Monday, November 29, 2010

#82 The Kinks-Face To Face


Artist: The Kinks
Album: Face To Face
Label: Pye
Yearm: 1966

Face To Face is the first truly magnificent Kinks album, and their second in a string of great albums that would run through 1972's Muswell Hillbillies (what is it with that year and last hurrah's?). While I'd say that they would eventually release better albums (one of which will appear later on this list), this is their final album with the early, Shel Talmy-sound. (Talmy would produce other albums, but this I'd say is the last one where that Mod sound that he perfected with groups like The Who and The Creation. The combination of a rough-sounding LP that reflects their early work and the new subject matter and songwriting focus Ray Davies has is what makes the album so special.
The Kinks' lack of hits in the last part of the 60s, along with not being able to tour America and record label mishaps, was often attributed to the lighter sound they went for. Their peers went freak-out psychedelic, but the Kinks talked about "Waterloo Sunset"s. So while they were short on hits, it certainly wasn't because of lack of song quality. And on Face to Face they still rocked out: "Party Line" slays with a hilarious take on what I can only guess is a pre-internet dating dating service...or something. "Rosie Won't You Please Come Home," is gorgeous, with awesome keyboards, and the guitar getting too-loud in the mix during the bridge is an awesome touch from the non-perfectionists.
Really, every song on the album is a kilelr. "Sunny Afternoon," and "Holiday In Waikiki" are featured on the compilation The Kink Kronikles and the former was even a minor hit, as was "Dandy" which has gained a reputation as one of their more well-known songs, it seems.
The best thing about the album, however, must be how it paved the way for Davies' sarcastic view of his home life and youth. "Session Man" criticizes people of the profession with lyrics like "He's not paid to think/just play", and "House in the Country" takes a sarcastic look at people who flee from trouble and like to look down on the common man (I think---it's my interpretation). And then there's "Fancy," which no other Kinks song sounds like. Almost psychedelic, it's a plaintive ode to a girl who has Ray's eyes.
Again, every song is great, and it's really the last time the band would rock so hard and so recklessly. Arthur and Lola would eventually bring them back from such a calm mood, but it's worlds apart from what they were producing here. This is where the band started to hit their stride, and the next two albums would be probably their two best, but Face To Face is still fun as hell and raucous as the day it was released.


  1. Party Line refers to the fact that up until probably the 1960s, the telephone lines were used by more than one party. For instance, you would pick up your telephone to make a call and you would hear somebody else talking. You'd have to hang up and wait your turn. It was very annoying. As naughty children, we used to get scolded by our mother for trying to listen in on other people's conversations.

  2. I had no idea! I figured it was some sort of centralized chat room. Thanks for the info!