BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
There’s really nothing that can be said about the Kinks that hasn’t been said a thousand — make that a million — times before. The testimonials included with this expansive five CD anthology affirm rather than illuminate all that’s obvious already. The foremost arbiters of English music and manners, the Kinks asserted themselves as one of the most distinctive voices of the so-called British Invasion and then capped that achievement with a series of albums that remain among the most indelible of the entire era.
Naturally then, the 50th anniversary of the group’s formal launch has provided plenty of cause for celebration. Reissues of the band’s seminal albums have been an ongoing enterprise for the past several years now, while current activities continue by the two songwriting principals, the Brothers Davies, both Ray and Dave. Sadly though, any thoughts about a formal reunion seem elusive at best — especially given that the recent passing of original bassist Pete Quaife — but the flood of Kinks related product remains a source of satisfaction for the legions of so-called Kinks Kultists worldwide.
In that regard, The Anthology 1964 – 1971 is likely to reap the overwhelming share of admiration and appreciation right from the get-go. While a recent two disc anthology on the Legacy label effectively recapped their hits and highlights, this five disc set goes for the gold, and not merely in terms of the chart hits either. While it’s an obvious winner when it comes to sheer volume alone — squeezing in 140 tracks is an impressive accomplishment in itself — it’s the generous amount of rarities, outtakes and rarely heard tracks that make this box utterly essential. To the majority of the band’s fans it will likely be seen as something akin to the holy grail. Indeed, a multitude of songs that have long been otherwise unavailable — or only offered in limited circumstance, such as the long deleted Great Lost Kinks Album — are now given easy access, giving the true Kinks Kollector something to salivate over.
That said, there’s obviously plenty here for the uninitiated as well, not only in the expected roll call of hits, but also in the plentiful selection of album cuts culled from the group’s most memorable albums. The most obvious lesson learned here is that quality control never faltered, even when it came to their most obscure offerings. Indeed, songs such are as illuminating and essential as those songs nominally judged to be Kinks classics (umm, Klassics) and the reasons for their inclusion are never, ever in doubt. “God’s Children,” “This Man He Weeps Tonight,” “Death of a Clown” and “When I Turn Off the Living Room Light” might never have made their A list, at least as far as the larger public was concerned, but their inclusion here brings belated rewards and asserts the fact that Ray and Dave never missed the mark. If one was to opt for only one box set this year — as young as this year still is — suffice it to say, this ought to be the one.
DOWNLOAD: “God’s Children,” “This Man He Weeps Tonight,” “Death of a Clown”