The Anthology 1964–1971
The Kinks | Sanctuary Records ($57.98)
By Christopher Scapelliti
Few British Invasion bands had a career as checkered as that of the Kinks. Built around the guitars-and-vocals tandem of brothers Ray and Dave Davies, the North London group rose to fame in 1964 with “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” a pair of rousing blasts that put power chords firmly on the map for future generations of rockers and punks.
But a four-year U.S touring ban, imposed in 1965 for mysterious reasons, prevented the Kinks from building a bigger audience.
Unable to capitalize on America’s affection for English groups, Ray Davies re-engineered the group as a most idiosyncratically British act, with droll hit songs about English life, like “A Well Respected Man,” “Sunny Afternoon,” and “Waterloo Sunset.” Davies’ ambitions resulted in masterful but uncommercial concept albums, including The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).
For the masses, however, the Kinks were best enjoyed through singles like “Lola,” their 1970 worldwide hit about a young man’s confused encounter with a transgender person.
The Seventies were lean years for the band, but their influence on a new generation was evident in covers performed by David Bowie, the Jam, the Pretenders, and particularly Van Halen, who issued scorching reworkings of “You Really Got Me,” in 1978, and “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” in 1982. The Kinks returned to form in the late Seventies and early Eighties with Low Budget, “Destroyer,” and “Come Dancing,” but by the decade’s end the magic was gone, and the band sagged along until its breakup, in 1997.
While waiting for that oft-rumored Kinks reunion to take place, fans can enjoy this new five-disc box set, which contains more than 100 newly remastered recordings from the group’s first wave, including unissued tracks, demos, outtakes, and interviews. As a set, it makes a compelling argument for the Kinks as one of the Sixties’ most original, and influential, pop groups.