We're taking it back to 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson was president, the US had entered the Vietnam War a year prior. London fashion was exploding... girls in their go-go boots and bright patterns. The world was changing, people were developing their own voice and weren't afraid to make a stand. The fight for Civil Rights, protests against the war, a new outlook on our country had developed... a counterculture that would later become the stereotypical view of the era... long hair and free love... hippies.
To coincide with this era of change was a whole hell of a lot of great records... one of those being The Kinks 1966 classic Face to Face. This was the first Kinks album to feature all songs composed by Ray Davies. It was also their first record to be a real commercial success. Songs like 'Sunny Afternoon' hit number one in the UK charts... this new musical direction was a real achievement for the band, it set the stage for the next few albums to come. It was a more poppy sound, with hints of psychedelia and whimsy. Face to Face was one of the first albums to have a cohesive theme, it discussed human nature and personal observation.. regarded as one of rock's first concept albums.
Dandy, a song about a casanova and his endlessly playful lifestyle wooing the ladies and partaking in extra marital affairs.. It's about a gentleman who doesn't feel the need to settle down, a forever bachelor and ultimately the song takes a turn with the line...
And when you're old and grey you will remember what they said
That two girls are too many,
three's a crowd and four you're dead!
But things come right back around when Davies gives up on stating the obvious downsides and proclaims "Dandy, you're alright." It's a short kitschy little tune, getting right to the nitty gritty. My favorite part about this song is the growing intensity of Davies' voice, ending with an almost sick and twisted feel in his tone.
Ahhh yes, my personal anthem (sort of) Little Miss Queen of Darkness has been a favorite of mine for a very long time.. This is the song that initially turned me on to this record. This little Queen is basically the counter part to Dandy.. She's a little femme fatale, seemingly carefree, dancing her way through life, flirting with the boys, hiding behind that pretty smile and false lashes.. when deep down there's a sadness, a loneliness which persists inside her.
Although she looked so happy,
There was sadness in her eyes.
And her curly false eyelashes
Weren't much of a disguise.
And her bright and golden hair,
Was not all that it might seem.
Little Miss Queen of Darkness
Dances sadly on.
During the time of this record Ray Davies had just overcome a nervous breakdown... One of the most unique tracks off of this record has to be Rainy Day in June, I almost feel that this was where Ray's head was at during the time of the album. It seems to relate to depression, love and hope. Being one of the more slower songs, it features an emotional yet soulful side to Davies.
Overall, this is a spectacular album and I feel that it's a definitive representation of humanity... the good, the bad and the ugly. It's raw and of the era but somehow still relates to the general public today. It just goes to show, people are people and though the times may change we all have similar characteristics, traits and vices.