The Kinks were, and still are, one of my favourite groups. I listened to them a lot about the time of writing and recording our album Another Age. The story about how Dave Davies got his distorted sound on their first single You Really Got Me by sticking knitting needles through his guitar amplifier speakers is legendary and one that made an impression on hungry young guitar players the world over. Their 1960’s and early 1970’s singles have some of the most evocative music and stories (because that’s what Ray Davies songs often are – short stories built around real people) and make for repeated listening over the years, something most records just don’t have. Lola, Terry and Julie, the people on Dead End Street, but also the sneers of I’m Not Like Everybody Else (which I took the idea for the beginning of Veronica from) and the sarcasm of Mr. Pleasant and Dedicated Follower of Fashion.
When I first moved down to London at the tender age of 18, I worked on the building sites. I made many friends, some I’m still in touch with to this day. I was a bit naive and never got on very well with the gaffers on the sites at first, seeing them as uptight. The first guy who treated me well was a lovely man called Alex from Epsom in Surrey. We got on great and he put up with my lateness and my bad attitude to work because we got on so well. He told me about following The Kinks around in the 60’s and how he loved their songs and their look – he thought the red hunting jackets were very smart. He was into the new music of the time, Beatles, Dylan etc. and he said it was hard going because his family, including his brother, thought this new music was rubbish compared to Frank Sinatra and the other crooners and that it wouldn’t last! He told me that by the 80’s his brother was a collector of all things Beatles – people come around eventually eh! I was very impressed and started to look deeper into The Kinks. Their raunchier, early singles were excellent of course, but I began to realise that there were great albums by them too. You couldn’t split a hair between such greats as: Something Else, The Village Green Preservation Society (probably my favourite), Powerman and The Moneygoround, Muswell Hillbillies (which I’m listening to as I write this) to name a few!
When Wattie joined the Jasmine Minks, we were doing extended versions of Where The Traffic Goes and I’d sing Tired Of Waiting in the quiet bits, emulating that bobbing rhythm. In fact, I’m sure I sung it on the live ep Pure Jasmine Minks which Kevin Pearce put out on his Esurient label around that time. When Dave Arnold played guitar for us, we’d muck around in rehearsals with Sittin’ On My Sofa. I really want to cover You Really Got Me with The Jasmine Minks – I think it would be perfect for us.
Quite often in bands there has been a songwriter who doesn’t get the credit as much – George Harrison, Colin Moulding. Dave Davies is one of those. So in support of all the un-heralded songwriters out there, I’m gonna choose a song by the fantastic brother of Ray, Dave – his beautiful call to spirituality – Strangers…
“Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one ”