The Kinks Live On - And So Does Dave Davies

By Michael Musto

US - September 1980

In the brief history of rock 'n' roll, only a handful of groups stand out as innovators and survivors. The Kinks is one of them. Formed in '64, they've spanned a decade and a half of changes, from their first Top 10 single, "You Really Got Me," to their current smash live album, One for the Road, and the accompanying video film. A raw, quirky, and, yes, kinky sound has been their trademark, but it's been nearly impossible to pin it down over the years.

One thing is certain: It's always been Ray Davies - lead singer/songwriter extraordinaire - who's been the group's figurehead and focal point. But not far behind him has always been Ray's younger brother, Dave, on guitar and vocals. His high-pitched voice and strong guitar flourishes were always an invaluable (if underestimated) element of the Kinks' success.

Now, at 33, the guitarist has stepped out of the shadows with a solo album, Dave Davies, that's not so much an attempt to right any past wrongs as to extend himself into the future. "I feel I have an important role to play in the band, and probably I did feel I could be doing a bit more," he says.

Davies can barely remember not being musical. His parents gave him money to buy his first electric guitar when he was 11 - they figured he'd fight less with his guitar-playing brother if he had his own. When the two brothers teamed with bassist Pete Quaife, the nucleus of the Kinks was formed.

Dave was all of 15. But from then on it was a gradual ride to the upper echelons of rock music, with unusual stops for their ecology LP, their album titled Arthur (or The Decline & Fall of the British Empire), and their hit song about a transvestite named "Lola."

Along with the ups and downs of the group ("That's probably what helped keep us together," he says) has come personal growth for the Davies brothers. "Our relationship changes every six months. We're different personalities every so often, and the relationship varies greatly from one notch to the next."

Dave's solo album is a conglomeration of familiar Kinks sounds, but personalized with his own pop and hard rock variations. "I think it'd be a bit strange if it was a slice or an extension of a Kinks album."

It's not. What makes it different, basically, is Davies' high-pitched wail of a voice, which he makes even higher by singing at the top of his range. You use what equipment you've got, don't you?" he laughs. "I've always admired the black blues singers who sang at the top of their ranges. It adds to the emotion. And I think it's worked as an advantage for me with the Kinks because we've gotten some interesting harmony effects." When told that few male singers sound like he does, he says as a joke, "Well. I could have the operation, dear, but ... " then breaks into a hearty laugh.

Davies currently lives In London, but he's on the road so much that he rarely gets home. In his free time, he likes to "read, get drunk, go to the movies, have a slice of pizza - that's enough."

Will Dave Davies and the Kinks (who are just completing a US tour) go on indefinitely? "Oh God," he stammers. "Don't say that! I don't really think about It. We're enjoying quite a good year this year. So itís 'Just get over a year at a time.' You know?"

By Michael Musto - US, September 1980

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