How the Kinks Took Their Career to a New Level With ‘Something Else’
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With their fifth album, Something Else by the Kinks, the Kinks vaulted themselves from a breakout band and established that they were around to stay in the world of rock ‘n’ roll.
With the eternally cool Face to Face from the year before, Ray Davies had secured himself as one of the finest songwriters Great Britain had to offer. Something Else sealed the deal when released in the fall of 1967. The LP really lived up to its title as it was genuinely out of step with the times. In a post summer of love, heavy vibes youth culture, the Kinks stood their ground and followed their own path. There was to be no bowing to the psychedelic gods hovering around. Instead, Davies produced a batch of two-to-three-minute pop songs that put the English ways of life on full display.
The album kicks off with the charging “David Watts,” a song of envy, disgust or possibly love for a rival schoolboy, not exactly your standard pop song lyric. Elsewhere on the album we find topics such as cigarettes (“Harry Rag“) and lazy days (“Afternoon Tea“). The album is full of these vignettes about daily life. “Two Sisters,” “Situation Vacant” and “Lazy Old Sun” rank among Davies’ finest moments.
Brother Dave was not to be left out, delivering the rocking “Love Me Til the Sun Shines” as well as his signature song “Death of a Clown,” which was co-written with Ray. Both songs were released as a Dave Davies solo single earlier in the year and made the Top 5 in the U.K. Meanwhile, songs like “End of the Season” and “Lazy Old Sun” help paint a picture miles away from the technicolor dreaming going on throughout most of the rock ‘n’ roll world at the time. This was stately English pop in a not-so-stately era.
The song the album is most remembered for, and deservedly so, is the eternally beautiful “Waterloo Sunset.” Simply one of the finest songs ever written, it unfolds like a mini movie in all of its three minutes, while the haunting melody and flawless performance have made it a true Kinks classic. The song has a far deeper connection to their homeland than here in the U.S., where the track, though a favorite among Kinks die-hard fans, is hardly known stateside.
The group also released a string of songs around the time of the album, some offered as singles, that also stand high in the rankings of Kink-dom. “Autumn Almanac,” “Mr. Pleasant,” “Act Nice and Gentle” and another Dave Davies song, “Susannah’s Still Alive,” are all perfect pop records, something the Kinks were no strangers to. The parade of Kinks albums from Kink Kontroversy (1965) through Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround (1970) offer a near flawless body of work, and Something Else by the Kinks proved to be one of the finest jewels in their crown.
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