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Pop - Released October 25, 2019 | Sanctuary Records

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When The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society was released in November 1968, the Davies brothers unveiled an album that was out of time. It was a pop masterpiece that was steeped in nostalgia for an Olde England and some thought it was almost backward-looking, though today it is considered one of the most influential records of its time. What’s more, it proved that there’s more to life than just Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards! Following that spectacular record, their fans were wondering what could possibly come next. The idea didn’t come from either of the brother’s creative brains but in fact from the producers of Granada Television who commissioned them for… a rock opera! The plot takes place in post-war England and revolves around Arthur, a carpet-layer who emigrates with his family to Australia as he struggles to find his place in the world. The story was inspired by the Davies brothers’ older sister Rose who moved down under in 1964 with her husband Arthur. Her move left a mark on Ray, who later composed Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home in 1966 for the album Face to Face. In any case, it provided more than enough material for the English songwriter to produce these deliciously crazy and ironic songs. In the end, the film was never shot and so Arthur was released in October 1969 with no visual aid.Almost as brilliant and nostalgic as , the record’s instrumental richness, skillful songwriting and intelligent compositions went to prove once again that The Kinks were just as creative as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. On Shangri-La, one of their most impressive compositions, the Davies brothers mix pop, rock and blues. Dave’s guitar playing is particularly impressive, revealing both thick riffs (Brainwashed) and intricate ballads (Young and Innocent Days). Unfortunately, the public didn’t exactly lap up the unusual, daring songs of this baroque farandole, instead opting for The Who’s Tommy. Though fortunately, time has been kind to Arthur and today the record is considered a genuine masterpiece. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released November 22, 1968 | Sanctuary Records

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Ray Davies' sentimental, nostalgic streak emerged on Something Else, but it developed into a manifesto on The Village Green Preservation Society, a concept album lamenting the passing of old-fashioned English traditions. As the opening title song says, the Kinks -- meaning Ray himself, in this case -- were for preserving "draught beer and virginity," and throughout the rest of the album, he creates a series of stories, sketches, and characters about a picturesque England that never really was. It's a lovely, gentle album, evoking a small British country town, and drawing the listener into its lazy rhythms and sensibilities. Although there is an undercurrent of regret running throughout the album, Davies' fondness for the past is warm, making the album feel like a sweet, hazy dream. And considering the subdued performances and the detailed instrumentations, it's not surprising that the record feels more like a Ray Davies solo project than a Kinks album. The bluesy shuffle of "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains" is the closest the album comes to rock & roll, and Dave Davies' cameo on the menacing "Wicked Annabella" comes as surprise, since the album is so calm. But calm doesn't mean tame or bland -- there are endless layers of musical and lyrical innovation on The Village Green Preservation Society, and its defiantly British sensibilities became the foundation of generations of British guitar pop. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 27, 1970 | Sanctuary Records

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Rock - Released November 22, 1968 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

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Rock - Released October 2, 1964 | Sanctuary Records

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Rock - Released August 1, 2013 | Sanctuary Records

One problem with a long wait is that things happen in the interim. In the case of the highly anticipated Kinks box set, these things were a steady stream of reissues and repackages -- some of these were pulled from the shelves before the unveiling of the six-disc Picture Book in late 2008, but at that late date almost all of the Kinks vaults had been emptied on deluxe reissues of every album from 1964's The Kinks until 1984's Word of Mouth (capped off by a triple-disc version of Village Green Preservation Society), with various other compilations like Live at the BBC and Dave Davies' Unfinished Business filling out the gaps. All this means that Picture Book isn't quite the clearinghouse for rarities it once would have been -- and many of the unreleased tracks here are often alternate takes or mono mixes, although there are some quite interesting demos here -- but the main purpose of Picture Book, as it would be with any box set this size for an artist with a career as significant and lengthy as the Kinks, is to tell the story as thoroughly as possible and on that level, it's very successful, even observant. As always, it's possible to quibble over song exclusions, this time with some justification -- since they had a surplus of great songs in the '60s many are left behind, singles from "Plastic Man" to "Jukebox Music" are overlooked, and another opportunity to reissue the studio version of "When I Turn Off the Living Room Light" is missed -- but to dwell on what's missing is to ignore what's here: 138 tracks that tell the tale of one of Britain's greatest bands -- and one of their strangest -- in detail. This detail does mean each act of the story gets almost equal treatment, with the band's heyday of 1966-1970 deservedly receiving a slight emphasis, with precisely a third of this set devoted to these glory years. Even this cold statistic suggests that the box leans heavily on Face to Face through Lola, which isn't quite right: it lingers on the prime but not at the expense of either the group's early or later years or even their early-'70s detour into odd theatrics. Picture Book takes a little while to get going, cycling through some standard-issue British beat before the band starts to hit its groove after cutting "You Really Got Me," which non-chronologically opens the set like a fanfare. Similarly, it also has a bit of a long close, as the Davies brothers drag into the mid-'90s with Phobia and To the Bone, but between this slow start and finish lies one of the greatest pop sagas in all its glory and occasional bewildering embarrassment. Fortunately, there's not much of the latter, as the set cherry-picks Ray Davies' convoluted concept albums well and gets the best of the uneven '80s LPs (although the choice to include the smash comeback "Come Dancing" as only a demo is a bit puzzling), making this a full-bodied, representative portrait of a band that's notoriously difficult to pigeonhole. Inevitably, some partisans will grouse that there's too much latter-day stuff at the expense of that classic '60s run, but that's not quite right: Picture Book does a remarkable job of getting into the flow of their career, so the transition from the delicate Village Green to the America-conquering arena rockers of a decade later makes sense. The group had to go through the loose-limbed, ragged Muswell Hillbillies before settling into the concept albums where every gesture became grander -- all theatrics amped up for the time when the amps themselves ruled the roost. As this covers the Kinks itself, not Ray Davies, this stops during his fallow period in the '90s -- ever the misfit, he managed not to capitalize on the Brit-pop moment he godfathered -- so there's not quite an upward swing at the conclusion as there would be if his solo albums were taken into equation. Even so, Picture Book has a wealth of riches, proof that the Kinks are in the first ranks of rockers, right up there with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. What other band could invent hard rock and metal with a two-chord riff, then detour into wry social satire, then establish modern British pop with Something Else, retreat into nostalgia before inventing the rock opera before the Who, then sell America tongue-in-cheek hard rock about gas shortages and the falling dollar, then feel totally at ease on MTV...all the while having a second command as exuberant and open as Dave Davies, who does get his fair shake here. No other band could claim that because there is no other band like the Kinks, as this long-awaited, largely essential, always absorbing box set proves conclusively. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 15, 1967 | Sanctuary Records

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Face to Face was a remarkable record, but its follow-up, Something Else, expands its accomplishments, offering 13 classic British pop songs. As Ray Davies' songwriting becomes more refined, he becomes more nostalgic and sentimental, retreating from the psychedelic and mod posturings that had dominated the rock world. Indeed, Something Else sounds like nothing else from 1967. The Kinks never rock very hard on the album, preferring acoustic ballads, music hall numbers, and tempered R&B to full-out guitar attacks. Part of the album's power lies in its calm music, since it provides an elegant support for Davies' character portraits and vignettes. From the martial stomp of "David Watts" to the lovely, shimmering "Waterloo Sunset," there's not a weak song on the record, and several -- such as the allegorical "Two Sisters," the Noël Coward-esque "End of the Season," the rolling "Lazy Old Sun," and the wry "Situation Vacant" -- are stunners. And just as impressive is the emergence of Dave Davies as a songwriter. His Dylanesque "Death of a Clown" and bluesy rocker "Love Me Till the Sun Shines" hold their own against Ray's masterpieces, and help make Something Else the endlessly fascinating album that it is. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 28, 1966 | Sanctuary Records

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Rock - Released October 10, 1969 | Sanctuary Records

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When The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society was released in November 1968, the Davies brothers unveiled an album that was out of time. It was a pop masterpiece that was steeped in nostalgia for an Olde England and some thought it was almost backward-looking, though today it is considered one of the most influential records of its time. What’s more, it proved that there’s more to life than just Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards! Following that spectacular record, their fans were wondering what could possibly come next. The idea didn’t come from either of the brother’s creative brains but in fact from the producers of Granada Television who commissioned them for… a rock opera! The plot takes place in post-war England and revolves around Arthur, a carpet-layer who emigrates with his family to Australia as he struggles to find his place in the world. The story was inspired by the Davies brothers’ older sister Rose who moved down under in 1964 with her husband Arthur. Her move left a mark on Ray, who later composed Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home in 1966 for the album Face to Face. In any case, it provided more than enough material for the English songwriter to produce these deliciously crazy and ironic songs. In the end, the film was never shot and so Arthur was released in October 1969 with no visual aid.Almost as brilliant and nostalgic as , the record’s instrumental richness, skillful songwriting and intelligent compositions went to prove once again that The Kinks were just as creative as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. On Shangri-La, one of their most impressive compositions, the Davies brothers mix pop, rock and blues. Dave’s guitar playing is particularly impressive, revealing both thick riffs (Brainwashed) and intricate ballads (Young and Innocent Days). Unfortunately, the public didn’t exactly lap up the unusual, daring songs of this baroque farandole, instead opting for The Who’s Tommy. Though fortunately, time has been kind to Arthur and today the record is considered a genuine masterpiece. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released November 10, 2014 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released September 29, 1997 | Castle Communications

Although they generally aren't thought of as being as innovative as their contemporaries the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or the Who, the Kinks, thanks to Ray Davies' ever evolving songwriting and brother Dave Davies' power chording, fuzzed-out guitar sound, may well have influenced the actual sound of later bands more than any of those groups. This fine single disc collection brings together the Kinks' Pye Records singles from the 1960s, and includes the power chord shot heard around the world, "You Really Got Me," as well as its close siblings "All Day and All of the Night," "Tired of Waiting for You" and "Til the End of the Day," and later and relatively more sophisticated hits like "Waterloo Sunset" and "Lola." The end result is a solid chronological survey of the Kinks' most commercial and influential period. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 1, 1986 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released December 16, 2014 | Sanctuary Records

There was a time when the Kinks had no box sets to their name, but that ended in 2008 when the career-spanning Picture Book appeared. Six years later, there have been two limited-edition boxes -- 2011's The Kinks in Mono, which rounded up CD mono replications of their '60s LPs for Pye, plus 2012's The Kinks at the BBC -- and a host of deluxe editions and other compilations that may wind up dampening the appetite for the five-disc The Anthology 1964-1971, a deep dive into the group's '60s peak. After this steady stream of reissues, it's hard for some Kinks diehards not to cast a wary eye on The Anthology, but this is an exceptional set that eclipses any previous Kinks box. A large part of the success of The Anthology 1964-1971 is due to its tight focus on the Pye years. Such specificity allows for the inclusion of plenty of interesting alternate mixes and studio excerpts -- tracks that appear at first glance to be nothing more than collector bait but don't play that way in context -- but the greater gift of this limited scale is that it allows compiler Andrew Sandoval go into detail as he traces a dramatic arc from the Kinks' raucous early rock & roll through their ornate middle period and ending with Ray Davies' groundbreaking conceptual work of the late '60s. The Anthology takes its time. It takes eight songs to get to "You Really Got Me," which is enough for that galvanizing opening riff, which has been dulled a bit through repetition, to regain its edge. Elsewhere, there are similar nifty tricks of sequencing, particularly as Ray's songwriting starts to come into focus on the second disc, and once the third disc kicks off with "Sunny Afternoon," there is no end to the riches to be heard. This run is one of the greatest in pop music history and it sounds even better here thanks to the inclusion of songs that were scuttled off to B-sides or bootlegs but are firmly part of the Kinks canon ("Good Luck Charm," "Misty Water," "Creeping Jean," "Berkeley Mews," "Where Did My Spring Go," "Lincoln County," "This Man He Weeps Tonight"). Add to this alternate mixes that have some serious kick and original single mixes for the big hits, and it becomes clear that this is the Kinks box that rises above all the others. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 4, 1980 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released March 3, 1965 | Sanctuary Records

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The Kinks' second album, Kinda Kinks, was rush-recorded on either side (and in the midst) of a world tour that took them all the way to Australia in the course of bridging the 1964-1965 New Year. Under those circumstances, the fact that every cut but one was an original was no small tribute to the songwriting ability of Ray Davies, even if most of the songs were less than first-rate -- because what was first-rate was also highly memorable, and what wasn't also wasn't bad. In the space of two frantic late-December and mid-January sessions, and a brutal week in February of 1965, the group cut 11 songs to fill out a long-player that was already destined to contain "Tired of Waiting for You" (a product of the previous summer's work, held back by producer Shel Talmy for a single). Also along for the ride were the latter's driving B-side "Come on Now" and "Something Better Beginning" (both cut in December 1964). So the resulting record was uneven but filled with promise, and possessed of at least three bright spots -- additionally, and equally important, this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound, Dave Davies' guitar turned down (and even switched to acoustic in a couple of spots) as Ray Davies began exploring aspects of emotions and storytelling that transcended anything in the group's prior output -- "Nothin' in This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl" may have been a mouthful of a title, but it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965, but it didn't stop them from switching gears to the bluesy "Naggin' Woman." © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 26, 1965 | Sanctuary Records

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Rock - Released June 20, 2011 | Castle Communications

The Kink Kontroversy was a considerable leap forward in terms of quality, but it pales next to Face to Face, one of the finest collections of pop songs released during the '60s. Conceived as a loose concept album, Face to Face sees Ray Davies' fascination with English class and social structures flourish, as he creates a number of vivid character portraits. Davies' growth as a lyricist coincided with the Kinks' musical growth. Face to Face is filled with wonderful moments, whether it's the mocking Hawaiian guitars of the rocker "Holiday in Waikiki," the droning Eastern touches of "Fancy," the music hall shuffle of "Dandy," or the lazily rolling "Sunny Afternoon." And that only scratches the surface of the riches of Face to Face, which offers other classics like "Rosy Won't You Please Come Home," "Party Line," "Too Much on My Mind," "Rainy Day in June," and "Most Exclusive Residence for Sale," making the record one of the most distinctive and accomplished albums of its time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 17, 1978 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released June 20, 2011 | Castle Communications

Face to Face was a remarkable record, but its follow-up, Something Else, expands its accomplishments, offering 13 classic British pop songs. As Ray Davies' songwriting becomes more refined, he becomes more nostalgic and sentimental, retreating from the psychedelic and mod posturings that had dominated the rock world. Indeed, Something Else sounds like nothing else from 1967. The Kinks never rock very hard on the album, preferring acoustic ballads, music hall numbers, and tempered R&B to full-out guitar attacks. Part of the album's power lies in its calm music, since it provides an elegant support for Davies' character portraits and vignettes. From the martial stomp of "David Watts" to the lovely, shimmering "Waterloo Sunset," there's not a weak song on the record, and several -- such as the allegorical "Two Sisters," the Noël Coward-esque "End of the Season," the rolling "Lazy Old Sun," and the wry "Situation Vacant" -- are stunners. And just as impressive is the emergence of Dave Davies as a songwriter. His Dylanesque "Death of a Clown" and bluesy rocker "Love Me Till the Sun Shines" hold their own against Ray's masterpieces, and help make Something Else the endlessly fascinating album that it is. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 10, 1979 | Legacy Recordings

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The Kinks in the magazine
  • Britpop forever
    Britpop forever The brilliant new album from Eugene McGuinness, leader of everlasting English rock…