Thursday, 8 April 2010


Some years ago I spent the day getting drunk in sports bar in San Diego and fell in with a group of locals. They were a raggedy bunch and in between fighting each other, making up, telling their hard luck stories, crying, fighting again, cadging drinks and scoring crystal meth, we somehow – incredibly – got on to the subject of The Kinks. It turned out me and one of them had both met Ray Davies. What did you say to him? “I said, “My name is Dan and I’m a fan””. Bet he loved that. “Oh yeah”. I wondered how long Dan had been into them. “Right from the beginning. Way back”. Can you remember the first record you bought? “Schoolboys in Disgrace”. Ah, right, their 1976 concept album with a cartoon of a naughty schoolboy having his bare bum caned. Nice.

That neatly sums up how there are to all intents and purposes two versions of The Kinks. I’d like to bump into Dan again to give him this DVD. He might like it. I feel like I’ve been tortured. The running time is listed as 87 minutes yet it felt like 870. There’s a ground swell of support for a Kinks reunion but careful what you wish for. The band are always held up as the quintessential English group yet hardly anyone in England gives a buttered scone or toasted crumpet for anything they did beyond the 60s. And they released tons of albums: one every year during the 70s, another five in the 80s, and then more still after. On that basis I’ll give The Story of The Kinks some begrudging credit for attempting to cover their entire career, it’s just a pity it’s done in such a sloppy fashion, you wonder why they bothered: a corny “legends” montage; a naff voice-over telling you the band were banned from the US “for unspecified reasons”; caption errors; poor quality footage; weird chronology; baffling song selections; uneven timings; clumsy editing; nasty slow-motion backstage shots; live stadium rock versions; and an endless procession of mullets. It’s awful. It’s like it was made for American television twenty years ago during someone’s lunch break. I’m surprised people have the brass neck to flog this shit – for the ludicrous price of £16.99 - in 2010.

But even with all those distractions, these are The Kinks and if you can persevere (and haven’t heard of that there YouTube website thing) there are slithers of fun to be had. As terrible an R&B band as they were, they were by default an incredible early punk band. Hear the savage treatment they dish out to “I’m A Lover Not A Fighter” and the slurred slaughtering of “Milk Cow Blues” live on television in 1966. And by contrast, the 70s ballads “Celluloid Heroes” and “Misfits” demonstrate if you rummage hard enough you can find excellent material post Muswell Hillbillies.

So there you have it. Dan, if you’re reading this, give me shout and I’ll send you the DVD. If nothing else you might get a couple of bucks for it to help feed the meth habit.

You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks is released by ABC Entertainment/Voiceprint, priced £16.99.


  1. Sounds about as good as The Specials DVD that came out here a few years ago where the footage looked like it'd come off of YouTube, the narrator stammered like a college radio DJ on his first show and the information he was reading was probably gleaned from Wikipedia!

  2. What a shame I had high hopes...God Save the Kinks!

  3. Gah! The Kinks 70s-90s stuff is so underrated. While The Stones and The Who pretty much turned into jokes, Ray Davies and The Kinks were always evolving and trying different things.

    While some the more experimental things didn't always work (Preservation Act), you have admire the ambition. And even with those two albums, there's some great songs. The two albums, especially the second, just don't work so well as a whole.

    And the Arena Rock period just kicks ass. They could have been rivals of bands like The Clash, The Jam or even Van Halen (in a good way). Very underrated guitar work from Dave during this period too.

  4. Cheers for the balance savermarma. I will dig a bit deeper in that period as it has always passed me by and odd tracks like "Misfits" for example sound great. I was hoping the DVD would be a good introduction but it was presented in such a shoddy way it almost worked the other way.

  5. You're right - the UK doesn't care about anything they did post-1970, and as a result, Ray started tailoring his work more and more toward American tastes. But my understanding is that the Brits hold the 60's stuff in such HIGH regard (Didn't they recently vote "Waterloo Sunset" as the best single of the last 50 years or something?) that the quintessential British band title seems justified to me.

    And for what it's worth, this DVD sounds like a real sloppy chop job but there are a TON of songs from the 80's and 90's that I love and think stand up to their 60's work, if not above it... Songs like "Loony Balloon," "Now and Then," "When You Were a Child," "Scattered," "How Are You," "Missing Persons," and many others rival and show a maturity well beyond the 60's stuff, in my opinion.

    Thanks for the review.