Something Else By The Kinks

The Kinks

Reprise, 1967

http://www.thekinks.info

REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/02/2010

The Kinks’ songwriting, formerly straightforward rock, had been changing since The Kinks Kontroversy, and they were closer to grander songwriting with Something Else By The Kinks. I say closer because they only reach magnificence with the final track, “Waterloo Sunset.”

Something Else, a typical abbreviation for the album, is hard for me to praise or bash. In a way, the album is solid in that only one song, “Love Me Till The Sun Shines,” is embarrassing. Most of these tracks often have at least one interesting thing about them, and the band is tighter than they had been on previous releases. But in many cases, the songs fail to elicit emotion, and some of them attempt to be funny and don’t quite succeed.

I would rather not pick on the first track, “David Watts,” as an example, but it represents the tepidity of the album rather well. Conceptually, “David Watts” is alluring because of its title: who is David Watts? Turns out he’s a rich and successful childhood acquaintance of lead singer Ray Davies, who just wants to be in his peer’s social class – or does he? Either way, I don’t care. The song is quirky without being humorous or even potentially offensive. The delivery of Davies doesn’t sting, and his story isn’t that fascinating. But the song does have good piano, a neat muted guitar line, and a solid beat. Listening to “David Watts” is much like being thirsty and getting a dose of lukewarm water from a fountain. One shouldn’t complain, but the situation isn’t ideal. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Something Else also features a few tracks written and sung by Dave Davies, and I do not endorse any of them. Don’t get me wrong, I like the “La, la la, la, la la, la” part in “Death Of A Clown” as much as anyone, but once Dave Davies starts singing “Let’s all drink to the death of a clown,” I find myself uninterested and, curiously, not laughing. Another Dave Davies track, “Love Me Till The Sun Shines,” is the most generic song on the album. Honestly, Dave Davies sounds like a silly and drunk hippie on this song, and that muddy guitar playing sucks. “Funny Face” doesn’t fare much better with its awkward bridges and dopey lyrics.

Now then, Ray Davies doesn’t get off the hook for “End of the Season” and its stupid bird chirping, the safe and easy “No Return,” or any other half-assed effort (“Tin Soldier Man” is annoying me as I write this), but he is responsible for the aforementioned “Waterloo Sunset,” a song so beautiful and blissful that it would be criminal to deconstruct its greatness. And there are two other tracks, “Two Sisters” and “Lazy Old Sun,” that hold up relatively well. I’m saying all of this to illustrate that Ray Davies makes up for his brother’s songwriting and lead vocals, and I believe Something Else, more than anything, proves that Ray was a much better songwriter and vocalist and the reason why the band went on to create better music.

And that’s the only important thing the disc communicates as a whole. All you have left is a big handful of mediocre songs, a couple of good ones, and one masterpiece of rock songwriting and performance, “Waterloo Sunset.”

Rating: B-

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