Friday, February 3, 2012

The Kinks - The Kinks in Mono box set

The Kinks - The Kinks in Mono box set

If you think the 60s is an overrated decade for music - if you think that other than Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Velvet Underground, Cream, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Fairport Convention, The Byrds, The Zombies, The Doors and Motown and Stax Records in general, the decade didn't much depth, you're probably not giving The Kinks enough credit. That, and you're an utter cunt.

You either already know or should know how metal owes its existence to Ray Davies' rhythm guitar on "You Really Got Me", while his brother Dave's solo on the same track gave birth to the "anti-solo" favoured by Lou Reed, Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore among many others. If that's about the extent of your Kinks knowledge, this box set is ideal for you. I only owned The Singles and the reissue from several years ago of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, so the prospect of six studio albums I didn't own plus four EPs on one CD and two rarities collections was one I couldn't pass up.

Even if you own nothing collected here, you're probably familiar with some or all of The Kinks' best known songs. The real value is in discovering the lesser known but equally essential album cuts; an urgent take on Elvis Presley's "Milk Cow Blues", the I-can't-believe-it-wasn't-a-single "Picture Book", and "Creeping Jean", a b-side which could have been a career-defining hit for a lesser band. Even some songs that were probably meant as throwaways will probably resonate with some people; "Harry Rag" is one such song for me. The EPs and rarities are slimmer pickings, but clear away the filler and you're still left with at least an album's worth of top shelf shit.

Money-wise, The Kinks in Mono is well worth it. I've seen box sets with half as much material that have gone for the same price. The Kinks never benefited greatly from stereo, and some of their late 60s material actually suffered slightly from it, so the mono-ness is a plus. Also, as an unabashed lover of CDs, I like the idea of being able to hold in one hand something that documents The Kinks' journey from amp tube slashing garage rockers to unrivaled social commentators and pioneers of the concept album.

Sex, War & Robots