The Cosmic American

Triple Shot: Three Kinks Classics

The Kinks may just be the most underrated rock band of all-time. They certainly weren’t your typical British Invasion group.


Singer and songwriter extraordinaire Ray Davies, his brother and nearly equally talented Dave Davies, drummer Mick Avory, and a handful of bassists, including Pete Quaife and John Dalton, created some of the coolest, most varied rock n’ roll across 4+ decades.


Hit singles and iconic tracks like “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” and “Waterloo Sunset” still sound fresh. They were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.


Like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, they evolved throughout their career, progressing from Chuck Berry influenced rhythm and blues through albums like Kink Kontroversy to epic 70s and 80s pop and rock. 1970’s “Lola,” from the aptly titled Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, set the stage for 70s rock in general. 


As they grew throughout the decades, more important members appeared in the band, including Ian Gibbons, John Gosling, and Jim Redford. Each appear on the tracks below.


This relatively random triple shot spans the first two decades of this legendary band from London, England.


Shangri La

 from the 1969 LP Arthur

As our first couple selections show, Pete Townshend and the Who were not the only English band to go from catchy pop singles to complex rock operas.


The Kinks’ Arthur is one of rock’s best concept albums. “Shangri La” is the type of suite that Beach Boys wizard Brian Wilson wishes he was able to create post–Pet Sounds. It’s melodic, it rocks, and it has one hell of a sweeping chorus.


Kinks drummer Mick Avory really goes nuts on this one.



Muswell Hillbilly 

from the 1971 LP Muswell Hillbillies

The entire Muswell Hillbillies album is perceptive and prophetic. Although it also contains the classic “Oklahoma, USA,” a songwriting masterclass, its high point is the title track: 


They’re putting us in little boxes
No character just uniformity
They’re trying to build a computerised community
But they’ll never make a zombie out of me


I couldn’t have said it better myself, Ray Davies.



 from the 1977 LP Sleepwalker

Let’s not forget that the Kinks were a fun band. Davies’ sense of humor shines through even on the darkest moments of his concept albums.


“Sleepwalker” is pure fun. Some people forget that the Kinks made mostly relevant music throughout the ’70s and ’80s. This is prime ’70s pop off one of the more overlooked albums of the decade. 

The track also proves how undervalued Dave Davies is as a guitarist.

Erik Ritland is a songwriter and journalist from Nashville, Tennessee. He's released 13 records and EPs, most recently 2021's innovative movie album Old Dog Almost Gone. His journalism has been featured on Something Else! Reviews, Music in Minnesota, and more, and his articles have been shared by members of bands as diverse as KISS, the Monkees, Son Volt, and Low Cut Connie.