The Kinks’ Music: Preservation Act One

A revised version of this essay appears in Preservation: The Kinks’ Music 1964-1974, available in paperback , hardback, Kindle (US), Kindle (UK) , and for all non-Kindle devices from Smashwords.

Preservation Act One is an incredibly difficult album to write about. Hearing the Kinks’ albums in sequence, it sounds like something of a return to form, a return to more complex structures and interesting melodies after a long run of rock albums based on simple three-chord songs. The band’s musical palette expands again, with the Kinks and their horn section (now minus Mike Cotton) joined by a backing vocal chorus, and with many songs featuring strings and more complex keyboard parts.

But in fact it’s the last gasp of that kind of songwriting from Ray Davies, and from this point on the Kinks are a rock band, as opposed to a pop one.

Partly, Preservation Act One gives a misleading impression because it was never intended to be heard in this form. Originally, Preservation was intended as a single piece — a narrative work based on, and expanding upon, the themes of Village Green Preservation Society as well as the material about the destruction of communities in Muswell Hillbillies, but the album took much longer to complete than originally intended, after Ray Davies scrapped the initial sessions, and so it was released in two sections.

Act One, as a result, just introduces us to the characters who will take part in the narrative (and to some who won’t be heard of again), with the actual story relegated to the double album Act Two. Anyone who’s ever heard a concept album will immediately see the problem here.

The recording of Preservation Act One was also the culmination of many of the problems in Ray Davies’ life. In the middle of the recording, on Davies’ twenty-ninth birthday, his wife Rasa left him, taking their two daughters with her, and for a while it looked as if the Kinks themselves were going to split up.

The band pulled through — and eventually both Davies brothers became much more stable — but as they moved first to concept albums and then to arena rock, Preservation , and especially Preservation Act One, is the last point at which the Kinks sound like their mid-60s peak.

Preservation (Non-Album single)
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies

This song is misplaced on the CD, and both song and album suffer for it. This track was actually a single, released several months after Preservation Act Two, which sums up the plot of the entire piece in one three-and-a-half-minute hard rock track.

For what it is, this is decent enough — it’s a three-chord glam stomper that wouldn’t have sounded at all out of place on 70s rock radio, with a catchy guitar riff — but the lyrics are just a giant infodump rather than being particularly clever or moving.

More importantly, though, the album itself is quite cleverly, and deliberately, structured, moving from the quiet of Morning Song to the loud rock of Demolition, and by starting the CD with a song in the style of the last track, that structure is ruined.

Morning Song
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Chorus

The actual album opener is this utterly gorgeous little piece, which sounds like it features none of the Kinks at all. Rather, it is a piece for strings, woodwind and wordless vocals, building up from a single violin and a humming bass vocal, singing something that is halfway between Paul Robeson’s version of Shenandoah and the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony (the piece which this most resembles). Slowly a choral backing is added, along with a second, female lead vocalist, who sings along with the violin in a manner similar to Vaughan William’s Sinfonia Antarctica, creating an almost theremin-like effect, before ending with a massed choral chord.

It’s utterly unlike anything else in the Kinks’ catalogue, but a perfect opener to the album.

Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as Chorus)

The scene-setter for the album, this song starts with a simple three-chord acoustic guitar and organ based verse, with a constant D pedal note giving it a vaguely Indian feel, while the backing chorus singing the word “daylight” has almost a gospel air.

After twenty bars of this, the song changes key, up a fifth, for the next passage (the line “another night has gone away and here comes yet another day” is a transitional passage I’m choosing to include with the verse). We’re suddenly in a totally different musical world — the brass band style music here evoking park bandstands — as the melody keeps ascending, with two Ray Davieses overlapping with each other as they go up the scale (starting on the fourth of the scale, making what Davies is singing a Lydian mode scale).

The second time through this scale it continues up past the high fourth and onto the seventh, which then becomes the fourth of B — another key change up a fifth. We repeat the scale twice more in the new key, before, on the line “feel that daylight”, moving back to the original key of D via an implied change to E.

These changes up a fifth are both natural key changes for this kind of music — brass band music makes much use of fifths because they’re easy to play on brass instruments — but the continuous rising feel of the song also evokes the sun rising and the sky getting brighter quite beautifully.

If you hadn’t heard Lola vs Powerman, Percy, Muswell Hillbillies or Everybody’s In Showbiz, this would be what you’d expect a new Kinks track to sound like.

Lyrically, it’s less interesting, just painting a picture of the world we’re going to explore over this album and the next, but taking the albums in order it sounds like the band reversing out of a dead end, after they’d pushed the simple rock style as far as it could go, and going back to their old style to find another way forward.

Sweet Lady Genevieve
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as The Tramp)

Both the most heartbreaking, and in many ways the cleverest, song on the album, this non-charting single was Ray Davies’ attempt to reach out to his estranged wife Rasa, begging for forgiveness, and may be the last truly great Kinks song.

In some ways, it’s a reversion back to the style of the last few albums — it’s based around strummed guitar chords and huffed harmonica, and while there’s a little tonal ambiguity (it’s mostly in A, but hints at the key of E on occasion), the chords are all play-in-a-day simplicity and the arrangement is straightforward, with no interesting instrumental parts. The only really different thing about the song musically is its utter metrical irregularity — there’s a regular tic-toc rhythm in the drums, but the melody line and chord changes seem almost to ignore the bar lines.

But what makes this song so great is that even though it’s clearly one of Davies’ most emotionally honest songs, it’s a song written from the point of view of a dishonest man. It’s a song that had to be sung in character, and Davies makes the character seem utterly in the wrong — not only is he a liar, a cheat, and an alcoholic, he undercuts his own promises to change.

He wants her back, he promises to ‘take away all your sadness [if you] put your trust in me’, but both he and the listener know that he’ll never change and she’ll never come back. He even laughs a little at the very thought that she’ll return.

To be so artistically honest as to sabotage any possibility of reconciliation in the very song written to attempt to rebuild a marriage is something very few people could do. As a portrait of a failed relationship, and of a character who’s half-deluding himself but is honest enough to see through his own delusions, this is almost on a par with Frank Sinatra’s Watertown. This song does not make Davies look good at all, but I can think of few braver artistic works.

There’s A Change In The Weather
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as Working Class Man, Middle Class Man and Upper Class Man)

One of the stronger songs on the album, this manages to blend the harder rock sound the band had been producing on recent albums very effectively with the more orchestrated feel of the music on the rest of this album, giving the best of both.

The song starts with a funk riff on guitar, with a hammond pad and soulful horns, as Davies takes on three characters — a worker, a middle-class southerner, and an upper-class idiot. As the music repeats the same simple changes (with a key change up a fourth for the third repeat, as the upper-class man introduces himself), these three introduce themselves in a manner reminiscent of the “I know my place” sketch from The Frost Report, and we’re told “there’s trouble brewing”. Then dropping back down to the original key, we get one more time through the changes as the three sing in unison about how “there’s a change in the weather/we’ve got to learn to stick together”.

And then we get a total change of instrumentation, dropping down to tuba, trombone and piano for two bars of common-time bridging material before going into a brass-band section in 6/8 (with a bar of 4/4 thrown in on “it will brighten”). Moving up a fourth, the song changes completely, and becomes about a positive, rather than a negative, change, as Davies sings in a light, mannered voice over a female backing singer ‘la la’ing in a joyful manner.

But then after this extended section, we go back to the original musical material, but here all hope and all funkiness has left — instead we have a ponderous, thudding, heavy metal beat with squealing atonal horns as multiple Ray Davieses sing “See the holocaust risin’ over the horizon/Gonna see a manifestation, total chaos, devastation” and similar portents of doom.

After this material repeats in C then back in G, we once again drop into the cheerful section, here sounding more like a music-hall performance than a brass band, thanks to the more prominent piano part. Davies here sounds even more mannered, and we fade on a hopeful note from the brass. And all this comes in at less than three minutes.

There’s a change coming, but whether it’s a good one or not, we’ll have to wait for the next album to see, when the story really gets going.

Where Are They Now?
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as The Tramp)

One of two really weak songs on the album, unfortunately programmed back to back, this sounds like an outtake from Everybody’s In Showbiz. A nostalgic track looking back on the past, it was presumably meant to evoke similar emotions to some of the songs from Village Green Preservation Society, but rather than looking back on some mythical golden age of the past, it’s only looking back at the late 50s and early 60s, and has nothing to say about that time, just lists a bunch of people (Mary Quant, Christine Keeler, Keith Waterhouse) and fictional characters (Jimmy Porter) who were quite well-known at that time and slightly less-well known a decade later, and asks “where are they now?”, over a plodding background that sounds like Like A Rolling Stone on barbituates.

One Of The Survivors
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as Johnny Thunder)

The other bad song on the album, this revisits Johnny Thunder from Village Green Preservation Society, finding him now heavier and greying, but still listening to the music he listened to when he was young.

Much like the previous song, this is about nostalgia for the (then-)very recent past, and consists almost entirely of lists of things, in this case 50s rock songs and performers (with an emphasis on slick white doo-wop like Dion & The Belmonts and Danny & The Juniors). It’s the musical equivalent of TV programmes of the I Love 1983 type. It wins over the previous track in that it has some energy, but then extends what amounts to a minute or so worth of mediocre musical material to four and a half minutes, losing all goodwill along the way.

Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as The Vicar)

Side two of the album opens with this absolutely delightful track. A more coherent musical cousin of Look A Little On The Sunny Side, this features possibly the most real character Davies ever created — the Vicar.

The lyrics are a parody of a particular kind of Church of England sermon, the muscular, sporty, patriotic equivalent of Alan Bennett’s Beyond The Fringe sermon (“Life, you know, is rather like opening a tin of sardines. We are all of us looking for the key”), an extended metaphor about how the devil will “try to L.B.W. and bowl a maiden over”, and “He’ll baffle you with googlies/with leg breaks and offspin”, but “keep a straight bat at all times, let the Bible be your guide, and you’ll get by”.

It’s an absolutely perfect bit of observational comedy — he gets the speech patterns of this kind of vicar down exactly — and made all the funnier by the fact that Davies is clearly exaggerating something he genuinely thinks himself (he’s well-known as a lover of cricket, and one can imagine him at least half agreeing that it’s God’s game because “It has honour, it has character and it’s British”).

This is possibly the most laugh-out-loud-funny thing the band ever did, and it’s musically enjoyable as well. After two dull lists, the album has returned to a level of quality not seen since Arthur.

Money And Corruption/I Am Your Man
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as Mr Black) and chorus

And here we start to see the overarching story of the Preservation project come together. This is a medley of two songs, which put together have a very disturbing message.

We start with a song in the style of a traditional English folk-song — a pentatonic melody, in waltz time, over a quickly-strummed guitar, as a chorus of ordinary people sing about how “money and corruption are ruining the land/wicked politicians betray the working man” and “we’re tired of hearing promises we know they’ll never keep”.

On its own, this would be just a better-than average example of the anti-politics theme that runs through much of Davies’ work at this time. Politicians, yeah? They’re all liars, right? Yeah…

But then the chorus sings “Show us a man who’ll be our saviour and will lead us…” and we get the introduction of Mr Black, one of the two rival political leaders who dominate the next album.

The second of these songs, I Am Your Man , is sung by Mr Black, and is set to the most powerful music on the entire album. A gorgeous, sweeping ballad, with the return of the ever-descending chromatic basslines Davies used so much in the late 60s, this is soft, gentle, reassuring music that makes you think “yes, everything’s going to be all right”.

And over the top, Mr. Black persuades you to endorse a totalitarian dictatorship.

At first glance, Black’s programme doesn’t sound so different from that of the Labour party of the time, recently returned to power — nationalisation of major industries, slum clearances, support of unions, redistribution of wealth — but the clue is in the chorus. “Workers of the nation unite.”

Not the internationalism of Marx and Engels — “Workers of all nations unite”, but nationalism. And then you notice other things. The mention of a “five year plan”. The mention of a “Fatherland”.

This is almost as scathing a self-critique as Sweet Lady Genevieve, in other words. Davies has looked at the anti-politics mood of his then-recent albums, and seen that when people think that way, when they are disenchanted by politicians on all sides, is precisely when nationalism and extremism can sneak in in the guise of utopianism.

A miniature masterpiece.

Here Comes Flash
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Dave Davies (as Chorus, with Scared Housewives)

And the other villain of the piece is now introduced — Mr Flash, the glamorous, slimy, showbiz politician who is opposed to Black.

This is an absolutely wonderful uptempo pop-rock song which manages to combine within its two minutes and forty-one seconds more different styles than many bands manage in a career. Starting with a Who-style clang of guitars, it moves into Dick Dale territory — very fast, heavily reverbed, staccato surf guitar, playing a vaguely Arabic sounding melody.

Then the voices enter, and they’re singing pseudo-operatic falsetto, with very fast, tumbling lyrics, and suddenly it’s the previously-unconceived middle ground between Dick Dale and W.S. Gilbert, and to emphasise the end of every line we have the most cavernous drum sound I’ve ever heard.

And then the orchestra and female chorus come in and add a baroque element, before the song finishes in a flourish with a theatrical fanfare.

Combining hard rock, pop, surf music and opera in one ridiculously exciting song, this is everything Queen ever wanted to be.

Sitting In The Midday Sun
Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies (as The Tramp)

One of the catchiest things on the album, this was one of the first things the band recorded for the project (and probably the first song they recorded in Konk, their own studio), and was recorded before the start of the personal turmoil in Ray Davies’ life that caused the darker tone of much of the songwriting on this album.

It’s enjoyable and pretty, and was quite rightly released as the first single from the album, as it’s definitely the most commercial-sounding thing on the record, echoing back to a mid-sixties summer pop sound and at times almost sounding like the Beach Boys. But it’s ultimately a lightweight track — it’s musically simplistic, and the lyrics, a paen to laziness and unemployment, are slight — so it’s unfortunately easy to see why it didn’t chart.

And a personal peeve of mine, which I accept most people won’t share — in the chorus, the rhyme of ‘midday sun’ with ‘currant bun’ gets on my nerves (because ‘currant bun’ only works because it’s rhyming slang for sun, so he’s just saying ‘sun’ twice in effect), and then rhyming ‘reason’ with sun and bun really doesn’t work.

Ray Davies
Lead Vocalist: Ray Davies and Dave Davies (as chorus and Flash)

And the closing track is, unfortunately, one of the weaker songs on the album. Very much like the track Preservation itself, this seems to have been written as a deliberate attempt at aping the sound of the Who, but with extra female backing vocals.

Musically, it sounds like an outtake from Tommy, but the lyrics are about Davies’ old bugbear of compulsory purchase, and urban areas being regenerated into ‘a row of identical boxes’.

Unfortunately, much as I’m not a fan of property developers in general, the combination of bludgeoning, riffy, hard rock and town planning is not one that works very well, and Dave Davies’ impassioned scream of “Whaaa! Specifically designed for modern-day living!” may well be the most bathetic moment in the band’s catalogue up to this point.

Nonetheless, it sort-of works, mostly thanks to Dave Davies’ guitar playing, and it works as a bridge between act one and the much…odder…act two.

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15 Responses to The Kinks’ Music: Preservation Act One

  1. Tilt Araiza says:

    The theatrical fanfare at the end of Here Comes Flash is the end of William Tell Overture isn’t it? Also, is it just me or is that guitar riff on the Preservation a bit Purple Haze? While we’re at it, Where Are They Now seems based on the “all the people of the town” part of Johnny Thunder doesn’t it?

  2. Hal says:

    Fine stuff, Mr H, and – more or less – the end of the line for The Kinks in Their Glory. I wonder if Ray would have been better served just forging ahead rather than obsessively tinkering, however, considering the state he was in, that was never likely to happen. And the result was the Preservation Acts 1 and 2 we have today. I think the pressure on rock pop artists with fragile yet inflateable egos to make albums that were also *Big Statements* led to some great but also a *lot more* dubious material. The Who’s Quadrophenia seems a good example of this also. I know it has its fans but there is a mismatch between Townshend’s ambitions and the prosaicness of the “story” despite the whole amorphous Quadrophrenic *concept*, that’s before we get to the songs with their somehow mushy *heavy* sound. Few of them see the Who near their contradictory best.
    Preservation Act 1 has, as you so adroidly adumbrate above, some wonderful and some fascinating songs but unfortunately Ray’s wish to create some kind of coherent story falls down because of the unwieldiness and bloat of the concept. Act 2 contains much of the connective tissue and actual narrative but it’s also diffuse as Ray can’t unify it into something coherent. And then he goes on to try again…and again…you get the picture. I’m sure that Kinks’ uberfans will go onto mention the stage shows, which is fine, but we have to go off the albums and the way they are arranged.
    I have been snotty about Clinton Heylin’s All the Madmen elsewhere but though I find his focus on “madness” as a force in innovative British Rock Pop of the mid-sixties to mid-seventies rather too glib he *does* make some interesting observations about the period and the connections between seemingly disparate works including that of the Kinks. Although he may be slightly too harsh on Preservation he’s not entirely incorrect in suggesting that Village Green P S had treated many of these themes in a more effective manner with far less damaging hubris. Pieces are stronger than the whole.

  3. cruth01 says:

    Out of curiosity (sorry if you already said so somewhere), are you going to put up a post on Act II or any subsequent albums? I seem to recall you saying somewhere you were going to cut it off at some point in the 70s, but I don’t remember the details.

    • I’m actually writing the Act II essay now, and it should be up by the end of tonight or tomorrow morning. It’s taken me a long time, because the levels of hostility I’ve had from some people about these posts (obviously not from yourself, and most of it blocked before it made its way to these comments sections), and about some of my other music writing, have been quite staggering, and made me seriously reconsider whether I should write any more about music once I’ve finished the commitments I’ve already made (two more books on the Beach Boys). It seems many ‘classic rock’ fans take very unkindly to the whole concept of criticism, sadly, and it’s hard to bring yourself to write much when you know it’s going to lead to confrontation and argument. (Also a reason I’ve not been very active in my own comments section recently, which is annoying as I want to interact with people here more).

      Actually, I’m going to be *relatively* kind to Act II — it’s definitely a huge dip in quality, but it’s far from terrible, and there are worthwhile things about it which I plan to discuss.

      The Act II post will be the last of these, then in about two weeks I’ll be releasing a revised version of the whole lot as a book and ebook entitled “Preservation: The Kinks’ Music 1964-1974”. That will be largely the same material I’ve already posted, but with a little extra section covering the couple of tracks that aren’t on any of the album CDs, and with corrections made to any factual errors I’ve discovered. Then my next music-writing project is covering the Beach Boys’ 1970s albums.

  4. cruth01 says:

    Cool, I read Part II, another good review. I understand if the reactions make you not want to do this anymore, but remember most people who read your stuff probably don’t comment at all, whereas people who like to be dicks are more motivated. So it’s not necessarily an accurate picture of the impact your posts have. But if it’s just that the comments bring you down, I guess that makes sense then.

    I just got this album (a single package, double-disc part I and II deal) and listened to Part I twice today. At first blush, “One of the Survivors” and “Where are They Now” seem fairly engaging and better than Change in the Weather, but we’ll see if that opinion holds up as I familiarize myself with the album more. I haven’t listened to Part II yet and am kind of dreading it after your write-up, but it has to be done. Part I is a little bit of a slog so far even though it has a lot of decent and/or interesting moments, and it sounds like II is going to be rough sledding for stretches. I have heard a few songs on youtube and the BBC album but they mostly didn’t stand out to me much, I think “Mirror of Love” is pretty good though.

    Anyway, I wonder if you have any recommendations as far as Kinks books go? I read the 33 1/3 entry, and I read a 99-cent “Village Green” write-up by you on my Kindle (which is how I found this site). Then I read an absolutely horrible and pointless “book” that cost me a full $6.99–United Kinkdom by a Chris Wade, which reads like a long (and unedited! It contains statements like: “Dave had already had a couple of hits by this time–namely, ‘Death of a Clown'”) blog post, and contains no moments of insight or, really, anything to recommend it (avoid at all costs!). I hope you don’t know him, I would feel like a jerk, but I included all this for the benefit of anyone reading this who may find themselves thinking of shelling out $6.99 at Amazon for this.

    Anyway I also read Hasted’s You Really Got Me, which I thought was pretty good (not spectacular), and I’ve been picking through All Day and All of the Night which, for what it is, is really good.

    Aside from those, do you have any recommendations, or know of anything particularly good?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Part II is much worse than part I. A friend told me that he’d lent someone Act I and they’d come back raving about it and asked to borrow Act II. My friend insisted that it was much worse, but eventually lent it out. A week later the person he’d lent the album to came back and handed it back, and just glared and said nothing…

      As for books on the Kinks… there aren’t very many, and what few there are are mostly not very good. Other than All Day And All Of The Night, You Really Got Me and the 33 1/3 book, the only ones I can really recommend are the Davies brothers’ autobiographies. Ray’s X-Ray is by far the better book of the two, and is possibly the best rock autobiography I’ve ever read, whle Dave’s Kink is much less worthwhile but still interesting enough if you can find a cheap copy. There’s also an ‘authorised biography’ from the 70s by Jon Savage which is pretty much what you’d expect from that author, and that’s about it as far as readable Kinks books go.

    • chris wade says:

      Sorry that you didn’t enjoy my Kinks book Cruth01. I can see why some people may have a problem with a more relaxed style of writing that isn’t too overly analytical, and perhaps a little more opinion based than other books, but I doubt it can be described as “pointless” and “horrible.” I am primarily a musician and fiction writer, and do non fiction as side projects because I choose subjects I am passionate about, The Kinks being one of them. A lot of people have enjoyed the book and agree with many of the points in it. It is a celebration of their music and never claimed to be anything but that. There are interviews with Dave Davies and John Gosling in the book, so I guess if all else is not as you say “recommended” the interviews are something note worthy at least. Still, I value your views on the book and take it on board.

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        Thanks for taking cruth01’s views so reasonably, Mr Wade. As someone who’s had similar reviews of my own books posted on Amazon (though luckily no-one’s yet found any blatantly bad sentences — I’m sure a few must have slipped through though) I know that for every reviewer who says “this is utterly useless and should never have been written” there’s one who says “this is the best book ever and it changed my life!”, but I also know that the bad reviews get to you more than the good ones.

        I haven’t read your book yet myself — I did all my reading on the band before starting to write my own book, and it looks like yours was published only a couple of months ago — but you’ve at least got a very striking and professional-looking cover, which is more than can be said for many self-published books.

        • chris wade says:

          Thanks for your comments Andrew. When you’ve been doing books and other projects put out to the public for a while, as you know, you learn how to take criticism as an adult rather than a kid, which is how you tend to react to early bad feedback. Not everyone will like your stuff and you will make mistakes, especially if you don’t have an outside editor. Some stuff will get through the cracks.
          Not saying my book is fantastic, probably far from it. I enjoyed writing it and some people have enjoyed it, and that’s enough for me. My main passion is my music Dodson and Fogg (releasing an album at the end of the year with members of Hawkwind, Trees and Fairport Convention on it) and comedy audiobooks with comedians like Rik Mayall narrating them. But I love The Kinks and really enjoyed writing the book. Good luck with your Kinks projects by the way Andrew.

  5. cruth01 says:

    “Thanks for taking cruth01′s views so reasonably, Mr Wade.” Let me echo that, that was a very reasonable and graceful response. I certainly would have been more measured if I thought the author would see it (why did I think he wouldn’t? This seems like a likely place for him to be) and I wouldn’t have written that on Amazon without trying to be more fair. I’m sorry for the tone of my comments, and the interviews are indeed nice to have.

  6. cruth01 says:

    Wow, X-Ray is a weird book. It’s kind of crudely written, self-indulgent, sloppy and immature. The stuff about “The Corporation,” the “Girl,” and Ray being the last independent that they hate because they could never control is so damn corny. He comes off as a narcissist who knows he’s a narcissist, but he’s even narcissistic about his narcissism, and most of his ideas are loopy and half-formed. But it’s also really fascinating (if dull in parts), weirdly (or at least unexpectedly) insightful at times, and pretty creative and unique even while it doesn’t quite live up to what it could be–he tries to make the “interviewer” an independent character who’s skeptical of R.D.’s character and veracity, but often just self-indulgently puts the questions in his mouth R.D. wants to hear at any given time. Definitely worth reading, it’s unevenly successful but its form tells as much about Davies as its content so it winds up being pretty informative in an indirect and frustrating way. I feel like I could praise it more than I have but I don’t quite know how, I didn’t hate it or even dislike it, it’s just hugely flawed. He seems like a really skewed and idiosyncratic character, which is probably what makes the book good, but he seems to be on much firmer ground writing a song or speaking impressionistically than when he tries to theorize about things, at which point he just sounds like a half-baked crank most of the time.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Exactly. I loved it when I first read it (when I was 15 or so) and it’s a brave way to do it, but he’s a very intelligent autodidact, with all the problems associated with that.

  7. cruth01 says:

    Next I will read Kink.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Kink is a much more straightforward, but less interesting, book, about Dave Davies’ ‘spiritual journey’ (took a lot of drugs and had sex with a lot of people, and then decided to stop doing that and believe in astrology instead).

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