Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My KINKS education continues apace. When we last discussed the band, I was spinning with glee over my newly-heard and -acquired "Arthur: The Decline and Fall of British Civilization", and decided to make up for lost time & get on the stick with the rest of these guys' back catalog. Already a proud owner of the band's first two records but little else, I took your recommendations and picked up (or was burned) "The Village Green Preservation Society" , "Something Else", and today's topic, the 1966 LP "Face To Face" (actually the "expanded compact disc" version). Fair to say that I'm now an over-the-top, somewhat chastened Kinks fan. When I get involved in a "classic rock" band that I've missed out on or only scratched the surface of, I dive in hard; my Beefheart, Neil Young and Creedence obsessions are testament. In all my rock literature perusing over the years, I really can't recall anyone waxing lyrical about "Face To Face" as a stand-along thing, though they should have. This record finds the Kinks in a transition from locomotive beat/garage merchants into homegrown English eccentric mode, while bringing forth the best qualities from either side of the divide.

For the former, there's "Party Line" and the classic "A House in the Country" (among other great ones), as balls-out smoking as the British Invasion ever offered up yet still rooted in classic 4/4 pop music. For you more maudlin sorts, you can't beat the lovely "Rainy Day In June", or the one song on this expanded version that I've been a fan of for years, the frustrated outsider/loner anthem "I'm Not Like Everybody Else". That track's disaffection is not only wrapped up in its alienated lyrics, but in the watery, distant, depressed-sounding music backing up the verses, broken up by driving, pissed-off power chords in the chorus. It's a cliché to be sure, but this album was obviously the band's "maturation" point, and it's a 100% essential own. I'm not yet ready to critically rack & stack it next to their following two LPs, "Something Else" and "Village Green Preservation Society", but right now this is definitely the one I'm playing the most often.