Ray Davies Is 65 – tomorrow

I think I may have heard the Kinks’ All Day and All of the Night as an in-store play in a Binghamton, NY department store called Philadelphia Sales. It seemed to be the loudest, most unrelenting piece of music I ever heard; I loved it.

The Kinks seemed to go in and out of fashion. There was the early success, then a second wave in the early 1970s (Victoria, Lola, Apeman) to some spotty success in the late 1970s (Superman) and somewhat greater acclaim in the early 1980s (Come Dancing, Don’t Forget to Dance).

I’ve been listening to a lot of Kinks music this month. One is the The Ultimate Collection, a 2002 greatest hits compilation. It’s a great grouping of songs, though it does not include the minor hit Destroyer [YouTube video], which cops the main riff from All Day and All of the Night, and the storyline is a continuation of the Lola saga. Fortunately, that song and Give The People What They want both show up on a live Kinks album I own.

Nor does the collection contain anything from my favorite Kinks album, the 1971 release Muswell Hillbillies. It was their debut album on RCA Records after their previous contract had expired. “The album is named after the Muswell Hill area of London, where band leader Ray Davies and guitarist Dave Davies grew up and where the band formed in the early 1960s.” The album bombed horribly, especially in contrast to the hits, but I enjoyed it greatly. It has elements of Dixieland jazz, dance hall tunes, and country. While Alcohol is probably my favorite song, I recall going around at the time saying, in the manner of Complicated Life, “Why is life soooo COM-plicated?”

I’m pleased to note that Ray Davies’ Other People’s Lives was one of my favorite albums in 2006. I noted at the time: “Given its long gestation period, an amazingly coherent album.”

So Ray Davies has had a positive musical effect on me for over four decades. Happy early birthday, Ray.

Old friend of mine with Ray late in 2005 or early in 2006.


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