Liner Note Author: Alec Palao.
The Kinks really weren't like everybody else. Other British Invasion bands kept songs to themselves or, if they did give tunes away, would only pass along the songs, not the bandmembers themselves. The Kinks did both. Ray Davies dabbled in producing records, bringing his band into the studio as support, but he primarily moonlighted as a songwriter, providing tunes for pop idols and studio concoctions. Additionally, Davies' songs were cherry-picked for covers by bands on both sides of the Atlantic, a situation that resulted in a surplus of non-canon Kinks-related tracks, the great majority of which are collected on Ace's 2016 set Kinked! Kinks Songs & Sessions 1964-1971. Like anything involving the Kinks in the '60s, Kinked! doesn't follow a straight path. Blame some of this on the tangled webs woven by the group's managers, publishers, and labels, a situation where potential singles were poached from the group (Herman's Hermits took "Dandy" away from the band in 1966) and covers were issued in other territories before the originals. Some of these covers are quite good -- Duster Bennett provides a cheerful rendition of "Act Nice and Gentle," the Chocolate Watchband underscore the band's deep influence on American garage with "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," the Pretty Things bang through "A House in the Country," providing a verse excised from the Kinks' version -- but the delights in this compilation lie in how it pushes obscurities to the forefront. A couple of these songs are well known to the band's diehards -- Dave Berry's woozy "This Strange Effect" and Peggy Lee's "I Go to Sleep" both circulated on Kinks boots, both are major items in Davies' songbook -- but delights and revelations abound elsewhere. The frenetic beat of the Thoughts' "All Night Stand" qualifies as something of a lost Kinks classic, doo wop group the Olympics pound out "So Mystifying" as if it were a rocker, and Joe Meek gooses the Honeycombs' "Emptiness" into grand melodrama. Then there are the recordings where Ray Davies had a direct hand in the creation: Leapy Lee's "King of the Whole Wide World" swoons in a fashion similar to Face to Face and "Little Man in a Little Box" is a Kinks record where Barry Fantoni takes the lead. Surrounding these recordings are charming also-rans by crooners and pop combos: Nicky Hopkins barreling through "Mister Pleasant," a studio group called Cold Turkey tackling the Percy-era "Nobody's Fool," a boisterous television instrumental and other period ephemera that highlight how the Kinks were second only to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in shaping the sound and sensibility of the '60s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine