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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Kinks 1964-1971 box set

I've been on a Kinks kick of late, probably as a result of receiving The Kinks: The Anthology 1964-1971 five-disc box set for my birthday. It's an amazing box set, and I didn't expect to acquire it--mainly due to its rather steep price (it's just not the sort of thing I'd go out and buy for myself without feeling really guilty). I had checked out a digital copy of it via Hoopla and raved about it so much that a certain person took notice and got the physical version of it for me. I am extremely grateful.

Along with the Beatles--and in fact maybe even slightly more so than the Beatles--there is hardly a single song by the Kinks that I can't at least tolerate (at least from the band's beginnings in 1964 through the Muswell Hillbillies album in 1971). I suppose some of the Kinks' earliest songs, when Ray and Dave Davies were still honing their songwriting chops, are a bit spotty, but from 1965's Kink Kontroversy album through Muswell Hillbillies, one would be hard-pressed to find a single mediocre track in the discography.

So what makes the Kinks so great? Well, where to start? First of all, in the Kinks' heyday, Ray Davies had an uncanny ability to match intelligent, witty, insightful, and frequently funny lyrics with appropriately brilliant melodies. And the Kinks as a band were able to perform just about any style of music imaginable: crunchy garage rave-ups, jaunty music hall tunes, acoustic folky numbers. You name it. The only band that comes close to this is probably those four guys from Liverpool (though I don't know that the Fabs--at least on vinyl--ever rocked with the dirty ferocity of the Kinks, particularly on songs like "You Really Got Me," "Milkcow Blues," "I Need You," or "She's Got Everything").

The Kinks are among my favorite bands/artists/musicians. In fact, depending on the day or month, I may say they are my absolute favorite. It's a tough call, since there really are quite a few musicians out there who have given me enjoyment and pleasure for many years. So, as of this moment, I'd have to place the Kinks in the top three--and I'm enjoying the hell out of this box set. It'll most likely be in heavy rotation for weeks and months to come.