Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Hundred greatest albums: The Kinks Album
When asked who is the greatest of the five legendary Sixties British rock bands my immediate, unhesitating answer is The Beatles. But not wanting to make a needless fuss of it I will immediately start talking about how brilliant The Rolling Stones were, the underrated genius of The Who, and the sheer overwhelming and thrilling power of Led Zeppelin. I mean, it's really not a competition. I have been crazy about them all.
But for some years now, with all that being said on the surface, I am quietly, reverently, passionately, singing to myself Kink's songs.
So if I am boldly proclaiming the greatest album of all time, one of a hundred, with each being the single greatest, which album is this. What is "The Kink's Album"?
There isn't one. I don't have one.
I am cheating today.
With The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, I swallowed their works, mostly in my youth, running through their prodigious outlays of masterpieces all in a few months to a few years. While I still have encounters with their music where I am suddenly struck, like with lightning, by the sheer brilliance of some song, for the most part I have burned through all my available listens to these musical works. By the time I was in my forties, after hearing all their music hundreds, perhaps sometimes thousands of times, it was rare to be able to make a real emotional connection to any of them. And even rarer to discover something missed from deep in their back catalogs.
But the Kinks were never like any of this. They have played out in a mysteriously unique manner of fandom. Instead of gluts of Kinks music, and acquaintance with multiple albums of theirs, every two to four years I am hit by one or two of their songs. I am gobsmacked, flattened, heartbroken, enthralled, splattered, all like I am a bug flying around on a highway in the desert, and they are a car going 85 miles per hour.
I am smeared by their songs.
Or painfully transported to heaven.
I love the Kinks
"One or two songs," you might think though, "That's not really so many."
However, here's the rub: Over the course of 40 years it really adds up!
It adds up to a perfect mega album of mega albums.
It adds up to the greatest album of all time.
Witty, driving, way ahead of their time, essential, groundbreaking, idiosyncratic, melancholic, defiant, and full of feeling, this stuff is one amazing car window. This car is going very fast.
I am but a very little bug.
I am a little sad not to give you the whole personalized 40 year album here, but a post a day asks for a little restraint sometimes. Nevertheless some highlights surely seem in order. And why not start with the most recent:
Last night in putting together a playlist to listen to with my darling wife I grabbed an old Kinks song just sort of on the basis of it being the Kinks. I literally am incapable of understanding how I missed this song. Like if you were a huge Beatles fan for four decades and suddenly came upon, I don't know, Come Together for the first time. It would be thrilling, yes, but also a little disconcerting.
Anyway, the best new rock song I have heard in a year, in 10 years? 20? Ever? was cut when I was a baby! And I'm almost old now, in a moderate sort of way.
The ragged vocals and loose, ungodly harmonies put me in mind of another favorite song of mine- Sweet Jane.
I'm Not Like Everybody Else
If that's the most recent Kinks song to enter my idiosyncratic album here what was first? Oddly probably Lola, twisty, ubiquitous, and wonderful. Do I even need the link? I remember a time when this was the most played oldie in the world.
Oh, but, what if you've never heard of it?
Ohhh, you're in for a treat!
You might like Come Together by the Beatles as well.
As a side note I saw the Kinks in concert in the eighties. They did one of the most cynical, lazy, hostile versions of any famous song I have ever seen. Ray refused to sing more than 10 percent of the song, leaving the rest to the audience. It was pretty terrible.
I have not used that version:
Recently I posted this, very recently, but I'll do it again. It's from possibly my favorite scene from any movie ever. So this song is for me due to that movie and thus came into my Kink's Album about 13 years ago:
And to end with I'll go with one I discovered for myself maybe 15 years after it was written, around the time I saw the Kinks in concert, and maybe it's even slightly obscure enough to be new to you.
It's hardly the end of the story here.
If I went the rest of the way there would be no dip in quality for surely another 20 songs. So a bit of a double album, eh.
The greatest one of all time.