Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: 'God Save The Kinks: A Biography'


Despite their position at the forefront of British pop, The Kinks have never gotten as much ink as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or The Who. There have been a few slim biographies by Jon Savage, John Mendelssohn (both published way back in the eighties), and Neville Martin & Jeffrey Hudson, one exhaustive day-by-day guide by Doug Hinman, and perhaps most significant of all, landmark autobiographies by Ray and Dave Davies. That’s about it. Recognizing the void, Mojo writer and kultist Rob Jovanovic got to work on his own biography five years ago in an effort to bring The Kink kronikles up to date. It’s likely Jovanovic did not realize that at the same time, his fellow writer Nick Hasted was working on his own Kinks biography with input from Ray, Dave, and drummer Mick Avory and that You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks would beat his book to the shelves by two years. That must have been frustrating, especially since both books cover a lot of the same ground (they even come in at almost the same page count) with the major added bonus of those new interviews with the brothers Davies.

Here’s why God Save The Kinks: A Biography remains a relevant read for Kinks fans: more so than Hasted, Jovanovic looks beyond the core members of the band to explore the experiences of those not named Davies. Naturally, Ray and Dave remain the key players, as they should, and like Hasted, Jovanovic also gets quotes from Avory and bassist Pete Quaife’s brother David. However, we also get primary perspectives from bassist John Dalton, keyboardist John Gosling, and back-up singers Debi Doss and Shirlie Roden, whose contemporary remembrances and period journal entries commandeer the storytelling during The Kinks’ mid-seventies theatrical phase. The rest of the book is good too—a well-written, reasonably thorough blow-by-blow of the Davies’s activities and accomplishments alone and together up to the present day—but it is the expansion of the orbit from the brothers to their extended musical family that makes God Save The Kinks an essential companion volume to You Really Got Me.

Get God Save The Kinks: A Biography at Amazon.com here:

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