Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Kinks Something Else by the Kinks 1967

I fully intend to continue the cycle that begins in 1966 with Face To Face, which I reviewed a short while ago, and ends in 1972 with Everybody's In Show-Biz. I'll get to them all, in order. For me it is a terribly under appreciated body of work, the pinnacle of the Kinks' output. So next up is Something Else By The Kinks from 1967. In it's sound, and as a transition from the hard-hitting early Kinks (You've Really Got Me, All Day And All Night) to the pastoral English country side of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society in 1968, it most closely resembles Face To Face.

But it is not that record in as many ways as it is similar. The record opens with David Watts, an interesting lyric coupled to a catchy tune, but with a thin recorded sound that has a cabaret/music hall feel. Dave's Death Of A Clown follows, and it was a big single for Dave in England, especially considering the subject matter, and it is a fine song. Two Sisters is a sweet tune about a good girl/bad girl envy/pity mix, with a fine lyric and vocal from Ray Davies. No Return is jazzy (?!), almost Latin sounding, and an unusual Kinks track indeed. Harry Rag and Tin Soldier Man both have a cabaret/music hall sing-a-long feel, although Tin Soldier Man adds some psychedelic touches that may have worked in 1967, but sound pretty quaint today. Situation Vacant closes the first side on a strong rocking note, even if the bluesy guitar riff is stolen from Bob Dylan's Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine.  

Dave's Love Me Till The Sun Shines opens side two, and it sounds like early Who, with a John Entwistle bass sound. Where's that come from? But it's a good thing. Lazy Old Sun follows, and it is another odd production with a thin sound that again sounds slightly psychedelic and almost Zappa-like. Funny Face has multiple intricate parts shifting through several quite different sections, and it is good. The melancholic search for lost love is the key to the Nilsson-like End Of The Season, and again we get a keeper. Finally Waterloo Sunset closes the record, and what a close it is. Waterloo Sunset is just one of the great Kinks songs; the high background vocals, the tender ennui of the lyric, Dave's twangy guitar riff, the rocking chorus. Even the ending fade seems perfect.

So where does Something Else fit into this peak period of Kinks productions? Well, not at the top of the heap, certainly. It's a little unfocused, especially side one. Producer Shel Talmy left part-way through and Ray Davies produced the rest of the record. Maybe Ray wasn't quite ready. The weaker songs seem weaker than on most of the Kinks records of this era. There are some great moments, and for some fans the unusual tracks may offer some unique insight into Ray Davies' persona. I don't care to go that deep myself, but I respect that level of obsession.

Rolling Stone called it "The Kinks' most tuneful, reflective album". Allmusic calls it "endlessly fascinating". I certainly think that Face To Face and Something Else both offer a unique take on mid-sixties British rock, some fine lyric writing by Ray, and mostly good songs. The cabaret/music hall sounding material mostly disappoints, and the particularly thin/tinny sound of the recording is less than ideal, but not unusual in the mid-sixties. I've got no beef if you think it's a classic, but I think their best work is right around the corner, with The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur

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