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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do We Really Need Another Kinks Album?

On more than a few occasions I have written about my love for the music of the Kinks. One peek at my iTunes library would give you an idea of the import of which I consider the music of the brothers Davies. (It is pronounced Day-viss by the way.) I have to admit though, I’m not entirely excited about the news that emerged from the Kinks camp yesterday via the BBC.

The Kinks have begun writing new songs ahead of a possible reunion, singer Ray Davies has said. "We've started a little bit of this and that," he told BBC News. But it is too early to judge the quality, he said. "It depends if there's good music. We want good new music. I'd like to do it as a more collaborative thing than we used to do."
Davies is aiming to duet with a range of artists, including Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell, Snow Patrol and some previously unknown talents.

In September, Davies said any reunion would also depend on the health of bandmate and brother Dave, who suffered a stroke in 2004.

On the surface, yes its great news; Ray Davies intentions are noble and the fans get to hear some new Kinks music. I mean any Kinks music is good music. Right? Wrong. Why mess with a good thing? Even with his optimistic tone Ray Davies can not possibly compete with his own celebrated past. The Kinks were one of the most popular and influential bands of the 60s and 70’s, and last performed together in 1996. But do we really need another Kinks album?


So many groups try to recapture the past with the clich├ęd reunion album and end up casting a pall over a canon of mostly exceptional music. There’s plenty of precedence out there too that this one is destined to be a stinker. How many of you went out and purchased a Bigger Bang two years ago? Or Endless Wire in 2006? (Just what were the Who thinking when they approved the art for that one?) No one wants to hear these new songs in concert either because they pale when compared to the stuff that once made these heavy hitters great.

I’ve always respected artists like Paul Westerberg who refuse to reignite former glories even when huge amounts of cash and tour incentives are thrown their way. The temptations are huge but more power to him for retaining a little integrity, preferring to keep the myth alive a little longer and let the back catalogue speak for itself.

I’ve been amazed recently and heartened by the number of independent artists releasing songs that were heavily influenced by the music of the Kinks. The Frontier Brothers, the Broken West and the Kooks have all built on the foundation the brothers Davies constructed to create something entirely new. True, that might not pay the bills in the end but it speaks volumes about the timeless quality of the music from which it draws its influence.

So next time you are in a good record store, pick up a copy of The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. You’ll understand exactly where I am coming from here.


Westcoast Walker said...

I am also ambivalent about reunions - I suppose timing is of the essence for certain bands.

I thought that the reunited Crowded House put out a decent album last year, though many reunions leave me feeling unsatisfied. The reunited bands are often the nutrasweet versions of their former selves ("all taste, no filling").

I was fond of Smashing Pumpkins back in the day, though the reunited Billy Corgan and original drummer version seems kind of empty and pointless.

I think Davies should make it a solo effort and include some guests, including his brother on a few tracks if he is able. This would reduce expectations and give me a lot more freedom.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It is such a crap shoot, isn't it? On the one hand, it could end up being something quite sublime, but sadly, chances are quite likely the opposite will be true.

And don't even get me started on the folly of hooking up with Johnny Borrell!