In-depth reviews of classic or neglected albums, mainly from the 1960s and 70s, plus a weekly newsletter featuring all the latest news, views and music. Artists covered include Beach Boys, Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, Hollies, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Kinks, Nils Lofgren, Monkees, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Searchers, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, 10cc, The Who and Neil Young.
Let No Man Steal Your
Thyme/Bells/Hear My Call/Pentangling// Mirage/Way Behind The Sun/Burton
The only album to list the band as 'The Pentangle'
will, as it turns out, be not 'the' Pentangle at all but 'a' Pentangle, one of
many variants fans will get to hear over the years. Not yet the all-singing
all-dancing jazz/folk/blues/rock/psychedelia amalgam the band will be in two
albums' time and not yet the folk purists the band will transform into, this is
instead Pentangle the jazz band, albeit a jazz band who have only folk songs in
their repertoire. In another 'clue' to their not-quite formed identity, there
isn't a single picture of Pentangle anywhere on the original cover, which
instead features the band in a distinctive silhouette image that will go on to
become their most familiar logo, used on pretty much every other compilation in
the CD age. Not only is it completely
unlike any other record ever made in the era, it's not that much like the other
Pentangle records either (ask a Pentangle fan from 1967, 1969 or 1972 about
what the band's signature sound was and I'm willing to bet you'd get at least
three different answers). Though
Pentangle wouldn't tour as the Grateful Dead's support act for another year or
two, this is the record fans have in mind when they talk about Pentangle being
the 'English' Dead or the 'folk' Dead (and the 'inspiration for the Dead's
first 'acoustic' sets in fact): the album contains four short folk standards
played with a jazzy edge and four epic improvisations that are far edgier than
anything the band will go on to play in later years. All of it, even the
shorter songs in the set, comes with solos - usually on the double bass.
Though similar things had been done solo in folk
circles - including albums by guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn - no
other 'band' had ever quite pulled off such a feat. 'The Pentangle' was new and
exciting - and impossible to repeat, so the band simply didn't bother, choosing
instead to explore their varied record collections on later albums and, bit by
bit, lose the jazz sound that dominates this record. In a way that's how it
should be: Pentangle are so new at this time that every move they make seems
like a surprise to everyone in the room, every note played inventive simply
because it's being played by five such different musicians with such different
backgrounds and tastes at once. This sound
is an exotic wild animal that's only just been discovered and is still
so new the band don't want to tame it and bring it to heel yet either, so for
now they let it roam free as much as 'it' wants in its natural habitat, which
happens to be jazz, the 'loosest' of all genres. Future Pentangle albums will
attempt to collar this animal, translate it's barks and squeals and work out
what it has in common with other genres to better understand it, with even the
sequel (the sprawling double record set 'Sweet Child') interested in exploring
all the different features under a microscope in turn rather than all at once
in one long breathless rush. But for now
this is a wild beast with too much spring in its step to ever be caged, with
this debut album by far the 'purest' essence of what that mysterious Pentangle
actually is: played by folk and occasionally rock and psychedelic instruments,
with bluesy moods and a jazzy after-taste. Though almost half of the album is
impressively old (the Middle Ages) the sound is cutting edge contemporary and
could only have been made in the freer second half of the 1960s (even though
'The Pentangle', with its monochrome cover and traditional songs about
yesteryear , is hardly your typical summer of love album either). No wonder
onlookers then and now feel confused by it: not only does this beast look like
it has several body parts from other animals stuck together (Pentangle are the
tapir of all bands), musical historians can't even date it properly: is this
band a new branch of evolution, given how little it shares with the year of
1967? If not is it a band that dates back to the dawning of civilisation and
folk songs (as per much of the material, surely sung as oral traditions many
centuries before the 'official' dates given in this book, which simply happens
to be when they were written down)? Or is it a 'bandanimal' from our future,
sent back after a hideous genetic mutation?
I'm still in two minds what I think of this wild
animal in its natural habitat, which is a far wilder wide than any of the other
Pentangle albums. Much as I long to see musical animals roam free in their
natural habitat, this one is a little too - well - frisky at times, sticking
it's claws deep into the listener's skin and squawking with such wild abandon
and noise that you wonder whether you read the record label right and this
isn't actually an album by some avant garde heavy metal band instead. There's
nothing 'easy listening' about this record - even the four shorter songs
feature the same intensity and madness, just in a more compact way than the
elongated jazz improvs: 'Let No One Steal Your Thyme' for instance may well be
the maddest, saddest, baddest start to any AAA debut LP: a feminist anthem from
the seventeenth century no less, sung almost a capella on the first half apart
from some see-sawing double bass riffs from Danny Thomson that are quite unlike
any other sound around (in folk circles at least). Often this record has sharp
claws cut on later records: there's a murder as early in Pentangle's canon as
'Bruton Town', a particularly nasty affair sung with an angular melody that
seems to be mirroring the sheer ugliness that the human race is capable of.
There are sections on 'Bells' and 'Waltz' too where the beast suddenly rolls
over from having it's tummy tickled and screams so loudly and abruptly in your
ears that you half-vow never to go there again. There's a moment in the middle
of 'Pentangling' where you fear this beast is never going to let you go or get
back into it's box, that it's simply going to feature four shrieking musicians
and a singer going 'aaaaah' like a banshee possessed forever, that you've been
lured to your death out of musical curiosity, siren-style. There are long
periods too where nothing seems to be happening - something that later longer
Pentangle albums can get away with but which this one (a mere half hour long from head to tail)
just can't afford.
However just as animals kept in zoos are only living
out a folk memory of what made them wild in the first process, so no other
later Pentangle album will ever feel quite this gloriously 'free' again. We
marvel in reviews of later Pentangle records at the musician's abilities to
read each other so well after years of playing together. On this record, though
the band have known each other in twos and threes for quite long stretches of
time, they've only just begun to play as a quintet and you can hear the very
real doubt in the band's minds as they breath in nervously and cross their
fingers and hope that somehow they will all find their way back to the straight
and narrow at the same time, after walking into a wholly un-catalogued part of
the jungle. Amazingly the official word on this album is that Pentangle (of
whom only Bert and John were used to recording studios) recorded almost every
song on this album on the first take - the few songs that collapsed being taped
safely in two or three takes. It's that element that's so astonishing to me: I
could well believe that Pentangle could manage the old 'monkeys in front of
typewriters' thing and just keeping taping over all their 'bad' nights until
they caught a good one. I would have understood too if the band had played
safe, repeating the songs they'd already recorded together while guesting on
each other's solo albums or recorded the sort of material they'll do later (the
more 'obvious' folk standards, from 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken?' to 'Sally
Free And Easy' - well, perhaps we'd better make that 'obvious assuming you grew
up above a folk club'). Instead we get three traditional songs very few people
would have known, one recent cover song that you'd still have to be a pretty
big folk collector to know (and still probably wouldn't recognise as done here)
and four musical jams. That's a tall order for any band to get right but
Pentangle, at their youngest and hungriest, sound as if they've been doing this
all their lives.
To some extent, of course, they had - adult lives
anyway. 'Pentangle' were the CSN of the folk world in many ways, a
'super-group' of five performers who'd already made a name for themselves and
had gotten together not so much to further their careers but because that's the
way the music seemed to be taking them (and just as CSN were well known enough
to play their second ever gig in public at Woodstock, so Pentangle's second
'real' gig was a sell out show at the Royal Festival Hall in May 1968, after
lots of great performances for locals at a London folk club called 'The
Horseshoe Hotel'in Tottenham Court Road across the early part of 1967 - shame
no one had a tape recorder). Bert had already made four solo albums by the time
of this debut LP, while John had made three, while the two friends had already
made a joint album together in 1966 that in many ways is the genesis of the
'Pentangle' sound as well as guesting on each other's solo records. Though the
pair were technically rivals, battling it out for the prestigious spots at folk
clubs, the pair's styles were so different to each other that they were more
like mutual admirers who found several shared passions (Bert's purist folk was
driven by words and rhythms and his solo albums almost always feature
instrumentals featuring fast finger-flying chord exercises - John's background
was in blues and was based more around melody and mood, while his own
fast-flying guitar solos tended to be clear and precise; if Pentangle had been
a rock band Bert would have been the rhythm player and John the soloist but as
usual the lines were more blurred than that in Pentangle).
They quickly became such good friends that they
agreed to share the rent of a flat in London's St John's Wood together, which
quickly became the scene for several extravagant folk parties and the in-place
to hang out (including a film camera from Denmark who captured Bert and John
rehearsing together in their flat for the documentary series 'Folksangre' -
they play a mean version of 'Bells', with John laughing in delight at how well
their styles mesh together). Three of the people who hung out were Jacqui,
Danny and drummer Terry Cox, who hadn't yet made an album between them before
but were big names in their own right on the local folk scene. Of the three
Jacqui had perhaps the most interesting career: she got so tired of not being
allowed to sing that she sank her own money into running a folk club called The
Red Lion at a pub in Surrey and filled in for every singer who were too
inebriated to turn up. Like Renbourn she had a really wide knowledge of early
folk songs and knew most of what local bands liked performing anyway. Hearing
about Bert's impressive following, she booked him to appear and the pair became
friends - John too through Bert, who as the nerviest singer in the band found
Jacqui an ideal partner for his guitar playing with the two becoming a firm
double act (Bert, as usual, preferred to go it alone). Jacqui became a key
guest on John's final pre-Pentangle album 'Another Monday', which along with
'Bert and John' sounds very much like an early regeneration of 'Pentangle', but
the later purer folk Pentangle than this first LP. Danny had been playing in
Alexis Korner's Blues Band and wishing he could play more folk when Alexis
hired Terry as the band's new drummer -whose first love was also folk. The pair
became fast friends and continued as a sort of ad hoc rhythm section for a
number of bands after the Korner band finally folded. The pair happened to be
playing together as the support act on a bill that included both Bert solo and
John and Jacqui together at the Horseshoe Hotel and they discovered between
them that they played similar music which also happened to sound nothing like what
anyone else happened to be playing. Though it was Bert backstage who first
mused 'hey wouldn't it be a great idea if we all got together and made up a new
band based around all our similarities and differences?', he was simply
dreaming of something he didn't think was likely to happen: all five had their
own careers already with their own audiences and they weren't likely to see
each other again. John in particular, though, thought that the idea was a
brilliant one and made sure it would happen, approaching the others about their
thoughts and deciding that everyone thought it was worth a shot.
It was, to some extent, a gamble: none of the five
had ever performed in a band the size of Pentangle and folk music,
traditionally, tended to be played by soloists or in twos and threes. Though
The Incredible String Band in particular can lay claim to be the first folk
'band' long before Pentangle, 'pure' folk bands (rather than folk-rock bands
like The Byrds) were rare. Pentangle was a very conscious leap into the unknown
the band didn't have to make, as all five had their own careers going for them.
Translating the material the band already knew into new arrangements for a five
piece were going to be tricky too, while getting the different 'feel' of the
five different performers (based around folk, blues and jazz) seemed near
impossible. Given the need to differentiate between the two guitarists, Bert
and John came up with the plan to either alternate acoustic and electric (still
something that made folk purists gnash their teeth even two years after Bob
Dylan was nicknamed 'Judas' for plugging in on stage) and, where possible, a different instrument
with Bert getting out his banjo and John 'borrowing' Bert's battered
second-hand sitar (bought in shadowy circumstances according to the sleevenotes
of Pentangle's 'The Time Has Come' box set). However though the members of
Pentangle were very different in many ways, they shared a similar musical
curiosity. The fact that no other band had ever tried to do something quite
like Pentangle before was, rather than something to be feared, something to be
celebrated. And if the band kept their tentative rehearsals quiet then they
could just go back to their old jobs anyway in a few weeks' time, the folk
world none the wiser. Far from being formed by a desire to change the folk
music landscape forever, Pentangle were more of a 'gee wouldn't it be nice if
we?...' kind of a band and who were, it seems, as surprised as anybody at how
different their combined style was to anything any of them had individually
The band needed a name - and Renbourn happened to
have one ready, as if he'd been waiting for this moment to come along all his
life. 'Pentangle' were a super-group made up of five 'stars' so it made sense
to give them the name of a five-star emblem that, though forgotten by 1967,
used to be a 'special' sign in his beloved Medieval manuscripts (basically
another word for a 'pentagram'). A magical sign intended to ward off evil
spirits, it's thought Renbourn got the idea from the shield King Arthur was
meant to have had at Camelot according to a series of mystery sources (that
were already somewhat middle aged in the Middle Ages). Though it's to be
debated whether the logo really did help the band steer off bad vibes given
that the band only lasted six years, with more than their fair share of
heartbreak along the way (perhaps the emblem only worked for a certain limited
time?) it certainly seemed to 'fit': to folk fans who knew enough about old
manuscripts it was a nice traditional symbol; to the psychedelic rock fan its
association with magic and the supernatural made it perfect for a band formed
in the year 1967 and to the general public it was just a distinctive logo that
stood out on concert posters and record covers. What's more, the picture summed
up Pentangle's ethos: though the 'pentangle' ended in five points, the
intercuts between the lines resulted in an 'extra' five triangles, with the
five stars overlapping and interweaving with one another. This wasn't a band in
stasis, with set boundaries - this was a band that delighted in going anywhere,
with every section of the picture representing a different 'style' that could
be explored at will, brought to the table by any of the five band members.
Audiences, used to one thing or the other, were at
first confused by Pentangle. There's a famous story that the first time
Pentangle played together outside their Horseshoe Hotel home at a Jazz and
Blues Festival in Windsor - sandwiched on the bill between the pure folk of
Joan Baez and the pure blues of Fleetwood Mac and Cream - a member of the front
row assumed they were a comedy band and laughed his socks off throughout the
performance, while the rest of the audience either tittered nervously along or
watched in stony silence. That was nearly Pentangle's last gig too, but enough
people around the band had faith to let them continue. Transatlantic Records
had already signed Bert and John (paying them a pittance for record sales but
allowing them almost total freedom - a price worth paying for both men) and the
pair's record together had, by Transatlantic standards, been an impressively
strong seller. How better, then, to have an extra three potential audiences to
buy into this new band? Manager and entrepreneur Jo Lustig also instantly 'got'
the possibilities Pentangle offered that no one else could and offered the band
a one-shot makeover 'deal'. If the band 'retired' from their Horseshoe Hotel
gigs and worked up enough material for an album, he would 'launch' them afresh
via the Royal Festival Hall, something the media savvy Lustig marked up as a
big 'event'. All Pentangle had to do was turn up and play and instead of going
after the media (something a band like Pentangle were always deeply reluctant
to do) the media came to them. As a result, while 'The Pentangle' wasn't a big
seller (people really weren't sure what to make of it) it got an awful lot of
notice for a debut album by a 'new' band. Reviews were slightly mixed too:
unsure of quite what reviewers to send the album to, Lustig sent it to everyone
and, surprisingly, most of the genre reviewers at least mentioned it (often as
'disc of the week'). As a very wide generalisation the jazz community
(suspicious of genre-bending) condemned it, the folk community really scratched
their heads over it (did recording some of the oldest and obscurest folk songs
known to exist in a cutting edge style make this the most traditional folk
album ever or the least?) and the blues community largely ignored it. However
the rock and pop community did 'get' it - at least enough to see the tie-in
first single (sadly not on the album) 'Traveling Song' rated as 'disc of the
week' above The Rolling Stones' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' out at the same time and
for enough reviewers to enjoy the 'no holds barred' adventurous spirit seeping
through every pore (even if the jazzier passages left one or two a little
So, after all that history and wonderfully random
preparation, is 'The Pentangle' an album that lives up to its reputation and
no-holds-barred impact? Well, yes and no. The interplay between the band
members is wonderful and the saving grace of the album - though Pentangle will
remain a tight and largely telepathic band right to the last, here the group
feel as if they're actively searching the edges of their boundaries, seeing how
far they can push things before a song collapses in on itself (quite far, as it
happens). Some of the moments here really are amongst the best things the band
ever did: Jacqui and Danny - who'd only just met months before the recording of
'Let No Man Steal Your Thyme' - turn in one of the definitive Pentangle
performances which transforms what could have been a twee song about a fair
maiden using herbs as metaphors for her virginity into a scary adult world of
new confusing rules that everybody understands but no one talks about. Though I
love Jacqui's pure voice as much as the next fan - possibly more - for me this
most uncharacteristic is her definitive
performance, adding a sultry mocking sneer alongside her protestations,
suggesting the lady doth protest a bit too much (very sixties). 'Bells' may
well be the best of the small handful of instrumentals Pentangle will go on to
do (half of them are on this album as it turns out), a playful darting melody
that's passed between Bert and John like two athlete relay runners at the peak
of their fitness. The jolly 'Way Behind The Sun', a traditional folk song so
obscure only one other bands has ever covered it (and what do you know, it's
another AAA band - The Byrds, whose bass player John York fell head over heels
in love with it after buying this album) shows that Pentangle can do jolly as
well as the blues where doesn't merely sing but purrs. Parts of the mammoth jam
sessions (the lyrical beginning and the breathtakingly noisy finale of
'Pentangling' and the middle of 'Waltz' when the band stop toying with us and
hit straight back into the song's strutting riff, complete with handclaps) are
brilliant too in only an as-live by-the-seat-of-your-pants recording can be (curiously
Pentangle sound almost stiff by comparison on the 'actual' live recording on
second album 'Sweet Child', too concerned with being precise than with being
However, compared to the albums to come (especially
the second and third) this isn't a feast but a snack (seeing as it's a double
album, 'Sweet Child' can be considered a banquet). Though I understand why the
jazz licks are so prominent here - this is, after all, a band who are still
getting to know each other and what better way to get to know another musician
than to jam with them? - they're arguably less interesting than the folk
overload of albums two and four-to-six or the let's-include-everything
gloriousness of third album 'Basket Of Light'. At a mere half hour this is
Pentangle's shortest album by some margin and sounds like it too - though the
seven minute 'Pentangling' and five minute closing pair of 'Bruton Town' and
'Waltz' are daring for their day, all of
them feel slightly shortened (particularly compared to later lie arrangements),
a fascinating day trip rather than the week-long vacation they appeared to
promise from the cover and period reviews. 'Hear My Call' and 'Mirage' are
amongst the weakest songs the early Pentangle had in their set - the CD
re-issue thankfully adds a further three songs considered for release and
arguably they all should be here, if not instead of then as well as to make
this album feel as substantial as many of its parts do: 'Koan' adds a touch of
Arabic flavour to the band's sound and while it's a take away from getting
things right it's an important enough piece of the puzzle to have deserved
inclusion; 'The Wheel' is a curious blues guitar/drums workout that sounds at
one with earlier Jansch pieces like 'The Waggoner's Lad'; 'The Casbah' would
have fleshed out the record's blues quota a bit more too with a nicely smoky
creepy atmosphere. The CD also includes four alternate versions of the
recordings (more or less making it a 'complete' collection of everything
Pentangle did for their first album), of which the best is a rockier go at
'Bruton Town'. Even so, with all these extras the album still only lasts fifty
minutes and feels slightly underwhelming and less active than the list of the
album's achievements have suggested down the years (we came all this way to see
the beast and he's flipping asleep!)
Even so, AAA albums always get bonus points for
invention and bravery and this is where 'The Pentangle' catches back up with
its peers in a big way. Though often the description that 'it's the only one of
its kind' is an insult, here it's a comment made with admiration. Even the
other Pentangle records don't sound like this one, which is so close to the
'fire' of the excitement and discovery that made Pentangle want to work
together you can still get burnt from this album half a century or so later.
Many fans rate it as their best work in fact, but there's still something
slightly unfinished and lightweight about it all, with the material not always
up to the performances for now. Better, deeper, stronger, longer Pentangle
albums are available, then, but that doesn't stop this debut being a
fascinating first course or from being perhaps the band's most 'fun' album
(despite the heavy emphasis on blues). Let no man steal your copy - this is the
sort of record that sounds like a one-off, then and now, in both good ways and
'Let No Man Steal Your Thyme' is in many ways the
perfect song for Pentangle to start their career with. Though the song dates
back to 1689 and almost certainly earlier (like many of the references in these
articles, that's just the date it was first written down), 'Thyme' sounds like
a very contemporary sort of song that works on multiple levels. On the one hand
it's a simple tale of a bit of herb thievery with some botanical references
thrown in ('A woman is a branchy tree, a man a clinging vine'). On another it's
a feminist statement, a warning to other fair maidens not to let men take their
virginity easily because 'when your thyme is past and gone, he'll care no more
for you'. On yet another the pun on the word 'thyme' makes it clear that it's a
part of your life you'll lose forever if you get pregnant while unmarried and
cast out by society - that it's your future 'time' you'll lose. As early as the
opening growling double-bass note from Danny you're hooked: this is a sound
like no other band around in 1967/1968 and acts like a guard dog, growling at
all those who would harm the narrator to back off. Jacqui, meanwhile, is the
epitome of a pure innocent maid - except when she isn't, adding several blues
style hollerings into her voice that also make her sound as if she's singing
from experience, struggling to regain her earlier innocent years when this song
really would have seemed about a 'herb garden' not a metaphor for being
exploited. Though male, the rest of Pentangle wrap her voice up in a cocoon to
keep her safe, with twin meshed guitars from Jansch and Renbourn that really
take flight off on a glorious instrumental as if chasing all would-be-suitors
away and a rat-a-tat drumming from Terry nailing the lid shut on a box that no
one can penetrate. Though other folk acts had recorded this song in the past
(usually under the song's alternate name 'The Sprig Of Thyme') most versions
tend to pick up on the nursery rhyme style melody and make the song curiously
happy. Pentangle don't do that, instead turning this into a painful lament full
of fear and fright, but above all loneliness: Jacqui's narrator has, depending on
how you read this version, either been jilted herself or is doomed by her own
hand to a life of loneliness and isolation, afraid of men who 'take what they
can find'. An excellent beginning, with all the band on good form but
especially Jacqui who delivers a complex narrative with just the right range of
'Bells' is a charming four minute guitar workout invented
by Bert and John who found it a great way of showing off their respective
styles back when they were a folk duo. That's Bert's blues-based wailings on
the electric on the left and John's more traditionally folky acoustic on the
right, interweaving a fascinating tapestry of madly dancing staccato rhythms.
The oldest song in Pentangle terms on the album - the pair had been playing
this for a good year before starting work on this first record - its best heard
in 'rehearsal' form on that Folksangre documentary where it's wilder and faster
and shows off even more differences between the pair. This version is slower
and slightly more static, perhaps because Bert and John have found space in the
arrangement for Danny and Terry, but while the heavy drum rolls at the end do
add a certain gravitas to the sound, this is a song that should have stayed as
a double guitar workout I think. The song is rather oddly named too - it
doesn't remind me of ringing bills so much as clucking hens or - that perennial
Pentangle favourite - the steam train rattling down a long and winding track.
Even so, the central riff is a good one and an obvious candidate for Pentangle's
jazzy improv era, a step above most of the instrumentals on the guitarists' own
solo albums. The extended CD re-issue of the 'Sweet Child' album contains a
particularly good live version of the song too.
Pentangle weren't just about the covers from their
great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. Occasionally they covered
songs by their peers as well, usually at the rate of one per album, starting
with this album's 'Hear My Call' as first recorded by the Staple Singers. A
Pentangle style mix of jazz and gospel, you can see why this song would have
appealed, although as usual Pentangle go a little further in teasing out all
the nuances of the original, switching from an introspective tiny voice asking
for help from God into a stormy sea of noise and confusion hinting at the drama
rattling along underneath the surface. Once again, Jacqui's purity and Danny's
outrageous jazz improvs on the double bass make for a particularly potent
combination, as if the narrator is trying hard to sound prim and proper and
respectful but has too many inner wild emotions bubbling up inside. Alas the
melody is a little less gripping than most on the record and is a little too
forgettable compared to the other tracks, while Jacqui's voice is perhaps a
little too 'folk' for a song so steeped in blues, gospel and jazz. The lyrics too
are rather more poetical and fragmentary than Pentangle's usual style to come
and Jacqui doesn't sound quite as comfortable here as she will on more
character driven songs. As early as the third song Pentangle also seem to have
got slightly stuck into a mid-tempo boom-cha-cha boom-cha-cha rhythm style which
is in danger of restricting them. All in all one of the weaker songs on the
Side closer 'Pentangling', though, is an epic that
breaks every rule, every restriction. Credited to the whole band, it's a jazz
jam that lasts for a full seven minutes (live versions tended to last for even
longer - there's a fab seventeen minute
version on the 'Time Has Come' box set for instance). The song starts as a
quiet ballad as sung by Jacqui which was written by 'word association', with
everyone coming up with a line each and passing it on to the next person to see
what they would do with it. This is a style that seems to have really united
the band and results in some of the most alluring, poetical Pentangle writing: 'The
summer slips below the surface, floating slowly in clear water' (surely a
Renbourn line given the similarities with his later track 'So Clear') and
'Heart and soul, life passes from one to another, death alone walks with no one
to converse with' (which sounds more like something from a Jansch solo LP). If
there is a story to be taken from all this, it seems to be of a lonely narrator
taking a trip to the river, jealous at all her friends and siblings falling in
love while she's left with no one and contemplating jumping in it to take her
blues away. In the second verse Jacqui switches from pure folk ballad into
funky blues, joined by Bert's voice as if mocking her own pure tones. Somewhere
at the end of this the song changes tacks again, turning into a monumental solo
section that sounds like some sort of big 'revelation'. Suddenly without
warning we're in the middle of a frenetic jazz workout with Bert pinging up and
John finger-picking down, over a groovy bass and drum workout that in truth
sounds a little tame on this recording but will on the stage become the stuff
of legend. Suddenly at 3:30 the song lurches to a full stop with Danny getting
a full minute of double bass whoops to himself with an other-worldly racket
that does a pretty good of suggesting the narrator has just dunked themselves
in the water. Somehow, though, the life force is too strong and just as the
bass sounds appear to sound like 'drowning', Danny kicks himself back into the
groove with Bert and Jacqui chiming in too over the top with another twist: 'I
had a dream of love, all night long, I thought I heard a siren sing a song of
love'. That hope is enough to put the song back on the straight and narrow
although both singers sound slightly deranged here, manic and possessed rather
than purely optimistic.
Next up comes a fast-paced guitar riff Bert had had
kicking around for years looking for a home as the singers debate back and
forth what this river 'really' is. Many folk songs have rivers and lakes and
wide wide oceans as metaphors for love - the unfathomable, the unknowable,
working to its own curious tide. That might be the case here as Jacqui sings
'Does this river belong to me? Or anybody I know?' There's also the hint that
the narrator has arrived in the next world, the river her earthly body has just
drowned in taking her spiritual soul somewhere new. Bert protests he didn't
really mean to die, that 'I just fished a little to ease my body and soul'
while the big finale is ambiguous: 'Let my mind relax, let my consciousness be
free and easy'. The music, though, is anything but free and easy, with John and
Terry getting increasingly carried away as they set out on a battle royale to
see who can play in the most outrageous way, eventually fading out as the two
finally run out of steam a little (result: a draw). Though the version played
here is a little too tentative, with great obvious switches of gears between
the parts, you can tell that this is already a band favourite, the first
'Pentangle' song rather than a 'hey I've been playing this song for years and
thought it might suit us' one from the past. It's a song that needs all the
five elements of the band to work and gives them all chances to shine, pushing
back the boundaries of what each of them had been used to and that sense of
excitement is clearly there in the room. It's just a shame that the band still
don't know each other well enough yet to really go for it - like many a track
on this album it's a shame they didn't keep this one as the 'safe' banker
recording and try to go even more all out the next time; the later live
recordings show what a daring and provocative track this could be at its live
peak. Still, you've never Pentangled unless you've heard 'Pentangling', one of
the greatest examples of why this band were like no other of their era - or
'Mirage' is the only song credited to an individual
in the band and no surprise that it's one of Bert's. Very much the most
experienced writer in Pentangle at this time, this track would have sounded
right at home on one of his first solo albums, with the same melancholia
flecked with hope as second album 'It Don't Bother Me' especially. However it's
a sensible choice to put aside for Pentangle: the rhythm section give this song
a darkness and danger the track would never have had if Bert had performed it
solo and Jacqui's velvet tones make the contrast between a pure idea of romance
and the harsh realities of life that much greater than if Bert had sang it solo
in his usual endearing scowl. The track is not obviously like any previous
Jansch song though. 'Come here sweet lover, come carry me away from here...' it
starts, like it's about to be a romantic love song from a musical or Cliff
Richard (or worse, a musical about Cliff Richard). However, while Jacqui floats
in the heavens, Danny's urgent and increasingly desperate bass riffs sound like
someone's legs flailing desperately in the air trying to find land again,
working hard without ever really getting anywhere. Hence, perhaps, the second
verse: 'Take me across deserts red, mirage take me there'. The narrator knows
this isn't 'real' love, the way he's always dreamed of - its a passing illusion
before he finds out all the negative traits of his beloved, the difference
between loving someone from afar and seeing all the truths up close. By the
end, though, he's too desperate with the idea of love to care if this is mirage
or not: 'Take me to the end of a rainbow dream, falling into your arms...'
Unique in both Jansch and Pentangle canons, 'Mirage' sticks out like a sore
plectrum, with less of the folk jazz and
blues practices of the rest of this album. Instead it sounds like a rock band
trying to do a ballad when they've never done one before - or balladeers who've
just hired The Who's rhythm section by accident and don't quite know how to
keep up with them. I'm not sure the result quite works, switching too heavily
from one gear to another, but as ever with this album the fact that Pentangle
end up with a song that sounds like nothing else anybody else ever made is
something to be proud of, not ashamed.
One of the most influential songs on the album is
'Way Behind The Sun'. A very traditional folk song so obscure and yet so
contemporary sounding almost everyone who bought or reviewed this album assumed
it was an original, the earliest recording I can find is a 1964 recording by
blues singer Barbara Dane. Pentangle sound nothing like that version though -
this is perhaps their most out and out jazz song (as opposed to jam session),
with Jacqui sounding like a totally different singer as she channels the ghost
of Billie Holiday, the two guitarists turning their guitars so they sound more
like John's beloved Big Bill Broonzy and Terry playing the sort of scattershot
shuffle common to 1960s jazz recordings. The song is a good choice, with Jacqui
given a rare chance to play predator rather than victim, offering up another
warning to girls everywhere to 'beware' of men ('He'll roll you over in the
clover and never come back again!') However, far from being passive, Jacqui's
character is on the hunt for a man of her own, perhaps in another world 'way
behind the sun' where all the rules have changed and it's the girls who are on
the search for 'honey' ('and if I find it I might just bring you some!') It's a
curious fact that many traditional English folk songs automatically have
psychedelic overtones. Life, for many of the people writing these sorts of songs,
was a sort of 'code' - a system of rules that people had to follow which none
of them quite understood, with references that had to be written in such a way
that they could plead perfect innocence whilst simultaneously saying what they
wanted to say. As a result many folk songs sound as if the writers had been on
drug trips, with references to space and metaphors loaded with meaning that
sound curious out of context of their times, and even though drugs aren't the
invention of the 1960s as everybody seems to think now, it's unlikely the
writer of this song, for instance, had ever tasting anything stronger than mead
(whoever he or she was). However the end result on 'Way Behind The Sun'
especially is a song that could so easily be a psychedelic classic: a song that
dreams of another life away from this one, set to a different set of rules,
where the word 'honey' even to modern ears sound risqué when applied to love
and downright dodgy when applied to drugs, though it's a word many other period
songs use innocently enough; this is a Jefferson Airplane song right here! Though
actually it was folk-rockers The Byrds that became the AAA band who recorded
it, John York the bass player from 1968 to 1969 having adored this album when
it first came out. Though the teenager had little influence over his hardened
veteran colleagues the albums 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' and 'Ballad Of Easy Rider'
have a particularly Pentangle slant. The Byrds initially unreleased version
(heard on the 'Easy Rider' bonus tracks or either Byrds box set) is a merry
jaunt, but Pentangle's sounds like life and death despite being as fun and as
exciting as anything else on the album. Played with gusto by the band a sneer
from Jacqui that makes her sound like Liam Gallagher's long lost twin sister,
'Way Behind The Sun' is one of the better short songs on this first album and
perhaps the first to really show what Pentangle were all about: reminding the
world that the past had once been as real as the present and that though times
change people rarely do. There'll be much more of this sort of thing on the
next five Pentangle albums.
'Bruton Town' remains however, the single most 'Pentangle'
moment on the first album, the closest to a template here on this debut album. Bruton
was and is a real town located in Yeovil, Somerset and as far as anyone can
tell after a distance of eight hundred odd years (plus?) a murder really take
place in the town as described in the song. Usually titled 'The Bramble's
Briar', it is most likely a seventeenth century re-telling of a fourteenth
century tale known as 'Isabella and the Pot of Basil', which may itself be
based on a much older tale. A posh little rich girl falls in love with her
servant and the pair elope, much to the horror of her family. Her two brothers,
fearful that she's thrown her life away, pretend to invite him out hunting with
them and murder him, throwing his body into a ditch (or a hedge of brambled in
the original). They pretend to their sister that the servant ran off and
couldn't be found. The servant returns in a dream, though, and shows her where
the body is. Riding out the next morning, she finds the body and mourns for
three days and nights before going back to accuse her brothers (thankfully,
perhaps, Pentangle's version 'loses' a gruesome verse from the original about
cutting his head off and putting it in a jar to show them). Interestingly in
the original she gets revenge, of a sort, denouncing her family and causing
them to fall in reputation to the point where they'd have been glad to see her
married off to a servant. In Pentangle's version, though, everyone loses: the
lady simply slinks back home 'where she was obliged to go' unable to face up to
the revelations this would cause. As is so often the case on their albums, a
sudden moment's fall from grace via a moment of love-struck foolishness creates
monumental ripples, turning formerly upstanding people into murderers and
leading to the death of an innocent man. Pentangle even end their song on that
line played in slow motion, turning 'goooooo' into a four syllable word, as if
taunting us with our preconception that there will be a happy ending. Not in
this world. Not in the real world of English counties and class systems and
jealousy. An early Pentangle live favourite 'Bruton Town' is a song easy to
admire with Bert and Jacqui trading lines and verses to great effect, but hard
to love: there's something cold and distant about this song which lacks the
warmth of most Pentangle songs from yesteryear. The song's stop-start melody is
also not built for easy listening, even though as ever with Pentangle everything
is gloriously placed, with Renbourn's solemn lament of a solo especially
capturing the mood of futility over the whole situation. Though praised
deservedly at the time for delivering a rock grunt to a traditional folk song
that was still played authentically (the only folk song here most folkies might
have actually known), 'Bruton Town' isn't quite as electrifying as other later
Pentangle folk recordings to come.
The album ends with 'Waltz', a song credited to the
whole band but which is really a couple of instrumentals by Bert and John stuck
together. John had even recorded his song, also titled 'Waltz', as part of his
'Another Monday' album and it's merry jig will prove to be popular with
compilers of Renbourn CDs for some time. Bert's song 'The Casbah', meanwhile
(which is the jazzy bit in the middle) was also recorded by the band early in
the album but abandoned when Pentangle decided to combine the two. The song
isn't in 3/4 'waltz' time for very long by the way - and good luck dancing to
this one! - but was named by John after memories of growing up near the baudy
lights of a carnival that came every summer, full of rides and glitz and glamour.
Though a great showcase for the whole band this song is especially strong for
the rhythm section, who play with a power and grit they don't often get a
chance to show off. While the guitarists keep the song on the straight and
narrow, Danny and Terry play cat and mouse with our emotions throughout the
song, coasting off in tandem before jumping back in again hard at key moments
across the song. Danny's double bass solo towards the end is exquisite, pausing
for breath unexpectedly on seemingly random notes before somehow finding his
way back into the song's funky groove (even sniffing at one point in
concentration at around the 4:00 mark, which curiously cleans up rather well on
CD!) Terry, too, signals each return into the song with a glorious 'circle' of
drums, teasing us with when he's actually going to hit back into this song full
pelt. The song's highlight though is surely towards the end when everyone else
backs away leaving John to pick out the song's rhythm on his own while Bert,
Danny and Terry simultaneously break into flamenco handclaps before, equally
united, pounding into the song again. A glorious display of Pentangle's
interplay, this track is deliciously live and you can feel the electricity crackling
in the air as the band feel their way into this improvisation where everything
could so easily go wrong. Of course nothing does, which is a marvel really considering
how complex and tricky this instrumental is. One of the best examples of
Pentangle's jazzier side, it's a shame that they'll never attempt anything
quite like this again (from now on Pentangle instrumentals will tend to be
earnest versions of old folk songs, while only the twenty minute 'Jack Orion'
from 1970 will dare to match this song's feeling of going wrong at any moment).
A glorious finale that finally unleashes the wild beast that's been playing
with us across the rest of the record.
The result is an album that's impressively daring
and original for a debut, with several great moments on it. Fans of the
jazzier, improvisatory side of Pentangle's output are in for a treat, with
'Waltz' and 'Pentangling' the best longer examples of this in Pentangle's canon
and 'Way Behind The Sun' the best example of the shorter songs. 'Thyme' too is,
well, 'Thymeless', as good a folk cover as any Pentangle will deliver in their
five years and six albums together. What this record isn't is a fully rounded
and accessible album the way that 'Basket Of Light' and a lot of the others
are. Many fans more used to the later folkier recordings actually hate this
album, with its lengthy instrumentals and curiously short running time,
complaining that nothing ever happens except for interminable bass solos
(though fans who love it rather than loathe it probably win by around 2:1 I'd
say). Typically, I'm right in the middle: I love parts of this album and admire
almost all of it, with Pentangle still enjoying the excitement of having
discovered a new sound that's quite unlike anything else out there and
determined to throw everything at it. This is not, however, a record made for
repeated listening. Even the deliberately opaque and challenging 'Cruel Sister'
has been in my CD player more times than this record, which still has an
impenetrable layer I can't quite break through, leaving this as an album to be
impressed by and occasionally knocked out by rather than one to fall in love
with. It may in fact be the weakest of the original six, if only for the short
playing time and the relative drop in quality in the middle of the record (the
reunion records are, sadly, another matter though not as bad as many people
think). Bear in mind, however, that that's a 'wow that only goes to show how
great all the others are!' comment rather than a 'gee this is awful' one. In
fact I'm rather glad that there is an album like this in Pentangle's canon,
just to show how well they could play as an ensemble and with the jazz
overtones up higher than all their other styles, even if the folkier recordings
of later years suits them slightly better. If you like the other Pentangle
albums then you still need this album - but if you're new to Pentangle then
your best bet is to wait until you've bought everything else and then you can
listen to this at a whole new level, out of interest as to how their usual
style has been altered and adapted to fit a band still exploring what their
combined sound is like after years of playing solo or in pairs rather than as a
towering achievement in its own right. This remains, however, a very
influential and explosive debut which got everybody talking (if not actually
buying - not yet at least). Now, people wanted to know, would Pentangle branch out from this style?
And how many styles could they possibly combine on their second LP, released a
mere six months later? Oh, at least twenty as it happens...
Other Pentangle related reviews from this website you might be interested in reading:
You can buy 'Maximum Consumption - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of The Kinks' by clicking here!
Think Visual! Our Kinky Youtube playlist is now up and running and can be visited at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL85DED6A846F1D7DC as well as viewed at the top of this article.
Here we go again with the thirteenth in our series of AAA TV clips. The Kinks volume was a little easier to compile than most, mainly because of the people who came before me - hats off to Doug Hinman's books 'You Really Got Me' and especially 'All Day And All Of The Night' which includes a fascinating list of every single TV show The Kinks ever played (as some of you will know by now, usually there are no proper lists out there of which shows a particular band played). Perhaps partly because of actually having a list to work from - but mainly because The Kinks were workaholics right across thirty-one very busy years - we've found a bumper crop of clips for you this week, adding a good twenty clips more than our previous longest articles. However our list is slightly different from Hinman's - whereas Doug's list includes titles for everything The Kinks ever did, we've just gone for the TV shows that we know have survived the years intact and have seen with our very own eyes, the 'steam trains' that survived through to the modern age of diesel. And sad to say that a good half - maybe even two-thirds - of the shows The Kinks once appeared on seem to have gone forever.
As we've said many times in these pages English bands from the 1960s were particularly badly hit - The BBC had limited space and didn't believe in repeating things that were more than a few weeks old apart from very special circumstances. Television was all about being new new new and so was music, so nobody expected people to actually want to watch back last week/month/year/decade's fashions/sounds. For instance, The Kinks actually appeared on flagship programme 'Top Of The Pops' some forty-seven times and were associated with the programme enough to spoof it *on 'Top Of The Pops' from 'Lola V Powerman' in 1970, funnily enough the year they stopped appearing regularly...) - regrettably only seven of these clips now exist (sob!), which statistically speaking is still one of the higher AAA ratios for a 60s band (heavier sob!) Not that the various production companies that worked for ITV were much better, with several programmes listed by Hinman missing from the archives - with the possible exception of 'Ready Steady Go' (the source of The Kinks' first three TV filmed appearances): with all the tapes currently in the possession of Dave Clark (of the Dave Clark Five) and under firm lock and key we don't really know what's survived and what hasn't. The Kinks' TV appearances in America have survived the years in greater quantities, but of course The Kinks were infamously 'banned', leaving giant holes in their TV coverage compared to other bands (unusually, too, The Kinks didn't do much TV for European networks outside Britain, unlike our other AAA bands like The Hollies and Pink Floyd). That's not even counting the TV programmes that 'nearly' were - the abandoned screen play for 'Arthur', the stage show for 'Village Green Preservation Society' and why oh why did nobody think to film the stage show of 'Preservation'?!...
However for all that there's still one heck of a lot in this list and that's despite our usual long list of caveats. Number one: I'd never dare to call this a 'complete' list, it's just complete to the best of my knowledge and I've taken the evidence of my own eyes as final proof as to whether something 'exists' or not (reading other people talk about it won't do! There is, for example most definitely a music video for 'Supersonic Rocket Ship' although I've never seen it complete so won't comment here except to say its a moody black and white job with John Gosling trying to fly and every bit as odd as it sounds given the extracts doing the rounds). Do feel free to write in if you think we've missed a clip though... Number two: we've stuck to merely band performances as best we can, with a handful of exceptions where Ray or Dave happen to be doing something particularly interesting you can't find elsewhere. Number three: we've ended this list when The Kinks end in 1995, even though technically speaking the band never announced their split so we don't have a definite date (both Davies brothers went on to do so much promotion solo we'd have had to have added about half as much again to this list!) Number four: The Kinks have to actually appear rather than provide the soundtrack - so there's no 'Percy' 'Where Did Spring Go?' 'Till Death Us Do Part' or 'The Ballad Of The Virgin Soldiers' (although Ray's acting debut in 'Play For Today' has made it to this list). Finally, there are a handful of these clips sort of semi-officially available on a handful of DVDs or officially in the case of four music videos included on the 'Come Dancing' video/DVD (though not nearly enough in my opinion - where's 'Starmaker' on DVD or a proper full set of music videos that's the equivalent of other bands?!) We'll tell you where you can find these clips when and if they are available, but as usual with these articles you may have to resort to Youtube I'm afraid. To make things easier we have our own Alan's Album Archives page there (https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives) where we're slowly compiling lists of all 30 of our bands into special 'playlists' including one dedicated to The Kinks (do be warned though - Youtube videos tend to come and go all the time so it might not always be 100% full of these clips when you visit!) So anyway join us in our video-made 'Picture Book' of all things Kinky...
1) Cavern Club ('Long Tall Sally' ?/1964)
Funnily enough we start more or less where we started our Beatles book, with a song made famous by the fab four filmed at The Cavern Club. 'Long Tall Sally' was, of course, released as The Kinks' first single by Pye simply because The Beatles had covered it and while far from regulars The Kinks did play The Cavern Club a few times when they were 'oop North'. The film is not in great condition - the camera zooms a lot and the tape audibly slows down during the chorus - but it's the only footage we have of the band performing this song or appearing at this venue. No one seems quite sure exactly when or why this clip was recorded (even Dog Hinman's book doesn't list it!) or even if it exists complete, but about a minute's worth of footage has appeared in a few documentaries over the years (notably 'My Generation' from 1993). Oh and ignore Charles Shaar Murray's whinging on that edition: The Kinks were a great blues band, if not quite as serious about it as contemporaries The Animals or The Yardbirds.
2) Beat Room (UK TV 'You Really Got Me' 'Got Love If You Want It' October 1964)
Introduced as 'You Really Got Me...Goin', the earliest surviving clip of The Kinks singing the song that made their name was taped not for British TV but for Germany and as a result is often the clip wheeled out to demonstrate The Kinks in their heyday. Unluckily for perfectionist Ray he had a shocking cold that day and can barely bleat out the words but it's a great performance even so, with Pete and Mick really nailing the song's metronomic beat. The only existing footage of Slim Harpo's 'Got Love If You Want It' - the memorable closer to the debut album - is even more fascinating. Instead of just diving straight into the frenetic instrumental from the opening verse Ray leers at the crowd, his eyes shut, as The Kinks slow down to a barely audible whisper. Suddenly he jumps up, shrieks 'alright boys let's go!' and attacks his harmonica like never before. The crowd now wide awake and the energy in the room crackling, Ray is superb on the second verse, repeating the same trick again as the cameraman - now onto what he's doing - concentrates on the 'silent comedy' faces he's calling. It's a thrilling version of what was always one of the band's better cover songs and knocks spots off the album version. Admittedly by now The Kinks are TV regulars with several appearances on TOTP and Ready Steady Go under their belt, but as far as we're concerned this is an explosive 'proper' start to our list. Ray recalled later that he was 'wearing his Lady Diana suit!' Both clips can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
3) Top Beat (?) (UK TV 'You Really Got Me' 'All Day And All Of The Night' November 1964)
A slightly more 'together' performance of The Kinks' signature tune, closely followed by a nicely raw rendition of the sequel. To be fair I'm not certain about where this footage belongs, but out of all the Kinks clips I can find I have a 'You Really Got Me' and an 'All Day' left over, so having scoured Doug Hinman's book this show seems the most likely - it's the only time in 1964 the band play both and as an ITV show is a smidgeon more likely to exist than period BBC programmes. The Kinks are wearing their 'hunter's jackets' for both clips by the way - although that's not especially helpful (they wore them a lot in 1964!)
4) Ready Steady Go #1 (UK TV 'Tired Of Waiting For You' January 1965)
One of the more famous Kinks clips, this is the video that features all of the band except Ray on podiums which rise and fall throughout the song. Poor Mick gets very high by the middle and is only just in shot (is this really the best way to treat the biggest new act of 1964?!?) Ray down below tries his best to look serious, whilst Dave and Pete behind make the most of their newly elevated position and try to make the camera look at them (Pete Quaife's Pete Townshend-style arm-windmilling is particularly fun!) Check out the first televised appearance of Dave's 'Flying V' guitar!
5) Shindig #1 (US TV 'You Really Got Me' 'All Day And All Of The Night' January 1965)
The Kinks were never really taken to the hearts of the American market the way some other groups were, even before the 'ban', but Shindig(on ABC) was a particularly happy hunting ground for the band, a music variety show that was big in the 1964-1966 years when The Kinks were at their commercial peak too. This first performance features a straightforward if slightly rough performance of the band's first two big hits where Ray seems to have caught another slight cold judging by his voice and the backing vocals are slightly awry. They're still great performers in this period though, their stillness contrasting greatly with the sheer energy of the performance.
6) Hullabaloo (US TV 'All Day And All Of The Night' February 1965)
'Hullabaloo' was a similar show all round, but for the rival network NBC, albeit with rather older and 'straighter' hosts. This appearance features the weirdest set on the list with what appear to be either Native American totem poles or stripy surfboards stuck randomly into the back of the set, while one of the Hullaballoo dance troupe stands perfectly still behind the band and another is lying down at the front (you may recall from one of our other entries a Byrds appearance on this show where the girls are being 'ornithologist hunters'!) The Kinks look as bemused as I feel, turning in a mimed performance of a song they were probably singing in their sleep by this point. Legend has it that Ray and Mick angered the producers of the show during rehearsals when they danced 'cheek to cheek' when asked to do something lively for the cameras, which would have been daring in the States back then; is this really why they were banned? This clip would have been broadcast in colour at the time - the first for the band out of the surviving footage at least - although the only clip I've seen is in such bad quality it might as well have been in black-and-white.
7) Red Skelton Hour (US TV 'Got Love If You Want It' March 1965)
Golly, how to explain how Red Skelton was popular? Skelton was a comedian most famous for his radio work and funny voices who played a henpecked husband and was most famous for his impression of a seagull. Not many people remember his shows now - and I don't blame them given what I've seen - except when they contained special guest stars like this show. The Kinks perform a slightly more rushed version of their old showstopper tonight, with Ray 'hmm-hmm'ing rather than going completely quiet as he did on 'Beat Room'. Sadly to date only an extract from this clip has been seen, although the fact that it now resides in the 'Reelin' In The Years' library (the source of the excellent DVDs on The Hollies and Small Faces in recent years) bodes well for an official release at some date.
8) NME Pollwinner's Concert (UK TV 'You Really Got Me' 'Tired Of Waiting For You' April 1965)
Against all odds, most of the 1964 and all of the 1965 NME Pollwinner's Concerts survive - complete with embarrassing gaps, faulty equipment and clueless presenters! Proof of just how big The Kinks were in this period comes from the fact that they close the show, with top billing over even The Beatles! (Or at least that's how it appears - the fab four had another gig down the road and couldn't be last, while The Kinks are as unpunctual as ever and turn up late for their slot, most probably why Dave shouts 'sorry' into the crowd between songs). And a special compere message from DJ Jimmy Saville (he even spells out 'Kinks' - that shoulda been a clue...), but we'll gloss over that one for now... (We'll be seeing a lot more of this show in our books what with appearances by The Moody Blues and The Searchers along the way). The Kinks aren't having a good day though, perhaps having been kept waiting nervously backstage with all their peers and Pete's backing vocals are especially high and awkward (to be fair, it's probably the mixer's fault for putting him too high). We also see footage of The Kinks getting their award as 'second best new group of the year - four silver goblets from which Ray pretends to take a quick swig before the band leap off stage. Compared to other Kinks footage of the period this is a bit of a struggle to sit through, to be honest, with the band clearly tired and in need of a rest. What a shame they won't get one for ever so long...
9) Shivaree (US TV 'Set Me Free' 'All Day And All Of The Night' July 1965)
Again I've had to do a bit of detective work here, but it seems likely that these two surviving clips are taken from 'Shivaree', a less well known but often more interesting American variety show which came on like 'Shindig's poverty-stricken younger brother but often had better guests. A rare performance of 'Set Me Free' is unusual for The Kinks - it is perhaps the first 'serious' single they can't get away with smiling through, though that said Ray still cracks a smile in the second verse. He also waggles his finger, Sebastian Vettel style during the middle eight. Both performances are mimed by the way. 'Set Me Free' cropped up on the 'Essential Collection' video, although as far as I know it's not appeared on DVD yet!
10) Shindig #2 (?) (US TV 'Who'll Be The Next In Line?' 'Tired Of Waiting For You' 'It's Alright!' 'I'm A Lover Not A Fighter' 'Long Tall Shorty' July 1965)
Meanwhile, over at Shindig, The Kinks are proving successful enough to get top billing - which luckily for us means more music. Now, controversially I'm going against Doug Hinman here by listing 'Who'll Be The Next In Line' in with the other songs because it clearly comes from this Shindig, the band are wearing the same clothes and the song seems to fit this later, longer show better (although it could at a stretch have possibly have been taped on the band's first appearance last December). Doug also lists 'Set Me Free' as being performed at this show, which would make perfect sense given the chronology, although it's not been included in any copies of the show that I've seen (admittedly this show generally gets cut into smithereens for repeat broadcast anyway). Highlights include Ray miming the piano during 'Next In Line' with Dave ever so nearly knocking him out with his guitar (on accident...I think!), Ray enacting the words to the start of 'IT's Alright!' ('I got wings, I'm gonna fly!...') and the big finale on 'Long Tall Shorty' with Dave up front and each of the special guests up on stage. All the songs are mimed, even though 'Long Tall Shorty' sounds substantially different to the record suggesting it was re-taped by the band especially for the broadcast for some unknown reason. Alas The Kinks will be back down the bill for their next, vastly shorter appearances on the show...Most of this show appears on the 'Kinks Live' semi-legal DVD (the one with a Dave Davies interview running through the middle).
11) Ready Steady Go #2 (?)(UK TV 'See My Friends' July 1965)
Once again, a bit of guess work here but there's a monochrome clip of The Kinks performing 'See My Friends' which has the 'feel' of a Ready Steady Go clip about it (though The Kinks also performed the song on 'Top Of The Pops' and an ITV programme named 'Discs A Go Go').Ray introduces the song by name which is unusual before the record starts up and the band mime once again, though with a bit more acting than usual (Dave is so intently studying his guitar at the start he might be wondering how the hell he made the sound in the first place!)
12) Where The Action Is (US TV 'You Really Got Me' 'Set Me Free' 'Everybody's Gonna Be Happy' July 1965)
The Kinks are where the action is, at least in mid 1965 when they're taking US telly by storm. A spin-off of 'American Bandstand' with the same presenter, Dick Clark, this long running programme was one of the key American shows right behind Ed Sullivan's in the 1960s and it was quite a coup for The Kinks to get three whole songs on there. The band mime to three of their hit singles (though perhaps not the three you might expect) and are filmed both inside and outside the 'club' set hat's the backdrop to the series. The band are in mufti for this show, weirdly, with both Ray and Pete in bright striped jumpers (yep, even on monochrome they look bright!) - at least until 'You Really Got Me' when the band are suddenly dressed for summer and wearing sunglasses! The director is having far too much fun with the period technology (the band keep sliding into 'negative' every so often or zooming in for a shaky close-up) but otherwise this is an excellent run of clips with the band on top cheeky form, mugging up to the camera something rotten!
13) Discorama (French TV 'Bye Bye Johnnie' 'Louie Louie' 'Long Tall Shorty' 'Hide and Seek' July 1965)
A most fascinating if low quality live set which I've found so belatedly I've just had to change all the flipping numbers in this list, The Kinks turn in a terrific four part show in Paris which is pretty much a last hurrah to the band's R and B days. Dave takes the lead for most of the set for a change and half of the songs featured here veer turned up on an album: the raucous 'Bye Bye Johnny' (a Chuck Berry sequel to Johnny B Goode) features some terrific drumming and this is also the only place where you can see the band perform Big Joe Turner's 'Hide and Seek'. The French crowd seem to love The Kinks (unusual given that, traditionally, they're the most reserved of European audiences) and appear to chant 'Pete Quaife Pete Quaife' before the finale (although it's probably 'Plus!' meaning 'More'!) The quality may be rotten and the cameramen might spend more time looking at the crowd than they do The Kinks but this is a rip-roaring shows that puts paid to every critics who ever said The Kinks couldn't do R and B. Fantastic!
14) Shindig #3 (US TV 'See My Friends' October 1965)
Not listed by Doug Hinman (was it returned after 'All Day and All Of The Night' was written?), but kindly listed as 'this week's Shindig pick of the week' (which makes my life a lot easier!) this is another terrific performance with a rare live period performance of one of The Kinks' greatest songs. The band might be rough but the harder edges smooth this timid, weary song with Dave's harmony vocals and guitar especially powerful tonight. Poor Mick's had a killer haircut, though, and looks bored out of his skull! Sadly hopes for a 'full ending' are dashed by a less than delicate edit from the programme makers to a fadeout.
15) Ready Steady Go #3 (UK TV 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth' December 1965)
Most definitely returned to the archives is this truly abominable quality recording of The Kinks (at least - I think it's them through the fog of half a century of neglect) messing around on a Ready Steady Go festive special. Ray is no doubt laughing at himself again with the song choice (a reference to his own famous 'gapped teeth' he refused to get fixed) which The Kinks play hard and fast!
16) Shindig #4 (US TV 'Milk Cow Blues' December 1965)
The middle of three versions of this Sleepy John Estes classic, this one is somewhere between the other two, at half-speed from the fiery version from earlier in the year and the slowed down crawl of a jam of 1966. Pete and Dave are up on a podium again (TV producers seem like doing this to The Kinks!) and perhaps because they're kept a stage apart Dave and Ray do less interplay on their vocals than usual here. Unusually Dave is more 'posh' and concerned with enunciating, while Ray lets his hair down! In common with many Shindig shows, a troupe of dancers suddenly run on during the instrumental for no apparent reason - get out of the way girls, I'm trying to watch Dave solo!
17) Shindig #5 (US TV 'I Gotta Move' January 1966)
The Kinks reach back to their past for their last performance on 'Shindig' - and, if I've got my sums right, the last Kinks TV appearance in the States of the 1960s. This return to a 1964 B-side seems like an odd move to make if the band are still trying to forge out a career for themselves in a new land so perhaps the band already know they're not long for the States. That might also explain the muted, oddly precise rendering on what's usually one of the band's most chaotic originals. Listen out for Ray still singing 'fill my gap and comb my hair' as he does on record but here with a knowing wink and the loud screams of all the fans at the end - they clearly don't want the band to go even if the unions do!
18) Beat Beat Beat #1 (German TV 'A Well Respected Man' 'Milk Cow Blues' 'Till The End Of The Day' 'I'm A Lover Not A Fighter' 'You Really Got Me' January 1966)
Meanwhile, back in Germany, The Kinks tried to ignore the band and carry on with their career. The band put on a fourteen minute reduction of their live set for the German audience which became a regular staple on music station VH-1 back in the days when it was less trendy and occasionally good. Dressed all in black and struggling to be heard in the echoey German arena, The Kinks turn in a sloppy yet interesting set which finds them back in the 'Kinks Kontroversy Konfusion' period caught halfway between the raw rock of years gone by and the wittier character assassinations that will go on to mark out 1966 for them. Ray is doing a lot of winking and grinning to the audience and even throws in a few ad libs ('...And his answax (a 1960s make of furniture polish!) smells the best!') An unfocussed yet funky 'Milk Cow Blues' is the highlight of the set, Dave and Ray getting into the feel of the duelling narrators by, erm, not looking at each other for the whole song. The earliest surviving of 'Till The End Of The Day' sounds mighty good too, with a really piercing Dave Davies guitar part (even if Ray messes up the solo, adding an extra '...Till the end of the day' perhaps to keep his brother on his toes!) All in all, a great show, with The Kinks recognisably like both their early 1960s and late 1960s selves. The full performance is out on DVD titled 'Beat Beat Beat', although it's a candidate for being one of the shortest DVDs in history with no other footage included.
19) A Whole Scene (UK TV 'Sunny Afternoon' June 1966)
Alas there now appears to be a huge great gap until the next clip, right when The Kinks are having a particularly interesting year (the American band isn't helping and nor are the gradually falling sales or time off from Ray's 'breakdown' although there were still twelve missing Kinks performances between January and March that year). Taken from a short-lived 24-part music variety series, of which only four episodes are thought to have survived, the 'stills' from this show are more famous than the performance (with The Kinks standing on raised mini-'rostrums' on the floor). The band mime an early performance of one of their most beloved songs with a smartly dressed Ray wearing a flower in his lapel and Dave in a checked jacket. Well it makes a change from the red hunting suits! Can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
20) Top Of The Pops #1 (UK TV 'Sunny Afternoon' June 1966)
Astonishingly, the earliest surviving Kinks TOTP appearance is their twenty-fifth performance on the show. This one seems to have been returned given the state it's in (a few bits seem to have been beyond repair which is why the clip occasionally slows down to fit in with the synch) and could be from any of three performances the band gave of the song on consecutive weeks across June. The band mime in front of a psychedelic backdrop which really loses something being, erm, in black and white.
21) Discorama (?) (French TV 'Milk Cow Blues' July 1966)
A strangely slow and unusually 'tight' version of this raucous rocker next, although the song picks up steam fast from a slow beginning as Mick Avory thumps the song into action. Dave skips the first verse, instead heading straight into the 'won't you please?' chorus while Ray's part has him spending more time teaching the audience how to clap than doing any actual singing. The Kinks look as if they're having fun here though, unlike their usual grumpy selves across 1965/66!
22) Dead End Street (Music Video 1966)
One of the bravest of Kinks clips is this early music video for 'Dead End Street', which has actually become a lot more common today than it ever was in the 1960s (when TV producers in most countries took umbrage at the band 'laughing' at death and promptly banned it for years!) The Kinks are undertakers walking down a dreary looking London lane (now you know where Oasis got the idea for the 'Importance Of Being Idle' promo!) The band aren't really being disrespectful, although Dave does dress up in a wig for the part of a grieving widow and Pete does end up sitting on the coffin at the end (well, he's had a tiring day!) Found on 'The Kinks Kollekted' DVD, the 'Essential Collection' video and probably many more!
23) Vibrato (?) (Belgian TV ? 'Sunny Afternoon' January 1967)
An odd clip this one, starting off with the band in the back of a rolls royce acting out the part of 'millionaires' before we see the band in thick heavy coats outside in what's obviously freezing countryside. The band look uncomfortable, which rather suits the seriousness of the lyrics, but it's not exactly a very suitable setting given the sentiments of the words! Mick Avory really struggles to mime his drum part wearing gloves! The choice of show is a 'guess' by the way - we know it isn't Britain looking at the scenery and I've taken a guess that it's Belgium scenery not Germany.
24) Beat Club #1 (German TV 'Mr Pleasant' May 1967)
The Kinks are definitely in Germany for this clip though, with somebody (probably the presenter) guesting on piano to fill in for Nicky Hopkins and Dave Lee Travis on trombone for reasons known best to themselves. The band are clearly getting fed up of miming by now and take the mickey out of the cameras remorselessly, singing out of synch and waving their arms about a lot. This is the start of Dave Davies' obsession with striking looking hats.
25) Beat Club #2 (German TV 'Waterloo Sunset' June 1967)
Another of the more famous clips this has The Kinks in their Carnaby Street splendour for a mimed performance of one of their most popular songs (especially a dapper looking Dave in glasses!) The band were plainly in a good mood when they recorded this clip, which is probably the band's most common in terms of screen hours on TV.
26) Top Of The Pops #2 (UK TV 'Autumn Almanac' October 1967)
Another rare TOTP clip from the 1960s, I'm surprised this isn't shown more often given that most of the early TOTP clips are on their sixth time around in clip shows by now. Ray sings along with the record as far as I can tell and wears a giant rosette on his suit and sports a killer hair cut. He's still outdone by Dave, though, who wears a cravat and frilly shirt sleeves! The audience get mightily close to the band in time for the psychedelic finale!
27) Beat Club #3 (German TV 'Death Of A Clown' - Dave Davies October 1967)
According to his autobiography 'Kink' Dave was really struggling the week of this performance - he's struck out on his own without the rest of the band, in a foreign land and spent most of the time drunk and the rest of it depressed. How he manages to seem so bright and cheerful in this promo though I'll never know, even if the guitarist has trouble remembering all the words to mime! Some funky 60s camerawork has a big black Dave in the background singing to a small white Dave in the foreground!
28) Top Of The Pops (?) ('Susannah's Still Alive' - Dave Davies December 1967)
Officially this poor quality video doesn't exist in the archives, but this is the only show Dave played one of his best solo songs on, according to Doug Hinman, so I'm not going to argue! It's clearly been through the wars this clip, which comes with dirty great lines across it and speeds up and slows down, suggesting the master tape has been damaged in some way (was it discovered on the end of something else?) How great, though, to see Dave in his prime and the only filmed performance of him singing this song from the 'right' decade, resplendent in leather jacket and posh new hairdo!
29) Top Of The Pops #3 (UK TV 'Wonderboy' April 1968)
It seem to be a quirk of fate that the Kinks TOTP performances that have survived are more likely to be the one-offs for songs that never charted for more than a week, rather than the umpteen performances of 'You Really Got Me' et sequence. This clip seems to have only survived after being 'borrowed' for a British Pathe newsreel - though why the powers that be chose this song, the most obscure Kinks single of the 1960s, I'll never know. Still, I've always had a soft spot for what proved to be John Lennon's favourite Kinks song (he requested it over and over on radio shows in the period) and the band give an energetic if still mimed performance. Not sure about the set though (the band play in front of a ladder - were the set dressers on strike?) or the sudden cut-aways to British seasides in the middle. Still, it's the real McCoy, every single day...
30) Starstruck (Music Video 1968)
A rare music video as opposed to a mimed performance, this video sees The Kinks let loose round a park, including a field that looks as if it might be the one seen on the cover of 'Village Green'. The band make no attempt to fit in with the lyrics of the song. The clip can be found on the 'Essential Collection' video, although good luck trying to track it down on DVD!
31) Beat Club #4 (?) (German TV 'Plastic Man' April 1969)
Here's an oddity - I swear I've seen this clip come round more times on 'VH1' and 60s clips shows than most and yet Doug Hinman lists this clip as originally being 'unaired'. Well, that's 'Plastic Man' for you - neither one thing nor the other! The band mime this one in front of a giant 'Beat Club' sign just to make sure that we know what show they're on! That's new bassist John Dalton replacing Pete Quaife, who'll be along for the ride until 1977.
32) Pop Go The Sixties (UK TV 'Days' December 1969)
Ditto this clip, which used to be very rarely seen until the advent of BBC4 who love using this 'last show of the 1960s' as a filler. By 1969 The Kinks have slipped out of favour and are near the bottom of the bill but they come out of this show better than all the other acts who are simply here to have a party and plug their new song. Trust The Kinks to see out the decade with a song of nostalgia and dread of the future, as they offer a very prescient goodbye to the decade that made them.
33) Apeman (Music Video 1970)
Perhaps The Kinks' most famous music video from 'phase one' of their career, this clip sees the introduction of another new member in keyboard player John Gosling. As his initiation poor John is persuaded to wear a gorilla suit and follow the band as they lark about in a wood - Ray even hurling himself into Gosling's arms at one point! Along the way The Kinks climb trees, smoke cigars and do a lot of dancing. Poor John must have wondered whether he'd made the right move joining this band of nutters...
34) Top Of The Pops #4 (UK TV 'Lola' June 1970)
At last, here's the start of the 'colour' years - far later through this article than most AAA bands! 'Lola' is another much-repeated clip that features the band in a particularly happy mood - well everyone except Mick, as per normal! Though not technically a 'live' performance the mix of this song sounds a little different to the finished single, with much more emphasis on the Chuck Berry style guitarwork. This clip can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
35) The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Piano Player (UK TV Ray Davies Acts! October 1970)
It's a measure of just how high Ray Davies' standing was in the literary world that he was chosen to launch a new series for BBC2 titled 'Play For Today' (one which would run for an impressive fourteen years). The series was the brainchild of Irene Shubik, who'd been responsible for the superb sci-fi anthology series 'Out Of The Unknown', with this episode written especially for Ray by Scottish playwright Alan Sharp. Though shot in colour only a black and white copy of this TV play from the long running BBC 2 series exists (so many of the plays were lost completely by the BBC's wiping policy of the 1970s; this one probably only survived at all because it was the 'first'). Ironically this is one of those moody films that probably suits monochrome better anyway, full of brooding thoughts and inner turmoil. There isn't much of a plot but what there is reads like a Kinks koncept album: a musician whose recently got marries is pushed past his breaking point at a local pub where his manager has got him a gig beating the world record for longest continual piano performance: four days and nights! However wife and manager don't get on and pianist Pete (played by Ray) first breaks down and turns on his wife (revealing that the pair never really loved each other) and then his manager (angry at being used). That sense of dymanic between a professional need to perform and push himself and a family life would have really appeared to Ray in this period, near the end of his first marriage (wife Rasa will leave him in 1973 almost quoting the wife's lines in this play about Ray spending too much time working when he didn't need to be verbatim) and the 1974 Kinks album 'A Soap Opera' and especially the TV staging of it as 'Starmaker' owe a lot to this play.
By the end Pete has been up for three days and nights and in the play's most memorable scene simply pulls his hands away from the piano, unable to play on anymore. Ray plays the piano throughout, starting off with genuinely ebullient playing, with Davies dropping into shouted out requests at the drop of a hat, but as time wears on his playing becomes atonal and strange. Ray isn't the best actor in the world, but despite having the most screen time Ray doesn't have many lines and the part calls for a sort of shy surliness that's quite a part of Ray's natural character anyway, so he copes well with the new experience. Ray even writes two songs for the project: the world weary 'Marathan' ('Life is like a marathon, goes on and on and on') which sounds like an outtake from 'Lola v Powerman' and an early simplified piano version of 'I Gotta Be Free' which will appear on that very album (released shortly after the play was screened) and is played over the end credits to the accompaniment of a fox, the 'metaphor; for freedom that Pete longs for throughout the play. Critics at the time were unkind (one review read 'Piano play hits a low note'!) and Ray was so unsure about his performance that he deliberately kept quiet about when it was on to his friends and family so that most of them missed it; he also booked and extra long session at Konk studios that night so none of his bandmates would see it! However Ray shouldn't feel any shame - it's a more than competent first performance (it's certainly way better than Sting or Phil Collins' acting jobs!) and while the script has a weak ending (there's none of the explosive them-or-me fight between wife and manager as expected) and not enough action, it raises some very interesting philosophical questions of which Ray would no doubt have approved. This play is certainly more important than many fans realise it to be and really lays a foundation for the 1970s storytelling Kinks albums to come. It may also be significant that The Kinks suddenly hire their first new keyboard player John Gosling in this era, perhaps because Ray has suddenly realised what a hard job playing the piano is. Talking of which...
36) Top Of The Pops #5 (UK TV 'Apeman' December 1970)
Poor John Gosling - the band are at it again, persuading him to dress up in his gorilla suit one last time, with this performance looking like a musical version of 'Planet Of The Apes'! This is the 'crossover' period when union rows led to most artists appearing on Top Of The Pops being asked to play live and is the first non-mimed clip in this list for, ooh, ages. Poor Ray - it would be this tongue-twisting song he gets lumbered with singing live! The band slow the song down slightly to make it easier to fit all the words in, while there are some extra sound effects of whopping birds during the middle eight. can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
37) Old Grey Whistle Test #1 (UK TV 'Have A Cuppa Tea' 'Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues' January 1972)
Zooming on a bit, we're in the RCA years now with a quick plug for the 'Muswell Hillbillies' album on what's proving to be the BBC's serious younger brother to the all-singing all-dancing Top Of The Pops. In the off season Dave's grown a beard and The Kinks have grown horns - well added a horn section at any rate. Both songs are played live and rather tentatively too with the band still clearly getting used to the new material even though much of it will be the backbone of their setlists for much of the decade to come. Ray nearly forgets the words to the oh so English performance of 'Cuppa Tea' and the band are a tad sluggish on 'Acute Schizophrenia' but both are still strong performances. 'Cuppa Tea' only can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
38) Beat Club #5 (German TV 'Lola' 'Holiday' 'Alcohol' 'Skin and Bone' 'Muswell Hillbilly' 'You're Lookin' Fine' 'You Really Got Me-All Day And All Of The Night' Filmed May 1972, but only broadcast complete in 1981)
A rare return to Germany and what used to be one of The Kinks' most regular programmes reveals how much has changed since the band were last there in 1966. Everything is now in colour - and not just any old colours but bright day-glo primal colours, with the whole band in bright orange shirts (given that The Kinks stopped colpur-coordinating their wardrobes somewhere around 1966, it's probable the director asked them to wear this shade to better stand out against the blue background). The bluesceen is here because, well because the director has gone all 'hip' to be honest and this backing allows him to project all sorts of random images and close-ups (all of which are most distracting, though not as bad as what happened to The Byrds on this same show this same year). That's a shame because, audibly, this is one of The Kinks' best shows, with a notably looser, bluesier 'Lola', a raucous 'Alcohol' complete with props that sounds more like Noel Coward than normal, Ray stripping off to 'Skin and Bone', a mad screaming 'You're Lookin' Fine' and a rather ragged 'Muswell Hillbillies'. Oddly this last song is the only one aired at the time of filming - the rest of this rather good show had to wait until 1982, which is a waste! Sadly this show isn't available officially anywhere yet, despite the fact that most 'Beat Club' and variations by many bands are (this would have made a fine second half to the 'Beat Beat Beat' DVD!)
39) The Kinks At The Rainbow (UK Concert ''Till The End Of The Day' 'Waterloo Sunset' 'Sunny Afternoon' 'Top Of The Pops' 'Money-Go-Round' 'Sunny Afternoon' 'The Ballad Of The Virgin Soldiers' 'Mr Wonderful' 'She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina' 'Alcohol' 'Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues' 'You Really Got Me' July 1972)
This concert - filmed in January 1972 but kept in the vaults for a full six months until first broadcast - is a bit of an odd, arty affair all round. Many of these 'performances' are the band miming to the records, but in a variety of wild and wacky backgrounds and with a number of wild camera angles going on ('Money-Go-Round' in particular looks like an outtake from 'Percy' as made by a bunch of hippie college students). The show is interesting in parts, though, mainly because of the deeply unusual track listing featuring many forgotten songs from the band's late 1960s albums and a one-off Kinks performance of some Ray Davies incidental music written for a flop 1969 film. Plus the interviews - believe it or not this is the earliest existing filmed interview with Ray that exists (plenty more on radio though!) The setting too is somehow very suitable - it's a run-down Edwardian Music Hall Theatre, which might explain why Ray is acting more like his hero Max Wall than ever! ('Preservation' and 'Mr Flash' are only a year away, remember!)The complete concert can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC', but it's a bit of an oddball concert this and not one of the band's very best.
40) In Concert (UK TV 'Victoria' 'Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues' 'A Dedicated Follower Of Fashion' 'Lola' 'Holiday' 'Good Golly Miss Molly' 'You Really Got Me-All Day And All Of The Night' 'Waterloo Sunset' 'The Village Green Preservation Society' March 1973)
Regular readers will know by now of BBC2's 'In Concert' series which featured several AAA stars performing a half hour set in a studio environment in front of a small audience. BBC4 have even started re-broadcasting a lot of these over the past decade and often with the unedited master tapes of each show before they were cut down to length. Alas The Kinks' show is not one of the best. Ray was having a terrible year in 1973 - he'll actually disband The Kinks briefly in July although few fans actually hear his dramatic 'I quit!' message on stage as music is played over the speaker system and drowns him out. Ray has just split up with his wife of ten years Rasa and is in terrible shape according to everything written since; though he's trying his hardest he looks pale and ill and spends most of the show with his eyes closed, getting through just on will power and barely touching his guitar. Dave and John spend most of the set whispering to each other behind him, as if worried about how their bandmate and brother is coping. That's a shame because in terms of track listing this is a good set with the long awaited return of 'Village Green Preservation Society' to the track listing in preparation of the first version of what will become the 'Preservation' tour later in the year. Dave also has a new feature song in the set, a revved up version of 'Good Golly Miss Molly' that takes the band right back to their roots. Note too the first time The Kinks use a choir - Ray will be back for more with his Khoral Kollektion some thirty-five years later - and don't we wish he hadn't? - though to be fair the choir is far less obtrusive here. The whole set can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
41) Midnight Special (US TV 'You Really Got Me' 'Money Talks' 'Here Comes Yet Another Day' 'Celluloid Heroes' 'Skin and Bone' June 1974)
The Kinks are back in America after a nine year gap! Only, typically, The Kinks' big Komeback is hit by yet another union strike - though not one of the band's own making this time. The American Federation of Musicians happened to choose the band's planned recording date to strike on behalf of three American networks. Figuring that they can only get banned again The Kinks plough on regardless and the hoo-hah over this concert will continue for several months. As for the show itself, it's a bit of an odd one. Most of the camerawork is shot from a distance, from the point of view of the crowd and The Kinks seem a little unsure of themselves after so long away (although they clearly have a vocal fanbase in the audience!) Kicking off almost where they left off with 'You Really Got Me', the rest of the set then carries on with the band's normal 1974 set, a mixture of 'Preservation' and the last remnants of 'Muswell Hillbillies' although notably there's nothing from the forthcoming 'Starmaker'.
42) Starmaker (UK TV Special 'Everybody's A Star (Starmaker)' 'Ordinary People' 'Rush Hour Blues' 'Nine To Five' 'When Work Is Over' 'Have Another Drink' 'You Make It All Worthwhile' 'A face In The Crowd' 'You Can't Stop The Music' September 1974)
This rarely seen dramatisation of the 'Soap Opera' LP was only shown once very late at night and never repeated, which is a true Kinks Kalamity. You see, I've always had a soft spot for this daft LP, where Ray starts off as The Starmaker celebrity who wants to experience normal life for a change and slowly morphs into Norman as his wife (played by June Ritchie) tries to tell him he's been a nobody all along. The album loses out with fans though given its camp theatricality and the bizarre genre experiments on side two that interefere with the plot. Neither matter in this TV version, which loses the weaker songs like 'Underneath The Neon Song' 'Holiday Romance' and 'Ducks On The Wall' and adds a whole lot more character and plot via the dialogue. Ray is magnificent, performing the whole half hour show in one go without any re-takes, as if it were a play on stage and only makes one mistake ('don't rush me baby while I'm reading my - the news') and the setting is inventive, clearly low budget but with a table that doubles as all sorts of things and swings round while Ray works tirelessly 9-5. June Ricthie excels as normal Norman's wife and Ray's dialogue for the pair is far less cringe-worthy than on the LP, with some devestating moments at the end as Ray plays back the tapes of his earlier recordings and realises that he's been deluding himself all this time. Ray's gradual deflation from egotistical genius to a sad and trapped middle aged man is done oh so subtly and the piece ends powerfully with Ray as Norman accepting himself as 'just a face in the crowd' as he even goes to sit amongst his own audience to watch Dave close out the show with 'You Can't Stop The Music'. Simply fabulous - this was our #1 pick on our 'greatest ever AAA youtube exclusives' column four years ago for a reason - this is Klassik Kinks and desperately deserves an official release after so much work and effort put into it (perhaps with 'The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Piano Player'?!)
43) Supersonic (UK TV 'No More Looking Back' 'You Really Got Me' 'All Day And All Of The Night' March 1976)
An, erm, active show with The Kinks performing on a children's TV show for ITV. In a repeat of the early sixties, The Kinks perform on giant white pillars (Ray is on the ground again though) surrounded by smoke and horn players. The hits medley of just two songs will grow in the years to come and doesn't quite work here, mainly because it's a Big Sky-given fact that 'You Really Got Me' should be played through a dirty distorted amplifier and not with horns. However this is a lovely performance of 'No More Looking Back', one of the band's loveliest songs and the only place you can see the band sing what was then their latest single so I'll let it pass. All three songs can be found on what we're calling the 'semi-legal trilogy' variously titled 'The Lost Broadcasts' 'In Performance' and 'Kinks EP' and the soundtrack was 'borrowed' for the equally dodgy 'Lost Airwaves' CD last seen in Poundland.
44) The Mike Douglas Show (US TV 'Sleepwalker' 'Celluloid Heroes' February 1977)
Returning to the States, The Kinks pick up nearly where they left off, with a lively but mimed performances of 'Sleepwalker' and a lovely live version of 'Celluloid Heroes', two of the band's biggest Klassik Kinks songs of the decade. Ray has great fun playing up to the camera and even sings in German at one point ('She vanted to be alone...'), but poor Dave looks dazed, while other things to look out for are the set lighting changing from red to blue in between songs. The blonde band member you might not recognise is Andy Pyle, who was the Kinks' bassist in 1976 through to 1978 in between John Dalton and Jim Rodford. Both tracks can be found on the 'semi-legal trilogy' (see above)
45) Saturday Night Live (US TV 'You Really Got Me-All Day And All Of The Night-A Well Respected Man-Lola/Sleepwalker' February 1977)
The Kinks' performance on the famous US comedy series isn't one of their most rewarding moments. The band perform against a set that looks like an American alley and is notable mainly for the fact that Ray and Dave share the camera limelight for much of the performance, with their microphones set unusually close together. For my money the 'hits' medley never quite worked - the sudden jolt from hard rock into music hall for 'Well Respected Man' seems particularly wrong. 'Sleepwalker' is better, although there are better performances of it around. Steve Martin was guest host that week although he doesn't interact with the band at all and sadly the band don't get to play a part in any of the skit like fellow AAA artists Brian Wilson and Paul Simon did (this is only series two - episode 38 to be exact - so perhaps the formula hasn't settled down yet?)
46) Old Grey Whistle Test #2 (UK TV 'All Day And All Of The Night' 'Sleepwalker' 'Life Goes On' 'Stormy Sky' 'Celluloid Heroes' 'Muswell Hillbilly' 'Full Moon' 'Life On The Road' 'Juke Box Music' April 1977)
Another of my favourite Kinks sets, this return to the Old Grey Whistle Test sees the band take the show over for the entire 45 minutes! The band are on great form even though there's clearly something on Ray's mind as he sings some very emotional versions of the songs from 'Sleepwalker' during this 'premiere' - and not just the poppier songs as per usual. Ray sings the opening song with an OGWT badge stuck to his forehead, before turning all serious for 'Life Goes On' ('it's about a man who tries to commit suicide and fails...a nice happy sort of song!') It's a mesmerising version of this rare track, which is treated by the band as more of a bluesy confessional than a pop song and Ray's hollered vocal even beats the record for emotional power and commitment. As with so many of the 1977 performances the songs from 'Sleepwalker' sound a lot better live and have much more life to them without the endless re-takes and glossy production draining them of all feeling. There are only three 'oldies' performed tonight but even they sound good, with 'All Day' harder than normal, 'Muswell Hillbilly' tighter than normal and 'Celluloid Heroes' even more beautiful than normal. The entire show can be found complete on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC' and very welcome it is too!
47) A Kinks Kristmas Koncert aka Live At The Rainbow (UK TV Live Concert 'Juke Box Music' 'Life On The Road' 'A Well Respected Man-Death Of A Clown-Sunny Afternoon-Waterloo Sunset' 'All Day And All Of The Night' 'Slum Kids' 'Celluloid Heroes' 'Get Back In The Line' 'The Hard Way' Lola' 'Alcohol' 'Skin And Bone' Father Christmas' 'You Really Got Me' December 1977)
'This is another phase The Kinks went through!' An absolutely Kracking Kristmas Koncert, The Kinks celebrated the end of 1977 in style with a multicast that was transmitted live on BBC2 and Radio 1. This show has rightly become quite famous since first broadcast. much bootlegged and recently much repeated too (UK readers should keep their eyes peeled for BBC6's 'Live Music Hour' - so far we've had three different 20 minute edits and a full hour). Alas The Kinks must have been uncharacteristically early as all copies of the TV fade up during the middle of 'Rock and Roll Music'. Whistling Bob Harris and Alan Freeman are the presenters, introduced by Ray as 'Father Christmas' - he even manages to throw a custard pie in Bob's face as he leaves! The member you might not recognise is guest percussionist Ray Cooper and the band also have a troupe of backing singers on stage (although they don't really get much to do until 'Skin and Bone' when they do their daily exercises along with Ray!) The Kinks put on a great show with a much more varied set than normal with several unusual songs they rarely played from all eras of their illustrious past. The new 'Sleepwalker' songs sounding particularly good in concert, with the power that the over-recorded versions on the album were lacking. However the set highlights are a new slowed-down and gospel-tinged version of Ray's pre-Kinks unemployment woes on 'Get Back In The Line' and a gorgeous reading of 'Celluloid Heroes' that may well be the best in 40 years' worth of performances of this beautiful song. There's also a rare performance of new single 'Father Christmas' with Ray dressed in his own Santa suit and throwing out toys to the front row of the crowd. This is pretty much a last hurrah for this era of the band, with John Gosling seeing out his years with the band by wearing another daft costume - a Pope's hat - with bassist Andy Pyle leaving too after this and the horn section being put back in the Kinks Kupboard after this. Highly recommended, in every version. The visuals of the show can be found complete on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'.
48) Rock and Roll Fantasy/Lola ('Hotel' Shoot 1978)
'You might be through, but I've just begun!' I can't trace where this footage comes from and presumably it was never broadcast because it's not mentioned in Doug Hinman's book. However we're committed to everything that moves for this article and so it's here: a funky rehearsal of two songs in a hotel with the 1978 Kinks line-up (The one you might not recognise is short-term keyboardist Gordon Edwards) Ray stands against a wall, shades on, his leg propped up on a chair as he takes the band through one of his newest songs which is sounding rather good in this unplugged guitars-and-bass reading. Mick arrives in time for a jokey version of Lola and as he can't find his bongos to jam along with Ray takes his hand for a quick dance! Ray then carries on but seems to forget where he is and asks for 'everyone' to clap - and then realises there's only four musicians and a cameraman in the room with him! A delightful clip.
49) On Site (UK TV 'Live Life' possibly 'Misfits' 'Waterloo Sunset' Lola'July 1978)
There's a run of 1978 material that isn't listed by Doug Hinman either and the band didn't do much TV, so I've taken the random guess that they all belong here lumped in with 'Live Life' we know was performed this day (these tracks have to be 1978 because Gordon Edwards is in the band and had gone by 1979!) 'Live Life' is a frenetic live version of a frenetic song with new boy Jim Rodford (once of Argent) a mite gruff on the backing vocals, but the others are prettier and amongst the best Kinks performances of the decade. The rarely played 'Misfits' sounds great live, with a moody long fade from black over the opening, 'Waterloo Sunset' with just Ray singing along to Gordon's piano and falsetto harmonies is the definitive post-1966 reading of the song, so beautiful and understated, whilst an acoustic 'Lola' works surprisingly well too. It's a real shame that Edwards wasn't a Kink for longer as his floral, more classical style really suits Ray's style - alas he was let go for his unpunctuality and when even The Kinks are telling you off for being late/missing you know you've got a problem! (Ray was two hours late the only time I've seen him live and even then he nipped off stage after one song for a ten minute wardrobe change!) All of these songs can be found on the 'semi-legal trilogy' - another clue that they might all 'belong' to the same show(see entry 42!)
50) Plettenkeuche ('Father Christmas' filmed November 1977 but not broadcast till November 1978!)
The Kinks plus special guest Santa Claus on drums perform their only Christmas song in a particularly festive looking Konk studios complete with tinsel, snow and cutaway shops to presents with 'The Kinks' logo branded on them. Though mimed, The Kinks put their all into this performance which was filmed simply in their own studio in an effort to promote the song on release in 1977, but The Kinks being The Kinks they left it too late and nobody got to see the film until Christmas 1978. Germany saw the first broadcast, just beating UK children's TV programme 'Saturday Bonanza' even though it's anti-Christmas poverty setting and a gang beating up Father Christmas isn't really kiddie fare.
51) Predictable (Music Video 1981)
After playing around with filming full albums for a while, The Kinks finally got back to making music videos in this era. 'Predictable' is probably their best and certainly their funniest with Ray playing three versions of his hapless unlucky narrator across the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Ray is hilarious in all three as he goes from a sleepy teddy boy viewing 'Watch With Mother', to a spaced out hippy watching the boat race, a long haired 70s fashion icon and a streamlined trendy 80s man with a then-modern TV set watching The Jam, his surroundings changing along with him! None of the other Kinks can be seen on the video at all. This classic video was directed by Julian Temple long before anyone knew who he was (basically if you've seen a rock and roll film of the past thirty years it was probably directed by him!) and can be found on the video/DVD 'Come Dancing'.
52) Rockapalast (German TV Full Concert 'Around The Dial' 'The Hard Way' 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone?' 'Catch Me Now I'm Falling' 'Come On Now' 'Destroyer' 'Yo-Yo' 'Lola' 'Dead End Street' 'Add It Up' 'Low Budget' 'Art Lover' 'Back To Front' 'Till The End Of The Day' 'Bernadette' 'All Day And All Of The Night' 'Give The People What They Want' 'Pressure' 'Stop Your Sobbing' 'David Watts' April 1982)
Yet another AAA entry for the German concert series Rockapalast who featured practically everyone on stage at one point between the late 1970s and late 1980s. The brilliance of the series was that the audience effectively got to 'be' in the concert, with no interruptions, no ad breaks, no station IDs and everything happening in real time - whether it was flattering or not. Thankfully The Kinks' performance is one of the better ones out there and the band are on slick form in this period with a settled line-up and a growing audience that meant they were playing bigger venues around the world. The Kinks were plugging 'Give The People What They Want' at the time and there are several excellent performances of songs from that album here along with highlights from 'Low Budget' and the pair of recent Kink Kovers that were riding high in the charts - The Jams' 'David Watts' and The Pretenders' 'Stop Your Sobbing'. A little too polished for fans of the anarchic 60s Kinks perhaps but this is a tight band on a good night.
53) Pebble Mill At One (UK TV Ray Davies Only 'A Well Respected Man' 'Celluloid Heroes' plus old footage of 'You Really Got Me' and 'Come Dancing' December 1982)
Pebble Mill was effectively 'The One Show' back when the BBC knew how to do proper links on their magazine programmes - well some of the time - but held in Birmingham, not Cardiff. Paul Gambaccini was a semi-regular presenter who did a lot of the interviewing of musical guests back then and looks impossibly young - then again, so does Ray. It's a welcome rare chance to see an interview with Ray, inter-spliced with the usual footage from yesteryear. In typical form Ray admits to feeling rotten today (the short term) but great in general (the long term) and is still hungry to make more music. He reluctantly discusses two of his fan favourite tracks and sings bursts of both with an acoustic guitar handed to him by 'an armless person'. Ray makes an interesting comment that he was driven to change his style out of 'fear' and discusses the lessening Kinks sales as his concept got bigger and bigger. Ray adds that he's an introvert ('to be a writer you have to be kind of sensitive, I guess') and says again that the reason he keeps going is 'fear' and his belief that he's 'still learning'. Ray's clearly uncomfortable (has he got a hangover - he mentions a 'late night last night!') and really glares at the very end of the programme when he doesn't seem to realise the camera's on him (also making the 'cut' sign!)
54) Wonderworld (Australian TV Ray Davies Interview ?/1982)
Ray (or is it Ian?) is in much happier mood for this old AAA favourite, which also scored highly in our AAA youtube chart. Ray is in Australia being interviewed by two curious presenters and deadpans his way through the whole show - even when getting hit in the face with a cream pie! Ray asks 'for time to think' about most of the questions (spoofing his 'deep' personality!) and then asks to 'come back next week'. He then faces the camera and tells us that 'Australia has ruined my career...I had a really promising career before I came here, but now...'. When asked about 'Lola' he almost sobs 'I've got so many problems, man, please don't ask me that question! I want to forget' and adds after being cream-pied 'You haven't got enough money to do that have you?' It's a whole new side of Ray and a whole lot of fun!
55) Come Dancing (Music Video 1983)
Perhaps the most famous Kinks video is 'Come Dancing', which returned The Kinks to the charts and spawned a whole host of sequels. Ray plays the role of his brother-in-law desperately trying to date someone playing his 'sister' as he takes her out on a date at the ballroom - no its not Eastenders, despite how that lone made it sound. A young lad plays the younger Ray spying on his sister 'kissing by the garden gate' while the other Kinks look resplendent decked out like a 1940s jazz band with slicked back hair! The video was just inventive and yet just enough like other clips around in 1983 to do really well on MTV and is full of clever touches, such as the younger Ray air-guitar-ing along with Dave's solo. Naturally enough, the video can be found on the video/DVD 'Come Dancing'.
56) Top Of The Pops #6 (UK TV 'Come Dancing' 1983)
The Kinks hadn't appeared on Top Of The Pops since 1971 but with 'Come Dancing' riding high in the charts the band were invited back to their old haunt. An oddly dapper Ray performs the song with a real smile on his face, as if overwhelmed at being back in a building he used to know so well. The performance is a mimed one but who cares - the band are having fun! Look out for the horn section reading papers through most of the song until they're needed at the finale! The clip can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
57) Don't Forget To Dance (Music Video 1983)
A lovely video for a lovely song, 'Don't Forget To Dance' is the more dramatic, tragic rendering of the 'Come Dancing' video. Ray is back as his Spiv brother-in-law and there's another dance back on at the pally, but Ray's alone and wistful. Throughout the video he chances his luck with a cup of tea offered to a pretty lady (of course!) but is rebuffed. Only when he turns to a lonely receptionist does he gets the dance he craves - oh and The Kinks happen to be playing there that night too, so that's lucky! (They even wear their red hunting jackets for the first time in years near the end of the video!) This clip can also be found on the video/DVD 'Come Dancing'
58) State Of Confusion (Music Video 1983)
This video of the title track from the band's 1983 album is more like ';Predictable', Ray playing another hapless failure who gets everything wrong. The band are inside Konk studio filming but Ray - sporting his longest hairdo yet - keeps getting the words wrong. Sent home, he creates havoc in his home shaving, spilling his breakfast and trying to fix his video. He even has problems finding an empty telephone box (ah the pre-mobile days!) and crossing the road and nearly gets knocked down several times. Eventually a solution is found, at work at least as two assistants hold up giant 'idiot boards' for him! Guess what? This video can also be found on the video/DVD 'Come Dancing'
59) Do It Again (Music Video 1984)
A really sweet video, this clip only features Ray and Mick for the most part in Mick's last promotional appearance with the band. The pair are buskers, dressed in rags and hanging out round Waterloo subway (see 'Return To Waterloo') trying to beg some money off people. They get nothing, so Mick shrugs his shoulders and walks off into the distance - a moving moment for fans of the drummer celebrating his 20th and final year with the band. Ray then goes on to cause havoc down the tube, ending up down a 'ghost train', while Dave fulfils a childhood dream of driving the train! The 'Come Dancing' character is back during a weird section where he walks down a dark and scary subway where commuters dance interspersed with clips of this line-up of The Kinks giving one last performance together with Ray sporting a comic 'new nose' and everyone in costume (Dave, naturally, has a the 'clown' suit - he'll wear it again in 1989!) It's another clever video and very fitting given the music. This video too can be found on the video/DVD 'Come Dancing' where it even comes with an extra 'loop' of the 'back where you started' section not heard on the record!
60) Lost and Found (Music Video 1986)
A slightly more mediocre video this time, with the band performing on stage with a conductor keeping them together as they try to perform to a film backdrop. A cellist turns up late for the gig and we seem to get flashbacks of why she's late. Much more interesting though is the film on screen which features the band in a variety of Edwardian dress. In a typical Kinks twist the Ray on screen falls with the cellist from a century later and the lines between fantasy and reality blur as she walks into the film. This clip is sadly not available on anything to date - we really need a second volume of 'Come Dancing' with all the later promos included!
61) How Are You? (Music Video 1986)
This rarely seen video has Ray taking a nostalgic return to an old house and less believably his old pet dog. Inside he has an emotional reunion with an old flame, plays his old piano and even records with his 'old' band - minus Dave for some reason. Alas the video isn't quite as clever as some of the band's other ideas.
62) Countdown (Dutch TV 'How Are You?' December 1986)
'It's been a while' grins Ray at the start of this clip and he's right - this appears to be The Kinks' first surviving TV performance as opposed to video for three years. The whole band look noticeably older all of a sudden, although Ray is on good form for this mimed performance and even returns to the 'Elvis leg shakes' he used to do in the 1960s!
63) Rock and Roll Cities (Music Video 1986)
For the first time in this list since 1967 this is a Dave Davies song and it's a very elaborate one, starting off with beeped alien signals and a radio message informing us that 'lead singer Ray Davies has disappeared - not even Dave knows where he is!' Dave holds an interview to replace his brother - a bit of wishful thinking there ho ho ho! In the mean time Dave uses his very 80s mobile phone to organise everything while an actress plays his exasperated wife and a whole crowd of extras play his wordy kids - no wonder he wants to get back on the road! The auditions don't go well and it's almost with relief (at least I think that's what Dave is meant to be expressing!) when the real Ray Davies walks in at the end!
64) The Last Resort (UK TV Ray Davies Only 'Come Dancing' 'Lola' January 1987)
Ah so that's where Ray was - playing some oldies on acoustic on an obscure British TV programme hosted by Jonathan Ross! We've included this on the list because it's the first time that Ray has performed outside the band rather than just talked and its the first time we get to hear what will become regular 'unplugged' versions of Klassik Kinks tracks.
65) Vier Gegen Willi (German TV 'Lost and Found' 'Think Visual' April 1987)
A rare German TV appearance finds the band playing live for the first time in ages. 'Lost and Found' is a lovely, overlooked song about an oncoming storm making a couple about to split up re-think what the other means to them is well handled with Dave getting a nice solo. Surprisingly, the noisy and usually irritating 'Think Visual' is better yet with Ray making a good stab at the patter song lyrics and the band right on the money for the song's speedy twists and turns. The performance of 'Lost and Found' is the last here that can be found on the 'semi-legal trilogy' (see entry 42!) although 'Think Visual' isn't officially available anywhere.
66) The Road (Music Video 1988)
Another lovely video, 'The Road' was a rare autobiographical Kinks song and merges old and new footage of the band with shots of a motorway as seen from the back of a van. Clips from 'Beat Room' and the promo from 'Starstruck' are among those featured, possibly alongside some clips from the unseen 'Everybody's In Showbiz' concert film. There's some rare footage of Ray having his picture taken from the front of 'Sleepwalker' too! All in all a lovely reflective video, which merges from the studio version to the live performance viewed in the film for the noisy finale.
67) How Do I Get Close? (Music Video 1988)
After a couple of relatively sane videos he's another bonkers arty one for this single from 'UK Jive'. Ray is a waiter in a world of dummies (is this a comment on his bandmates?) before they suddenly come to life as fit young girls (ie like every other music video filmed in 1989!) Suddenly we're outside and The Kinks are performing in the middle of a giant crowd who are also walking stiffly like mannequins (check out Dave's face paint that makes him look like a 'clown' again!) and the promo ends with Ray throwing each of the dummies into the lake from a diving board. Man, what was that all about? Even for a Pink Floyd fan this video is weird.
68) Down All The Days (Till 1992) (Music Video 1988)
This is video is a little bit more normal - if you count framed photographs suddenly bursting into life as 'normal' anyway! Ray is a happy, ordinary dad who looks not unlike his Spiv character again and seems to be enjoying himself at the party we flashback to as well. Quite what all this has to do with a planned referendum on Europe (the real inspiration of the song) and Britain's attempts to be more than isolationists I'm not quite sure! So far ok, but then the song has Ray doing slapstick mime as he's pursued by dolls dressed from each of the countries he mentions - seriously? The Shakespeare of the 1960s has been reduced to this?!
69) Scattered (Music Video 1993)
Another video and what do you see? The road, again, this time with a car driving past a scarecrow. Unusually Dave is in the driving seat (literally - both Davies brothers are 'drivin') while Ray sings but what's almost as odd is the amount of scarecrows out there in the fields and passers-by scattering corn. Suddenly we're at a funeral with ashes being scattered and then next we're back in the field with Ray singing to a scarecrow as the rest of the band look on, bemused (and clearly cold). Along the way get flashbacks galore of the Irish pair at the heart of the story (he's burying her) and an Irish wake afterwards. In case you hadn't guessed, Ray had been spending a lot of time in Ireland in this period, recuperating at a hospital there after falling ill in 1988.
70) Taratara (French TV 'Only A Dream' 'Sunny Afternoon' 'You Really Got Me' June 1993)
An odd, moody, black and white performance on a TV station based in Paris, Ray never takes his shades off throughout and doesn't look well at all; even the rest of the band don't communicate with the crowd much. The performance is still interesting for a rare live performance of one of the better tracks from 'Phobia' however.
71) The Late Show (UK TV 'Scattered' 'Days' March 1993)
Performed for a Scottish audience, this is The Kinks still vainly plugging 'Phobia' and seemingly getting a bit fed up by now. The pairing of the nostalgic 'Scattered' and 'Days' make for a nice bit of continuity though and Dave adds lots of backing harmonies to the former that sound much nicer than the simpler lines on the record. There's a nice glance between the brothers at the two minute mark too, about the only sign of affection across this list! Both clips can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
72) The Tonight Show (US TV 'Hatred (A Duet)' 'Celluloid Heroes' May 1993)
'You knows the English sure love to dress up!' Another outing for just the brothers (and guest band), this performance is most fascinating to watch for how the brothers interact in both the song written about their love/hate relationship down the years and the revealing interview. Ray seems to be joking for his part, throwing sly glances to Dave and winking at him and us, while Dave seems quite genuinely mad and stares down at his guitar, sulking (right up until the part where they both point at each other!) The inevitable question comes soon after: 'Do you like each other?' 'Sometimes' says Dave, 'today we're getting on quite well' . What a shame it wasn't to last! Another gorgeous version of 'Celluloid Heroes' played on acoustic guitar for a change ends another great performance - the band were really getting good again in this era.
73) Later...With Jools Holland ('Over The Edge' 'The Informer' 'Till The End Of The Day' June 1993)
'No I've never seen a flying saucer - not while sober anyway!' An impossibly young looking Jools Holland has The Kinks on his show for the one and only time, although Ray has since been a regular and always seem to be appearing at his new year's hootenanys (there's no more depressing way to see the new year in than with Jools Holland interrupting one of your heroes for yet another countdown and some godawful Scottish highlanders!) The interview with Ray is revealing and he's in happier and more erudite form than usual in interviews, as he talks about how in 1993 people seem to be coming to term with their emotions more (hence the name 'Phobia') and that 'Over The Edge' about a psychopath was based on a real neighbour ('thankfully I've moved recently!') Ray is enthusiastic about current music (perhaps because so much in 1993 nicked stuff from The Kinks!) and equally enthusiastic about the old clip of 'Got Love' from 'The Beast Room' being shown. The running gag of the night is about ufos which is right up Dave's street - he even provides one of his own illustrations about the ones that appeared to him in 1983 to Jools' collection of drawings sent in by viewers, although he must have been chomping at the bit to talk about them instead of hearing his brother joke about them! The songs are good too, the band adding an inventive pause after the opening thrash of 'Till The End Of The Day', replicating the moody synth opening to 'Over The Edge' and a quite lovely folky version of 'The Informer'. Another excellent show! All of these can all be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'.
74) To The Bone (Music Video 1994)
The last Kinks single - not that they knew it at the time - is another nostalgia fest which is highly in keeping with this song about the power of the music. Dave's wearing Ray's buskers uniform (or at least something like it) and playing with a masked bandit (who may or may not be his brother) outside, while inside a made up Ray watches himself on TV a la 'Predictable'. With a wig and moustache, he looks not unlike Christopher Eccleston playing John Lennon and he might be intended to be Ray's 'older' version of himself from 'X-Ray', angry at the devotion he used to have now that he lives alone and his possessions are being slowly taken away 'Sunny Afternoon' style. An inventive ending has the record being knocked during a marital argument and the track stopping and jumping before carrying on. In what might be a symbolic last gesture (or a typical Kinks red herring) masked bandit Ray walks off with all of Dave's instruments while he takes a last picture of his brother's ex moodily walking out the house presumably for his 'picture book'. One of the band's greatest videos, it's a shame this one wasn't better seen at the time - it sure knocked me to the bone.
75) Top Of The Pops #7 (UK TV 'You Really Got Me' September 1994)
Another fitting last hurrah came with the 20th anniversary re-release of 'You Really Got Me' which found The Kinks back on Top Of The Pops one final time. This late era of the flagship pop programme had the acts presenting and this week Ray was the main presenter promising a' programme that will knock you to the bone!' However instead of the band's last single the band do one last fiery version of their old warhorse with a real loud guitar part from Dave. Inventively but frustratingly, the entire clip is shot in black and white for an old timey effect before suddenly swirling into a full colour during the guitar solo. The band are clearly having great fun and Ray makes the most of his 'ohhhhh nnnnooooo!' scream during the middle. Ray even adds some extra lyrics that merge 'To The Bone' and 'X-Ray' : 'You're in my head, in my brain, in my skin, to the bone, never mind, it's ok, I'll sing it anyway, I've seen the X-Ray!' This wonderfully nostalgic can be found on the box set 'The Kinks At The BBC'
76) The Late Late Show (Ireland TV 'Waterloo Sunset' 'You Really Got Me' October 1994)
Performing without the rest of the band on 'Waterloo Sunset', this is a rare chance to see Ray and Dave acoustic as they remake two of their most enduring songs for an Irish audience to promote what will turn out to be their last album, the live record 'To The Bone'. The Kinks could perhaps have continued along like this quite happily had the old tensions between the brothers not arisen - Dave's glare as Ray rambles at the start about 'being proud to call all these songs hits' is priceless! This is one of the ropiest 'You Really Got Me's out there though, very flat and flimsy.
77) Children In Need (UK TV 'All Day And All Of The Night' November 1994)
The same year The Kinks turned up for the UK charity appeal which goes on four hours and hours and seem to come round far sooner than annually. Despite some very distracting flash lighting, the band soldier on for an energetic if rather raw performance of another old warhorse. Dave's solo is even more bonkers than usual
78) White Room (UK TV Ray Davies and Damon Albarn 'You Really Got Me' 'To The Bone' 'Waterloo Sunset' 'Parklife' March 1995)
'This makes me feel a thousand years old!' The baton of the old passes over to the new with Blur singer Damon Albarn getting to sit in as a special guest on a solo Ray Davies performance with some funky guitar playing from the pair and Pete Mathison. This acoustic version of 'You Really Got Me' is about the best 'unplugged' version around, while a jazzy acoustic 'To The Bone' is even better. Alas 'Waterloo Sunset' with Damon on half the vocals just sounds wrong wrong wrong, though Ray's half-jokey performance of 'Parklife' nails the song well. Ray's having fun, but I'm not sure about Albarn who looks deeply embarrassed throughout! Come on Ray stop wasting time with these no-hopers and go play with the Gallagher boys, they're much more your style!
79) Benefit For The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (US TV 'All Day And All Of The Night' 'Lola' September 1995)
What a trip it's been, dear readers, from teenage wannabes performing Beatle songs in Liverpool to the last ever filmed Kinks performance thirty-one years later. The Kinks had actually been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 but had no 'official' place to visit. A museum was built to house the RaRHOF in Cleveland in 1995 and The Kinks were one of many bands to play a special concert to mark the occasion. The band perform a hard rocking 'All Day And All Of The Night' with Ray dressed in a union jack jacket while Dave solos away for hours. Then later Ray is having so much fun with the crowd it takes an age for him to stop messing around with 'The Banana Boat Song' and actually sing 'Lola', draped in a stars and stripes flag, while Dave turns in a great extended last solo. It's not the best Kinks performance, but it's a fitting one with two old friends sounding as strong as they ever did and with both brothers both giving their all in very different ways.
And that, finally, after writing all day and all of the night, is that. We're not done with The Kinks just yet though - join us for more with the first in a two-part rundown of live, solo and compilation albums next week!
A NOW COMPLETE LIST OF KINKS ARTICLES TO READ AT ALAN’S ALBUM ARCHIVES: