No. 59: The Kinks, ‘You Really Got Me’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
If you are searching for the definitive riff in all of rock and roll, we may have just the thing for you.
With this amazingly primal track, released in the summer of 1964, during the height of the British Invasion, the Kinks delivered a sonic blast that would inspire countless bands over many genres.
It has been said that the roots of punk, heavy metal and garage rock can be traced to this two and a half minute blast of energy.
Ray Davies’ simple, almost neanderthal riff — played by brother Dave Davies, and aided by perfectly a raw production from Shel Talmy — was unique to the beat groups invading our shores that year. The Beatles were more refined, the the Animals more bluesy and Gerry & The Pacemakers more pop, but the Kinks were savagely loud rock and roll!
The riff of ‘You Really Got Me’ really did launch a thousand songs in its wake, just ask the the Who, AC/DC, the Clash, Van Halen (who had their own hit with a cover of the song), Blur and Jack White to name a few.
That surge of teen urgency channeled through that distorted guitar was a match made in heaven. Crank it up and you will see that 48 years later, it still knocks down walls! Ray Davies was truly one of the greatest songwriters of the rock and roll era. He would go on to compose a string of amazing singles and albums, and the Kinks catalog from 1964 through 1970 stands up to that of any of their more popular peers.
Watch the Kinks Perform ‘You Really Got Me’