Tag Archives: The Kinks

The Kinks • The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) [Box Set]

There have been many 30, 40 and 50th year anniversary reissues in the last decade, despite physical media being given its theoretical death sentence some time ago. The record companies, though, realize that the kids may go for downloads and streaming but us older fans must have something to hold onto. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is 50 years old now and THE KINKS’ “record label” has regaled us with an over-the-top box that can barely be held with two hands, and it’s worth whatever backache you may incur upon its arrival.

You wanna talk about a sleeper of an album? Village Green Preservation Society (from here on out VGPS) died a quick death when it was released in late 1968 (January ’69 here in the US). Maybe it was The Beatles’ heralded White Album that kept people from realizing VGPS’s greatness, maybe it was that The Kinks hadn’t exactly been hot on the charts at the moment. Hell: Maybe it was all the turmoil in the world. After all, ’68 wasn’t exactly the most peaceful year of the decade. And maybe it’s that Ray Davies’s “rock opera” (before Tommy even!) was of such a pastoral, low-key nature that the pop press and record label PR types had no idea how to whip up a frenzy around its release. Or maybe it was just an album that – like The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle – needed time to incubate in the zeitgeist before it could be truly appreciated. Whatever the reason, VGPS gets more and more of the spotlight every year, and deservedly so.

I first learned about this great lost Kinks album in the early ’90s thanks to two local bands who were already tuned in. The Young Fresh Fellows covered VGPS’s “Picture Book” and Flop did “Big Sky,” both excellent covers by great Seattle groups. (If you don’t already know the Fellows or Flop, stop right now and look ’em up. I’ll wait…) Being the intrepid music fan I am, I found a copy of VGPS (not easy back then, actually) and was instantly transformed into not just a kasual Kinks fan, but a full-fledged one. What wasn’t to like about it? Those two songs, “Do You Remember Walter?” “Last of the Steam Powered Trains,” “Animal Farm,” “People Take Pictures of Each Other”… Every track a good one, full of Ray Davies’ unique viewpoint on life in his England home, and every track soaked in the band’s first great incarnation’s particular, spectacular arrangements. In hindsight, twenty five years after I discovered it, the only thing that is a possible negative is the slightly shoddy recording quality of the record. Though that ding definitely stands out on this new edition, it’s of little consequence because the album itself is so damn good. It’s not as gimmicky as Sgt. Pepper, not all over the place like The Who Sell Out (both albums that I absolutely adore), and not as lofty. And that’s the point! Davies wasn’t going for lofty — he was going for little. As in, small-screen vignettes about the people and places that then populated his life. I wonder how Ray feels now about that vanished Britain.

This big deal VGPS box obliviates the album’s quaintness, what with three LPs, three 7″ singles, five CDs, a nice book full of photos of era memorabilia, and a packet of reprints of posters, sheet music and more. (Initial orders through The Kinks web site got you a fourth 45!) And yet, if any great album deserves such a gala presentation, this one does. I can tell you, being the huge Beatles fan I am, that I was looking forward to this even more than the White Album box that comes out later this week.

The lowdown goes like this. Vinyl-wise, you get two LPs of the original UK mono and stereo mixes (in their then Davies-sanctioned 15 track configuration), an LP with the 12 track version sent to Europe and Down Under without Ray’s permission (some months before the 15 track iteration), and three 7″ singles from the era in replica sleeves. (The one that, errrr, reprises the US Reprise 45 is kinda lame – they don’t use the record company logo or fonts or anything, so it looks like someone forgot to include the actual artwork!) As for CDs, the first two are of the mono and stereo mixes (15 track version) along with period singles*, single mixes, B-sides, etc.; a disc of sessions recordings (early versions, work versions and demos, including a killer instrumental called “Mick Avory’s Underpants”!); a disc called Village Green at the BBC (guess); and a final CD of demos, sessions and live versions. Then there’s all the replicated memorabilia. And a big ol’ (picture) book. It all comes in a nice, substantial box that I only very slightly damaged trying to open. (I’ll get over that in time. Maybe.) All of it is good – if not great –and there’s more than enough here for dozens of listenings over the rest of your life.

After all this, all I can say is: God Save the Village Green Preservation Society; Long Live The Kinks!

* Here’s where I add that one of the singles here, “Days,” is included in numerous versions and never outstays its welcome. That’s because it might just be the most poignant, perfect song of all time. Listen to the words and the arrangement and tell me there’s not someone who was once in your life (a mom, a brother, for instance) who fulfills the role of the person in this song who is longed for, memorized, cherished. This paragraph – “Days” – is for Nel Blurton and Dana Gooch, my mom and my brother. Thank you for the days.

5.5/5 (BMG BMGAA09BOX, 2018)

 

 

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Various • Making Time: A Shel Talmy Production

I finally made time for this one. A compilation of tracks produced by an American ex-pat, Making Time: A SHEL TALMY Production is a 25-track platter of mostly British rock and freakbeat from the early/mid ’60s. Talmy is most famous for producing The Who’s first album (and its same-titled single) My Generation, a few Kinks records and The Creation’s greatest, errr, creation, “Making Time.” Ace Records, the UK label known for putting out quality compilations of this ilk, has once again sorted out a quality collection of tunes, including some big names and lots of lesser known ones—and even a pseudonymous track by a fellow called Davy Jones (not that guy from the Monkees). What you don’t get with Making Time is the feeling that Talmy was the great producer that legend has him, but really just a hustler with a good ear.

After all, Shel Talmy is famous not only for a handful of great singles but the fact that he lied his way into producing in the first place. In the early ’60s there was no such thing as the internet or even fax machines; Talmy flew across the Atlantic with a stack of records he hadn’t produced, presented them as his own and landed himself a job with Decca Records UK. (He was supposedly given the okay to do so by the man who did produce them, Capitol Records’ Nik Venet, who passed away in 1998.) Apparently Talmy was a good enough salesman to quell any doubts there may have been about his CV because the next thing you know he’s producing The Kinks—represented here with “Tired of Waiting for You”–and then The Who. Along came The Easybeats, Manfred Mann, The Creation, Chad & Jeremy and a load more. Hell, he even produced a female singer with the unlikely but cool name of Perpetual Langley! Later down the road he started his own label, Planet Records (not to be confused with the one started by Richard Perry in the late ’70s). Talmy gets a bad rap for keeping The Who in mid-sixties limbo with litigation that severely curtailed their early momentum, but that was eventually sorted out by both parties.

Making Time presents such a varied group of artists that it’s hard to make a case for him being such a great producer. His productions are fine, for the time, but they don’t stand out as being all that unique, like Phil Spector’s and even Brian Wilson’s do. He did pick some talented groups to produce, though, so perhaps we should really salute his ear for talent rather than production. This compilation presents a reasonable number of great artists and tunes, but there are some definite duds, too; good lord please don’t make me listen to anything else by Lee Hazlewood if it’s as bad as “Bye Babe”! And I could live without ever hearing Tim Rose or Trini Lopez again. In all, though, this CD is of Ace’s usual high quality level and worth the price.

Bonus notes: One track here is by The Rockin’ Vickers, which was a group that included the young Ian Kilmister under the name Ian Willis (who finally achieved fame as Lemmy of Motorhead). Also, the Davy Jones track, “You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving,” is a “previously unissued alternate overdub” of the young David Bowie’s 1965 Pye single.

2.5/5 (Ace Records CDCHD 1497; 2017)

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The Kinks • Sleepwalker [LP]; 3 EPs [7″]

418457742734-800Record Store Day, Black Friday 2016 brought a kuartet of records by The Kinks to my local vinyl emporium – and yours. This time we got a black and white marbled vinyl reissue of the band’s 1977 LP, Sleepwalker, plus three more EPs in the kontinuing series of 7″ releases kourtesy of Sanctuary Records. But first, the long player.

Sleepwalker was the initial release in the ’77 resurgence of The Kinks as a world-class rock ’n’ roll band. Issued worldwide by Arista Records thanks to mogul Clive Davis’s belief in Ray Davies & Ko., it told the world that these Brits had gotten a second wind and were back with a vengeance. As it turned out, the band made a handful of great records between then and the mid ’80s that were every bit as meaningful as the great singles they made in the mid ’60s. It just so happens that Sleepwalker isn’t as great as the later Low Budget or the live One from the Road, but it wasn’t a bad restart. The title track is quite good, as is “Life on the Road” and a few others. Totally worth your trouble if you can still find a copy. Friday Music pressed it on a colorful 180 gram piece of wax so that’s a plus. (It’s priced a little high but is limited to 1500 copies, so that and the marbled vinyl are probably why.)

Kinks EP Till Death Us Do Part Kinks EP David Watts Sanctuary Records, who handles The Kinks ’60s output, brought out three EPs for Black Friday ’16. This time we get two vintage titles, Till Death Us Do Part and David Watts from 1967, and the newly created God’s Children, made up of songs from the band’s soundtrack to the 1971 film, Percy. There’s nothing new here – all of these tracks, 12 across the three records, have been released before (though a couple aren’t the easiest to find) – but if you’re already kollecting the EPs then there’s no reason to stop now. The pressings are nice, the sleeves are kool looking, and the music is, of kourse, top notch.

Kinks EP God's ChildrenI’m hoping the powers that be keep putting out new Kinks kollectibles, but that they’ll get an infusion of kreativity and kome up with some titles or kompilations that haven’t been done before. Phew! I kan’t keep up with all of these k’s. God Save The Kinks!

3.5/5 (Friday Music [Sleepwalker], Sanctuary)

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The Kinks • Everybody’s in Show-Biz (2CD)

kinks_everybodysinshowbiz_400pxI’ll admit it. I avoided Everybody’s in Show-Biz for years for the simple reason that I thought the cover looked real cheesy. The cartoon illustration surrounding a colorized pic of Ray Davies crooning just looked so un-rock ‘n’ roll that I figured the songs on it must also be that way. Now, I’ve been a fan of The Kinks for quite awhile so it was only a matter of time before I gave the album a chance. That chance has come now, with the release of a Legacy Edition of this 1972 double album.

The original issue of Show-Biz was a 2LP affair with one record devoted to new studio tracks and the other to recent live recordings. My guess is that the record label (RCA here in the States) felt the need to bolster the new tunes with live renditions of songs already familiar to Kinks fans, as the band’s following in the US wasn’t at an all-time high. On the live record you got the addition of songs performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in March ’72, including tunes from Muswell Hillbillies (their previous release) as well as “Lola,” which was their biggest/most recent hit. Well, if that was the idea – to add familiarity to help sell the product – it wasn’t enough to katapult the record into the upper reaches of the charts. They should’ve added more familiar live cuts to achieve that end. That, by the way, has been sorted out on this new edition, which features a further 13 live tracks including “Sunny Afternoon” and “’Till the End of the Day.” Yet, even without these great live tracks, Everybody’s in Show-Biz is a stone-cold Kinks klassic.

kinks_showbiz-adRay Davies’ new tunes on Show-Biz are all of his top-shelf variety, even if you take away “Celluloid Heroes,” which is acknowledged by most to be one of the man’s best tunes. It comes last on the studio record, so you gotta listen to the other nine songs first. No problem. Drop the needle (oh, I mean, pop in the disc and hit play) on “Here Comes Yet Another Day” and enjoy the ride through “Hot Potatoes,” “Sitting in My Hotel,” and brother Dave’s “You Don’ Know My Name” and you’ll understand why I say this is as good as The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Something Else or Arthur. Man! I love this record. The band is indeed making a transition from the garage/hard rockin’ ’60s version to a more mature one, but that doesn’t mean the songs suffer – at all. What you get here is an almost middle-aged Ray Davies sorting out the current condition of his life and career, out loud in front of you, me and everyone, with stupendous results.

Kolor me embarrassed that it took a value-priced deluxe edition for me to embrace Everybody’s in Show-Biz. For less than twenty bucks you, too, can be in show biz. Just like the ad there says.

5/5 (Legacy/RCA)

Here’s a live rendition of “Celluloid Heroes” from 1979 with some superb lead guitar from Dave Davies.

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The Kinks • Kinksize Hits EP, Kinksize Session EP, “You Really Got Me” (live) 7”

kinks_kinksizehits_400pxHere’s a trio of 7” releases for RSD 2015, on the verge of yet another possible Kinks reunion, designed to get you excited for a band that continues to thrill 50+ years after they first laid noise to tape.

Kinksize Hits, an EP first released in 1965, contains only two hits: “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.” (Pretty big hits, I’d say!) The other two tracks barely scraped into the charts—ask most Kinks fans if they’ve heard of “It’s All Right” and “I Gotta Move” and they’d probably have to think about it for a few moments. Regardless, it’s a reissue so you can’t blame the record company. After all, they did at least get the sound quality right!

kinks_kinksizesession_300pxKinksize Session came out in ’64 and features four lesser known tracks: “I’ve Gotta Go Now,” “I’ve Got That Feeling,” “Things Are Getting Better” and “Louie Louie.” This one’s actually a bit nicer because of that—the songs are ones that you’d likely skip over in any other circumstance, but they’re pretty good. (Though even I’d take The Kingsmen’s version of “Louie Louie” over this one.) The songs here are the ones that define the old cliché, here re-worded to add some freshness to this sentence, “most bands would kill to have their crap sound this great.” (I’d like to see if anyone ever puts out an EP called Kinks Krap.)  (Kinks Katastrophe?) (How about Kataklysmic Kinks?!)

The third of these releases, “You Really Got Me” (live) b/w “Milk Cow Blues” (live) is pretty superfluous. Both tracks were recorded live in a London TV studio (late ’64 and summer ’65), both sound pretty lousy, and both versions are nowhere near as good as the kinks_youreallygotme_300pxstudio versions. Why didn’t they just reissue another EP, like Kwyet Kinks? (That’s a real one, by the way.) If I wasn’t such a Kinks konneisseur, I’d have either passed on this one or tried to sell it back. But you know I kan’t do that!

You really got to hand it to those folks at the record label. They found that photo of me over a barrel and taped it up in the board room.

3/5, 3/5, 2/5 (INgrooves/Sanctuary/BMG)

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