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.
'Face To Face' is sometimes acknowledged as a Kinks classic yet i believe overall it's a rather average album which is well below the standards set by the Kinks contempories (for example The Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan) in that same time period (1966) both in songwriting, use of instumentation and production. However, there are indications on a number of tracks that the Kinks were really advancing lyrically and occasionally musically with a sustained english flavour to many of their songs in addition to an occasional use of unusual instruments like the harpsicord.
'Rosie Won't You Please Come Home' is an autobiographical song which relates to Ray and Dave's sister's emigration to Australia and has some aristocratic references alongside some inspired use of the harpsicord and a bass refrain which so effectively runs in unison with Ray's vocal. This song alongside the popular single 'Sunny Afternoon' and the Herman's Hermits covered 'Dandy' are as enjoyable as any song from that era in addition to being occasionally inspiring in their use of instrumentation. 'Party Line', 'Too Much On My Mind' and 'Rainy Day In June' aren't too far behind.
However, many of the other tracks are mainly pretty uninspiring which often amount to little more than filler (A House In The Country', 'You're Looking Fine' etc).
There are a number of bonus tracks to this edition of 'Face To Face', however, which in the main are far stronger than many of the album's original tracks. 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else', 'Dead End Street' and 'Mr Pleasant' are truly outstanding and make up a little for some of the filler tracks.
Generally 'Face To Face' has a number of fine moments that find the Kinks achieving greatness yet these moments fail to be sustained long enough to make 'Face To Face' stand as a great album in its own right. However, the Kinks best moments here are as essential as anything in the Kinks catalogue and with the addition of the bonus tracks 'Face To Face' becomes a highly desirable Kinks purchase.
Worth 3.5 stars.
on 2 September 2006
After a couple of years of singles chart succsess, Ray Davis longed for a change in direction in The Kinks sound, and this album is where he honed his song writing into what was to become one of the most respected in pop history. Gone are the rip roaring hard rock riffs of singles such as "You Really Got Me", this album supplies the listener with a mostly acoustic guitar driven sound, where the emphasis is on the lyrics rather than the music. But thankfully the music doesn't suffer. It's as enguaging as ever, with clever melodies interwoven through out. Unlike the album cover suggests, the tracks are not particulary pyschedelic. Most have dark content (well for the 60's anyway) such as "Rainy Day In June", which starts off with a thunderclap and then proceeds to discribe a sunny day turning grey. However the best track on the album is of course "Sunny Afternoon".
It's hard to see why this album didn't sell. Perhapse it is down to the sub-par production, or the aquired taste of Ray Davis' singing, or the fact that it came out around the same time as The Beatles fantastic "Revolver", but still this is a must buy for music fans.
on 31 July 2013
The first major turning point in The Kinks' career. Although it starts with a song (Party Line) typical of their initial R 'n' B-orientated albums, it soon becomes clear that the LP is largely in the more thoughtful lyric-driven style Ray Davies had exhibited on the older singles A Well Respected Man and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion. There's deeply personal songs such as Rosie Won't You Please Come Home and Too Much On My Mind (about Ray Davies' sister migrating to Australia and his 1966 nervous breakdown, respectively) and satirical songs such as Session Man and Sunny Afternoon. With some of their all-time greatest lyrics, this is one of The Kinks' best albums of the '60s.
on 14 February 2005
After 40 years of listening to the Kinks, it's a little weird to see someone write that they were trying to fit in --- conform. Their first three albums were just like every other UK beat group, here they began to veer to the left.
This is the Kinks fourth LP. It is, arguably, one of the first albums where Ray had truly hit his stride in writing ideosyncratic lyrics dealing with things truly British.
This album and Something Else are probably the B est Kinks LPs in the Pye period. This record is highly recommended, a must buy.
The Kinks contemporaries in 1966 were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. The Beatles did Revolver in 1966, the Rolling Stones did Aftermath, and the Who did A Quick One.
Dead End Street dealt with the hopelessness of the lower class in the UK, Big Black Smoke was Ray's take on London, Dandy was a satire about Carnaby Street (Roger Daltry or Dave Davies might have been the target of this barb), Session Man (was this about Jimmy Page); all these were quintessentially and insularly British. They weren't copying the Beatles, Stones or the Who; if they were, they would have been a whole lot more successful.
1. Party Line - One of my favorites, Ray wailing about sharing his phone line with his neighbors. Who else would write about this stuff?
2. Rosie Won't You Please Come Home - Ray's sister had just emigrated to Australia, Ray's lament gets across his heartbreak in a totally unique song.
3. Dandy - Roger Daltrey was really pissed off about this one, but methinks it was really about Dave, Ray's brother.
4. Too Much on My Mind
5. Session Man - Jimmy Page did You Really Got Me? No bleeding way!
6. Rainy Day in June - Sitting in a hotel writing lyrics, poignant and lyrical.
13. Sunny Afternoon - One of the most beautiful songs in UK history!
15. I'm Not Like Everybody Else [*] - A lcassic covered by nearly every US garage band!
16. Dead End Street [*] - The hopelessness of the British lower class, an clever attack on the class structure, arranged as a cartoon
17. Big Black Smoke [*] - London town
18. Mister Pleasant [*] - Mr Middle Class
on 26 May 2009
Released in 1966 on Pye Records, and produced by the great Shel Talmy, Face to Face by The Kinks represents a breakthrough for their output. Moving from the R&B roots that had been such a successful formula for the previous three years, the band moved to a more thought provoking and impeccable social commentary. It also saw the emergence of Ray Davies as the creative force for the band.
The album starts with the only Dave Davies assisted song on the original LP; Party Line is a fine opener and is not a bad contribution from one of the most under appreciated songwriters of the sixties. The next highlight on the album is Dandy, the tale of a Casanova like character who ages through the song only to find that time has caught up with him by the end, like so many Ray Davies songs it's amazingly bitchy but so catchy it's untrue.
There are also some very quaint under stated songs that do not do any harm to this album, Little Miss Queen of Darkness, Rosie Wont You Please Come Home and Fancy are gorgeous little numbers, not to mention the Dave Davies meets Benny Goodman effort of Holiday in Waikiki, marvellous stuff.
I had almost forgotten about the crowning glory of this record, the mighty tale of deprivation and misery; Sunny Afternoon is track thirteen, and after so many plays in life, it is easy to overlook the merits of this song. But let's just be honest and say that this is one of the finest songs ever written.
In modern times, the album has been reissued to include some of the other Kink highlights from 1966, which didn't quite make the original cut. These include the brilliant singles Mr Pleasant and Dead End Street, both of which show the real nature of Ray Davies' observational and it could be said "bitchy" writing style, quaint but at the same time literally scathing. There is also a song added which was written by Ray and performed by Dave, it is one of my favourite Kinks' songs; I'm Not Like Everybody Else is the original two fingers record and is unremorseful for being so.
If The Kink Kontroversy was a fitting way to draw a line under The Kinks' R&B period, then Face to Face was a splendid way to introduce the world to their new style of output. Face to Face puts any previous Kinks' album in the shade when it came to quality of writing and social commentary. It can be said that without this album, two years later The Kinks could not have ever conceived the idea of The Village Green Preservation Society, and although it is not as good as the greatest album ever made, it does have its moments, a belting little album that fits very nicely into the classic category. A Must
on 14 April 2005
Some folks say the Kinks created the 'concept album' on Face To Face: there's a unity to the sound of the album, every song is is an original, and nearly every song is a wry take on some aspect life in Mod mid-60'S England. Of course it doesn't matter if it's a 'concept album' or not, the main thing is it's great music and an essential purchase for any Kinks fan. It was their strongest album to date when it was released in 1966, and it still holds up about four decades on, even with the harpsichord, songs about elves and gnomes, and thunderstorm sound effects.
Many of Ray Davies best efforts are on display: 'Dandy', 'Too Much On My Mind', the Indian flavored 'Fancy', that song about the elves 'Rainy Day in June' and its complement, the eternal hit single 'Sunny Afternoon'. As with most Kinks albums, at least until the 70's, no HARD rock numbers here, but plenty of medium to light ones, full of the kind of melodies and ironic lyrics that reached maturity on "Something Else" and "Village Green".
Remastered ( in the original mono ) and with excellent bonus cuts that include the brilliant "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" and "Mr. Pleasant". Get it quick before it goes out of print yet again.
on 7 August 2013
The Kinks is one of the best British groups of all time, together with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. For me "Face To Face" is their best album, especially with the bonus tracks. Songs like "Sunny Afternoon", "Dead End Street", "Dandy", "I'll Remember", "Mister Pleasant" etc. are brilliant! "Face To Face" was released in the same year as The Beatles' "Revolver" and "The Rolling Stones' "Aftermath", so it was a very good year for music. This CD is highly recommended to all lovers of the 60's music!
on 17 November 2014
Have owned this on vinyl for 48 years! Amazingly its still sounds fresh today, with much of the angst of society's darker side and worries about money still relevant today. Because my sisters liked The Beatles and The Stones I decided to favour the Kinks. I think I made the right choice. This is their best and easily my choice for a desert island disk.
As my vinyl is now somewhat distressed I've ordered the super douper de-luxe CD version.
on 14 September 2012
It is difficult to select one album from my ever favorite band, but if I was forced to, it would have to be this.Some of the greatest songs ever writen are here and most of all you will encounter the unique feeling Ray Davies and his company generate about a better world deep down in our hearts,in sunny afternoons, too much on our minds, lost homes and endless holidays. Perhaps my favorite album of all time!