How Ray Davies made it through is anyone's guess. He fought constantly with his brother and bandmate Dave. He received not a penny of royalties throughout the Kinks' late-1960s heyday, due to a management dispute. He endured two divorces--the first of which saw him hospitalised in a suspected suicide attempt--and a painful break-up with Chrissie Hynde. Under terrible stress, he announced his retirement every six months from 1967 onwards. Yet somehow he held together one of the 60s' most stylish outfits, and released a string of hits that rank among the wittiest, most provocative and most socially aware songs ever written.
The first disc of the two-CD The Ultimate Collection begins with their third single and first No. 1, the insistent "You Really Got Me", then races through the glory years with the absurdly infectious likes of "Sunny Afternoon", "Waterloo Sunset", "Lola" and "Apeman". Dave's two hits are included, too, and the disc ends with "Come Dancing" and other selections from The Kinks' early-80s comeback. Disc Two includes songs that were hits for others ("David Watts" and "Stop Your Sobbing"), various B-sides and other rarities, including "God's Children", from the soundtrack of Percy, a movie about a fellow seeking the original owner of his recently transplanted penis. The Ultimate Collection is an excellent addition to the Kinks's cannon. --Dominic Wills