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The Kinks: The Anthology 1964-1971

Album Notes

There was a time when the Kinks had no box sets to their name, but that ended in 2008 when the career-spanning Picture Book appeared. Six years later, there have been two limited-edition boxes -- 2011's The Kinks in Mono, which rounded up CD mono replications of their '60s LPs for Pye, plus 2012's The Kinks at the BBC -- and a host of deluxe editions and other compilations that may wind up dampening the appetite for the five-disc The Anthology 1964-1971, a deep dive into the group's '60s peak. After this steady stream of reissues, it's hard for some Kinks diehards not to cast a wary eye on The Anthology, but this is an exceptional set that eclipses any previous Kinks box. A large part of the success of The Anthology 1964-1971 is due to its tight focus on the Pye years. Such specificity allows for the inclusion of plenty of interesting alternate mixes and studio excerpts -- tracks that appear at first glance to be nothing more than collector bait but don't play that way in context -- but the greater gift of this limited scale is that it allows compiler Andrew Sandoval go into detail as he traces a dramatic arc from the Kinks' raucous early rock & roll through their ornate middle period and ending with Ray Davies' groundbreaking conceptual work of the late '60s. The Anthology takes its time. It takes eight songs to get to "You Really Got Me," which is enough for that galvanizing opening riff, which has been dulled a bit through repetition, to regain its edge. Elsewhere, there are similar nifty tricks of sequencing, particularly as Ray's songwriting starts to come into focus on the second disc, and once the third disc kicks off with "Sunny Afternoon," there is no end to the riches to be heard. This run is one of the greatest in pop music history and it sounds even better here thanks to the inclusion of songs that were scuttled off to B-sides or bootlegs but are firmly part of the Kinks canon ("Good Luck Charm," "Misty Water," "Creeping Jean," "Berkeley Mews," "Where Did My Spring Go," "Lincoln County," "This Man He Weeps Tonight"). Add to this alternate mixes that have some serious kick and original single mixes for the big hits, and it becomes clear that this is the Kinks box that rises above all the others. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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