So much has been written about The Kinks since their conception back in 1964 that documenting a warts and all history would be an arduous task, although Doug Hinman's 2004 biography 'All Day And All Of The Night' makes a sterling attempt. Highly publicised inter-band squabbles, fights with authority, nervous breakdowns and in their latter period, a revolving door of band members only adds to the legacy of arguably one of the most unique and innovative bands to emerge from the London scene of the 1960s.
Already household names by the time the band's third long player 'The Kink Kontroversy' was released in the autumn of 1965, this record more than either of its predecessors represented a hefty sea change for The Kinks, not only in terms of their musical development, but also highlighting Ray Davies' emergence as a pivotal songwriter for this and many a successive generation.
Whereas both 1964's 'Kinks' and its follow-up 'Kinda Kinks' - released just six months before 'The Kink Kontroversy' - had demonstrated their wares as rhythm and blues specialists with a penchant for heavier rock and roll as with The Who and The Rolling Stones, this was the record that removed them from the chasing pack. Having endured a tour-related nervous breakdown just months earlier, Ray Davies used his recuperation time to write a batch of new songs, introducing a host of new ideas and sounds in the process.
Former b-side 'Milk Cow Blues' now had the indigenous role of opening the record, and while its Yardbirds styled blues-rock was probably what their fanbase expected, it merely served as a bridge between the past and present. The pastoral 'Ring The Bells' and quirky 'I Am Free' marked a more austere, cynical commentary on Davies' viewpoint of the world around him while the whimsical 'I'm On An Island' complete with the self-referential quip "There's nowhere else I'd rather be" undoubtedly paved the way for later compositions such as 'The Village Green Preservation Society'.
Elsewhere, 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone' probably sums up its author's state of mind at the time, along with the caustic 'You Can't Win' and its stringent epistle ".because times are pretty thin". However, it wasn't all doom and gloom. 'Till The End Of The Day' with its Who-like riff and opening line "Baby I feel good from the moment I rise." arguably delivered their most satisfying two-and-a-half minutes to date. Likewise the harmonica frenzied twelve-bar rocker 'Gotta Get The First Plane Home' and stripped down Americana of 'It's Too Late' possibly augment the first time a British popular act has digressed into country music's southern Stateside belongings.
In all, a near flawless model of consistency, 'The Kink Kontroversy' was their 'Revolver' almost a year before The Beatles timeless classic saw the light of day.
The bonus disc of this Deluxe Edition features an extra fifteen tracks collected from various singles, b-sides, compilation albums, interviews with Ray Davies and bass player Pete Quaife and BBC radio and television sessions, in addition to three previously unreleased performances. Of those, the Top Of The Pops recordings of 'Never Met A Girl Like You Before' (initially penned for Shirley Bassey according to Davies during one of the aforementioned interviews) and 'A Well Respected Man' are more concise than their recorded counterparts, while the alternate vocal take on 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else' has a Small Faces feel about it, which maybe influenced their decision not to release this particular version as a result.
Perhaps most startling is the vicious 'Mr Reporter', a Dave Davies penned no holds barred attack on Fleet Street and the press. Spitting vitriolic blasts such as "Do you like what you are doing, or is it that you can't do nothing else?" and "Did your daddy stop you playing with all your friends when you were young?" it clearly demonstrates the fractious relationship harboured between The Kinks and the media at the time. Indeed 'The Kink Kontroversy' acquired its title as a sarcastic dig at the way they'd been perceived by newspapers and television companies as riotous hell raisers, culminating in their four-year ban from being allowed to play in the United States.
As with pretty much all of the band's output from their debut up to 1970's 'Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneyground', there's little to pick fault with or criticise here. It goes without saying that The Kinks can rightly hold claim to being one of the great British institutions of the past fifty years, and especially in today's heavily saturated musical climate, 'The Kink Kontroversy' stands out like a graceful swan in a river of moulting ducks.