Review Summary: The Kinks release their most "Kontroversial" album yet!
Ladies and Gentlemen…The Kinks!
Ray Davies – Rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Dave Davies – Lead guitar, backing vocals
Pete Quaife – Bass guitar
Mick Avory – Drums
“The Kink Kontroversy” was “Kontroversial” indeed! (I guess). Mick Avory is hardly in this album only appears in three tracks while the rest a session musician takes over drum duty (Was Mick grounded? Was he injured?). Anyway that is not the point. What we have here is a very fine produced and consistent album. The listener gets three sides of the band; the beat pop melodic songs, the hard rockin’ songs and finally the folksy-acoustic songs that will envelope the Kinks for the following years. Ray Davies continues to write personal and introspective lyrics, however his vocals are not up to par as the previous albums. He sounds tired and uninspired at times and in some songs just depressed. But one of the reasons why this is considered a “Klassic” is the addition of legendary session keyboardist, Nicky Hopkins! (Of Jeff Beck Group and Quicksilver Messenger Service). Hopkins added charm and more depth in songs through his talented playing; this is the start of what I like to call the “Nicky” period (1965-1968) of the band. Of course everyone else in the band is fantastic here (with the exception of Mr. Avory). So let’s say we dive right in:
Track 1 – Milk Cow Blues
The album opens up with a killer blues cover; now does the band do a good job? Not exactly, But the rawness and energy explodes with greatness. Dave Davies is on vocals and does well, on the guitar he does an amazing job and delivers one of his best solos ever! Pete’s bass is wild, especially by the end of the track when the song morphs into a fast, “punky” number. And Nicky’s fills is all over the place. A very strong opener indeed!
Track 2 – Ring the Bells
The guys slow things down with this “folky” song. Here we catch the Kinks sound maturing especially on Ray’s mellow voice. The melodic arpeggios works well in this somber song. A neat “bedtime” track.
Track 3 – Gotta Get the First Plane Home
A beat pop rocker with a great guitar riff. Ray brings out the harmonica once again and performs a solo that serves the short song well. However nothing spectacular here, another generic 60’s rock song.
Track 4 – When I See That Girl of Mine
Another beat song here. Ray doesn’t put any emotion in this track which affects the song as a whole, making it boring. The only spark in this song is Pete’s “rock and rollish” bass riff that moves the song forward. But it’s still not interesting.
Track 5 – I Am Free
This is a good “folky” song, penned by Dave. The band sounds good with Dave on vocals in which he’s doing a better job than Ray so far. Pete’s bass is loud at times but it’s not a problem. Again Nicky is great; the piano gives the song an old “western style” feel to it.
Track 6 – Till the End of the Day
This song plainly ROCKS! A hard “garager” in the same vein as “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of The Night” this song has great use of power chords, a catchy chorus and a sweet solo (the best guitar solo of the album) Man was Dave a such an unrated guitarist! Ray sounds weak on this song also but it really doesn’t affect the song at all, just listen to the end of the track when the band speeds up the tempo! Priceless material!
Track 7 – The World Keeps Going Round
Side 2 opens up with a very downer song with some personal sad lyrics sung by Ray. This style of song writing would dominate the Kink’s material for the rest of their career. The mid-tempo music fits with the content of the song and Ray’s “tired” voice adds more depth.
Track 8 – I’m On an Island
This song predates “Apeman” for about five years! A great track that sets a“Caribbean” feel in to the mix. Truly one of Ray’s earliest brilliantly fun songs that was very original at the time. Even Mr. Hopkins delivers a sweet little piano solo.
Track 9 – Where Have All the Good Times Gone
An excellent track that combine the best of both worlds; hard rock and folk. Ray writes more introspective lyrics and his voice quite resembles Bob Dylan here. The way I see it; this could have been a farewell song to the British Invasion. The chorus is great, the guitars are perfect (Dave’s guitar is very much distorted and Ray’s is very “acoustic”?) and Mick’s drum fills are very welcoming to the track (oh! There he is!)
Track 10 – It’s Too Late
A very decent acoustic rock and roll song. Once again Ray’s vocal are weak here and doesn’t have any emotional impact at all. The song is saved by Nicky’s excellent solo. It’s a good song nonetheless.
Track 11 – What’s In Store for Me
Dave returns on vocals here and does an excellent job. His voice sounds so mature; I find it hard to believe Dave did a better job on vocals than Ray did in this album. The song is good of course a regular 60’s style pop rocker with a confusing little guitar solo (what happened there Dave?)
Track 12 – You Can’t Win
Finally the album closes with a good rocker that has an upset sounding Ray on vocals. Dave’s guitar lick is just too dangerous and cool, and his solo is merciless. Pete’s bass is chugging louder than life while Nicky’s piano fills add color to this song than any other tracks of this album.
This album marks the end of the Kink’s “original hard pop-rock” era and is probably the finest album of that era. The guys all did a great job here delivering very catchy short rockers and mellow acoustic rockers. But of course this album serves as a pathway to the proceeding album (that’s another story). If you’re looking for catchy 60’s pop rock or just a “Kasual” Kinks fan, definitely pick this one up it won’t disappoint. I recommend getting the 2011 reissue of this album; which includes bonus tracks like: “Sittin’ on a Sofa” and my personal favorite “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”.
- Till the End Of the Day
- Milk Cow Blues
- I’m On an Island
- Where Have All the Good Times Gone