The Kinks

Phil Capone sa­lutes the gui­tar style of a hugely in­flu­en­tial and pi­o­neer­ing group that continues to in­spire mu­si­cians and song­writ­ers 50 years on.

Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: British R& B -

were one of the most im­por­tant bands of the 60s. How­ever, as­cent to fame was not a given; their first two sin­gles, Long Tall Sally ( a Lit­tle Richard cover) and You Still Want Me ( an early Ray Davies com­po­si­tion) were, to put it bluntly, com­plete flops that failed to chart. The band’s ca­reer could eas­ily have ended there; they des­per­ately needed chart suc­cess to avoid be­ing dropped by their unim­pressed record com­pany, Pye Records. In Au­gust 1964, the band re­leased their crit­i­cal third sin­gle, a song that would change their for­tunes overnight. You Re­ally Got Me achieved the cov­eted Num­ber 1 spot in the UK, plus a top ten hit in the all- im­por­tant USA charts. This es­tab­lished them as a force to be reck­oned with, not just in the UK, but also as one of the prin­ci­pal Bri­tish In­va­sion groups, sec­ond only to The Bea­tles.

You Re­ally Got Me is widely recog­nised as be­ing one of the first songs to be based on a power chord riff, so it was an im­por­tant mile­stone in the evo­lu­tion of rock gui­tar. Dave Davies achieved his dis­torted sound not by us­ing a fuzz box as Keith Richards would for Sat­is­fac­tion the fol­low­ing year, but by slash­ing the speaker cone of his tiny Elpico am­pli­fier! As Dave ex­plained in the late 90s: “I was get­ting re­ally bored with this gui­tar sound – or lack of an in­ter­est­ing sound – and there was this ra­dio- spares shop up the road, and they had a lit­tle green am­pli­fier in there next to the ra­dios… it was an Elpico. I twid­dled around with it and didn't know what to do, so I started to get re­ally frus­trated and I said, “I know! I’ll fix you!” I got a sin­gle- sided Gil­lette ra­zor­blade and cut round the cone so it was all shred­ded but still on there, still in­tact. I played and I thought it was amaz­ing, re­ally freaky. I felt like an in­ven­tor!”

De­spite his ac­com­plished solo­ing style and pi­o­neer­ing riff work, Dave Davies has never been recog­nised as one of the Bri­tish ‘ heavy­weights’ of gui­tar like his peers Clap­ton, Beck or Page. This was partly due to the in­cred­i­ble suc­cess of his el­der brother's song­writ­ing tal­ents, but also be­cause The Kinks were, and still are, per­ceived as be­ing a

The Kinks' back cat­a­logue is tes­ta­ment to Dave Davies' rare talent as a gui­tar player to trans­form a great song into a pop mas­ter­piece.

‘ pop’ group. Un­like The Bea­tles and The Stones, who had both man­aged to shift their prod­uct fo­cus ( and fan base) from sin­gles to al­bums by the late 60s, The Kinks’ big­gest suc­cesses were al­ways in the sin­gles charts.

How­ever, there’s no deny­ing that Dave’s gui­tar style de­fined the quin­tes­sen­tial 60s gui­tar sound. Could you imag­ine You Re­ally Got Me or All Day And All Of The Night with­out their iconic riffs, or Water­loo Sun­set with­out those wist­ful gui­tar lines wo­ven in­deli­bly into the song’s fab­ric? Dave was con­stantly striv­ing for the per­fect gui­tar sound, and there’s no deny­ing that The Kinks’ back cat­a­logue is tes­ta­ment to his rare talent as a gui­tar player who could trans­form a great song into a pop mas­ter­piece.

Broth­ers Dave and Ray Davies, quite prob­a­bly mim­ing to Lola

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