Like most mid-1960s British rockers, the Kinks started out as an R&B group before they helped invent hard rock and ventured into sardonic, Beatles-inspired pop and refreshingly unpretentious rock opera with an English music-hall tinge. Ray Davies' biting lyrical wit and brother Dave's primal power chords proved an unbeatable and tremendously influential combination. For as long as the notoriously combative siblings could comfortably coexist, the Kinks continued to ply their intelligent brand of Brit-rock.
This compilation from one of the most influential bands in rock history is, like Neil Young's Decade, one of those rare summation packages that stands on its own in the discography. Released at a time in the early '70s when the Kinks, led by songwriter/vocalist Ray Davies and his guitarist brother Dave, were attempting to reestablish themselves with America after being banned for years, The Kink Kronikles still makes a strong case for the band's high place in the Rock Hierarchy. Assembled by longtime Kronicler John Mendelssohn, this isn't exactly a hits package, although you'll find mid-period staples like "Lola"; it's a shoulda-been-hits package. With essential B-sides ("Big Black Smoke"--the best in a long line of portraits of a tired Britain), album tracks (lots from Arthur, the band's cult 1969 rock opera), and ageless singles ("Dead End Street," "Waterloo Sunset"), this makes for an unusually dense and highly concentrated set of period must-owns. --Don Harrison
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