Album no. 66/1001
Our first Kinks album! Are they just a poor man’s Beatles? Is there more to them than Wes Anderson soundtracks? Have they got songs about real estate and session musicians?
The Kinks formed in 1963, and this is their fourth album. That seems like a pretty insane output, and given Ray Davies had a nervous breakdown just before they recorded it, it seems to have been taking a bit of a toll. The Kinks are known for Ray’s observational lyrics, especially reflecting the changing English culture. This is the first album where Ray wrote all the songs, and the lyrics are already a long way from ‘You Really Got Me’.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I’ve never heard this. The only song I recognise here is ‘Sunny Afternoon’. I have got the album before this and the album after it, but somehow have never listened to this one.
CL: Same. (Except for the part about listening to previous albums. I haven’t.)
NK: ‘Party Line’! It’s really fun! It’s also ever so slightly out of date. I’m not sure how many people who have mobile phones will have lived with a phone on a party line. It’s a good kick-off opener, really upbeat, fun guitars, sort of weird lyrics. ‘Sunny Afternoon’ is good as well.
CL: Aside from ‘Sunny Afternoon’, which is a genius song, ‘Rainy Day In June’ was quite good. I enjoyed the thunderstorm sound effects in the middle. It reminded me a bit of The Doors. Harpsichord is a terrible instrument though. ‘Session Man’ would be much better without it. Having said that, I really don’t like when artists have to try really, really hard to make things rhyme. For example:
“He’s a session man
A chord progress-ian
A top music-ian”
Stop. Stop it. Don’t do that.
NK: ‘Session Man’ is not one of my highlights. I quite like harpsichord on ‘Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home’ though, even if it definitely sounds like The Doors.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Since I saw The Darjeeling Limited I tend to associate The Kinks with Wes Anderson movies (although I think all their tracks on that were from Lola vs Powerman and the Moneygoround) which is kind of a shame, but hard to shake. They do work well on a train trip across India, but I think this album is better suited to being played in a dingy pub. Good vibe.
CL: It’s the sort of music I could imagine playing at a theme park. Or at the very least, soundtracking a movie based at a theme park.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This is the first Kinks album where they wrote all the songs themselves (or Ray Davies wrote them at least), and he’s already singing about some weird stuff. Who else has got a song called ‘Most Exclusive Residence For Sale’? Even ‘Party Line’ is kind of a weird topic for a song. This album also has some weird sound effects between (and sometimes over the top of) songs, which sort of join the whole thing together. We’re definitely moving further towards the album as a whole, rather than a collection of songs.
CL: There were some good tracks on here – but it’s a bit… I don’t know… happy? Like, the songs are a bit irreverent, the music is catchy, but it’s just the same level the whole way through. There aren’t any peaks or troughs.
NK: It is pretty upbeat isn’t it? I didn’t really notice that until you pointed it out. ‘Rosie won’t you please come home’ isn’t quite as bright. They are pretty cheery overall though.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Probably. I quite like the Kinks, and a few tracks on this are really fun.
CL: Look. To me, this just sounds like a poor man’s version of The Beatles. They’ve given the old sitar a go on ‘Fancy’, they’ve got some weird songs about real estate… it’s really not doing much for me. I didn’t hate it, so maybe I’ll listen to it again, but I certainly won’t be rushing to get to it again.
NK: So that’s a yes?
Listen to Face To Face on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.