The Kinks

Songs of the Semi-Detached

Mark Doyle

The Kinks

Mark Doyle

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 40 halftones | 5 3/4 x 8 1/4
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9781789142303 Published April 2020 For sale in North and South America only
E-book $16.00 ISBN: 9781789142549 Will Publish April 2020 For sale in North and South America only
Of all the great British rock bands to emerge from the 1960s, none had a stronger sense of place than the Kinks. Often described as the archetypal English band, they were above all a quintessentially working-class band with a deep attachment to London, particularly the patch of suburban North London where most of the members grew up. In this illuminating study, Mark Doyle examines the relationship between the Kinks and their city, from their early songs of teenage rebellion to their later album-length works of social criticism, providing a unique perspective on the way in which the band responded to the shifting nature of working-class life. Along the way, he finds fascinating and sometimes surprising connections with figures as diverse as Edmund Burke, John Clare, Charles Dickens, and the Covent Garden Community Association. More than just a book about the Kinks, this is a book about a city, a nation, and a social class undergoing a series of profound, sometimes troubling changes—and about a group of young men who found a way to describe, lament, and occasionally even celebrate those changes through song.
Contents
Introduction: A Face in the Crowd 1 The North London Post-war Affluent Society Blues 2 The Kinks vs Swinging London 3 Ready, Steady, Stop! (or, Rock Music as Historic Preservation) 4 The Glory of Being Boring 5 Muswell Hillbillies vs Big Brother Epilogue References Select Bibliography Select Discography Acknowledgements Photo Acknowledgements Index
Review Quotes
Library Journal
"With this brief, insightful volume, Doyle reveals a new angle, what he calls 'historically informed rock criticism.' . . . By studying The Kinks' output in the context of the spheres in which they operated, Doyle creates an almost sociological portrait of the group's values, city, and views on the music industry. . . . This thoughtfully researched book will be best appreciated by true fans of the band, as well as devotees of 1960s rock and pop."
Shindig!
"As a piece of rock criticism this is a masterful text, and as an examination of social change in twentieth-century Blighty, it is as illuminating as it’s possible to get. Doyle unravels The Kinks’ relationship to working class England in a variety of ways, casting a light on Ray Davies’s genius for creating immediately identifiable characters as vehicles for social commentary. Doyle’s insights into the subject matter of Davies’s lyrics are particularly illuminating, with the deliberate ambiguity of meaning in his composition a vital factor in their enduring appeal. That half-smile may have lent a clue, but Davies’s veering between sneering hipster and Victorian Romantic meant that one was never sure that all was what it seemed. Davies’s own love affair with London and its people is brought to life through the author’s exhaustive research and his commensurate skill in both contextualizing the songs and celebrating the ‘apartness’ of their creator. A compelling read for anyone even remotely interested in the band and its music.”
David Smay, author of "Swordfishtrombones" (33 1/3) and coeditor of "Lost in the Grooves"
"This is the kind of critical work I love best: cogent, insightful, well-written, a bit quixotic, and showing a complete mastery of the subject. Doyle brings something else entirely to the growing library of Kinks histories and memoirs. Just as Dave Davies provided the sonic architecture for entire genres of rock, Ray's songwriting established him as the quintessential London chronicler of the twentieth century. The Kinks are well worthy of this deeply researched book, delivered with analytical rigor and wit."
Literary Review
"Doyle finds the world of postwar Britain, rapidly changing yet also nostalgic, endlessly fascinating. He sees class and social attitudes through the eyes of an outside observer, and places Davies in the company of Betjeman, Auden, and Larkin as a chronicler of suburbia. . . . The Kinks is thoughtful and readable."
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