Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Kinks - You Really Got Me

The Kinks – You Really Got Me
Reprise, 1964
Acquired: Father in Law, Used, 2011
Price: $0

A couple years back my father in law bought three crates of records at a garage sale for $40. Upon initial inspection, I’d assumed he’d been duped. People come into Half Price Books all the time with crates and crates of records and get their cage all rattled when you offer them $5 because it’s mostly junk, the sleeves are falling apart, the vinyl is scratched and half of it is Olivia Newton John (Author’s Note: ONJ is a recurring motif in my analogies for awful records. This is almost exclusively related to the fact that my parents’ record collection featured myriad ONJ records and a bunch of awful, scratched up compilations of 70s hits. There was a copy of Revolver, but of course it was so scratched the grooves were nonexistent. This always grinds my gears, but alas, my parents’ record buying days were pretty much the early 80s and outside of punk that era is a sonic no-mans-land.  Now, whenever I’m doing buy training with a new hire and a record buy comes in, I almost always go “So it’s almost always people bringing in like, Olivia Newton John or whatever, but you’ve gotta keep an eye out for really cool stuff buried beneath all the Olivia Newton John.”) Anyway, long story er, long at this point, I looked at these three crates of records at my in laws’ house and was like “Oof.” And sure there are plenty of the usual offenders from the 70s and 80s and most of it was pretty beat up but I did end up filling half a crate with stuff that was actually pretty right on. So this Kinks record was in there and while a lot of the stuff I pulled was stuff I wanted to look up (and never did, it’s currently sitting in a crate in wouldn’t you know it, my parents’ basement back in Olathe) there were a few records I pulled to fill gaps in my collection. I have a copy of Lola vs the Powerman at the Money-go-round, and this early collection pairs nicely. That is, it’s fun to compare and contrast and see how weird and daring this band was willing to get with pop music. You Really Got Me is quintessential mid-60s white dudes digging rhythm and blues “in the tradition of other great English groups like the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five.”

The sleeve actually does the group more justice than the music. Sure the songs are the sort of sloppy wonderful you expect from the era where the bands were just on the cusp of getting really weird. The notes on the back are actually quite funny. “Ray is the leader of the Kinks. He’s 20 years old and almost six feet tall. He composes, listens politely to what the others have to say about his compositions, and then insists that they record exactly what he wrote in the first place,” it says of Ray Davies. There are also at least four references to Chuck Berry, an influence who comes across loud and clear on their exceedingly faithful Berry covers “Too Much Monkey Business” and “Beautiful Delilah.” The originals are where it’s at though. Though the sleeve notes that “what they sing is largely their own material,” only four of the twelve tracks are originals. But one of them is “You Really Got Me,” one of the most famous rock and roll songs of all time (for better or worse) and “Just Can’t Go to Sleep” is easily my favorite track on the record so there’s that. Other influences namedropped on the sleeve: Little Richard, Sonny Boy Williamson, Peggy Lee, Ravel, Gershwin, Barbra Streisand, Gustav Holst, and Muddy Waters. Other gems: “Their unconventional clothes—capes with leather accessories, which, incidentally, they designed themselves—made them well-known figures in Muswell Hill.” Of bassist Peter Quaif: “He’s the quiet one, from Devon, and a Mod (sharp dresser). Of drummer Mick Avery: “Even without drums he never stops drumming!” It’s all kind of silly. The music is rough but tuneful and when you realize these guys were 20, 17, 20, and 19 it just gets kind of embarrassing because these guys are clearly art school twerps and yet these pretty much teenagers wrote one of the most enduring pop songs of all time. And then went on to have the sort of legendary career that makes this, their first album, look like child’s play. Which, of course, it is. And also starting at $25 on Discogs which I guess makes sense this being the mono version of the Kinks US debut (released in the UK as Kinks). And now I reallllly need to dig through the rest of the records I pulled from those crates and examine my assumptions.

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