Watching Ray Davies get out of a taxi at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in London and walk across the stage to sing his classic song 'Waterloo Sunset' was a truly defining moment. This was his Gold Medal. This is a man who has influenced modern music considerably. He and his brother Dave invented the rock riff in 'You Really Got Me', Ray has chronicled us English over the years in dozens of songs including 'Sunny Afternoon' and 'Dead End Street'. He invented the rock opera in'Arthur', written a Number One single about a transvestite in 'Lola' and so on. 20 or so hit records, 30 albums and a back catalogue that most modern bands would crawl over broken glass to own.
The Very Best of The Kinks and Ray Davies doesn't include any new material - and it blatantly has been released off the back of his Olympics Finale appearance - but it does provide a window into Ray's and his band's world. It includes nearly all the classic hits plus songs centred around London, his hometown. The order of the songs (apart from those relating to London) are in a strange order - or effectively no order at all. That's disappointing because they could have done hits, London songs and Ray Davies' songs in chronological order.
However, as an introduction to probably one of the most underated bands of all time, it is great value. You get 45 songs for under £10 - half of which are Kinks hits. Some who are new to The Kinks (this album is in the Top 20 as I write this review) may at first find the none hits material difficult to follow - but it's important to persevere. A song like 'Holloway Jail' may sound depressing stuff but the lyrics and mood of the song are very powerful - just needs a few listens. Ray went through a phase where he seemed to lose interest in writing hit singles, so these songs are not so 'catchy' shall we say.
Anyway, if you are new to The Kinks and enjoyed 'Waterloo Sunset' on Sunday night, this is as good an introduction to The Kinks as you will get. Ray - thanks for a moving performance on Sunday night - 'Waterloo Sunset' is not only your finest moment but also the song that defines London so very well.