It was 1967; the year of Sgt. Pepper and Are You Experienced. And, somewhere at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, the latest slice of life in the Kinkdom.
Something Else – whose title is either laziness or a subtle dig at the music industry treadmill – stays about as far from the psychadelia of the time as it is possible to get, an oasis of calm, of Englishness, of harpsichords and acoustic guitars.
The album opens with David Watts – a largely insignificant B-side at the time, but whose slightly shouty ‘Oi!’-laden chorus lent itself perfectly to the post-punk stylings of The Jam, and could easily have been written by Paul Weller a decade later. Later in the album, Lazy Old Sun puts me in mind of something Bowie might have made in the 70s.
Elsewhere, Two Sisters is an almost autobiographical tale of sibling rivalry, but despite that being at the heart of the Kinks from the outset, on this album Ray is encouraging Dave to take centre stage more, with three tracks written and sung by Dave on the original release, and more included as bonus material on later CD issues.
But as ever it is Ray’s songwriting that makes this album, from the jaunty, fun character vignettes like Harry Rag and Tin Soldier Man, to the wonderfully melancholic End Of The Season.
A sort of nostalgia for England and a search for what it means to be English really starts to come through here – perhaps partly as Ray was already planning his Village Green project – with the Cockney rhyming slang of Harry Rag, the obvious Englishness of Afternoon Tea, and Ray’s love song to London, Waterloo Sunset. Yes, finally the Kinks close an album with it’s strongest track – indeed, three of the finest minutes in pop music history.
Don’t just take my word for it though, Waterloo Sunset ranks number 42 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. You can’t tell me that isn’t significant.
Stand-out tracks: Weren’t you paying attention just now? If you’re not familiar with Waterloo Sunset you really need to complete your musical education.