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The Kinks achieve mixed results out of rushed recording process

The Kinks

Kinda Kinks

Released: March 4th, 1965

7.0
Album Review The Kinks

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1969.

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The low-fidelity approach to writing and recording has produced many a rock and roll masterpiece over the years: Tom Waits apparently gives up on a song if it takes more than two or three takes to commit to tape; Dylan claims to have written most of his early classics in about ten minutes; The White Stripes spent less than a week recording each of their first three albums. As a result of such lightning fast processes, seminal albums by those aforementioned - Rain Dogs, Blonde on Blonde, De Stijl - have an intensity about them; a sense that everything is riding on a knife's edge and could topple into cacophonous disaster at any point; and the records are made exciting, razor sharp, unpredictable, largely because of this sense of pending chaos. But as Kinda Kinks - the second studio album by UK band The Kinks - affirms, rushing the process is not always a great thing.

It's also a rare moment of honesty amid an album that often resorts to the pop safe house.

"A bit more care should have been taken with it," said Kinks songwriter Ray Davies of Kinda Kinks. "I think (producer) Shel Talmy went too far in trying to keep in the rough edges. Some of the double tracking on that is appalling. It had better songs on it than the first album, but it wasn't executed in the right way. It was just far too rushed."

Indeed a number of the songs on Kinda Kinks sound half-baked in terms of songwriting and/or production. "I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight", for instance, is a lazily crafted rollick that impresses neither lyrically or melodically, but instead comes off sounding like a fairly shameless shot at chart success. A more diplomatic way to put it would be to say that it is testament to the problematic and all-too- rushed atmosphere surrounding the recording of the album: The Kinks were sent into the studio immediately following an extensive Asian tour; they were only given two weeks to make the album; Ray Davies felt he wasn't given enough time to finalise the songwriting in pre-production.

The Kinks achieve mixed results out of rushed recording process
The Kinks - 1965

"I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight" is not the only lack luster cut from the record. "You Shouldn't Be Sad" and "Naggin' Woman" are equally uninspired, showcasing less a sense of dynamism so much as a group on autopilot stretching to get the job done.

On the other side of the coin, though, there are some tender moments on Kinda Kinks that remonstrate against claims that the album is a complete miss-step. "Nothin' In The World Can't Stop Me Worrying' 'Bout That Girl" is Ray Davies at his introspective best. It's like a peak behind the curtain at a songwriter who has been proffering up the image of a fun-boy lover, when in actuality he is an insecure, untrusting softy. It's also a rare moment of honesty amid an album that often resorts to the pop safe house.

There's visceral, no-frills fun to be had in "Got My Feet On The Ground" and "Come On Now", but the other real high point on the album is "So Long"; which is ironic because it, along with "Can't Stop Me Worrying", is the record's most lo-fi moment in terms of instrumentation and Davies' vocal approach. It's a song that seems closely akin to Paul Simon's acoustic gems in terms of vocal melody and lyrical melancholy.

Kinda Kinks is an uneven affair. It's an album that regularly shows promise, and yet, disappoints when that promise falls flat on a bedding of underdeveloped songwriting. But if you're willing to wade through the not-so-great, you'll also find some pay-off in the records' more understated moments.

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