Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Big Sleep

You know, some days I really do think that the Kinks' Ray Davies was the greatest songwriter of the second half of the 20th Century.



It is absolutely amazing to me that a song as musically and lyrically sophisticated as the above "Dead End Street" was written a mere two years after "You Really Got Me," the primal stomper that first made Ray's reputation; in fact, I can barely believe that they were the work of the same composer.

Incidentally, back in the day, that thoroughly charming video was banned by the BBC, on the grounds of bad taste or something.

17 comments:

The Kenosha Kid said...

The reason you are wrong about this is... ahh fuckit, I love The Kinks.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Steve,

Think about it, this song was released just a little over 20 years following the end of the 2nd world war. Post-war England was a pretty bleak place, so I think this vid probably hit a bit too close to home.

But, you are right, Ray Davies is not only a songwriter, but a social historian as well.

dave™© said...

Heard a new Davies solo release on the radio the other day... could another solo album be in the offing?

I liked the last one, for the most part...

Kid Charlemagne said...

I believe there is a new Ray Davies out now, but I don't believe it has been released in the States yet.

Gummo said...

I didn't really know the Kinks except for the early hits and Lola, when I bought, on impulse, the two-LP Kinks Kronickles in my freshman year of college.

It was 1973, psychedelia was dying, and Davies' mastery of the 3-minute form was a revelation.

TMink said...

Kid C, that was what I was thinking. It is easy for me to forget how London suffered during WWII. Probably the people who suffered through it just wanted to forget it.

Trey

Cleveland Bob said...

I love Ray's songwriting.

Gummo, do your self a favor and go to your local Liberry and grab up some other Kinks stuff. You'll be glad that you do.

I thought Ray's last solo album was brilliant.

Dave Davies, on the other hand, is a bit of an odd duck.

r@d@r said...

some say that ray davies was the greatest songwriter of the second half of the 20th century.

on the other hand, some say that it was ruthann friedman.

we report; you decide.

Cleveland Bob said...

Sorry, Gummo. I just re-read your comment and I now feel silly telling you to go get wot you've already got. D'oh!

Mea culpa.

BTW, don't you just lurve XTC? I was just was listening to Skylarking. Wow. XTC probably wouldn't exist would it were not for Ray Davies.

r@d@r said...

andy partridge may very well be the second greatest songwriteer of the second half of the 20th century.

return of the plumber said...

In my opinion the run of studio albums starting with 1966's "Kink Kontroversy", continuing through "Face To Face" (1967), "Something Else (1968), "Village Green Preservation Society" (1968), "Arthur" (1969), "Lola vs. Powerman" (1970) and "Muswell Hillbillies" (1971) as possibly the single greatest stretch of great albums ever created by a rock & roll musical act. The above Kinks albums have given me such incredible pleasure from then to the present day.

Can anyone else name a run similar in quality to these Kinks albums? (Dylan 1962 - 1969 doesn't count as there were also folk and country albums in the mix). I'd love to hear other suggestions to great runs of albums.

PS: Steve Simels was the one who turned me into a raving Kinks fan back in 1965 when he turned me on to the great Kinks single "Set Me Free". Thanks Steve!

steve simels said...


on the other hand, some say that it was ruthann friedman.

we report; you decide.


Without Googling it -- was she the woman who wrote "Windy" for the Association?

TJWood said...

Return of the Plumber stated:

Can anyone else name a run similar in quality to these Kinks albums? (Dylan 1962 - 1969 doesn't count as there were also folk and country albums in the mix). I'd love to hear other suggestions to great runs of albums.

I suppose I'm going to obvious sources, but there are the albums from the second half of the Beatles career and those from the late '60's - early '70's Rolling Stones to consider.

The Beatles albums I include are the last five non-soundtrack albums: "Rubber Soul", "Revolver", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "The Beatles" (White Album), and "Abbey Road". These, I believe, are the five on which their reputation ultimately stands, brilliant previous recordings notwithstanding. "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Yellow Submarine" are soundtracks that included previously recorded material and orchestral compositions. I also excluded "Let It Be", an album of somewhat less quality than the five I do count, because it was not presented to the public until after "Abbey Road", although it was recorded before.

For the Rolling Stones, it would be the run the following albums: "Beggars Banquet","Let It Bleed", "Sticky Fingers", and "Exile on Main Street". Steve Van Zandt, in his piece on the Stones, for their Immortals issue, refers to these albums, done in a 3 1/2 year period, as "the greatest run of albums in history".

The Kenosha Kid said...

Can anyone else name a run similar in quality to these Kinks albums?

Bowie had a run in 76 and 77 when he recorded Station to Station, Low and Heroes as well as co-writing and producing Iggy Pop's best work.

return of the plumber said...

Great picks!

Mister Pleasant said...

Return of the Plumber said In my opinion the run of studio albums [snip].. as possibly the single greatest stretch of great albums ever created by a rock & roll musical act.

Yowsa Yowsa. I have been preaching that mantra for years. And please include the equally wonderful string of 45rpm only singles, including "Dead End Street" from the same period.

Steve's point about the amazing evolution of Mr. Davies' songwriting is well taken. It arrived full force on "Face to Face" after only a hint of his great storytelling talents in the predecesor singles "Well Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion". Ray Davies was a poet, keen social observer, master of melody, rock'n roller, all tempered with a wicked wit and kind hearted attitude towards all walks of life. Other than John Lennon I cannot think of another musician from 1950 onwards who has touched me so deeply.

Mike said...

Cleveland Bob said...

BTW, don't you just lurve XTC? I was just was listening to Skylarking. Wow. XTC probably wouldn't exist would it were not for Ray Davies.


That is so true.