For anyone born within the last 50 years, it goes without saying The Kinks were one of those bands who were always there.
From the moment that brothers Ray and Dave Davies first formed a band in the early ’60s, it became evident that the world of music was going to be changed forever. Few knew, however, it would only take a few short years for the group to kickstart a career that some would agree rivals even the biggest names in the music industry.
By the time 1970 rolled around, The Kinks were household names, with numerous albums hitting the high end of the charts in their native UK, and numerous singles topping the charts as well. In November of that year, the group released their eighth album, a piece of overlooked musical genius named Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One.
Commonly referred to simply as Lola Versus Powerman, the album was a critical success, and despite failing to chart in the UK, gave the group their most successful record in Australia, and renewed their popularity in Australia.
Serving as a satirical appraisal of the music industry, including song publishers, unions, the press, accountants, business managers, and life on the road, it’s long been considered one of the group’s most celebrated works, and this month, it’s receiving a well-deserved reissue treatment.
Arriving on December 11th (with pre-orders available now), the multi-format release has something for all fans, including a digital, CD, and vinyl editions, and a limited deluxe edition featuring a 60 page book, three CDs, 2 seven-inch singles, and four colour prints. Needless to say, it’s the closest you’ll ever get to seeing a definitely version of this piece of musical genius.
In anticipation of the new reissue, we’ve decided to take a look back at the overlooked genius of The Kinks, looking back at some of their most impressive achievements, and discovering why they’re one of the most important – yet least celebrated – stalwarts of the British invasion.
Check out an unboxing of the 50th anniversary edition of Lola Versus Powerman:
1964 – Kinks and ‘You Really Got Me’
These days, it’s considered a classic of the rock genre, with its proto-punk sound even being considered ahead of its time for many bands in the burgeoning punk scene, and at the time the group’s self-titled debut, Kinks, was released, the feeling was already apparent.
Lead single ‘You Really Got Me’ topped the UK charts, while the band’s first album managed to peak at number three. The two bands ahead of them at the time? The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, showing a vision of the future as to who would often outshine these musical Londoners.
Check out ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks
1965 – Rowdy tours, and a ban from the US
It takes little more than a few seconds of The Kinks’ music to know what sort of riot they would drum up on stage, and following a tour of Australia in 1965, the group began to make headlines for their onstage behaviour. One gig saw Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory arrested, with the latter claiming it was nothing but a gimmick.
That same year, some rowdy behaviour while filming a US television special saw the American Federation of Musicians refuse to give The Kinks permission to play in North America, effectively stifling any chance of growth for the next four years. Despite this setback, the band’s records continued to sell and their legend grew to almost mythical status – especially thanks to albums such as the fittingly-titled The Kink Kontroversy.
Check out ‘Where Have All The Good Times’ by The Kinks
1965 – A change in style and rock’s first concept album
When The Kink Kontroversy was released, it became clear that the group were doing things a little bit differently. Viewed as a transitional album, the record mixed in the band’s blues-rock sound that had made them household names, while featuring a noticeable shift in musicality and lyricism.
By 1966, the band’s sound had shifted even further, with their next album, Face To Face, viewed as something of a social commentary, and earning it the badge of the first concept album. A baroque style of pop music accompanied the lyrical shift, and the enduring ‘Sunny Afternoon’ became another chart-topping hit for the group.
Check out ‘Sunny Afternoon’ by The Kinks
1967 – Peak success
Riding off the fame of the social commentary employed on Face To Face, it became clear that even in an era of music when names such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones often stole their thunder, The Kinks weren’t content to let their chances pass them by. Their next album, Something Else By The Kinks, proved they were far from done, with the record going on to be considered one of the best of all time, and spawning beloved singles such as ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Death Of A Clown’.
The next year, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society was released, and while Ray Davies called it little more than a spectacular flop, critical reception was universally positive, citing the album among the best, and cementing the band as purveyors of eclectic rock music.
Check out ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks
1970 – Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One
While 1969’s Arthur saw little commercial success, the stage was set for something of a commercial comeback for the group, with 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman providing this chance. Empowered by the success of lead single ‘Lola’ – itself a groundbreaking song about a relationship with a transgender individual – the record helped to once again establish The Kinks as leaders of the rock world.
With critical success in the US, and their first – and highest – charting album in Australia, The Kinks were back in the public eye, and the record’s popularity even helping to bring about a new contract with their label. Unfortunately, the titular Part One would go unaccompanied, with Part Two being replaced by 1971’s Musewell Hillbillies.
Check out ‘Lola’ by The Kinks
1977 – A return to commercial success
While Lola Versus Powerman heralded the arrival of good things for the group, the future didn’t quite deliver, and following a few years of in-fighting, high tensions, and uncertainty, a stripped-down style and a signing to the Arista label brought with it a new album called Sleepwalker, and the start of some renewed commercial success for the group.
With their records charting high and selling well in the US, the band entered the ’80s as one of the most successful British invasion bands on the scene, far surpassing some of their more successful counterparts who were experiencing something of a lull. The tunes kept coming, and so did the sold-out shows, with The Kinks’ legacy cemented forever.
Check out ‘Sleepwalker’ by The Kinks
1986 – The beginning of the end
By the end of the ’80s, The Kinks were looking a little worse for wear. Despite a lack of a record label, their popularity was again buoyed by an induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and the burgeoning rise of Britpop. Unfortunately, poor sales of their final album, 1993’s Phobia, spelled the end for the group, and after their label dropped them, and a few attempts to reignite their career brought with it the band’s end in 1996.
Despite their split, The Kinks enjoyed almost constant popularity due to their legacy as influential masters of the British rock scene, and their iconic songs being celebrated as hallmarks of the counter-cultural revolution.
Check out ‘Did Ya’ by The Kinks
2018 – A new beginning
After countless requests from fans to reform, 2018 brought with it the news that The Kinks would once again be reforming, with Ray and Dave Davies announcing their decision to continue was inspired by the constant touring of longtime rivals The Rolling Stones.
Though it remains to be seen what the future will hold, talks of a new album continue to emerge, and with the anniversary of Lola Versus Powerman just around the corner, what better time for a new piece of classic Kinks?
The 50th anniversary edition of Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One will be released on December 11th through BMG, with pre-orders available now.