NICK HASTED – The Story of the Kinks: You Really Got Me
Over the course of four decades, The Kinks left a trail of chaos, nervous breakdowns, emotional meltdowns, ex-wives, children, sibling squabbles, overblown egos, fist fights, trashed hotel rooms, scummy managers, and a canon of great rock music behind them. The band was always on the brink of disaster and even seemed to thrive on it from time to time. As Hasted points out, there was always some kind of catastrophe waiting just around the corner and a lot of the time the band actually sabotaged themselves. In that sense, they were utterly self-destructive before that became the norm for huge rock bands and artists. The Kinks wrecked themselves before anyone else did and if you think the 70s and 80s were tough on a lot of outfits, you need to check this book out. These guys were living it in the 60s!
What I personally found highly interesting and illuminating were the chapters on the brothers’ childhood years and upbringing and how those influenced and continue to influence them. Another high point of the book are those chapters that analyse the less than gloroius years in the 70s and 80s where The Kinks were lost in a no man’s land at times, creatively and personally. The fraught relationship between Ray and Dave Davies is one thing, but the ways in which each individual member of the band as well as the band as a whole unraveled time and time again is both heartbreaking and thought-provoking to read about. The importance of home (Muswell Hill, London) and their love for it is also extremely touching to hear about and there were a number of occasions where I simply had to stop reading for a few minutes just to let it all sink in. There is this sense of longing and loneliness present whenever the discussion revolves around the Davies brothers and The Kinks. There is also plenty of drama within these pages yet it is luckily devoid of sensationalism. The book is just as much a critique of the band as it is of praise for them. In-depth and candid interviews that are both revealing and insightful add a lot of different and fascinating perspectives to the saga of The Kinks and its troubled members. Mick Avory, Chrissie Hynde, Wim Wenders, Julien Temple, and Tom Robinson are all featured and offer their thoughts on the band. Like I said earlier on, Hasted offers a balanced point of view where positives and negatives are locked in constant battle. Nothing was ever easy or all-out pleasant when it came to The Kinks as this book perfectly illustrates.
Comprehensive, detailed, and thoroughly researched, The Story of the Kinks: You Really Got Me is a vibrant and moving portrait of an innovative band that revolutionized rock music and a reflective account of its members and their numerous trials and tribulations. This is a most satisfying read and without doubt the most compelling biography on one of the greatest British groups I have ever come across. What Hasted has achieved here is praiseworthy and exceptional. I strongly doubt that even a trained psychiatrist would be able to penetrate the countless layers, problems, and issues surrounding the Davies brothers and their musical careers as well as their personal lives. The Story of the Kinks: You Really Got Me is the closest you will ever get to understanding the enduring mystery that is The Kinks and why they appeal to us despite their dark and morose nature.