As the sun did shine through my window on a cold, October afternoon, I sat down to review Sunny Afternoon: The Very Best of by the Kinks, a 2cd compilation of much of their work. The Kinks need no introduction: they are, quite simply, legendary and one of the most important and influential British groups of all time, with millions of record sales under their belt. They captured everyone’s hearts in the 1960s and onwards and indeed their single Sunny Afternoon topped the charts in 66 when England won the World Cup.
Sunny Afternoon charts their career and many hits but also includes original recordings from their successful West End musical Sunny Afternoon that was released last year in the West End to critical acclaim winning 4 Oliver awards including amongst them Best New Musical and Outstanding Achievement for Ray Davies. It’s not hard to see why. You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Lola and Dedicated Follower of Fashion are all on here which are always so endearing to our hearts plus lots more for any fan. This extensive double cd includes the 9 UK top five hits (including 3 that made it to number one). This is a real audio treat and includes tracks personally chosen by Ray Davies that weren’t originally hits but became them after featuring in films, TV shows and by other artists covering them. It also includes BBC Interviews from the 60s and lesser-known session tracks.
There’s a wealth to enjoy with such brilliant production and telling lyrics penned by Davies’ very own hand. Where to start? As well as all the favourites there’s A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy (He just spends his life living on the edge of reality) you could just drift off to, I’m Not Like Everybody Else (with its jangly Byrds sounding guitars) you can see why they influenced a wealth of artists including Oasis, Blur, Supergrass through to Metallica and Van Halen! The pure quintessential “Englishness” of these records tells stories, like poetry, that weave a tapestry about British day-today life and how we confine ourselves (or are confined) Well Respected Man, Brainwashed and Dead-End Street yet can amuse you all at the same time.
You Really Got Me and All Day and All of the Night will always be (to me) synonymous with growing up in 1980s Britain where a new generation of mods was prevalent and the Kinks were ever popular.I enjoyed the youthfulness and fun of the BBC interviews spanning 64 – 66. Interviewer: Do you plan always to bring out your own material? Ray Davies: If we can keep bringing out good material. Interviewer: What are the essential ingredients for a number one? Kinks: It’s got to be original and sincere. Obvious but true! I loved hearing I Go to Sleep as I’d only ever heard Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders version growing up (they inspired so many). There’s also the vaudeville sounding Denmark Street, Look a Little on the Sunny Side and The Moneygoround and also the pensive Sitting in My Hotel (hiding from the dramas of this great big world) there’s so much to enjoy and for all its Britishness finishes off with their WPIX US TV interview in 1965.
It’s so easy to see why the Kinks and Ray Davies are held in such high esteem as musicians and songwriters. This album is captivating and an interesting retrospective of their well-known hits, some lesser known tracks and BBC recordings to boot and was a mean feat to review. As Graham Nash stated: “They are everything rock ‘n’ roll should be”. Well spoken words.
Sunny Afternoon is out now.