Face To Face – The Kinks

The Kinks - Face To Face
– Face To Face

The Kinks, an iconic British rock band, shaped the musical landscape of the 1960s and 1970s, leaving behind a rich and varied discography. Often overlooked in favour of their compatriots , or , the Kinks deserve special attention for their creativity, their incisive lyrics and their lasting influence on rock.

Formed in 1963 in London by brothers Ray and , the Kinks quickly emerged on the British scene with their powerful and innovative sound. Their first hit, “You Really Got Me” (1964), is a true manifesto of 60s rock, with its incisive guitar riffs and catchy melody.

The two brothers' ever-confrontational personalities created a creative tension that fuelled 's energy. Their penchant for experimentation and the diversity of their musical influences (blues, folk, pop) allowed the Kinks to develop a distinctive style.

After their early successes in the 1960s, the Kinks gradually moved away from guitar riffs and rock anthems to more introspective and narrative compositions. , the band's main songwriter, developed a real talent for storytelling in music, offering a satirical view of British society. This is best illustrated on the album ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society' (1968), which remains a classic of conceptual rock.

In spite of fluctuating sales and internal tensions, the band continued to innovate and take artistic risks. The albums “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” (1970) and “Muswell Hillbillies” (1971) are brilliant examples. The Kinks juggled styles and genres, from baroque pop to hard rock, without ever losing sight of their core identity.

The Kinks have influenced many subsequent artists and bands, including the Jam, , Oasis and . Their inventiveness, sense of melody and satirical vision left their mark on future generations of musicians and helped shape the evolution of British rock.

The band finally broke up in 1996, but the Davies brothers continued to perform solo, confirming their status as musical icons. The Kinks, though sometimes underrated, remain a cornerstone of rock music, reflecting the richness and diversity of this effervescent period in British music.

What is the origin of the name The Kinks?

The name “The Kinks” was chosen by the band members at the beginning of their career in 1964. The exact origin of the name remains uncertain, but it is generally accepted that it refers to something eccentric, atypical or deviant. The term “kinky” can be used to describe a person or thing that is out of the ordinary, strange or sexually provocative.

According to some sources, the band chose this name to distinguish themselves from other bands of the time and to reflect their desire not to conform to public expectations. This choice of name proved to be appropriate as the Kinks developed a distinct style and image throughout their career, particularly through their critical and satirical songs dealing with social and political issues.

The Face To Face album

In the history of rock music, some albums have marked a turning point for their band and for the genre in general. “The Kinks' Face To Face, released in 1966, is one such album. Not only did it cement the band's place among the legends of British rock, but it also paved the way for new musical and thematic explorations for the genre.

Having enjoyed runaway success with hits such as “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night”, the Kinks were looking for artistic renewal. Ray Davies, the band's main songwriter and singer, wanted to break away from established formulas and push the boundaries of their sound. The result was ‘Face To Face', a bold and forward-thinking album for its time.

“Face To Face” marked a clear evolution from the Kinks' previous albums. Ray Davies explored new musical horizons, with more elaborate arrangements, varied instrumentation and complex vocal harmonies. The guitars are still present, but they are now accompanied by instruments such as brass, keyboards and exotic percussion.

The album is also notable for its lyrics, which deal with more personal and introspective subjects. Ray Davies portrays complex and ambiguous characters, such as the femme fatale of “Fancy” or the disenchanted househusband of “House in the Country”. The Kinks also criticised British society at the time, as in “Sunny Afternoon”, where the singer complains about high taxes and the social climate.

One of the most famous songs from “Face To Face” was “Sunny Afternoon”, which became one of the band's biggest hits. “Dandy” is a nod to the mod culture of the time, while “Session Man” is a tribute to the often overlooked studio musicians. “Rainy Day in June” nostalgically depicts a rainy day, while “Rosy Won't You Please Come Home” explores difficult family relationships.

With ‘Face To Face', the Kinks laid the foundations for their unique style, which would distinguish them from other British bands of the time. They continued to experiment and innovate throughout their career, with albums such as ‘Something Else by The Kinks' (1967), ‘Village Green Preservation Society' (1968) and ‘Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)' (1969). Their influence on bands such as The Beatles, and Blur is testament to the indelible impact of this album on rock history.

The song Sunny Afternoon

“Sunny Afternoon” begins with an acoustic guitar and Ray Davies' smooth voice that immediately transports us into a carefree, summery mood. The sparse arrangements, featuring vocal harmonies and piano, give the song a light and playful feel. However, a closer look at the lyrics reveals a less idyllic reality.

Behind the catchy chorus, “Sunny Afternoon” hides an ironic commentary on the political and social situation in Britain at the time. Ray Davies portrays a wealthy and privileged character who complains about the heat and high taxes: “The taxman's taken all my dough / And left me in my stately home / Lazing on a sunny afternoon”. The lyrics illustrate the contradictions and frustrations of an affluent social class, which enjoys its privileges while complaining about its responsibilities.

The song was released in 1966, at a time of social protest and questioning of established values in the UK. The 1960s also saw the emergence of a growing interest in the environment and global warming issues. “Sunny Afternoon' can therefore be interpreted as a critique of consumerism and capitalism, which encourage carelessness and selfishness.

More than fifty years after its release, “Sunny Afternoon” remains relevant. The song is often covered or referred to in reference to the Swinging London period and the cultural movements of the 1960s. Its message also remains relevant today, as social and environmental issues continue to be at the forefront of the debate.

The Kinks' “Sunny Afternoon” is more than just a summer song. Behind its catchy melody, it reveals the irony and subtlety of Ray Davies' writing, which did not hesitate to tackle complex issues and criticise the failings of the society of his time. This is undoubtedly why “Sunny Afternoon” remains one of the most appreciated and influential songs in rock history.

Where to listen to Face To Face?

Useful links for The Kinks

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