“We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate”: The Kinks (1966-1969)

kinksI’ve spoken here before about the Kinks and, specifically, my love of this band’s output in the 1970’s. I saw them live when I was about 12 years old in the early ‘80’s, but I cannot remember if it was the tour promoting Give The People What They Want or if it was ‘83’s State Of Confusion. I think the latter but I can’t be certain. My mom drove me and a friend all the way to the front door of Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens (RIP) and drove around for a couple of hours and picked us up afterwords. Even though it didn’t occur to me at the time I now think that was a pretty cool thing to do.

Well, although they played some of their ‘60’s standards (You Really Got Me, etc) the focus was on Give The People and/or State Of Confusion and stuff from Misfits, Low Budget, Sleepwalker, Lola and bits and pieces here and there from other albums. The concert was amazing and sent my impressionable 12 year old brain on a lifelong Kinks love affair.

It’s only fairly recently, though, that I’ve started to dig and really absorb some of the Kinks mid-late ‘60’s output. For instance I bought Village Green Preservation Society about 5 years ago, Arthur 2 years ago and Face to Face and Something Else only recently. Shame on me, I can hear you say! How did I get through all those years without hearing Situation Vacant, Party Line and A House In The Country, you ask? Well, a couple of really fantastic Greatest Hits packages were all I thought I’d need. I mean, I own The Red comp album of early Beatles and no proper albums before Rubber Soul, and I have the Stones’ Hot Rocks which is sufficient until the great Beggars Banquet. The Who? It’s the same thing. I own nothing but a compilation package until Tommy. So I thought I was good and covered.

I wasn’t.

I have missed out on some really fantastic album tracks. Village Green is a classic, but Face To Face is just as good and Something Else surpasses them both. These are the three albums that kick-started Britpop, for better (Blur) and for worse (Menswear). They are all quintessentially English records, and not in a corny oohmpah-Bob’s-yer-uncle sort of a way. They’re very nostalgic, heartfelt, ironic, satiric song sets that match and even exceed what the untouchable Beatles were doing during the same time frame. The difference, I believe, was that the Beatles had 3 amazing songwriters (vs. The Kinks 1 and a half) and a much better producer.

And Arthur is just a gem, a perfect ending for this period in the Kinks story. All are worth your time.

“We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do?”