I could sum up this latest Kinks review in two words: Sunny. Afternoon. Face To Face, apart from being the band’s first album not to have ‘Kinks’ in the title, sees them pretty much at the peak of their power, moving away from the harder sound that had made them stars to a more melodic sound to accompany Ray’s witty observational lyrics; this period brought the world hit singles Dedicated Follower of Fashion, and the group’s third UK number one, the aforementioned Sunny Afternoon.
There are some cracking songs on the album, which opens with Party Line, which must be sort of like a 1966 version of an internet chat room, based on some of the lyrics:
Is she big?
Is she small?
Is she a she at all?
Rainy Day In June, which brings a kind of sinister fantasy to the British summer, is brilliant song writing, and a perfect counterpoint to Sunny Afternoon, which should have been the theme tune to Jet Set Willy, in my opinion.
I could speculate as to how much A House In The Country may have influenced self-confessed fan Damon Albarn several decades later; I could mention the pseudo-Eastern drone of Fancy or the Hawaiian feel of Holiday In Waikiki; or I could highlight tracks like Little Miss Queen Of Darkness or Most Exclusive Residence For Sale whose jolly guitars, slightly less jolly lyrics and unnecessarily wordy titles could only have been created by the Kinks.
Basically, Face To Face is 13 tracks, many different in style but all classic Kinks and adding up to a fantastic album and a great introduction to what the Kinks could produce over and above their hit singles of the 60s.
There is, as with much of the Kinks’ back catalogue, a 2 CD deluxe edition available at the moment, but frankly the original 13 tracks are so good everything else is just a bonus. I guess that’s why they call it a bonus CD…
Stand-out tracks: Sunny Afternoon, obviously; it’s a classic and one of the tracks that made me a fan in the first place. But Rainy Day In June is probably this album’s unsung hero.
I think this may be an under-rated classic – by me at least (my favourite Kinks LPs were still a couple of years away at this point in their career) – and definitely worth a listen.