I'm not revealing anything new here, but The Kinks are one of those woulda/coulda/shoulda bands. For a brief moment, they had it all, standing alongside The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones as the shining stars of British Pop during the '60s and recording a legendary string of hits from 1964-67. They more or less peaked with "Waterloo Sunset," though, falling badly out of step with everyone else, Ray focusing on his love for an England that was vanishing before his eyes whilst the rest of the world let its hair down and made merry during the Summer of Love.
The Kinks countered the lysergic wonders of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn with Something Else By The Kinks and The Kinks are Village Green Preservation Society. Both albums are regarded as Kinks Klassics today, but back then? The former peaked at #35, the latter didn't chart at all. As the '60s became the '70s, the band was increasingly marginalized, and even though "Lola" was a hit and they found a new audience playing stadium rock in the U.S., they barley troubled the UK charts at all from 1970 until 1983, when "Come Dancing" was released.
Hasted does a wonderful job of explaining the various and sundry reasons behind The Kinks change in fortunes, and while it's not always a happy tale, his thorough reporting and obvious enthusiasm for the band's material guarantees that it's an engaging one. Too often, writers focus almost exclusively on the sibling rivalry between Ray and Dave, or Ray's songwriting genius, but those things are only part of the story, and Hasted drives that point home masterfully. Without a doubt, it's the single best Kinks book I've read to date. If you like The Kinks, or even if you just like British Invasion-era rock, make it a point to get your hands on this one. It's out in the UK now, due out in the States at the beginning of November.
In the mean time, one of the added benefits of a book like this is I'm listening to more Kinks than I have in a long while. Here are my current top 10 favorites, only a few of which were actual hits...
1. "Autumn Almanac," (single a-side, 1967)
2. "Shangri-La," (Arthur or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1968)
3. "Waterloo Sunset," (Something Else by The Kinks, 1967)
4. "Harry Rag," (Something Else by The Kinks, 1967)
5. "The World Keeps Going 'Round," (The Kink Kontroversy, 1966)
6. "Berkeley Mews," (single b-side, "Lola," 1970)
7. "Sunny Afternoon," (Face to Face, 1966)
8. "Big Sky," (The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, 1968)
9. "This Time Tomorrow," (Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, 1970)
10. "Till the End of the Day," (The Kink Kontroversy, 1966)