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5.0 out of 5 stars
The Kinks' best composite album, 5 April 2005
In his work on sixties music culture, 'Revolution in the Head', Ian McDonald pinpoints the pinnacle of pop as somewhere between 1966-7. Even a cursory look at the album charts around this time will corroborate this. 'Sgt. Pepper' aside, at the top of the list for all those seeking to build the definitive mid-sixties music collection must be this - the Kinks' best album by far. Don't be discouraged by the throwaway title - what lies herein represents the zenith of the Ray Davies output.
Having cast asunder the power pop that defined the early Kinks sound for more considered lyricism, the Kinks left their mark on 1966 with the album Face to Face. Something Else, released in 1967, builds upon its predecessor's championing of the narrative song - songs that offer more than the singer's frustation at not being able to 'be with you all of the time'. Like the denigration of the taxman in 'Sunny Afternoon' on Face to Face, on Something Else the listener is witness to the sardonic envy of David Watts, perfect at everything.
In this way, along with songs like 'Harry Rag' and 'Tin Soldier Man', Ray Davies displays his skill at the creation of caricatures in his songs, a form borrowed by Blur ('Charmless Man', 'Tracey Jacks'), Oasis (She's Electric)and countless other bands.
Even Ray's brother, Dave, is on form here, with the fragile dirge, 'Death of a Clown'. Indeed, it was the creative tension between the two brothers that led Ray to vent his feelings regarding sibling rivalry on the incredible 'Two Sisters'. Another gem on the album is 'Situation Vacant' a tale of a put-upon son-in-law seeking employment, that underlines how what can initially look like mundane subject matter can in fact allow writers to explore universal themes, such as duty, familial ties, and sense of worth.
Ultimately however, albums are rarely bought for any other reason aside from the quality of the songs. Each song on this album is a demonstration of wonderfully-crafted pop. As a consequence, this represents the best example of a Kinks album that works as a whole: more thoughtful than previous efforts, and more consistent than later albums like Village Green.
As an added bonus to the buyer, there is the inclusion of contemporaneous singles - Waterloo Sunset (the best song about London ever, fact), Wonderboy, and the sublime Autumn Almanac - a testament to custom and belonging: "this is my street, and I never want to leave it..." My local town Blackpool even gets a mention. A reference Damon Albarn would also use in 'This is a Low'. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.