The classic line-up of The Kinks. From left to right: Dave Davies, Ray Davies, Mick Avory and Pete Quaife.
"We are the Village Green Preservation Society."
The Kinks were an English rock band, one of the "Big Four" British Invasion
bands of The Sixties
(along with The Beatles
, The Rolling Stones
, and The Who
) and a Long Runner
, having experienced a long career's worth of highs and lows before throwing in the towel in 1996. While they have had numerous members, their most famous line-up was composed of vocalist/guitarist/mastermind
Ray Davies, his vocalist/guitarist brother Dave Davies, bassist Pete Quaife (left in 1969, died 2010) and the former (albeit briefly) drummer of The Rolling Stones
, Mick Avory (who left in 1984).
The Kinks began their career as a bluesy, hard-edged mod-rock band, gaining success with their loud, memorably riffy
hits "You Really Got Me", "All Day and All of the Night" and "Tired of Waiting for You", which set them up as a band to contend with and provided endless inspiration to future genres like Garage Rock
and Power Pop
. Their rowdy live shows got them banned from America until 1969, though arguably it ultimately served them well, encouraging Ray Davies
to write songs that emphasised their essential Britishness and tended to a more nostalgic and pastoral feel than their States-struck contemporaries.
They changed gears in 1965, diversifying away from just scrotum-grinding guitar anthems
to experiment with other genres like folk, music hall, country and blues-rock, resulting in a more laid-back sound. It was also around this period that Ray developed his now-famous lyrical talent. This period saw the release of songs like "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", "Sunny Afternoon" and "Waterloo Sunset", culminating with what is generally held as their best album, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
The band changed once again in The Seventies
, exploring a more theatrical, campy sound. However, this only worsened their declining popularity and the resulting Concept Albums
are still controversial on their actual quality. Due to a combination of a new record label wanting them to cut the crap and everybody but Ray being sick of Rock Operas
, The Kinks restyled themselves as an arena rock band in 1976. Lucky enough to be synchronised with the Punk Rock
explosion and some successful covers of their songs by Punk and New Wave
bands, The Kinks rode their second wave of popularity until the early 80's, culminating when their single "Come Dancing" became a worldwide smash in early 1983. They then went back to being a cult band before calling it quits in 1996.
Admired for their melodic mastery of pop, their enormous variety of styles, the insight and wit of their lyrics, and their huge influence on almost all subsequent bands that cultivated any sort of outsider underdog image.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold):
- Mick Avory - drums, percussion, tambourine (1964-1984, 1986, 1989)
- John Dalton - bass, lead vocals (1966, 1969-1976, 1978)
- Dave Davies - guitar, lead vocals, banjo (1964-1996)
- Ray Davies - lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, harmonica, piano, mellotron, harp, harpsichord, organ, tuba, maracas, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, accordion, oboe, flute, synthesizer (1964-1996)
- Gordon Edwards - keyboard, piano, vocals (1978)
- Ian Gibbons - keyboard, piano, vocals (1979-1989, 1993-1996)
- John Gosling - keyboard, piano, organ, vocals, accordion, synthesizer (1970-1978)
- Mark Haley - keyboard, piano, vocals (1989-1993)
- Bob Henrit - drums, percussion (1984-1996)
- Andy Pyle - bass, vocals (1976-1978)
- Pete Quaife - bass, vocals (1964-1966, 1966-1969, died 2010)
- Jim Rodford - bass, vocals (1978-1996)
- 1964 - Kinks
- 1964 - Kinksize Session
- 1965 - Kinksize Hits
- 1965 - Kinda Kinks
- 1965 - Kwyet Kinks
- 1965 - The Kink Kontroversy
- 1966 - Dedicated Kinks
- 1966 - Face To Face
- 1967 - Mr. Pleasant
- 1967 - Something Else By The Kinks
- 1968 - The Kinks
- 1968 - The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
- 1969 - Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)
- 1970 - Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
- 1971 - Percy
- 1971 - Muswell Hillbillies
- 1972 - Everybody's In Show-Biz note
- 1973 - Preservation Act 1
- 1974 - Preservation Act 2
- 1975 - Soap Opera
- 1976 - Schoolboys In Disgrace
- 1977 - Sleepwalker
- 1978 - Misfits
- 1979 - Low Budget
- 1981 - Give The People What They Want
- 1983 - State Of Confusion
- 1984 - Word Of Mouth
- 1986 - Think Visual
- 1989 - UK Jive
- 1991 - Did Ya
- 1993 - Phobia
- 1965 - Kinks In Germany
- 1967 - The Live Kinks note
- 1968 - Live At Kelvin Hall note
- 1972 - Everybody's In Show-Biz note
- 1980 - One For The Road
- 1984 - Live: The Road
- 1994 - To The Bone
"The Kinks are the Village Trope Preservation Society":
- Album Title Drop: Everybody's in Showbiz takes its title from a lyric in "Celluloid Heroes".
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Parodied in some of their songs, the most over-the-top being "He's Evil" from Preservation, Act Two.
- America Saves the Day: Parodied and played straight in "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" in the album "Low Budget"(it has the theme of the weak economy of the 70s). America's economy is down and Captain America asks the world to catch them now that its falling, by reminding them of all the times America has supported them.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Father Christmas" (1977) is about a gang of bitter poor children who mug a guy playing Santa, demanding not toys but money ("Give all the toys to the little rich boys").
- Anti-Love Song: "When I Turn Off The Living Room Light" - because you're too ugly to get it on with otherwise.
- Bittersweet Ending: Arthur. OH GOD, ARTHUR.
- Book Dumb/Dumb Is Good: "Mountain woman couldn't read or write but she knew good from evil, she knew wrong from right".
- Born in the Wrong Century: "20th Century Man" is just the most obvious example.
- Childhood Memory Demolition Team: "Come Dancing" laments the replacement of adolescence's dancehall with a bowling alley, then a supermarket, then a parking lot.
- Chivalrous Pervert: "I'm not a flasher in a rain coat/I'm not a dirty old man/I'm not gonna snatch you from your mother/I'm an art lover".
- Concept Album: Many of their best albums — The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur; or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, Muswell Hillbillies. Each album had a specific theme pertaining to Nostalgia Filter, the end of the Good Old Ways, the rise of Stepford Suburbia and the soul crushing Conspicuous Consumption surrounding contemporary life, of which the music industry is a part of. Paradoxically, this made The Kinks an influence on the Punk era (Johnny Rotten called them his favorite band) because they were among the few to sing about what was really happening between The Sixties and The Seventies under the surface of the Hippie Era. They later became interested in Rock Opera with Everybody's in Show Biz and Preservation (Act One and Two) which was seen as less successful.
- Continuity Nod: "Destroyer" is essentially "Lola, Part 2" set to the riff from "All Day And All Of The Night".
- Ray quotes the lyrics and melody of the chorus to "Loony Balloon" from UK Jive on the Phobia cut, "Drift Away".
- Cult Soundtrack: Percy
- The Dandy: "Dedicated Follower of Fashion".
- "Dandy", despite its title, is not about one of these, but rather The Casanova.
- Distinct Double Album: Everybody's In Showbiz has one LP studio, one live
- Double Entendre: "I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man, and so is Lola."
- Epic Rocking: Pops up throughout their career, but might be most evident in "Shangri-La."
- Four-Temperament Ensemble
- Phlegmatic/Melancholic Ray Davies
- Sanguine/Phlegmatic Dave Davies
- Melancholic/Sanguine Mick Avory
- Phlegmatic/Melancholic Pete Quaife
- Genre Popularizer: "You Really Got Me" is widely considered to have been the blueprint for kicking off everything from Garage Rock to Metal to Punk.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Lola" by was censored by the BBC not for its lyrics about a sexual tryst with a transvestite, but for its use of the brand name Coca-Cola. This was duly changed to "cherry cola". Perhaps more a case of Censor Decoy?
- Their next single, "Apeman", contains the line "this air pollution is fogging up my eyes". They knew it sounds like "fucking". We know it sounds like "fucking". And whoever produced the album knew it sounds like "fucking", since they very clumsily reduce that solitary word's volume so it's barely audible. Ironically, while everyone involved claims it's definitely "fogging", this makes it harder to decipher whether Ray Davies does actually sing "fogging" or "fucking".
- Going Native: Ray fantasizes about doing this in "Apeman".
- Good Old Ways: Part of the reason the Kinks fell out of fashion in the forward-looking, revolutionary-reactionary Sixties was because of their fondness for this.
- Have a Gay Old Time: The line from "A Well-Respected Man" that goes "And he likes his fags the best," with the word "fag" referring to cigarettes, not the discriminatory term for homosexuals.
- David Watts is "so gay and fancy-free".
- And their paean to cigarette smoking is called Harry Rag. Which is cockney rhyming slang for...
- Heavy Meta: Lola versus Powerman... is about the music industry as a whole. Furthermore, there's "Session Man" (which is about session musicians, and how no one treats them like "real" musicians) and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (which is more aimed at the Mod scene as a whole rather than just the music). For an extra slice of meta, consider the fact that quintessential "session man" Nicky Hopkins plays piano on "Session Man", which was song reportedly inspired by him.
- Hollywood Hollywood: "Celluloid Heroes" and "Oklahoma USA" are wistful songs about the glamour of Hollywood and the idealised world its stars present to ordinary folks' imagination.
- I Just Want to Be You: The narrator in "David Watts."
- Last Chorus Slowdown: "Australia" is infamous for this. The first half of it's a good song; if only the whole thing weren't so long...
- Loners Are Freaks: The Kinks (and many of their fans) would self-identify as misfits, or at least as "not like everybody else".
- Muggles: Ordinary people and working class situations feature in a lot of songs, and are probably the only aspect of British life to have escaped Ray's barbed wit.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Dave Davies next to his older brother (and arguably the band as a whole next to their peers).
- Performance Anxiety: "All Of My Friends Were There".
- Precision F-Strike: From many a live performance of "Lola", including the version presented on their landmark video album One for the Road: "Lo-fucking-la!"
- Protest Song: "Apeman"
- The entire album that song is from (Lola vs. Powerman) is pretty much one big Take That to the music industry (specifically the Corrupt Corporate Executive Meddlers).
- Another "protest album" with Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Each song mocks British (or Western) nationalism, materialism, and shallow culture.
- Real Life Writes the Plot / Write What You Know: Ray and Dave Davies regularly fought each other onstage in The Sixties. Therefore the American Musicians' Union banned The Kinks from touring in the U.S. from 1965-1970. This led to Ray and Dave being isolated from and uninvolved with American politics and counterculture. They reverted to writing about British concerns, British culture and Britain, from a British perspective, language and humor separated from their Americanized peers. This may have hurt their sales in America, but would give them an identity as Brit Pop innovators.
- Rock Opera: From the much-praised (Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)) to the much-maligned (Preservation; Soap Opera; Schoolboys in Disgrace) although if you can get into the camp humour of the latter two they become much more tolerable.
- Satire/Parody/Pastiche: "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion" is Satire; "Top Of The Pops" is Parody; "Sunny Afternoon" is Pastiche. A large number of their songs are generally poignant reflections on popular culture, including comic books and movies, and how they take on a life in the minds of the people who read and see them.
- Self-Titled Album: Their debut album was simply titled Kinks.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Especially in the early days, and especially especially for (then teenaged) Dave Davies.
- Sibling Rivalry: Ray and Dave Davies.
Dave Davies: Ray is a vain, egocentric, narcissistic arsehole, [but] I won't have anybody call him that except me. Because I love him to death. He is my brother.
- Smoking Is Cool: "Harry Rag"
- Sound Effect Bleep: That "OH NO!" scream right before the guitar solo in "You Really Got Me" was overdubbed by Ray to drown out Dave telling him to fuck off.
Ray Davies: And it's even clearer on CD, it's really embarrassing.
- Spot of Tea: Whole songs are written on the subject, particularly "Afternoon Tea" and "Have a Cuppa Tea"
- Stepford Suburbia: "Shangri-La"
- Step Up to the Microphone: Dave sang almost every song he wrote as well as a few of the early covers and several of Ray's songs ("Wicked Annabella", "Sleepless Night", "Bernadette"); bassist John Dalton has the only lead vocal not by one of the Davies brothers, doing an Elvis impersonation on the Ray-written track "Willesdon Green" from Percy (it's also on The Kink Kronikles)
- Three Chords and the Truth: The early days, very much so.
- Title Only Chorus: "Victoria", "Drivin'", "Shangri-La"
- Trope Maker: Indian-sounding instruments and melodies were used on both "See My Friends" and "Fancy" a few months before "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles was released.
- Ur Example: The recent Heavy Metal Britannia documentary cited "You Really Got Me" as the starting point for the guitar-driven, riff-based rock that eventually evolved into hard rock and early metal.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: "Lola", but even more substantially the crossdressing husband (and eventually wife too) of "Out Of The Wardrobe".
- Wish Fulfillment: "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" tackles this. The economy is so bad that, "If I were Superman/I'd fly away".
- Writing Around Trademarks: Some versions of "Lola" change the line "you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola" to "cherry cola". This was to allow the song to be played on BBC radio, which at the time had a draconian policy against Product Placement that banned even fleeting or derogatory references to brand names in songs.