This anthology from the Kinks includes material that's drawn from their early work in 1964 on through to 1975. Interestingly, the songs are grouped thematically, with four distinct segments featuring on the 2-CD set. Big hit "You Really Got Me" from '64 opens the first half of CD-1 where the theme is "Songs about becoming a man, the search for adventure, finding an identity and a girl." Band members Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Mick Avory offer new (penned in November 2022) insight for each song with brief commentary in the liner notes. For opening track "You Really Got Me" front man Ray Davies says, "I was playing in an R&B band in Soho and saw this gorgeous girl dancing in the audience. During our break I went into the audience to find her, to tell her about this song I'd just written, but she'd disappeared. I've been looking for her ever since." This segment of CD-1 also contains hits "All Day and All of the Night," "Who'll Be the Next in Line" and "Stop Your Sobbing," famously covered by the Pretenders (Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde was Ray Davies' girlfriend for a few years.) Davies is infatuated with a different girl on 1968's "She's Got Everything," a lesser-known cut that is also the "newest" in this segment.
The theme for the second half of CD-1 is "Songs of ambition achieved, the bitter taste of success, loss of friends, the past comes back and bites you in the rear end." While '60s cuts "Dead End Street," "Wonderboy," "Mindless Child of Motherhood" and, fitting into the "loss of friends" notion, "Do You Remember Walter?" are found here, the segment jumps ahead half a decade for 1975's melancholy reminiscence "Schooldays" and the great, guitar rocking "The Hard Way," a throwback to the "You Really Got Me" sound. CD-1 holds 20 cuts in all.
The first segment on CD-2 has a theme of "Days and nights of a lost soul, songs of regret and reflections of happier times." Standouts include the blues cut "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains," complete with harmonica solo and Howlin' Wolf beat, and hits "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" and the sublime "Sitting in the Midday Sun." The final segment of the compilation focuses on "A new start, a new love, but have you really changed? Still haunted by the quest and the girl." The classic "Waterloo Sunset" opens the segment; also included are "Australia," the jazzy "No More Looking Back," "The Death of a Clown," (actually a Dave Davies solo cut from 1967) and the magnificent pop of "Celluloid Heroes." The Journey - Part 1's 24-song presentation quite fittingly ends in "Shangri-La." It's not the happiest of tunes but in the greater sense fans of the early days of the Kinks will be very happy to meet them there.
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