Kinks Alive! - Top of the Pops

A Kinky Sound

Those flashy, tasteless guitarists who have been dominating the music scene for so long should have been at Carnegie Hall this week to get a few lessons in restraint and quality from the Kink's Dave Davies.

If you're into the Kinks at all - and despite a sold-out house, not enough people are - you know that behind the stage theatrics and those brilliant deadpan lyrics is music of an exceptionally beautiful texture, texture that dates all the way back to 1964 when no one knew what the word meant.

And even today when everybody is supposed to be so musically sophisticated and when imitation has proved to be the sincerest way to the bank, no one else has been able to produce anything like the Kink's sound.

I think it's because of what Dave Davies does on guitar. When other guitarists make their instruments scream in fake agony (a sound that seems to delight the crowds even when it's completely irrelevant to what's being played), Davies stays with something that reminds me of bees humming on a summer afternoon.

There are no shrill notes, ever, because the whole Kinks approach is understatement. Drummer Mick Avory works not just with a delicacy you hardly ever see in rock, but with a total lack of ego, and in such close touch with guitarist Davies that at times they seem to be playing one instrument. Now how many drummers can you say that about?

No wonder Carnegie Hall was such a triumph. The crowd was in near ecstasy from beginning to end, and that end, believe me, was really something with the Kinks doing their all-time great hits, "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night," and then coming back with that good old rock classic, "Louie Louie," that had everybody smiling and jumping.

As for Ray Davies - lead singer, lyricist, composer, arranger, along with Jagger, one of the few remaining genuine sex symbols in rock - I don't know where to start. He wiggles deliciously and devastates the ladies with his gap-toothed smiles. Every song he writes is a movie, a novel or maybe both, in miniature.

His rock opera, "Arthur", says more about England than a thousand books and newspapers. He borrows from West Indian music and even Chinese music but takes it over so completely and makes it so modern that you're barely aware that it's anything but Kink's music, which is highly and justly esteemed.

When RCA Victor gave the group a party last week, among the 700 who turned up were Andy Warhol, critic John Simon, "Who" drummer Keith Moon, guitarist- sitarist Sandy Bull and Blood, Sweat and Tears own Steve Katz. Hardly anyone wanted to miss what was certainly the pop party of the year. God bless the Kinks.

Lillian Roxon, publication unknown, 1972