My name’s Dyfrig and I have a confession – I don’t really like the The Beatles. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a lot of what they’ve done. Helter Skelter sounds so vital that it could’ve been recorded yesterday and Blackbird is beautiful in any era. They paved the way for 90% of the music that I like. But that’s the problem. The bands I love all took their ideas and developed them further. I’m an anachronistic so and so.
But weirdly enough I’ve never had that issue with The Kinks. I love the edginess of the guitar in All Day and All of the Night, complete with the discordant guitar solo that’s turned up to 11. Lola still strikes me as a massively brave song to have written. We’ve since begun a new millennium, and writing about an experience with a transvestite just isn’t something that happens in pop music.
So it was a lovely surprise to find that Ray Davies was playing a set at Jazzaldia. It’s not every day you get to check out a living legend right, especially for free?
My first impression was that Ray’s voice is no longer supple enough to do justice to the youthful vigour of the early Kinks material. His is by no means the only voice that’s been affected by age (Bob Dylan’s modern day efforts are an acquired taste). I thought Ray might benefit from taking the Johnny Cash route of adapting material to suit his voice, but the blues intro to You Really Got Me is absolutely atrocious.
The whole set is delivered without any between song banter in the native tongue of the audience (Basque or Spanish), and Davies talks about the band en masse rather than individuals, so you never get the sense that the set is a collective effort. Session musicians of the world unite!
Which is all in stark contrast to George Clinton, who shares the spotlight with his bandmates. Harmonies abound in both the vocals and guitar work, all of which is massively impressive. Funkadelic still sounds vital 35 years later, and we’re all treated to a late night funk and soul odyssey.
So whilst I wouldn’t recommend seeing Ray Davies live, the early Kinks stuff is timeless and well worth checking out. But I warn you, stay away from anything of the (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman era. It might put you off the Kinks forever.