RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

The Essential Kinks
Legacy/ Arista

Rating: B+

Legacy Recordings has released a two-disc retrospective of the Kinks who were one of the most iconic, influential and productive bands of the British Invasion.  The Kinks were led by vocalist/guitarist/lyricist/songwriter Ray Davies, with his electric guitar playing brother, Dave, lurking close behind. The Kinks reinvented themselves time and time again, decade after decade, always remaining true to who they were while, at the same time, finding fresh and interesting ways to make their music fit into the modern day.  The result is a band with fifty years of excellence, most all of which is captured on this release.

The Kinks influenced hard rock and heavy metal when Dave took Ray’s opening notes on the piano for the song “You Really Got Me” and changed them to power guitar chords which crashed loudly through his amp’s speakers (which he recently had slashed with a razor blade).  The resulting distorted guitar sound literally changed history.  The tune is still a great rocker, and along with “All Day and All of the Night” ushered in a new sound. 

The Kinks had more hits in the 1960’s and into the early ‘70s with their very British sound, which came across very charming to American ears.  “Tired of Waiting for You,” “A Well Respected Man,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” “Set Me Free” and “Sunny Afternoon” each garnered fans for the band as Ray’s delightful way of mixing happy music with sarcastic lyrics was a unique sensation on the music scene of the day. 

It was “Lola” that really brought out the big fame, however. Later on, it was a live version of “Lola” in 1980 that brought the Kinks back in the fold for another round.  The only knock on this collection is that 1979’s Low Budget is not represented nearly enough, and neither are the albums that followed.  Luckily, Legacy will soon release those albums in their entirety during the Kinks reissue campaign.  For now, we still get “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman,” “Destroyer,” “Come Dancing,” “Don’t Forget to Dance,” “Living On a Thin Line” and “Do It Again.” 

One also must not overlook many Kinks Klassics over their fifty year career that are included here, which are so full of charm or introspection they make one laugh or fall deep into thought.  They include “Apeman,” “Celluloid Heroes” and “Sleepwalker.”  Throw in live versions of “Lola,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” and “Till the End of the Day” and you’ve got one hell of a collection of Kinks tunes.

Disc One:

1. You Really Got Me
2. Stop Your Sobbing
3. All Day and All of the Night
4. Tired of Waiting For You
5. Nothin' In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
6. Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy
7. A Well Respected Man
8. Dedicated Follower of Fashion
9. Who'll Be The Next In Line
10. Set Me Free
11. See My Friends
12. Sunny Afternoon
13. Dead End Street
14. Death of a Clown
15. Autumn Almanac
16. David Watts
17. Waterloo Sunset
18. Days
19. The Village Green Preservation Society
20. Do You Remember Walter?
21. Picture Book
22. Victoria
23. Apeman
24. Strangers
25. 20th Century Man
26. Supersonic Rocket Ship
27. Celluloid Heroes

Disc Two:
1. Here Comes Yet Another Day
2. You Don't Know My Name
3. Till the End of the Day (Live)
4. One of the Survivors
5. Sweet Lady Genevieve
6. Everybody's a Star (Starmaker)
7. Life on the Road
8. Sleepwalker
9. Life Goes On
10. A Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy
11. Father Christmas
12. (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman
13. Lola (Live)
14. Where Have All The Good Times Gone (Live)
15. Better Things
16. Destroyer
7. Come Dancing
18. Don't Forget to Dance
19. Do It Again
20. Living On A Thin Line
21. Scattered    

Look for more great titles to be released by Legacy Recordings including those listed below:

Muswell Hillbillies (RCA, Originally released November 24, 1971)
Everybody's In Show-Biz (RCA, double album, Originally released September 1, 1972)
Preservation: Act 1 (RCA, Originally released November 16, 1973)
Preservation: Act 2 (RCA, Originally released July 26, 1974)
Soap Opera (RCA, Originally released April 25, 1975)
Schoolboys In Disgrace (RCA, Originally released November 17, 1975)
The Kinks Greatest: Celluloid Heroes (RCA, compilation, Originally released June 25, 1976)
Sleepwalker (Arista, Originally released February 12, 1977)
Misfits (Arista, Originally released May 17, 1978)
Low Budget (Arista, Originally released July 10, 1979)
One For The Road (Live) (Arista, live album, Originally released June 4, 1980)
Give The People What They Want (Arista, Originally released August 15, 1981)
State Of Confusion (Arista, Originally released June 10, 1983)
Word Of Mouth (Arista, Originally released November 19, 1984)
Return To Waterloo (Arista, Ray Davies solo album, Originally released July 1, 1985)
Come Dancing With The Kinks/The Best Of The Kinks 1977-1986 (Arista, compilation, double album, Originally released June 2, 1986)

By Jeb Wright