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Music Review: The Kinks – Face To Face

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The Kinks released Face To Face during late 1966 and it found the band poised right on the edge of leaving their hard rock, power chord laden roots behind and moving on to the subtle rock music with incisive lyrics that would dominate their sound and style for the next two decades.

It was also the first time they had put a lot of effort and time into the recording process. Their previous albums had either been cobbled together from left over tracks or recorded in a matter of days. This lack of time showed as the production and sound was sloppy and, while this may have added a certain charm to their early material such as “You Really Got Me,” their new musical direction deserved and needed better production values. Face To Face was their first release to have a modern sound as it took six months to complete.

The Kinks, and especially Ray Davies, had evolved far beyond the simple and gritty rock sound of their youth. Face To Face found him developing as a story teller plus moving outward in a social commentary direction. The music no longer blasted from the speakers with power but now was layered and textured with gentle beats that were enticing and thoughtful. The only song that connected them to their hard rock past was “Party Line,” which in some ways was a good-bye statement.

Ray Davies wrote all the tracks and a number moved in a very personal direction. “Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home” was a plea for his sister in Australia to move home. “Rainy Day In June” was his musings about an ordinary day in his garden. “Dandy” was a brilliant song about his brother Dave’s lifestyle. The song was somewhat spoiled when Herman’s Hermits covered it and it became a successful single in The USA.

The center piece of the album was “Sunny Afternoon.” It was a scathing criticism of the progressive tax system in Great Britain at the time, hidden within some smooth flowing music.

Face To Face was an announcement by Ray Davies and The Kinks that they were broadening their musical horizons and traveling new pathways. It was an album that showed their ability to grow and expand, which only the most talented rock bands have been able to do.

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About David Bowling

  • Their best album.

  • RayLee

    I was in Europe in 1966 and “sunny Afternoon” is part of that soundtrack, The Kinks, Beatles, and the Stones of that period really set the tone for the world of the late sixties…the cover art for Face to Face is also perfect from that ghost world.

  • Paul C.

    Ray Davies’ accomplishment in filling an entire album with truly first-rate material cannot be over-emphasized. Dylan was the only other artist then doing it – even the Beatles relied on multiple songwriters.

  • J. Aws Cohn

    Rumour has it that Ray Davies, himself, painted the cover art: Anyone know this to be a fact?

  • Paul C.

    Ray did NOT paint the cover – he hated it! It was prepared by Pye Records without the Kinks’ input.

  • Sunny Afternoon wasn’t “a scathing criticism of the progressive tax system in Great Britain at the time”, unlike Harrison’s wingeing Taxman. It was a character – a failing toff – moaning about his decline in a cheery way. There is a huge difference.