The Kinks released Something Else, September 15, 1967. It may not have been as consistent as 1966’s Face To Face but its several outstanding tracks brought the overall quality of the album very close to the excellence of their previous release.
Ray Davies and The Kinks had traveled a lot of musical miles since “You Really Got Me.” They were now securely ensconced in a creative form of subtle and textured British fusion of rock and pop. The dominant power chords were now a thing of the past as were the catchy hooks. The emphasis was now of the fully matured Ray Davies lyrics, which explored the themes of ordinary people, personal ambition, and vignettes of the common people. There may have been a sameness to much of the music but it was a good and creative sameness.
The original vinyl release was bookended by two of the better songs in the Kinks’ vast catalogue and the equal of any British music of the era. “David Watts” was an adolescent journey of envy with music that meandered along. It was just about the perfect combination of storytelling lyrics and music. “Waterloo Sunset” was a ballad of rare beauty that takes the mind into the story. Very few songs can be labeled breathtaking, but this one fit the bill.
There were several other tracks that may not have had the brilliance of the first two but were very good in their own right. “Two Sisters” was an amusing and witty song about the rivalry between Ray and Dave Davies. “Afternoon Tea” was as the title suggests, a simple song about sharing tea but with some tight harmonies. “Situation Vacant” was another witty concoction about relationships with mother-in-laws. “Death Of A Clown” was a Dave Davies creation and a little more rock-oriented than the rest of the material. Its popularity as a single in the U.K. would lead to tensions within the group and Dave Davies considering a solo career.
The most welcome track was “Harry Rag.” It may have had odd rhythms and been considered folk music but it was perfect to hoist a beer to while singing along.
The rest of the album was more mundane. “Love Me Till The Sun Shines,” “Lazy Old Sun,” “End Of The Season,” and “Funny Face” are all indistinguishable from each other and just serve as connectors for the better material.
Something Else was the second in a series of brilliant albums by The Kinks. They did not really expand the horizons of rock music as they contracted it to its essence. It’s an essential listen for anyone interested in the history of British rock or good music.