The Kinks Hit 50, Announce Brand New Box Set

Chris Lockie
By Chris Lockie Last edited 54 months ago
The Kinks Hit 50, Announce Brand New Box Set

Image courtesy of Jean-Luc Ourlin via Flickr

This week marks 50 years since The Kinks' first number one single (51 years since they formed, but fame is what counts nowadays), and considering their association with the city, Londonist couldn't let that go without a mention. As it happens, the band are to use this poignant anniversary to peddle a new box set in a couple of months. But though that would generally lead to accusations of dead-horse flogging, this is The Kinks we're talking about, so off they must be let.

Titled 'The Anthology 1964-1971', said box set will contain five discs of material from the band's classic '60s and '70s oeuvre, as well as rare demos, previously unreleased tracks, session outtakes and alternate mixes — because there's a certain mindset that afflicts some people whereby they need to hear every version of every song by a band, even though it almost always turns out that the original version was best.

That said, You Really Got Me, released in September 1964, will only be in the box set in single form. And by gum, it's still a bloody good song a full half a century later. However, it is very well known and we thought we'd pay our cheeky tribute to north London's finest with a few of their tracks named after places in London.

Berkeley Mews

Meeting a girl for the first time in Marylebone clearly had such an effect on Ray Davies that he wrote a song about it. Berkeley Mews is just off Seymour Street and is where Ray "brewed another cuppa up, and tried to sneak out early in the morning". Quite the romantic. You can find this track on various Kinks compilations; it first surfaced as a b-side to their famous single Lola.

Willesden Green

First cropping up on the soundtrack of the British comedy film Percy, this is one of the few love letters you will find to a largely unheralded but actually very pleasant part of north-west London. "Well I tried to settle down Fulham Broadway, And I tried to make my home in Golders Green, But I gotta get that train, And go back home again, Oh how I miss the folks back home in Willesden Green". It's all right Ray, it's just up the Jubilee line.

Denmark Street

That most famous of musical thoroughfares, to which the Kinks paid their dues on 1970's Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One album. The general air of chaos on Denmark Street at the time was summed up nicely here: "You go to a publisher and play him your song, He says 'I hate your music and your hair is too long, But I'll sign you up because I'd hate to be wrong'".

Holloway Jail

Frank Simes is an American music producer who was 15 years old when this track appeared on the Kinks' thoroughly London Muswell Hillbillies album, in 1971. Quite how he ended up leading a lady into a life of crime and subsequently into Holloway Prison is anyone's guess, but there are no other Frankie Simes we can find that Ray might be referring to. Frankie came home late from work one evening with the C.I.D. hot on his trail. He promised everything, but then he went and turned her in. She went and took the rap for him, now she's impaled in Holloway jail. That'll teach her.

Lavender Hill

"Wish I could live on sugar and milk, Then I could live on Lavender Hill." Not for very long with a diet like that you won't. The hardest of these songs to track down, Lavender Hill appeared on The Great Lost Kinks Album of 1973, a set of tracks released to make a few bob by Reprise Records after the Kinks had moved to RCA. A number of the songs from that record will appear in the box set; completists rejoice.

Muswell Hillbilly

The final track of the album many regard as the Kinks' finest talks of a 'Muswell Hillbilly boy' whose 'heart lies in Old West Virginia', which seems a bit ungrateful to the most famous area of north London not to have a tube station. The photo on the cover of the album was shot in the Archway Tavern, which is now home to the itinerant Intrepid Fox rock pub. It might not be the Clissold Arms, but it'll do.

Waterloo Sunset

What else could we end with? No really, what else — tell us in the comments below. But this is one of the classic Kinks tracks you'll no doubt find on the forthcoming box set, with its tale of "Millions of people swarming like flies 'round Waterloo underground". Taken from their fifth album, Something Else by The Kinks from 1967, it's a slice of perfect pop.

London in their bones. Happy 50th fame-iversary, chaps.

Last Updated 12 September 2014