When you think of The Kinks you probably think of Sunny Afternoon, Waterloo Sunset and You Really Got Me. The more avid music fan might be able to come up with additional titles like Days and Lola but there is more to The Kinks than these undoubtedly fantastic records, Shangri-La, Autumn Almanac, Some Mother’s Son, Dead End Street, Come Dancing to name but a few.
They have an incredible depth of work and longevity that in terms of the public perception goes unnoticed. The unique feature of their longevity is that it is coupled with quality, Status Quo had longevity but their length of time together as a band does not equate to a string of quality records. The Kinks however continued to make relevant, diverse and top quality records until they split in 1996.
That’s right 1996, another little known fact is that The Kinks didn’t split up until the 90’s, yet they were largely ignored and underappreciated in the UK. Ray Davies continues to write brilliant lyrics, charting the lives of the marginalised and eccentric, or casting his acerbic eye over a particular subject.
His 2017 Album Americana shows his observational powers and ear for melody remain undiminished.
Poetry by Ray Davies
“I looked around at the store
And the signs and the queues
Lining up for that 21st century fare
I kneel down and say grace for the comforts the world bestows on me
And the great corporations providing our every need
And those big neon signs tellin’ us what to eat
In every shop window goods are designed to please
Oh, but I ask where is the poetry?”
Davies remains the perennial outsider an aloof spectator to the wants of celebrity but he is as relevant today as he ever was, if not more so. He is Britain’s true Poet Laureate, shining a light on the English character with warmth, a knowing wink and often a biting satire. In this post-brexit wasteland we need his voice and are blessed to have it.
The one thing that he has also always managed to do is make me laugh. Take these lyrics from Low Budget.
“Even my trousers are giving me pain
They were reduced in a sale so I shouldn’t complain
They squeeze me so tight so I can’t take no more
They’re size 28 but I take 34”
Ray was recently knighted and I am pleased he is now getting this greater recognition in the UK as it would have been sad not to have recognised such a unique talent whilst he’s still here and still releasing good music. He accepted his knighthood with typical humility and self-deprecation.
Arise Sir Ray, long may you cast your satirical gaze over our broken isle.
1996! To many times we listen to the melody but don’t hear the whole song.
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