The Kinks - “Face to Face” 1966, Pye Records
1. "Party Line"
2. "Rosy Won’t You Please Come Home"
4. "Too Much On My Mind"
5. "Session Man"
6. "Rainy Day in June"
7. "House in the Country"
8. "Holiday in Waikiki"
9. "Most Exclusive Residence for Sale"
11. "Little Miss Queen of Darkness"
12, "You’re Looking Fine"
13. "Sunny Afternoon"
14. "I’ll Remember"
Since I’m writing an article about something that happened in 1966, I think I am legally obliged to tell you that England won a very important football match that year, just in case you didn’t know. Perhaps you haven’t heard us constantly banging on about it at any time during the intervening 52 years. What with our national team reaching such glorious heights, you’d think we’d all have had a very positive outlook on life, apparently The Kinks didn’t get the memo.
Formed in North London in 1964, The Kinks were a part of the famous (musical) British Invasion of the USA. Their part in the this was brief because a travel ban was placed on them due to founding members Ray and Dave Davies’ regular fights both on stage and while recording TV shows. They were banned from touring in the US for four years in 1965. By the time this album was released they were successful both in the UK and the USA having had top ten singles in both countries. The Kinks had already toured in Australia and New Zealand and after a trip to India during this period Ray Davies wrote “See My Friends” one of the first successful British crossover singles to use music from India - long before The Beatles had success doing the same thing. They also invented the power chord on their 1964 classic “You Really Got Me”, so The Kinks were already well established by the time they released “Face to Face”.
“Face to Face” was The Kinks’ fourth album and with no need to focus on the US market that had been temporarily closed to them, The Kinks began to move away from the beat music of the other invasion bands. Notably, this is the first album I have covered in this series where all the songs were written by one person - Ray Davies (although Dave Davies did once claim to have written “Party Line”). It is seen by some as the first ever real concept album, although that seems a bit of a stretch to me unless you argue that the concept is the personal, socially observant lyrics or the sound effects included on some of the songs to try to make the album an immersive experience. At this time the band consisted of the original line up and was made up of brothers Ray and Dave Davies, Mick Avory and Pete Quaife and this album to me represents the start of The Kinks as brilliant social commentators.
The album kicks off with “Party Line” and although it seems like a bit of a silly song, I think it’s a strong start because who doesn’t love lyrics with multiple meanings? The tone of the album gets darker from here on in. “Session Man”, a comment on how tough the music business can be is certainly quite maudlin despite the rather jovial sounding harpsichord (we’ll be hearing much more of that) at the start. “Rainy Day in June” is another doom laden number and even includes thunder sound effects. Ray Davies originally planned to have sound effects in between each song but Pye Records vetoed this. Although there are still some sound effects on a few of the songs, the thunder in particular seems a bit bizarre out of its proper context. “Little Miss Queen of Darkness” is exactly as dark as the title suggests but doesn’t feel it’s age. It’s not considered one of this albums gre