Reports of an unlikely reunion of The Kinks reached us at the weekend – ‘unlikely’ because, as is a well-known fact of rock music folklore, the relationship between siblings Ray and Dave Davies is so notoriously fractious.
There is no general rule preventing an artist – or indeed artiste – from continuing to produce worthwhile creative offerings throughout a traditional human lifespan of three score years and ten, should he or she manage to live that long. Arguably, when it comes to popular music (depending of course upon your taste), Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, two grizzled old veterans gifted of the craft of song-writing, are two that have managed it.
Nevertheless, I still tend to subscribe to the adage that true, earth-shattering, epoch-changing music is not just a matter of a Tin Pan Alley-style facility for knocking out a tune on the old joanna. It’s as much about a magical coming together of song and attitude – and, in pop music’s case, we’re talking about youthful attitudes, for which you can read alienation, rebellion, hedonism, ‘living on the edge’ and ‘couldn’t give a stuff’.
There is no denying The Kinks’ seminal place in British pop music history. Ray Davies is one of the great figures of British pop music and he would still warrant the claim if Waterloo Sunset had been the only song he’d ever penned.
But somehow, from the depths of London’s Muswell Hill, The Kinks burst upon the Sixties scene combining a beguiling – not to say extraordinary – blend of Ray’s insightful whimsy, with its echoes of self-deprecating music hall charm, and a blistering wall of adrenalin-fuelled, dirty, urgent, slashing noise.
Some point to You’ve Really Got Me and All Day And All Of the Night, the Kinks’ third and fourth singles, as the true origin of heavy metal music, preceding the brilliance of the late-period Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Band’s Truth album by four years and Led Zeppelin’s debut offering by nearly five.
A declaration of interest:-
It was a wonderful night and ranks as one of the best concerts I have ever had the privilege of attending. I may have been in my mid-fifties at the time but, on that night and in that place, I didn’t just receive a welcome reminder of what it was to be 17 and on the verge of conquering the world – I was 17 again, end of message.
[Sadly, to break the illusion, about six months later – flush with unbridled enthusiasm – I took an eight-guest box for Davies’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which turned to be a depressingly ‘flat’ experience. But then that’s life, isn’t it?]
According to the reports I have seen, Ray Davies has said that he and Dave have agreed that this Kinks’ reunion will definitely not be a case of re-treading their old hits. Instead, in ‘never say die’ mode, they’re fully intending to go out on the road peddling a bucket-load of totally new songs.
I wish them well, but fear the worst.