Manager Robert Wace “I had a friend … He thought the group was rather fun. If my memory is correct, he came up with the name just as an idea, as a good way of getting publicity … When we went to [the band members] with the name, they were … absolutely horrified. They said, ‘We’re not going to be called kinky!'”
Ray Davies’ account conflicts with Wace’s—he recalled that the name was coined by later manager Larry Page, and referenced their “kinky” fashion sense. Davies quoted him as saying, “The way you look, and the clothes you wear, you ought to be called the Kinks.”I’ve never really liked the name,” Ray stated.
I know that ME is not the only rabid Kinks fan. A certain fellow blogger whose name I will not reveal for confidentiality purposes but whose initials are CB and who lives up where you should not eat the yellow snow kinda digs them too.
Now, I haven’t written about the Muswell Hillbillies in a while. Here I’ll pick six perhaps less well-known tunes and expand it to a kinky 10 in the inevitable Spotify list. I’ll do a mix of early British Invasion Kinks to later arena rock guys.
I suppose the first tune isn’t exactly unknown but then it’s not quite “Lola” famous either. From that arena rock era comes 1977’s Sleepwalker and “Juke Box Music.” Wikipedia: Ray Davies described the song as being about “a girl who listens to the jukebox all day and really believes all the lyrics. People like me write lots of lyrics and she really believes it.” (Sure, but I keep dialing 867-5309 and never get Jenny.)
You may well know that one of the lads’ classic albums is The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. You should definitely give this one a listen as it will have you using terms such as “old boy,” eating mushy peas, and drinking a cuppa in no time. From that album, I give you “Picture Book.” (Davies has some weird picture fetish going on. The last track of the album says, “people take pictures of each other just to prove they really existed.” That is a line Dylan could appreciate.)
I am going to skip the great “Waterloo Sunset” as I did an entire post on that song here. But a slower, more thoughtful if melancholy track from 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. (To the best of my knowledge there was never a Part Two) is an old favorite.
The song is called “This Time Tomorrow” and while it’s likely that Ray wrote it while flying to some gig, it also carries a poignant universal message that resonates:
Well, this time tomorrow where will we be
On a spaceship somewhere, sailing across an empty sea
Well, this time tomorrow where will we be
This time tomorrow what will we see
This time tomorrow
While I liked some of the Seventies Kinks, the band I first fell in love with was the oh-so-British Sixties band. I knew all the hits. (McCartney was a big fan of “You Really Got Me.” Lennon supposedly accused them of being a cheap Beatles knockoff.) There were tunes the band released that weren’t hits here (maybe even in England, don’t know) but that are still great tunes.
If you’re curious, Kink Kronikles is the album for you. Curated by an otherwise witless rock critic named John Mendelson*, it’s chock-a-block with great stuff, weird B-sides, etc. I promised you some obscure off-beat shit.
So, from Kronikles here comes “Berkeley Mews.” In Britspeak, a mews is a yard or street lined by buildings originally used as stables but now often converted into dwellings. So, whatever. This was on the B-side of “Lola.” And stay tuned for the blues ending:
Let us now journey on our Brit expedition over to Muswell Hill and the Muswell Hillbillies album. Strictly speaking, this album was the follow-up to the wildly successful “Lola” but pretty much tanked. (Actually they did a soundtrack for a film called Percy which was the kind of thing they made in those days before the studios went all blockbuster. You can read the plot -such as it is – below. Let me know if you ever see it.)**
On “20th Century Man”, Davies makes it clear he neither wants to live nor die here. I also want to give a shout out here to Mick Avory’s fine drumming on so many Kinks songs. He eventually left the band because he and Dave Davies could not get along. Rolling Stone has him #79 on the list of best drummers
I won’t end this post without a nod from my all-time favorite Kinks album, Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) which I profiled here. Poor Arthur has moved away to Australia to find a better life. But it sounds like, well, maybe he brought his problems with him. But we’ll rock out anyway. Just to make him feel good;
God save the Kinks!
*Mendelsohn famously trashed the first two Zep albums in Rolling Stone and got rightfully torched for it. To this day he can’t begrudgingly admit he was wrong. How come rock critics and bloggers are such opinionated a-holes? I ask you!
**Plot of Percy. = Edwin (Bennett), an innocent and shy young man, is hit by a nude man falling from a high-rise building while carrying a chandelier. Edwin’s penis is mutilated in the accident and has to be amputated; the falling man is killed.
Edwin becomes the recipient of the world’s first penis transplant: he receives the very large penis of the womanizer killed in the same accident. With his new bit of anatomy (which he names “Percy”), Edwin follows the womanizer’s footsteps, meeting all his women friends, before settling happily with the donor’s mistreated widow.