Welcome to 'Daviesland'

By Sergio Ariza

It may be that the Kinks are the least known of the four great bands from the 'British invasion' (Beatles, Stones, Who and themselves), but they are no less important. Something else is chronologically second in the string of six consecutive masterworks that Ray Davies' band released between 1966 and 1971. Continuing with the stylistic change established by Face to face the Kinks continued to distance themselves from American influences and the styles of the period to create something that was both entirely their own and, simultaneously, utterly universal. The promotional note on the record said: Welcome to 'Daviesland' and it could not have been more spot on. 'Daviesland' was a magical place and 100% English in which the small pleasures of tea in the afternoon, cigarettes, lead soldiers or the view from Waterloo station at sunset were glorified.       

Ray Davies is one of the most perfect composers in the history of pop and possibly his most exquisite song can be found on this album: Waterloo sunset. This track can be considered one of Ray's great works, as the music and lyrics go hand in hand to create something unique. Despite being Ray's work the final result benefits from various key collaborations, including the descending bass line of Pete Quaife, who also added the famous "sha la la"; while those magic "ooohs" were the idea of Rasa, Ray's wife, who sings at the same time as Dave and Pete and, lastly, that marvellous guitar by one of the most underrated guitarists in history, Dave Davies. Dave's mythical Flying V has a ‘delay’ effect that recalls the instrumentals of the 1950s and the younger of the Davies brothers plays with the melody of the song to finish off this gem, of which Ray stated "the song could not exist without the marvellous guitar playing of my brother; when that guitar starts something magical happens". Furthermore, besides the jewel in the crown, Ray delivers songs like the vigorous and ironic David Watts, the melancholy bossa nova of No return, a nod to Indian music, as he had already done in See my friends and Fancy, from Lazy old sun, and the incredible story of Situation Vacant, which confirmed Pete Townshend's view that Davies should be named "poet laureate".

But, furthermore, Something else represents that rare case in the discography of the Kinks where the older Davies brother allowed the talent of the younger, Dave, to shine, which here delivers three great songs, among them the splendid Death of a clown, which again benefits from the marvellous backing vocals of Rasa, and which was released under his name as a single, despite being recorded by the group.

Something else
was the first album produced by Ray Davies himself and it represents the moment when the group began its slow commercial decline. This is a real shame as there are few groups that can boast a record of this breadth and quality, and many less, of the incredible creative moment that the group and its leader had in this period. It was a record released just after the Summer of Love but that exists outside any specific epoch; in its own place, a marvellous place in which to contemplate the most melancholy and beautiful sunset in the world.