THE KINKS – The Kinks at the BBC

Universal 2012

The Kinks have a sumptuous back catalogue and rightly deserve their place in the pantheon of British pop and rock greats. As befits this status, the band have been the subject of some weighty compilations. But none quite like this. Here we have a stonking 5-CD-plus-DVD box set chronicling The Kinks’ appearances at the BBC, complete with encyclopedic booklet and presentation in the style of classic era Radio Times.

It has been lovingly assembled from outtakes, forgotten material and ancient live recordings unearthed collectively by the band, the beeb and the fans. Dusty and dark corners have been plundered to put together an impressive package of rare and previously unreleased material. It’s good that the fans have made a contribution, because this is ultimately one for them. The die-hards will love the compare and contrast opportunities of multiple versions of You Really Got Me, Til The End Of The Day, Dedicated Follower of Fashion (and others) on here.

The live tracks capture plenty of Ray Davies’ enigmatic charm in crowd sing-a-longs and band intros. There’s also a good dollop of The Kinks’ harder, rockier live edge, for instance on versions of Lola from The Rainbow Theatre in ’77 and more recently, Phobia from ’94. As a contrast, tucked away on Disc 5 is a beautifully intimate and haunting version of Waterloo Sunset. Lower profile material gets plenty of room to shine too: the guitar/keyboard workout on Dave Davies’ Love Me Till The Sun Shines from the Playhouse Theatre in ‘68 is an undiluted joy.

But for all that strength in depth, there is a yawning gap in the timespan. After the 1977 platter Sleepwalker, the band don’t appear over the hallowed airwaves of the BBC again until 1994 and a Johnnie Walker session.

This coincides with their most successful period in America and a prolonged absence from the British charts. 1979’s Low Budget album went to number 11 in the US, whilst causing not a ripple of chart activity on this side of the pond. This means that Kinks belters like (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman, Come Dancing, or Better Things don’t find their way on to this collection. Shame.

But maybe that’s a bit churlish. The Kinks at the BBC is a wonderful tribute to great band, highlighting their monumental output. It unearths some cracking material and throws a sharp and valuable focus on their rise to fame in the early days. And if the idea of the 131-track box set is step too far, look out for the must-have 2-CD ‘alternative greatest hits’, which will culled from this package.

****

Dave Atkinson


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.


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