a palpable flaw.

In any case, the Starmaker Granada show wasn’t a big success, but it’s surprisingly watchable and entertaining. For one thing, they’re almost always singing, and the songs are pretty good, as I said earlier. The staging is almost “theater in the round,” which was fashionable in the 1970s but for darn good reasons has stopped being a common method of presenting drama. Davies is remarkably fluent as an actor, and he’s required to do a whole hell of a lot here.

According to Doug Hinman,‘s The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night, it wasn’t a big success, as Ray showed some discontent with how it all came off.
 

A little later, Ray reveals that he was too self-conscious to watch Starmaker on TV. “I just didn’t want to know. I knew it was going to be bad. It wasn’t the producer’s fault. That guy [Dennis Wolfe] is suffering, trying to use rock bands, trying to break new ground, and his Light Entertainment department don’t wanna know. So we got squeezed into some late-night slot, and we got the guy who does the drama sound. … We always get resentment from those kind of people because we’re a rock band trying to do something on a theatrical level. Theatrical people don’t like us infringing on their territory.

 
According to Hinman, Dave Davies wasn’t too thrilled about the Granada appearance, especially “how poorly the band were treated by the crew” as well as “his feeling of being reduced to a sideman in what he sees as a vehicle for Ray alone rather than a Kinks project.” It really does seem like a 100% Ray project, so it makes sense that Dave saw it much the same way.

By the way, it seems that Bobcat Goldthwait has written a movie treatment based on Schoolboys in Disgrace, and he and Ray Davies been “trying to get this movie going for a while now.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Kinks tear it up on German TV, 1965
02.02.2015
11:30 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
The Kinks


 
Beat Beat Beat was a German TV show that ran from 1966 to 1969. Music fans might be familiar with Beat Club, but that was a different show, out of Bremen, that lasted into the early 1970s. According to the enthusiastic Sam Leighty, Beat Beat Beat was run by a company out of Frankfurt but “broadcast from and videotaped in” Hamburg. Beat Beat Beat also featured had a radio simulcast on the Armed Forces Network. (Update: knowledgeable DM reader DJones clarifies in comments that the show was taped in Offenbach, a town near Frankfurt.) As with all such programming, the target audience was both the children of armed forces personnel as well as native Germans, and the on-air personalities tended to reflect that, mixing American and German hosts.

The show seemed to specialize in British invasion bands, such as the Animals and the Hollies, but also working in an act like the Jimi Hendrix Experience when the opportunity arose. This Kinks performance was broadcast in Germany on January 7, 1966 but had been taped the previous December. Data is a little scarce, but IMDb lists this Kinks appearance as the first edition of the show, and to judge from the amateurish camera positioning and so forth, I wouldn’t be very surprised if that turned out to be true. Other acts that appeared on Beat Beat Beat included the Small Faces, the Yardbirds, the Move, the Creation, and Manfred Mann. The show tended to mix U.S. or U.K. bands with German bands doing similar music—thus, a later episode of the program featured a German band with the marvelous name of The Kentuckys.

As Leighty reports, “For increments of 45 minutes to 55 minutes, it was all broadcast live in excellent black and white in a studio that probably accommodated 1200 people. There was bleacher-like seating with a dance floor. The audience seemed to consist of German teenagers ranging from 14 to 18 years old.” This video certainly seems to accord with that description. The Kinks are in fine form here, injecting familiar bluesy rock of the British Invasion with their own distinctive energy.
 

 
There are inexpensive DVDs you can buy of Beat Beat Beat rock performances. This Kinks performance is available at Amazon, as well as DVDs featuring Cat Stevens/Herman’s Hermits, the Move/the Searchers, Eric Burdon and the New Animals, the Troggs, and the Yardbirds.
 

Setlist:
A Well-Respected Man
Milk Cow Blues
Till the End of the Day
I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter
You Really Got Me

 
In some sources the second track is mis-identified as “Oh Please,” but it’s definitely “Milk Cow Blues.”
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Birth of the heavy: 50 years of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’
09.26.2014
12:01 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Dave Davies


 
The misconception that a pre-Yardbirds/Zeppelin Jimmy Page played the hectic guitar solo on the Kinks’ stunningly durable first hit “You Really Got Me” seems like it will never die, despite being denied repeatedly, for decades, by the song’s producer Shel Talmy, Page himself, and Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, who, as the actual pair of hands behind that solo, must be singularly miffed that he’s been so widely denied credit for it for five decades. (Davies also famously invented, by slashing the speaker cone of his cheap amp, the guitar distortion effect that became practically a requirement in hard rock forever after that song hit. It bears mentioning that he was 17 years of age at the time.)

Just this last summer, a BBC documentary called London’s Tin Pan Alley: Danny Baker’s Musical History Tour repeated the long-debunked Page myth, prompting a response on Davies’ Facebook profile:
 

 
That justifiably salty post was the next day toned down a bit to this:
 

 
Perhaps the error is being corrected, as the doc is, as of this posting, no longer available for viewing on the BBC’s web site.

The song first appeared on Billboard’s charts on September 26, 1964—fifty years ago today. Its success was dramatic. The Kinks had two flop singles behind them, and their contract with the Pye records label was for three singles. “You Really Got Me” didn’t just launch the Kinks’ career, it saved it, and the label didn’t even approve of its release. Details of the single’s backstory are bared in Thomas M. Kitts book Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else.

The Kinks’ path…began on August 4, 1964, with the release of “You Really Got Me.” Although audiences had responded enthusiastically to the song since the Dave Clark Five tour, record executives thought it too loud and crude, lacking in melody, and too far removed from the harmonies and smooth rhythms of the popular Merseybeat sound—one executive, according to Ray, compared Dave’s guitar to a “barking dog.” Pye Records would have preferred the Kinks to record something else for their third and, most likely, final single. But with two failed efforts behind them and their career in jeopardy, the Kinks insisted on “You Really Got Me,” and to anger executives further, the barely twenty-year-old, unproven lead singer and composer demanded to re-record the song because the production on the first recording dissatisfied the band. Pye only yielded to Davies because Larry Page, the representative of Kassner Music assigned to the Kinks, threatened to withhold the mechanical license to the song. Pye agreed to allow the Kinks to re-record “You Really Got Me,” but at the band’s expense—costs were assumed by Wace and Collins [London businessmen who supported the Kinks early on]. Then, having fulfilled its end of a three-single contract with the Kinks, the company could release the band from the label.

 

 
That should go down in history as shocking executive myopia to rival the famous Decca honcho who passed on the Beatles.

Here are the Kinks performing the song on Shindig in 1965.
 

 
Dave Daives new solo album Rippin’ Up Time is due out in October.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Kink think: Luscious fashion ads from 1966 starring Dave Davies—and Terylene, the wonder fabric
Was the Kinks’ ‘Dead End Street’ promo film the world’s first concept music video?
The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’: Kinky Barbie version

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Kinks rip up le joint, Paris 1965
01.08.2014
11:31 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Ray Davies
Dave Davies


 
With the recent news that the remaining members of The Kinks may reform this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their debut release, it’s worth reminding ourselves just how good and powerful The Kinks were when they first started-off all those years ago.

This is The Kinks performing at Le Palais de la Mutualité, Paris, on April 24th, 1965. Dave Davies kicks off proceedings with a raw and rocking version “Bye Bye Johnnie” before the band rip into “Louie, Louie” and then “You Really Got Me.” The concert has been recorded like a newsreel package, with numerous cutaways of glaikit/grooving audience members and some very bad lip-synching issues. But hey, this all becomes irrelevant as we watch The Kinks just do what they’re great at and blow the audience away.

Track Listing

01. “Bye Bye Johnny”
02. “Louie, Louie”
03. “You Really Got Me”
04. “Got Love If You Want It”
05. “Long Tall Shorty”
06. “All Day and All of the NIght”
07. “Hide and Seek”
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Starmaker’: Ray Davies and The Kinks’ postmodern soap opera
Stations en Route to Ray Davies’ film masterpiece ‘Return to Waterloo’

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Was The Kinks’ ‘Dead End Street’ promo film the world’s first ‘concept’ music video?
11.14.2013
04:01 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
The Kinks


 
I was thumbing through The Rolling Stone Book of Rock Video the other day when I came across a section near the end of the book in which the author, Michael Shore, isolates “Rock Video’s Hot 100.” This book was published in 1984, so the list is heavy on DEVO, Duran Duran, ABC, The Cars, and so forth. But before he gets to that list, Shore indulges in a modicum of throat-clearing, isolating fourteen videos from 1966-1979 to define the prehistory (i.e., pre-MTV) of rock video.

The first video Shore mentions is The Kinks’ “Dead End Street,” from 1966, which apparently did something novel for the time: it wasn’t just a straight-up lip sync performance, there was a concept and a narrative. (The Who’s “Happy Jack,” also 1966, is mentioned as well. I don’t know which video came first, but “Dead End Street” was released as a single a couple of weeks before “Happy Jack.” Come to think of it, “Happy Jack” and “Dead End Street” are awfully similar, considered solely as promo films.)

True to The Kinks’ undying interest in the antiquated past of the United Kingdom, both song and video for “Dead End Street” come about as close to Dickens as is credible for a charting rock band. In the black-and-white video, the Kinks play pallbearers tasked with delivering a coffin to a widow in one of London’s ramshackle slums. The widow, played by Ray Davies, is looking to evade her malign landlord, a pint-sized chap in a bowler who picks his nose. The widow is reluctant to leave her flat, and the landlord decides to wait it out. The pallbearers leave with the coffin, but eventually the corpse, wearing nightclothes and a nightcap, jumps out of the coffin and scampers down the street, with the pallbearers giving chase. The reanimated fellow vanishes in a bit of movie magic reminiscent of Georges Meliès, to the astonishment of the baffled pallbearers. 

The invocation of Meliès is far from an accident—the entire video is redolent of the melodrama of the silents, particularly the closeups of Davies as the widow. The video also includes two montages of stills with haunting photographs of impoverished British folks in the slums—to Davies, it was this focus on Britain’s poverty that made the video unacceptable to the BBC.

In Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else, Thomas M. Kitts lends some insight into the creation of the video as well as its reception:
 

The Kinks wanted to do something different to promote “Dead End Street.” Tired of the hackneyed lip-sync performance of Top of the Pops, Davies drew on his interest in film and his college experiences with Paul O’Dell to develop a promotional film, which Davies expected to air on British television.

-snip-

Unfortunately, after its screening, this remarkable three-and-one-half-minute film was banned by the BBC for being distasteful. With minimal controversy, the BBC could allude to the darkly humorous treatment of widows, pallbearers, coffins, and corpses. Perhaps, however, Davies surmised the true reason for the ban: “It showed slums and poverty and so they wouldn’t run it. I guess they prefer films about running around in parks, jumping over chairs.”

 
I assume that last line is a jab at The Beatles, but I don’t know for sure.

Any argument about the first conceptual music video will run aground on the endless prior instances one could care to name. Surely the list of possible candidates is long indeed. But for my money, there are few exemplars from the rock era that qualify as richly as the one The Kinks made for “Dead End Street.”
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’: kinky Barbie version
The Kinks perform ‘Father Christmas’ on German TV, 1977

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Kinks’ Dave Davies paints a self-portrait
08.12.2013
10:49 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Dave Davies

ddave
 
Dave Davies’ unusual self-portrait for MOJO is accompanied by his equally colorful description of himself:

I would describe myself as… handsome, sexy, 5ft 10 and a half, 12-and-a-half stone. Dark hair. Inventor. Metaphysician. Musician. Innovator. Gorgeous. Intelligent. Fabulous father. Loving, compassionate, kind. Generous. Modest. Humble. Magnetic personality. Generally wonderful.

Bob Dylan’s self-portrait was probably a bit better, but who knows, maybe Dave will grow into it!

Via Mojo

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Have a Kinky 69th birthday Ray Davies!
06.21.2013
04:35 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Ray Davies


 
Head Kink Ray Davies turns 69 years old today. In his honor, here’s a clip of The Kinks curiously lip-syncing “Sleepwalker” but then actually performing “Celluloid Heroes” on The Mike Douglas Show on March 8, 1977.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Starmaker’: Ray Davies and The Kinks’ postmodern soap opera
04.29.2013
12:56 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
The Kinks
Ray Davies


 
In Granada TV’s 1974’s Starmaker, head Kink Ray Davies proved once again that he’s not like everybody else, producing a rock opera for television that tells the story of an insufferable, vain, egotistical rock star (played by Davies, naturally) who switches places with an “ordinary person” named Norman, working in Norman’s crappy job and living Norman’s crappy life to find inspiration for his next album. (Well, it’s a little more complicated than that…)

Davies’ play reveled in breaking the fourth wall: cameras and microphones are visible throughout and the play’s author/star himself even ends up a member of the audience.

Starmaker was a dryrun for the themes of the Kinks’ 1975 album, The Kinks Present a Soap Opera.
 

 
Watch complete version at this link.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Imaginary Man’: Julien Temple’s superb documentary on Ray Davies

image
 
Director and Kinks fan, Julien Temple beautifully captures Ray Davies’ wistfulness in his excellent documentary on the former-Kink, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man. Davies is allowed to gently meander around his past life, talking about his childhood, his family of 7 sisters and 1 brother, his early days with The Kinks, the development of his writing skill (the quality and consistency of which now makes him seem at times better than, if not on par with Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richard), and onto his life of fame, of parenthood, of growing-up, all of which seemed to happen so fast.

It would seem Davies has always lived his life with one eye on the past—from the nostalgia of The Village Green Preservation Society through to his film Return to Waterloo, Davies takes solace from the past. It gives his music that beautiful, bittersweet quality, as Milan Kundera reminds us that:

The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.

But it’s not just about wanting to return to some mythical past, it’s also about loss—whether this is the loss of the past, of opportunities, of career, or, even of memory—for without memory we are nothing. Memory keeps us relevant, and all artists want to be relevant. Throughout Temple’s film, Davies makes reference to this sense of loss, from the remnants of Hornsea Town Hall, to the changing landscape of London, or the songs he has written. And put together with the brilliance of the songs, the wealth of archive, and Ray Davies’ gentle narration, Temple has created a clever, beautiful, and moving film, which leaves you wanting to know and hear more.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Stations En Route to Ray Davies’ Film Masterpiece: ‘Return to Waterloo’


‘Kinkdom Come’: A beautiful film on Dave Davies


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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