Now Playing: The Kinks – The Forgotten Sides – ‘It’s Really Good to See You Rocking Out’

by | Feb 19, 2020 | 0 comments

Positively the most underrated of the major 1960s British
rock bands, the Kinks catalog continues to reveal inspiring melodies,
revolutionary lyrics and clandestine musical magic.

Unfortunately, the Kinks’ deep wealth of compositional
genius was often missed even when served on the veritable silver platter of a
single release. They remained respected by their contemporaries but often
obscured by the ignorance of critical analysis. Here are five such overlooked U.S./UK Kinks singles, all of
which should be recognized as “klassics” in the Kinks songbook …

“SLEEPWALKER,” (1977): Only Ray Davies could
take such creepy stalker content and package it into a bounding syncopated
musical bundle. It’s a shame that this song, the title track off of
1977’s Sleepwalker is not recognized as a classic — excepting
ardent followers of the Kinks. The song barely slipped into the U.S. Top 50,
before quickly before disappearing into the shadows. The crisp drum
introduction, anything but sleepy, is quickly blanketed by orchestrated Kink
guitars and perfectly popping and contrasting Ray Davies vocals.

“WONDERBOY,” (1968): Soaked with the aesthetic
of the Kinks’ contemporaneous Village Green Preservation Society,
“Wonderboy” was apparently lauded by John Lennon — but yet still missed by the
listening public at large. The song spins like a psychedelic music-hall show
tune, containing airy “la-la” backing vocals, jack-in-the-box piano and
harpsichord coloring. Davies’ wry vocal approach underlies the positive lyrical
directive and breezy overlapping melodies. Definitely a song of its time, the
tune retains its attractiveness and influence even after 40-plus years.

[WISH I COULD FLY LIKE] SUPERMAN,” (1979): This
disco-based single soars in on splashy drums, thick skyscraper bass and the
addictive mantra of Dave Davies’ rhythmic and muted guitar trills. An attempt
to stay relevant in the messy musical climate of the late 1970s, the Kinks were
successful — using a then-contemporary approach that combined distorted guitars
with a pulsing mirror-ball groove. Davies’ lyrical content in the song is, as
always, a unique glimpse into the psyche of a man wishing to be. The song
tugged the public’s cape briefly, but made only a brief appearance in the U.S.
charts — only to be found on the dusty shelves of record collections and cut
out bins.

“MONEY TALKS,” (1974): Gritty, fuzzy and
inflated with fat horns, “Money Talks” is a swinging, bubbly tonic, especially
for listeners starved for straight rock with no chaser. Tucked away on Preservation
Act 2
, one of the Kinks most criticized albums of the 1970s, “Money Talks”
cashed out early with barely a search of the pockets by the public. Still,
irresistible Davies bothers harmonies are intermingled with female backing
vocalists in a bombastic and assertive diatribe about the evils and troubles
associated with cash.

“BETTER THINGS,” (1981): A song that once again
enjoyed only moderate success on both sides of the Atlantic, this remains an
anthem of endless possibility and hopefulness. Much later, “Better Things” gain
belated recognition when unearthed by Ray Davies and Bruce Springsteen for
the 2012 tribute album to Davies, See My Friends. The original version
begins with a percussive piano, then expands into a motion-picture soundtrack
of positivity and glory — a trait sorely missing from current rock
compositions. Davies’ vocals quake and shake, the hopefulness of the song
stained with the emotion of loss that often accompanies the best wishes for a
long time friend.

The above tracks are just a small example of the depth and strength of the Kinks Katalog. While not always lighting up the charts the quality of even their most clandestine kuts never wavered. I hope you enjoy a few of the tracks that bobbed just below the surface of the mainstream but are nonetheless some of their finest moments committed to tape.

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