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"We are the Village Green Preservation Society."
The Kinks were an English rock band, one of the "Big Four" British Invasion bands of The Sixties (along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who) and a Long Runner, having experienced a long career's worth of highs and lows before throwing in the towel in 1996. While they have had numerous members, their most famous line-up was composed of vocalist/guitarist/mastermind Ray Davies, his vocalist/guitarist brother Dave Davies, bassist Pete Quaife (who left in 1969) and drummer Mick Avory (who left in 1984).
The Kinks began their career as a bluesy, hard-edged mod-rock band, gaining success with their loud, memorably riffy hits "You Really Got Me", "All Day and All of the Night" and "Tired of Waiting for You", which set them up as a band to contend with and provided endless inspiration to future genres like Garage Rock and Power Pop. Their rowdy live shows got them banned from America until 1969, though arguably it ultimately served them well, encouraging Ray Davies to write songs that emphasised their essential Britishness and tended to a more nostalgic and pastoral feel than their States-struck contemporaries.
They changed gears in 1965, diversifying away from just scrotum-grinding guitar anthems to experiment with other genres like folk, music hall, country and blues-rock, resulting in a more laid-back sound. It was also around this period that Ray developed his now-famous lyrical talent. This period saw the release of songs like "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", "Sunny Afternoon" and "Waterloo Sunset", culminating with what is generally held as their best album, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.
The band changed once again in The Seventies, exploring a more theatrical, campy sound. However, this only worsened their declining popularity and the resulting Concept Albums are still one huge Your Mileage May Vary on their actual quality. Due to a combination of a new record label wanting them to cut the crap and everybody but Ray being sick of Rock Operas, The Kinks restyled themselves as an arena rock band in 1976. Lucky enough to be synchronised with the Punk Rock explosion and some successful covers of their songs by Punk and New Wave bands, The Kinks rode their second wave of popularity until the early 80's, culminating when their single "Come Dancing" became a worldwide smash in early 1983. They then went back to being a cult band before calling it quits in 1996.
Admired for their melodic mastery of pop, their enormous variety of styles, the insight and wit of their lyrics, and their huge influence on almost all subsequent bands that cultivated any sort of outsider underdog image.
- Kinks (1964)
- Kinda Kinks (1965)
- The Kink Kontroversy (1965)
- Face to Face (1966)
- Something Else by The Kinks (1967)
- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
- Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969)
- Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970)
- Percy (1971) (film soundtrack)
- Muswell Hillbillies (1971)
- Everybody's in Show-Biz (1972)
- Preservation Act 1 (1973)
- Preservation Act 2 (1974)
- Soap Opera (1975)
- Schoolboys in Disgrace (1976)
- Sleepwalker (1977)
- Misfits (1978)
- Low Budget (1979)
- Give the People What They Want (1981)
- State of Confusion (1983)
- Word of Mouth (1984)
- Think Visual (1986)
- UK Jive (1989)
- Phobia (1993)
The Kinks provide examples of these tropes:
- Album Title Drop: Everybody's in Showbiz takes its title from a lyric in "Celluloid Heroes".
- Alliterative Name: Dave Davies is a good Real Life example.
- Anti-Love Song: "When I Turn Off The Living Room Light" - because you're too ugly to get it on with otherwise.
- Book Dumb/Dumb Is Good: "Mountain woman couldn't read or write but she knew good from evil, she knew wrong from right".
- Born in the Wrong Century: "20th Century Man" is just the most obvious example.
- Britain: One of the most famous and acclaimed bands to come from there.
- Childhood Memory Demolition Team: "Come Dancing" laments the replacement of adolescence's dancehall with a bowling alley, then a supermarket, then a parking lot.
- Chivalrous Pervert: "I'm not a flasher in a rain coat/I'm not a dirty old man/I'm not gonna snatch you from your mother/I'm an art lover".
- Ray Davies' persona in general seems to land somewhere between this and Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Continuity Nod: "Destroyer" is essentially "Lola, Part 2" set to the riff from "All Day And All Of The Night".
- Cult Soundtrack: Percy
- The Dandy: "Dedicated Follower of Fashion".
- "Dandy", despite its title, is not about one of these, but rather a Casanova.
- Double Entendre: "I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man, and so is Lola."
- Epic Rocking: Pops up throughout their career, but might be most evident in "Shangri-La."
- Genre Popularizer: "You Really Got Me" is widely considered to have been the blueprint for kicking off everything from Garage Rock to Metal to Punk.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Lola" by was censored by the BBC not for its lyrics about a sexual tryst with a transvestite, but for its use of the brand name Coca-Cola. This was duly changed to "cherry cola". Perhaps more a case of Letting Crap Past The Radar?
- Their next single, "Apeman", contains the line "this air pollution is fogging up my eyes". They knew it sounds like "fucking". We know it sounds like "fucking". And whoever produced the album knew it sounds like "fucking", since they very clumsily reduce that solitary word's volume so it's barely audible. Ironically, while everyone involved claims it's definitely "fogging", this makes it harder to decipher whether Ray Davies does actually sing "fogging" or "fucking".
- Going Native: Ray fantasizes about doing this in "Apeman".
- Golden Age of Hollywood: "Celluloid Heroes" and "Oklahoma USA" are wistful songs about the glamour of Hollywood and the idealised world its stars present to ordinary folks' imagination.
- Good Old Ways: Part of the reason the Kinks fell out of fashion in the forward-looking, revolutionary-reactionary Sixties was because of their fondness for this.
- Have a Gay Old Time: "And he likes his fags the best."
- David Watts is "so gay and fancy-free".
- Heavy Meta: Lola versus Powerman... is about the music industry as a whole. Furthermore, there's "Session Man" (which is about session musicians, and how no one treats them like "real" musicians) and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (which is more aimed at the Mod scene as a whole rather than just the music). For an extra slice of meta, consider the fact that quintessential "session man" Nicky Hopkins plays on a song reportedly inspired by him.
- I Just Want to Be You: The narrator in "David Watts."
- Last Chorus Slow-Down: "Australia" is infamous for this. The first half of it's a good song; if only the whole thing weren't so long...
- Loners Are Freaks: The Kinks (and many of their fans) would self-identify as misfits, or at least as "not like everybody else".
- Muggles: Ordinary people and working class situations feature in a lot of songs, and are probably the only aspect of British life to have escaped Ray's barbed wit.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Dave Davies next to his older brother (and arguably the band as a whole next to their peers).
- Protest Song: "Apeman"
- The entire album that song is from (Lola vs. Powerman) is pretty much one big Take That to the music industry (specifically the Corrupt Corporate Executive Meddlers).
- Another "protest album" with Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Each song mocks British (or Western) nationalism, materialism, and shallow culture.
- Real Life Writes the Plot / Write What You Know: Ray and Dave Davies regularly fought each other onstage in The Sixties. Therefore the American Musicians' Union banned The Kinks from touring in the U.S. from 1965-1970. This led to Ray and Dave being isolated from and uninvolved with American politics and counterculture. They reverted to writing about British concerns, British culture and Britain, from a British perspective, language and humor separated from their Americanized peers. This may have hurt their sales in America, but would give them an identity as Britpop innovators.
- Rock Opera: From the much-praised (Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)) to the much-maligned (Preservation; Soap Opera; Schoolboys in Disgrace) although if you can get into the camp humour of the latter two they become much more tolerable.
- Satire, Parody, Pastiche: "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion" is Satire; "Top Of The Pops" is Parody; "Sunny Afternoon" is Pastiche.
- Self-Titled Album: Their debut album was simply titled Kinks.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Especially in the early days, and especially especially for (then teenaged) Dave Davies.
- Sibling Rivalry: Ray and Dave Davies.
- Smoking Is Cool: "Harry Rag"
- Sound Effect Bleep: That "OH NO!" scream right before the guitar solo in "You Really Got Me" was overdubbed by Ray to drown out Dave telling him to fuck off.
Ray Davies: And it's even clearer on CD, it's really embarrassing.
- Spot of Tea: Whole songs are written on the subject, particularly "Afternoon Tea" and "Have a Cuppa Tea"
- Stepford Suburbia: "Shangri-La"
- Three Chords and the Truth: The early days, very much so.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Victoria", "Drivin'", "Shangri-La"
- Trope Maker: Indian-sounding instruments and melodies were used on both "See My Friends" and "Fancy" a few months before "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles was released.
- Ur Example: The recent Heavy Metal Britannia documentary cited "You Really Got Me" as the starting point for the guitar-driven, riff-based rock that eventually evolved into hard rock and early metal.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: "Lola", but even more substantially the crossdressing husband (and eventually wife too) of "Out Of The Wardrobe".
- Writing Around Trademarks: Some versions of "Lola" change the line "you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola" to "cherry cola". This was to allow the song to be played on BBC radio, which at the time had a draconian policy against Product Placement that banned even fleeting or derogatory references to brand names in songs.