Question About The Forthcoming Kinks Book
EDIT – Please read this first, visitors from kindakinks.net
For those of you who don’t know me, one of the many things I do is write critical essays, analysing the music of various bands, track-by-track. I post these essays to this blog, and then revise them and turn them into books, both paper and ebooks, which I publish myself. So far I’ve done books on The Beatles, The Monkees, and the first of a three-volume set on The Beach Boys.
If you click on the ‘the kinks’ tag at the bottom of this post, you can read the essays I’ve done so far for the Kinks book. If you click on the relevant tags at the side, or on the “buy my books” links, you can see some of the other ones.
Please only reply to this post if you’ve had a look at some of those and have some interest in the Kinks book — I’m getting a bit swamped with comments that for one reason or another don’t apply to what I’m doing.
Thank you for your interest. If you’re interested in the book, it’ll be out in a couple of months (if I just do the first ten years) or before the end of the year (if I cover the band’s whole career). I post the essays approximately once a week, so please come back and read them if you like what you see.
And incidentally, if any Kinks fans want to volunteer to read the finished draft copy of the book and see if they can spot any factual errors, I’d be very grateful.
And now back to the original post…
Where do you want me to stop?
Currently, I’ve covered the Kinks’ complete 60s output, and it comes to about the length of my Seven Soldiers book (rather coincidentally, as there are seven 60s Kinks studio albums), so I’m starting to think about how I should do the book.
My original intention, and what I’ll still probably go with, is to cover every studio album the band made. The problem with this is that the band’s career is extremely skewed — they spent ten years making records that varied from OK to great, then twenty years making records that varied from OK to horribly racist. None of the albums past the point I’ve got to have any significant bonus tracks, so their entries will be much shorter than the ones I’ve already done, but it could still lead to a lot of entries basically saying “I’ve got nothing to say about this song because the song itself has nothing to say”. It might also skew the book to make it look like I don’t like the Kinks, when in fact they’re one of my favourite bands.
So there are a few different options, and I thought I’d put them to the people who are reading these posts, to see what sounds best to you:
The Kinks’ Music – the original plan, and what I’ll still probably do. Cover all the studio albums.
The Kinks In The 60s – just put out what I’ve got now, reworked with an introduction and something about the Live At Kelvin Hall album.
The Kinks – The Pye Years – everything on their first record label. Covers the next two albums, including the last two big UK hits (Lola and Apeman), but misses out their last really good album, Muswell Hillbillies. Or
The Kinks – The First Ten Years Covers everything up to Preservation Act 2, the first Kinks album that most people argue is actively bad, and the breakdown Ray Davies had which many people argue his songwriting talent never recovered from. This would cover the next six albums.
What would you like to read? I’m genuinely curious here — the question basically boils down to whether people want a comprehensive book or one that just covers the artistically interesting stuff.
(Another factor — and I won’t pretend this doesn’t bother me — is the reaction of American readers. I have had some very poor reviews of some of my music books on Amazon US because people disagree with my assessment of some songs and don’t know the difference between “I disagree with this” and “this is bad” (which is not to say my books are not also bad, just that those reviews don’t make a case for that). The albums I’m likely to be most unkind to are precisely those which were most commercially successful in the US, and I can already see the bad reviews as a result. That said, that’s not enough by itself to stop me writing that stuff — if I let Amazon reviewers put me off I’d never have got as far as my second book.)
FURTHER EDIT I shall not be letting any further comments about the song Black Messiah through — your point has almost certainly been made by someone in the thread already. This is not because I want to shut down debate, or because my mind is closed on the matter, but because I’m currently rather unwell and am finding the discussion quite stressful — I don’t want my death certificate to read “cause of death — popped a blood vessel because of a sidetracked internet discussion”. I’ve not taken offence at anything anyone has said, even those who have disagreed with me, and you’re all welcome to stay around and comment further on any other subject, but the discussion about racism in Black Messiah is over.