Review Summary: The Kinks begin their amazingly "underrated" career in this debut!
Meet The Kinks!
Ray Davies – Rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Dave Davies – Lead guitar, backing vocals
Pete Quaife – Bass guitar
Mick Avory – Drums
The Kinks debut album was in no way a groundbreaking album. It was not innovating and memorable. If you have already listened to The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Beatles etc. Then you know what you’re missing. However unlike the other bands of the British Invasion this band indeed had their sound. Very fast and loud rock and roll that even predated the legendary Who! “Kinks” is chock filled with R&B (Rhythm and blues) covers and beat music. There was a problem; The Kinks were NOT a very good R&B band to begin with. But it is fun to hear a young band showing off their chops early on. Five of these songs were penned by big brother Ray Davies and they are far superior to the covers! (Especially that ONE song everyone knows; more on that later) With that being said let’s see what’s on the menu:
Track 1 – Beautiful Delilah
The album opens up with a Chuck Berry cover. Great way to start the album with a fast paced fun song. Mick does a very decent job on the drums in this song (throughout the album as a matter of fact) Dave’s guitar lick is delicious and quite “garagy” with a phenomenal solo. The problem I had with the song is Dave’s vocals! Why did it sound as if he was struggling? Like I’ve stated before; R&B was not The Kink’s forte.
Track 2 – So Mystifying
The first Ray song of the album and it’s better than the first track. Ray vocal’s proves to be a major improvement over Dave, Sound like he has things under control. The guitar riff is catchy and enjoyable. Pete’s bass doesn’t let up in this song; makes the song jumpy. This could have been a potential single.
Track 3 – Just Can’t Go To Sleep
Generic 60’s beat pop song; really lacks spirit. The song isn’t all that bad; Ray did a good job, Mick was great especially on the bridge. But still it could have been better in my opinion.
Track 4 – Long Tall Shorty
Nothing new, just a regular old R&B song. Dave takes vocal duties again and does a better job than his first song. Ray plays the harmonica here which is good and gives the song an old “bluesy” feel to it; kind of early Rolling Stones. It’s not bad.
Track 5 – I Took My Baby Home
A very short and fantastic song! Everyone in the band comes together to make this track sound fast and fun. A cross between surf and garage rock, this song perfectly showcases the sound of the early Kinks! Ray penned this song, (even though he has a long way to go) still delivers a very catchy-poppy tune. And my goodness his voice here doesn’t sound anything like the Ray Davies we all know; very raspy and throaty. But enjoyable nonetheless, this is the type of music The Ramones will do in ’76!
Track 6 – I’m a Lover Not a Fighter
Continuing the same speed as the previous track; this song delivers more fun Rock & Roll! Dave takes the vocals here and does a decent job, it fits the song. He performs a neat solo that was well done. Mick was of course amazing in this track! He was a wild one in the drums. A very much underrated drummer.
Track 7 – You Really Got Me
And of course comes this song! What is there to say about this song that hasn’t been said before? This is the track that started it all, the blueprint of what it’s to come. After the very first second of the song, Dave’s heavy distorted guitar slaps the unexpected listener’s ear! This was the single that launched the Kinks into international stardom. It is quite obvious why; it’s the most original and creative song of all the 14 tracks. It causes a problem with the flow of the album; “You Really Got Me” sounds so out of place and shouldn’t be included in this album. Sure that wouldn’t make much sense, because the album was made in order to capitalize on the band’s success. So I guess it was a wise decision at the time. And one other thing I find strange is why put this track in the middle of the album? Is it because the producer wanted the listeners to hear the other tracks before they got to this one? Those are only the small problems I have with the track. It’s an amazing song, everyone in the band does a remarkable job, they were all top notch.
Track 8 – Cadillac
Side 2 of the album opens up with a Bo Diddley cover. This song has the same feel to the first track which is pretty fun and fast. Pete carries the song all the way through while Mick plows on the drums. Ray delivers a great harmonica solo. The band spelling Cadillac throughout the song just made me crack a smile.
Track 9 – Bald Headed Woman
The first of two songs penned by the band’s producer Shel Talmy. Both of Talmy’s songs share a common theme; bald people (was this supposed to be an early concept album?) This song is bad and very skippable. At first the song gives us a small taste of what The Kinks will be doing in a couple of years with a mellow acoustic guitar rhythm, and then the song transforms into filth. But wait a minute! Don’t skip yet! According to the album credits; session guitarists Jimmy Page (yeah THAT guy!) plays the acoustic guitar! Nevertheless it’s a bad song; skip to the next song please.
Track 10 – Revenge
The “dark, heavy and distorted” guitar returns in this fantastic instrumental! The boys did a phenomenal job! Again, Ray plays the harmonica and I don’t have any complaints. My goodness Mick was outstanding along with Pete; those guys can really carry a fast paced song! This is indeed of one of the highlights of the album and it was so short and sweet.
Track 11 – Too Much Monkey Business
Another Chuck Berry cover. These guys really relied on Berry material these days. The song is not bad it’s just I’ve heard this trillion of times before from other bands of this era. On the other hand Dave plays his heart out here, probably pulling off the second best guitar solo in the album.
Track 12 – I’ve Been Driving on Bald Mountain
The second and last song that was penned by producer Shel Talmy. Just like the first, dreadful material. This time around Dave is on vocals and does a remarkable job! However that doesn’t save the track from being such a big waste of time.
Track 13 – Stop Your Sobbing
A very nice melodic song sung by Ray with some harmonization with Dave. Cool track makes it feel that the album is coming to a close (could have been the album closer). Another example of Ray’s songwriting abilities, but of course it’s just the beginning he has a long way to go.
Track 14 – Got Love If You Want It
Clocking in at 3:46, this is the longest song of the album. And wow what a song. A Slim Harpo cover (that were covered by hundred different bands) The Kinks demonstrates they can jam like anybody else. The Rhythm section tears through the song thus taking the spotlight! Mick drums at his best while Ray wails on the harmonica! What great way to end the album making the listener wanting some more. Impressive stuff.
And there you have it. If you’re looking for early “protopunk” or “garage rock” stuff or an avid fan of 1960’s rock (like me) you should definitely give this album a listen its fun throughout. I seriously recommend getting the 2004 reissue of the album. It includes a bunch of bonus tracks such as the killer “All Day and All of the Night” and a fantastic cover of “Louie Louie” which has a “dirty” sound. These “Kink Kids” were still young and inexperienced and it truly shows on each track but you can tell the spirit is there, that’s what makes this debut the more enjoyable.
- You Really Got me
- I Took My Baby Home
- Revenge (instrumental)
- Got Love If You Want It (cover)