The Kinks were formed during 1963 and a year later they were stars in the U.K. and the United States. Original bassist Pater Quaife, drummer Mick Avory, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Ray Davies, and lead guitarist Dave Davies played, wrestled, and fought their way to induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990.
My first exposure to The Kinks came at a church youth dance. There were a number of door prizes, and who won a brand new sealed copy of You Really Got Me? Yours truly. Looking back, it must have been a cool church to have even offered a Kinks album as a prize.
You Really Got Me was the American version of their English debut with a few song differences. It was named after their chart topping U.K. single, which also reached the American top ten. “You Really Got Me” remains not only their most memorable song but was one of the most influential songs of the 1960s and probably in rock history.
There will always be a debate as to the first hard rock/metal guitar riff but the opening power chords from “You Really Got Me” will usually be part of the discussion. The Ray Davies composition and the Dave Davies guitar playing were like nothing that had been heard in rock music up until that time. The riff has been copied by and inspired almost three generations of guitarists. Just for the record, while a young Jimmy Page did play on the album, he did not contribute to this particular track.
The rest of the album did not live up to the quality or the historical nature of the first track. At this point in their career, the group mixed rhythm & blues and rock covers with a few original tunes. The results were average at best and somewhat amateurish at worst. Songs such as Chuck Berry’s “Beautiful Delilah” and “Too Much Monkey Business,” Slim Harpo’s “Got Love If You Want It,” and the traditional “Bald Headed Woman” are cover versions similar to what hundreds of bands were playing at the time.
The only other two songs of additional note were a couple of Ray Davies compositions. “Stop Your Sobbing” and “So Mystifying” were both competent tracks that presented the beginnings of one of rock music’s better songwriters.
This album remains more of a historical artifact than a necessary listen. “You Really Got Me” is the only essential track and it has been reissued on many superior compilation albums over the years. However, if you want a classic rock band at the beginning of their career, then have at it.