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The Kinks: The Singles Collection

Track List

Album Notes

There's no shortage of Kinks compilations in this world; indeed, counting releases on both sides of the Atlantic, they've existed in profusion since the '70s. But this two-disc version of the Kinks' Singles Collection is special, and all the more so because it almost slipped below the radar, packaged as it was with the same front cover-art as the single-CD version. Everything that was on the latter is on the first CD in this set -- 25 songs from "Long Tall Sally" through "Ape Man," with most of the expected tracks, sounding as good as any vintage Kinks recordings circa 1997 (which is more than acceptable); the producers could have reached out a little further, to influential tracks such as "I Need You" and "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," and perhaps "God's Children" from Percy. But for reach, that's where the second disc -- which really makes this set special -- comes in. The second CD, titled The Songs of Ray Davies: Waterloo Sunset, is a retrospective focusing on Ray Davies as an author and songwriter, intended to accompany a similarly-titled book of his writings that was published around the same time. The CD is something of a concept album in its own right, made up of songs that grew out of various stories, screenplays, and conceptual works written by Davies across the decades. The familiar finished tracks, including "Celluloid Heroes" and "Mr. Pleasant" -- which don't overlap with anything on the first CD -- are interspersed with various demos and alternate mixes, and a killer live version of "Rock and Roll Fantasy" -- but the real highlight is a stunning remix of "Voices in the Dark," a piece originally intended for the title sequence of Return to Waterloo but never used there; the song itself is one of the finest and most hauntingly beautiful ever written by Davies, and is worth the price of admission by itself, with a great beat, a gorgeous chorus ("lonely voices in the dark") and one of Davies' best vocals ever, and overflowing with a gorgeous low-wattage timbre. The notes by Davies himself are a little cryptic at times but nicely personal, and include the kind of details that no annotator would ever include or even approach. Either of these CDs would be essential listening on its own, but paired together they make for a finely concentrated profile of the band and the man, as well as a gorgeous and profound listening experience. The sound quality is just short of excellent, but only by virtue of the passage of time -- a new transfer would tweak it just right, but there's no reason for anyone to complain about this release, and every reason for serious Kinks fans to track it down. ~ Bruce Eder


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