with most "Best Of" records, this seems like an attempt to
give the majority of people who like the Kinks, but arenít
fans, a collection of music they may like to own. And I guess
in itself, that motive is not evil. What is evil is how many
labels have released a "Best Of" record with 3 of the groupís
best songs, and a plethora of crap. This album almost fits
into that, if not for the fact that the Kinks did write more
good songs than the 4 that ever saw the light of radio. My
other gripe about these "Best Of" collections is that all
too often, like here, the radio singles are represented by
live tracks, rather than the actual studio/single releases.
But I digressÖ
Dancing" begins this collection. And well it should, as it
is the finest of Kinks songs, and a fitting title for a Kinks
record. This song is one of the least known of the 3 or 4
Kinks radio songs, and by far the most overlooked. The horns
are powerful, and the song just comes alive in your ears.
Thereís a party in my head, and everyone is invited! "Low
Budget" is a typical rock track of the 1979 era. Youíve got
your blues-rock guitar with its great riffs, and doubled up
chorus background vocals. Itís a nice song, fitting right
alongside anything that Thorogood could throw at you. "Catch
Me Now Iím Falling" begins with a Beatles sounding piano part,
and then kicks in the guitars and drums, and a rock song is
born. I love the way the vocals are produced as if they are
in the distance, and the pre-metal metal guitar is always
welcome. More blues-rock greets the ears on "A Gallon Of Gas."
With all the trademark stop and go of white blues, and a great
late 70ís guitar tone, this song is listenable, but not much
I Could Fly) Like Superman" is the disco edit of the somewhat
fun song released in í79. Itís a song that, despite its disco
drums, is enjoyable and has all the elements of a great single.
A fast paced bass beat, and nice stereo guitars highlight
the track and help to de-emphasize the vocal lines, although
they are well written and performed. "Sleepwalker" is a bar
room pleasure, complete with hopping piano, and early metal
guitar parts. Itís a fun song, and easily gets the toes-a-tapping.
More fantastic Davies-brother piano begins the song "Full
Moon." This is one of those songs that I had completely forgotten
about ever hearing, and now I donít understand why. It is
a very lush arrangement with a chorus of background vocals,
reminiscent of Wall-era Pink Floyd. "Misfits," from 1978,
is a great track that highlights a band in transition. That
transition was from the pop music of the early 70ís and 60ís,
to the heavier guitar rock of the late 70ís. "Take a look
all around, the misfits are everywhere" Ray seemed to be speaking
more of himself and his band in this song than making any
heavy social commentary. "A Rock And Roll Fantasy" continues
the tone of questioning who the band was, and the possibilities
in their future. The death of Elvis Presley at this time seemed
to influence Rayís writing, and this song is a prime example.
"The King is dead, rock is done, you might be through, but
Iíve just begunÖ" This music, the Kinks in 1977-78, was pure
magic, and I wish it was represented more here.
this compilation jumps forward to the mid-80ís with "Do It
Again," a departure from the heavy metal sounds, and a hearkening
to a Who-like sound. Ray began writing great songs again and
left behind so much of the frustration that seemed to plague
him in the late 70ís. This was a great song then, and it is
still a great song now. More great Daviesí piano and punch
on "Better Things." From 1981, this track was so David Bowie,
and so well produced, I remember not even thinking it could
be anyone but. The Kinks continued to grow and shift as a
band, defying easy categorizations, and gaining new fans.
In much of this material from the early 80ís, there is a lighter
feeling, a feeling of joy from the band. Two live performances
are included here for the songs "Lola" and "You Really
Got Me." It is really a sad effort to include songs from the
60ís on an album of songs from the 70ís and 80ís in order
to make the compilation more accessible to people who arenít
fans. "Lola" is well performed, and everything is exactly
where it should be. "You Really Got Me" lacks the power of
the original guitars, but it is a nice version, despite the
heavy metal guitar solo. "Good Day" is a quirky little song,
with more aural possibilities than other Kinks recordings.
This is a song that reveals more things to your ear each time
you listen. "Holes in my socks and I canít find my shoes.
Itís no surprise that Iím singing the blues."
out this compilation is the Dave Daviesí penned "Living On
A Thin Line." A brilliant song, and one of Daveís best, it
carries along a martial cadence in vivid 80ís style. To think
that this was the Kinks in their final days of glory is hard,
but the legacy of songs such as this and "Donít Forget To
Dance" are indisputable. Both were well written, and well
produced, and were some highlights of the post-stadium-era
Kinks performances. "Destroyer" was a product of that stadium
rock experience. The culmination of the need for the band
to produce music that could be presented in that stadium environment,
led to simplifying and biggifying their sound. "Destroyer"
remains, to this day, one of my favorite Kinks songs, and
I am happy to have it here with its inherent rip-offs of their
own early hits. "Father Christmas" brings us back to the angst
of 1977 with a lighthearted romp about kids beating the crap
out of Santa. Sleigh bells and wonderful guitars highlight
a song with a serious message about not forgetting that some
people have less than others at a special time of year. "Father
Christmas, give us your money, weíll beat you up if you make
us annoyedÖ donít mess around with your silly toys."
limiting character of this record being the "Best of 1977-1986"
weighs heavily on me. I would rather this had been the best
of the Kinks from 1963-1983, so it could begin with "You Really
Got Me" and go on to include songs like "Sunday Afternoon"
and finish up with "Come Dancing." The influence that the
Kinks had on the heavy metal movement of the 80ís is very
evident on this compilation, and it is certainly aimed more
at that listening audience. If you are looking for those Kinksí
songs that you know you love, this may not be the place, but
if you would like to hear some gems that you probably never
heard, unless a fan, then this compilation is worth the buying.
Me Now Iím Falling
Gallon Of Gas
I Could Fly) Like Superman [disco edit]
Rock n Roll Fantasy
Really Got Me [live]
On A Thin Line
Forget To Dance