Friday, December 17, 2010

The Kinks -- All Day And All Of The Night, Day-by-day concerts, recordings and broadcasts, 1961-1996 -- Doug Hinman's Great Kinks Archeology Book

     Reading through my Kinks Preservation Society email update today about the latest in a long line of impressive events and honors intended to cement Ray Davies' "Great Man" status in contemporary Great British life (could an equestrian statue be next?), I felt a little sad realizing that I didn't like this trend and, of course, that each such milestone seemed to increase the distance between Ossified, Reified Today and Vital, Rocking Yesterday.


     Obviously, Ray Davies deserves the honors he is receiving and all the respect in the world.  (He already has the money and, if what he has isn't enough for him, it really should be, and he can always go out, satisfy lucky audiences with his art, and earn more).  It's just that when Ray himself described the creepiness and moldiness of the rock-becoming-respectable phenomenon at the 1990 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame awards evening (the The Kinks' own induction ceremony) with his witty, unexpected "what a bummer" punchline, he nailed it, as he usually does.

Ray and Dave, Arthur photo sessions, 1969

     Now that Ray been chosen to "curate" (formerly a very good, precisely applied word, that's recently been co-opted by today's "Mad Men" to add a touch of museum-quality dignity to any old activity involving the act of considering for inclusion) the 2011 Meltdown Festival in London, it feels more like another nail in the coffin than a welcome breakthrough.  Rock and roll curated?  Stop the world, I want to get off.

     Unfortunately, what became apparent a long time ago (which anyone with ears can hear, which easily could have been foreseen) is that Ray Davies without Dave Davies is an incomplete artistic entity, a ghost of his former self,  last year's pretty Postcard From London and Ray's great personal charm and sartorial splendor notwithstanding.

     Ray obviously knows this and said as much many years ago at the time he was forced to record the soundtrack for his Return To Waterloo movie without Dave's participation. (For non-fans, Dave refused to play on the soundtrack because he felt the film represented an inappropriate diversion of attention from band activities.)  Although it was fascinating hearing Ray play all guitars on the record, which was a superb collection of songs that provided the lyrical script to that otherwise silent movie, Dave's absence was palpable and left a cold void where there should have been fire, ice and tears.

     The brothers always, always completed each other's thoughts, and Dave especially Ray's.

     Silly as it may be that I'm still obsessed with The Kinks as a band, I've finally accepted that it's over, has been for a long time and will never happen again.  The Louvin Brothers never re-formed.  The Everly Brothers did and it didn't greatly matter.  Ray was right to strike out on his own after the band plumbed the bottom of their commercial trough (promoting the excellent, but unappreciated Phobia record) and he has made a great success of his later career, including all the "great man/elder statesman" fol-de-rol.  I will always try to keep listening with an open mind, but caring less and less I'm afraid. 

     This is why I'm grateful to have Doug Hinman's wonderful The Kinks -- All Day And All Of The Night, Day-by-day concerts, recordings and broadcasts, 1961-1996 (San Francisco, Backbeat Books, 2004), available to me always.  Hinman, who is both a musician and a professional reference librarian, obviously gained the band's trust as no other journalist had ever before and was permitted to trawl through recording files, business records and band archives, producing a major archeological work covering the group's 35-year career.

     His day-by-day (it feels more like minute-by-minute) chronology lets the group's story tell itself without any unwanted, irrelevant rock critical interference.  If you read closely enough (text and indexes), most of your nagging questions (including those of the "why did they cancel this show? tour? again? variety -- highly relevant for this band) will be answered, the answers to certain questions suggesting recurring behavior patterns answering others.

     The book is coffee-table size, beautifully laid out and produced and would make an excellent Christmas gift for yourself, if you don't have it already, for treasured friends, and for children you know who will one day thank you for thinking ahead.

Note to readers:  The following link isn't directly Kinks-related, but is something I wanted to share and seems appropriate to link to this London-est of rock bands.  The London Daily Photo blog is a treasure, a gift that keeps on giving:

3/24/11 Additional Note to Reader:  This morning's Guardian included an article and interview with Ray Davies announcing his preliminary selections and thoughts regarding the 2011 Meltdown Festival.  While the views I originally expressed remain the same, I must say that Ray has some great ideas and has made some excellent choices:

 No. 6 Denmark Terrace, Fortis Green, Muswell Hill, London -- Where it all began

View from Waterloo Bridge


  1. Curtis, I don't think their music will ever ossify, at least as long as it lives in your heart.

    And as for the future, who knows.

    All this music we have loved and still love will probably be viewed as one big La Brea Tar Pits.

    (If, that is, anybody remembers the La Brea Tar Pits.)

  2. You are so right. That being said, I suggest you do not check out Ray Davies' performance (a duet with Paloma Faith) of Lola at the Royal Variety Performance last week. I did this morning and, although I understand "that's showbiz" and the things that go along with it, this was really dire. (By the way, this was the event Prince Charles and his wife were driving to when their car was attacked by the angry crowd, which included Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's son. All very strange.) I love the La Brea Tar Pits and think about them all the time. I'm surprised that they've become so relatively obscure. They were even mentioned on I Love Lucy, which is still fairly popular. Every time I would head into or out of LA on La Cienega and see the oil rigs, the first thing I would think about were the tar pits. As for other ossification/reification, I think I need to listen more and be more aware and open-minded. Caroline and Jane both are, I would imagine that you are also, and I need to follow your collective example. Curtis

  3. I recently bought a volume of Hullabalos, including the first performabnce I ever saw by the Kinks. Early 1965. They do You Really Got Me and, later, All Day and All of the Night. Franky Avalon hosts.

    Both songs are lip-synched. Ray wears very tight pants. It must have been some other show where they dressed as if riding to hounds.

    The dvd is overall disappointing, as how could it not be, given the impact of some of those orignal viewings back in fifth grade.

    Two excellent live performances do appear on the same dvd, one by the Shangri-Las (Gonna walk right up to him; givin' him a Great Big Kiss -- MWAH!) and the other by the Animals (already sans Alan Price).

  4. I've read Ray's comments about those trousers. He's really fastidious and theoretical about fashion. For a long time, as soon as they could afford to do it, the Davies brothers had most of their clothing custom-made. It was just something they felt strongly about and they could afford to do it. I would probably do it also if: a) I could afford it; and b) could get the rest of my life together sufficiently both to execute the plan and enjoy the results. Curtis

  5. Oh well, there will be no fashions in that big sky stadium venue where we're all headed. The Kinks did, in their day, look a good deal more dapper than, for example, the Animals, but that was perhaps regional. The Pretty Things looked even prettier than the Kinks, and where are they now? It's the art work and not the pants that endures. Said the pinhead theorist.

  6. Considering all the things I should be concentrating on, I must confess with some embarrassment that I know exactly where the Pretty Things are now (and they're actually doing ok). Ray and Dave's sartorial splendor used to be something to behold (Ray's taste, oddly, generally failed him in the shoe department), but as you imply, the caravan has moved on (in Ray's case, to a truly splendid abode in Highgate Village). Happily, he will be reunited with Eric Burdon at next month's Ready, Steady, Go! evening, which is part of the Ray "curated" Meltdown Festival, which if I understand correctly, grew out of the old Festival of Britain. However, it is indeed the work that endures, even when you write contracts for a living. Curtis