Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Kinks Face to Face: Album Review

1966 - a ground-breaking year for rock music: This was the year the Beatles shot to the top of the charts with Revolver, Bob Dylan went Blonde on Blonde, the Beach Boys were offering us Pet Sounds, the Stones were giving us the Aftermath of their early beat sound and Simon and Garfunkel were showing is the Sound of Silence. Truly a remarkable year with everyone seeming on the top of their game and into the mix came the fourth album from The Kinks.

That album was Face to Face - all in all 66 was a good year for the band. Sunny Afternoon topped the UK singles chart that summer. In was a good time to be kinky even if Ray Davies did suffer a breakdown that year which delayed the sessions for the album that would become Face to Face - these problems meant that much more time that was then usual was spent on the making of this album. This extra time, and maybe the mental problems, paid off and FACE TO FACE remains an absolute 60's masterpiece.

In fact FACE TO FACE may be the first truly great Kinks album - the earlier albums all had their moments but there was a lot of filler packing out the grooves - not so with FACE TO FACE - there's not a bad song on the album. And Ray's song writing had never been better - Sunny Afternoon, Dandy and Rosie won't you please come home, are genuine Kink classics.

Side 1
Party Line
Rosy won't you please come home
Too much on my Mind
Session Man
Rainy Day in June
House in the Country

Side 2
Holiday in Wakiki
Most Exclusive Residence for Sale
Little Miss Queen of Darkness
You're Looking Fine
Sunny Afternoon
I'll Remember
Lyrically the album is a milestone. Ray Davies here showed  a rare talent to portray socially realistic  themes,  which he continued to work with over the next decades. While the group developed artistically, they were still able to continually hold a grip of the charts with songs like Sunny Afternoon, and Dead End Street. It is often said that Village Green Preservation Society is the best Kinks album, but to my mind this is a stronger contender for that honour. Ray Davies wasn't so much writing songs as creating three minute soap operas and situation comedies. There's great humour in Sunny Afternoon.The tax man's taken all my dough
And left me in my stately home
Lazing on a sunny afternoon
And I can't sail my yacht
He's taken everything I got
All I've got's this sunny afternoon
And Dandy is a whimsical slice if genius, perfecly summing up the decade of sexual excessKnockin' on the back door,
Climbing through the window,
Hubby's gone away,
And while the cat's away,
The mice are gonna play.
Oh, you low down Dandy, Dandy.
Each of the songs on this album is a snapshot of the times - musically complex, lyrically meaningful - a stunning piece of work.

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