Dave Davies started The Kinks with his older brother Ray in early ‘60s England, mostly because, as he says, “our family was very supportive in letting us [live out our rock ‘n’ roll fantasies].” It didn’t take the lead guitarist long to singlehandedly kick-start the snarl and blare of every lead guitarist since by slicing up the speaker cone of a little green amp with a razor. Voila! Distortion! Check such Kinks masterpieces as “You Really Got Me” and “All Day And All Of The Night” for such early in-your-face cool, the kind of cool young men covet. Is there any doubt “You Really Got Me” is one of the greatest rock riffs ever? Right up there with “Satisfaction,” baby. Ask Metallica, they’ll tell you.
On his new solo album (due June 4 on Cleopatra Records), he pays homage to this singular act of invention with a song called “Little Green Amp.” He also updates another Kinks Klassic, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” (still to this day a daunting anthem) by naming his album after one of its strongest tracks, “I Will Be Me.” Yeah, he’s still him alright. And hell, he still may not get along with Ray, but the news is—and make no mistake about it, it’s BIG news—Dave Davies will be supporting his new album by performing a mini-stateside tour that stops right in my backyard at the Musikfest Café in Bethlehem, PA, on June 1, a stone’s throw from North Jersey.
In a Skype interview from London, Dave didn’t yet know the tracklist, but answered in the affirmative when asked if he would perform one of his greatest compositions, “Death Of A Clown.” Although he’s not big on reliving past glories, much preferring to look ahead, he knows to give the people what they want. There’s another song on the new album ironically called “Livin’ In The Past,” something he steadfastly refuses to do. As he sings, “no matter what they say or do, the future’s here to stay.” Dave’s future is a sunny afternoon, not a dead-end street. We thought we lost him there for a while in 2004 when news filtered through the static that he suffered a stroke. But he sounds conversationally great (not an easy task for stroke victims) and he says he feels healthy and strong.
His health, in fact, was cited by his brother as a reason The Kinks hadn’t had the expected (for far too long) reunion. Then original bassist Pete Quaife died in 2010. Still, Kinks fans are tired of waiting. Longtime drummer Mick Avery is still around; Ray told this reporter last year he wants to do it but is getting the stall from Dave. And Dave, of course, says Ray’s the stumbling block.
“Every time we used to walk in a room together,” Dave says, “it was always about him. Always!”
Their music has stood the test of time and sounds as vital now in 2013 as it did upon its inception in 1964. So many classic songs. The humor, the edge, the anger, the oh-so-British delicacy, theirs is a sound as complex as their relationship. They set the standard for other brothers-in-bands who hate each other like Oasis and The Black Crowes. Other British bands hot at one time can hardly be listened to today. I mean, hell, let’s be honest, when’s the last time you listened to Emerson, Lake & Palmer? OK, that might be unfair, but still: The Kinks haven’t lost their luster despite breaking up officially in 1996. Damn, their stuff sounds better than ever today!
Other highlights on the new album include the sound of sitar on “Healing Boy” and the coterie of guests like The Jayhawks, Anti-Flag, Oli Brown, Chris Spedding, Dead Meadow, The Art and Geri X. Dave Davies has always been a band guy and, despite this being a “solo” album, it’s Dave in what amounts to a bunch of bands, depending upon the track.
He’s a bit of a recluse so June 1 at the Musikfest Café in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is going to be a night to remember. Now if only someone can reconcile the two brothers and get ‘em on tour, for me, personally, that would be bigger than if Led Zeppelin came back with Bonzo Junior on drums. I think in fact the only thing that would be bigger than The Brothers Davies reconciling would be if Paul and Ringo got the sons of John and George to reform The Beatles.