Why do the Davies brothers do this to Kinks fans?
Periodically, they raise our hopes, then stomp all over them in their vicious Cuban heels.
Ray and Dave Davies have reportedly been in talks about a possible reunion to mark The Kinks’ 50th anniversary. Hallelujah, we cry, but also cautiously elect not to hold our breath.
Just as they seem to be edging toward something like rapprochement, Dave will throw a spanner in the works and Ray will counter that with a wrench. And the 50/50 odds bandied about in the press start to look slimmer by the second.
For one minute Dave is behind the proposal, fanning its flames into a virtual bonfire of expectation, the next he’s pouring cold water all over it and stamping on the embers.
In a positive frame of mind, blossoming in a healthy new relationship with writer Rebecca Wilson, playing gigs on a quite regular basis on the US east coast, Dave reports of his meetings with Ray:
We talked about the old days and maybe doing something next year. I thought to myself, ‘Oh shit, maybe we could do something before we fall down dead.’
This is the first time I’ve known Dave even lend the possibility the least consideration. It seemed to take Ray by surprise too.
But, guess what, things quickly soured when they had their last cup of tea before Dave’s return stateside. Describing his sibling as ‘negative, grumpy and just mean’, Dave interpreted Ray’s changed mood as disapproval of his trip, saying ‘I feel like he was miserable because I’m happy. He’s a really troubled man.’ And went on to recall times when Ray was ‘fucking horrible’ to him in the past. Maybe so but now’s not the time to dredge all that up again.
Many of us believed that Dave’s new relationship would rejuvenate him and rebuild his confidence, along with the American tour. But his sensitivity to Ray’s (real or imagined) criticism sets him immediately back on the defensive.
The younger Davies also underlines the fact that he doesn’t want any other ex-Kinks to be involved. Why not?
Of original drummer Mick Avory, he states bluntly, ‘I hope we don’t bring him back’ before going on to claim:
I love him, but it’s water under the bridge.  We need new people. Sometimes when you’re with the same old people, you get the same old thing.
Um, it’s not a reunion if it’s just Ray and Dave and a bunch of other guys. There are plenty of other ex-Kinks out there, still playing the material. Mick is an original member, for goodness sake.
We not only have the much maligned Mick, but his replacement Bob Henrit, John Dalton, John Gosling, Ian Gibbons, Jim Rodford, all fine musicians with a great track record of involvement in The Kinks.
And surely, the point about a reunion is that you do get the old people back together and at least play some of the same old thing?
The Eagles have understood this, even drafting in original member Bernie Leadon for their latest ‘farewell’ tour, History of the Eagles. Bernie had made his early departure after pouring a beer over Glenn Frey’s head (probably long overdue if you ask me). Randy Meisner was invited too. Okay, Don Felder has yet to make a reappearance this time around. But he was included in the 1994 Hell Freezes Over tour.
The Davies brothers would also look to be at odds regarding new material. Ray is insisting that any reunion should involve new music: ‘As long as there’s something new to go forward with rather than stay in the past, I’m interested.’ But on the subject of making an album together, Dave demurs: ‘I can’t face the concept of days and days in the studio with Ray. I just can’t do it.’ Surely some compromise can be reached?
Ray has taken a gracious path and declined to retaliate, saying Dave’s
a great player. Whenever I write a song, I think of how it could be improved by having him on it, and what his power chords would bring to it. […] I don’t know what next year will bring. Let’s see if he’s polite to me the next time we meet.
Mmm, maybe it would take more than hell freezing over to reunite this amazing band. The brothers are so diametrically opposed to each other that it’s like they’re in different planetary orbits.
A year or so back, any kind of reunion appeared to be out of the question, a remote possibility, a distant dream, with Dave dismissing it out of hand while Ray has always been more open to the idea, once admitting:
I’m still waiting hopefully for the phone call to go back on the road and tour with The Kinks. I tour now, I’ve got a good band who I’ve been with for a few years. But I still carry The Kinks in my mind and Mick Avory is a very good friend of mine. I never say never because suddenly these things will happen.
Sadly, before original bassist Pete Quaife died, The Kinks had been planning to record together again. He’d said:
Ray, Dave, Mick and I are going into Konk Studios this fall. We’re doing a CD of new material. Just the four of us. Just like old times. There’ll be a fight. I can almost guarantee it.
I think the lyrics of the song ‘Hatred’ probably reflect the real current situation as much as any press report.
You and me accept reality
There’s no way we can agree
The world can’t make us alter this position
At least you and I know where we stand
We can’t be friends, walk hand in hand
My hostility for you defies description
Hate’s the only thing we have in common
There’s no escape, we’ll always be this way
So we might as well just learn to live together
‘Cause we’re gonna be this way till our dying day
If you keep on putting me down
Rub my name into the ground
I’ll drag the dirt all over town about you
The reunion didn’t come up at the Purcell Room on the South Bank, where we witnessed Ray in rather awkward conversation with John Wilson, pretty close to Waterloo Bridge and not that long after sunset. Maybe Ray wasn’t that comfortable because on the wrong side of the river but I have the feeling the whole promotional aspect of the situation rendered him a bit sheepish.
Publicising Americana, his latest book, which delves into his relationship with the US and its denizens, necessitates events like this and book signings galore (the queue afterwards was pretty lengthy but very ordered and patient) but I wouldn’t think it’s Ray’s favourite activity.
I attended this rather than a normal book signing because I hoped to hear the promised excerpts from the text. But we only got one, an extremely short one at that, so I was left unresolved as to whether to buy a copy or not.
Along with an interview, we were also treated to a homemade video of some of Ray’s US travels as a solo performer, starting with a 2000 tour beset with transport problems after September 11th and covering his time in New Orleans before and after being shot.
He also touched on the band’s six-year ban from the US, quoting Mick Avory’s pithy rationalisation as to its probable causes , ‘a combination of bad management, bad luck and bad behaviour’.
Ray also responded to some questions from the spectators, who were invited to scribble these out in advance for submission.
Returning to the question of a reunion, though, I guess I can forgive Dave his misgivings. Whereas Ray has maintained friendly relations with his old bandmates, Dave has been somewhat isolated and estranged. No doubt he expects that, if disagreements arise, the others’ loyalty will lie with Ray, which has led to friction in the past.
Testing the barometer of other fans in attendance, it would seem that few hold out any hope that The Kinks will ever reform.
But let’s leave the last words to Dave:
I really do want to do something with Ray before we both decay and decompose. I said to Ray last week, ‘We don’t have much time left.’
Some quotes from Rolling Stone, NME, Uncut and the Daily Star.
For all things Kink on bashful blog so far see https://bashfulbadgersblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/everything-kink-on-bashful-blogs/.
 ‘Water under the bridge’ generally equates to letting bygones be bygones.
 Though both have been playing regularly with the accomplished backing of other bands like The Jigsaw Seen , Bill Shanley and The 88.
 It was on sale for the jacket price of £18.99. It was £15.19 with free delivery from the Waterstones site, £12.72 on Amazon. The cheapskate in me won out and I didn’t make the purchase.
 Dave is currently soliciting crowd funding for a similar film project, The Rock’n’Roll Journey, documenting his own experiences on the road. For details see http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dave-davies-rock-n-roll-journey-film.