1966 was a great year, possibly the greatest year, in British Pop music. The Beatles released 'Revolver', The Rolling Stones released 'Aftermath', The Who released 'A Quick One', and the Kinks released 'Face To Face'. 'Face To Face' is one of the finest albums of the era, and showcases in Ray Davies a songwriter of genuine class and distinction. Ray always moaned that their record label at the time, Pye, never gave the band a real budget to fulfil his recording ambitions, but, in truth, I don't really see how the recordings could have been bettered. By '66, the band had outgrown the riff monster sound of their early 'You Really Got Me' era, and Ray had started in earnest to write his very British songs around the time of 1965's 'The Kink Kontroversy'. On 'Face To Face', Ray turns his acerbic eye on a variety of targets and subject matter, and hits bulleyes all the time. The opener 'Party Line' is a song that couldn't get written now. Who shares a party line in the digital age? It's a rambunctious opener, though, with a typically energetic Dave Davies lead vocal. Elsewhere, 'Too Much On My Mind' is a reference to Ray's nervous breakdown, where he actually had to quit a tour - and came back sporting a moustache (which didn't last very long), but is one of the finest songs about mental illness ever written. 'Rosy Won't You Please Come Home' is a heartfelt plea to Ray's sister, who had emigrated to Australia, but who in the lyric is transposed as having joined "the upper classes". Then there's 'Sunny Afternoon', a UK number 1 the week before England won the World Cup, and one of the greatest songs of the era (check out the promo clip they made on a snowy Hampstead Heath!). The entire album, and the non-album bonus tracks, is a multi-faceted gem of a record that sounds wonderful still, four and a half decades after its inception.