The Kinks - Face To Face - Review
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critics' view

Despite the misleading cover image (which was used despite Ray Davies objection) there was virtually zero evidence of the new psychedelic revolution on the 4th Kinks LP, aside perhaps from “Fancy” which flirts with the fashionable raga drone of the day. Eschewing their beat-group roots, “Face To Face” delved headlong into a new, sophisticated era of song writing from the Kinks. This was a new brand of thoughtful pop writing, where the words and music painted equally strong colours on the canvas. All songs were penned by Ray Davies; social observations and every day vignettes were the order of the day. The song-writing growth was as rapid as it was welcome. The schizoid “Dandy” is an early highlight; the playboy is chastised before a brilliantly gritty vocal finishes by surmising that actually, Dandy’s alright. Love-hate brotherly relationship on show there methinks! It’s one of Ray’s many fine vocal performances on this LP; he’s become very experimental with his delivery and it’s very entertaining.

Ye olde harpsichord underpins “Too Much On My Mind”, deflecting attention from the depressed insomniac whose “poor demented mind is slowly going.” It’s brave stuff – this is a b/s free zone, and the singer’s cathartic use of pen is to be applauded. The classics just keep on coming on this LP – “Session Man”, is another with a barmy harpsichord from Nicky Hopkins, who is actually is the centre of the somewhat hilarious tribute by Ray: “Rock 'n' roll or folk-group star, a philharmonic orchestra, everything comes the same to him. He is a session man, a chord progresh-eean, a top musish-eean… he's not paid to think, just play” Davies would later acknowledge that he was indebted to Hopkins for many great twists on Kinks works.

The masterpiece track, “Rainy Day in June”, every bit the equal of a Phil Spector’s most dramatic works, has a real down to earth background which belies the monumental production. Apparently, it was simply inspired by Ray’s backyard garden sanctuary, poetically and musically. Ray explains: “I love rain and the moistness after a storm, and it was about fairies and little evil things within the trees that come to life.” On the mod-rocker “A House In The Country” young Mr Davies can barely conceal his disdain for the undeserving upper classes of the silver spoon variety. As a fantasy, the downfall of such types on the magnificent “Most Exclusive Residence for Sale” is hard to beat.

Much respect is due for this brilliant creation. On this evidence, the notion of Ray Davies, a national treasure, is one which is well earned.

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