‘And always by your brother’s side’: Mick says they’ll have to knock their heads together.

A Kinks reunion is ‘as close as it’s ever been to happening’. That’s from the mouth of Ray Davies in a recent interview. Maybe I was unduly pessimistic about the prospects in my last blog post on the subject. Perhaps 2014 is the year it could come to pass, with everyone prepared to patch up their differences for the fiftieth anniversary of their breakthrough in 1964.[1]

For it looks like the rumour mill has ratcheted up another notch and all parties sound increasingly positive about the possibility of reuniting.

Of course the main bugbear threatening the enticing proposition is the rather intense version of sibling rivalry between brothers Ray and Dave Davies, which at times seems to border on the homicidal. Ray is rumoured to have once stabbed his younger brother in the chest with a fork for stealing one of his chips in a restaurant, after all.[2]

Ray in a documentary avowed that he would do anything to help Dave but would never let him know that fact in case he took advantage. The German Boy by Patricia Wastvedt explores a similarly conflictual sibling relationship between sisters Elizabeth and Karen: ‘She [Elizabeth] would fight anyone to save Karen from being hurt and in the same moment could want to punch her.’[3]


‘So take a drive with me’: will Ray be behind the wheel?

And Dave knows that Ray loves him and believes his brother to be a compassionate soul, whose compassion simply doesn’t extend to him. While I can imagine Dave’s more impulsive responses and wilder behaviours, together with his tendency to attack his brother in interview, are a source of constant infuriation for Ray. In a quote from the same book:

They have never said they love each other in all their lives, and what they are to each other is so embedded that Elizabeth can’t feel it, any more than she can feel her own bones and blood. … The edginess between them tips one way into closeness and the other into fury.

First Kinks bassist Pete Quaife, who sadly succumbed to kidney failure in 2010, offers some insights into the potential difficulties in a 1998 interview.[4] When asked if Ray encouraged original material from him or Dave, he retorts:

Are you kidding? I would have been squashed with a size 16 boot if I had have even suggested they listen to a new idea from me! Ray wanted complete control of everything. He was a control freak. As for Dave, well, I think Ray felt obligated to listen to his ideas a little more because he was blood. But Ray sure as hell didn’t encourage it from Dave either.


‘Hold my hand, it’s gonna be all right’: Dave may need some assurances.

And he believed Dave was unnecessarily insecure about his songwriting capabilities, especially compared to Ray. He didn’t need to emulate his brother – they would always have completely divergent approaches to their craft, Dave’s being more instinctual and natural. Pete’s of the opinion that Dave ‘felt he would never be as good a musician as Ray was. That’s funny, considering he was always a much better guitar player than Ray.’[5]

Pete often acted as a peacekeeper, trying to calm things down before fists started to fly, whether between Ray and Dave or between the latter and drummer Mick Avory. And, asked what he would change if they could do it all over, he wishes, ‘That we’d put all the altercations and abuse out the window’.

But the competition, friction and tension could also be in part what fuelled the creative energy of the band. The Kinks could never be bland and complacent because, at war with each other, they were also constantly fighting for their place in the music industry.

As Ray says at the beginning of this exhilarating performance of ‘I’m Not like Everybody Else’, memorably featured in a Sopranos episode:

I like this song very much. It kind of sums up everything that we’re about, The Kinks. Because everybody’s expecting us to do wonderful things and we mess it all up usually.[6]

Live versions of Kinks songs like this were often totally different animals from the studio tracks, mainly thanks to Dave’s virtuosity on his instrument. As Ray concedes,

There are certain bands that can thrash out chords but no one has that edge that Dave has. It’s totally self-taught and it’s brilliant.

The sheer indifference of a British music press who obviously considered the band redundant is confronted with good humour by Ray in ‘The Road’ in the couplet

 And still all the critics keep saying
’Are they still around? When they gonna stop?’

It’s true in many ways – it’s a wonder they lasted as long as they did, what with the infighting and the battle to survive and stay relevant, right up to 1996 in some form or another. Ray explains this longevity, insisting that he’s most at home within the confines of a group:

If I was left to my own devices … I think I would have really truly disappeared up part of my anatomy because I do think too much … I miss being in a band. I was in a band for so long, years and years, decades.


‘All of my friends were there’: Dave holds onto Pete and Ray leans on Mick in the original quartet.

Dave is currently playing regular gigs in the US with The Jigsaw Seen. But there’s evidently communication between the brothers about the potential for a reunion. Even Mick, who Dave at first didn’t want to be included, is now being called upon to comment,[7] so let’s hope the younger Davies has reconsidered his initial moratorium on the faithful sticksman.

Dave has said, ‘It’d be a great shame if we don’t try and do something.’ But what was the one thing that had to happen before the spiritually inclined sibling would consider a reunion? The thing that he couldn’t do, that someone else had to, presumably Ray, the thing that’s referred to at the end of the Do It Again film. Now film-maker Geoff Edgers knows what it is; Dave knows what it is; but does Ray know what it is? And does anyone else have the faintest idea? Very intriguing. Has it happened now? Or doesn’t it matter any more?

I reckon the success of this venture will largely depend on Ray relinquishing control and recognising Dave’s right to be a partner in all decisions. The balance of power has shifted somewhat and both guys are equally vital to the project. It will also require wholehearted commitment from all parties. As Dave says in Jon Savage’s official biography of the band, ‘I don’t really function at my best unless I can put my whole heart and soul into what I’m doing.’

I’d like to think they could be reconciled enough for something great to come out of negotiations, that they could be as mature and enlightened as the characters in the bittersweet ‘The Informer’:

Isn’t it strange meeting you here
Two old friends
Just sitting down quietly drinking a beer
But knowing your past the way that I do
After all this time I’m surprised
You’d even come to this rendezvous

And that their rendezvous results in something amazing for all The Kinks fans who’ve kept the faith for so many years.

[1] Their first two singles that year, ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘You Still Want Me’, were followed by ‘You Really Got Me’, which hit number one. And let’s remember what Dave said about that first smash: ‘It’s not about wining and dining or middle class behaviour; it’s about ”I like you, I want to fuck you.” ’

[2] There could have been  extenuating circumstances here, of course. Like how good were the chips and how many did Ray have left?

[3] I’m sure many of us feel this way about our siblings much of the time.

[4] Full interview available at http://www.kindakinks.net/misc/quaife/.

[5] But Pete was always a Dave supporter, remembering that ‘Working with Dave was always a pleasure. He never tried to do it all himself, he always asked for advice from all of us.’

[6] And this amazing song was originally a B side. This version, with its electrifying guitar,  is on the live To the Bone album recorded at Konk.

[7] ‘We’d have to knock our heads together and rehearse if we meant to do it properly.’

Lyrics from kindakinks.


11 responses »

  1. As ever, an informative, thoughtful piece of writing, dear Bashful. In re this sibling rivalry: I should like to think that they’d both just be freakin’ TIRED *of* the public/private rivalry game and just agree to disagree or simply accept each other as he is—celebrate 100% the other’s UNIQUE personality (including their respective “warts” which we know they BOTH have) and agree NOT to retaliate when/if the other screws up after promising not to. Life is short: people can die in car accidents, plane trips, etc., family should never be estranged; it takes WORK but it’s well worth it. I posted on my Facebook “Wall” yesterday that one of my “dream tours” for Summer of 2014 would be a reunited Bros. Davies Kinks, with The Pretenders opening for them. They’d have a *tremendous response* I believe; a lot of different fan age groups from different eras over the past 50 years.

    • Thanks, Maria. I know when you have a difficult sibling relationship it is very hard to acknowledge any faults on your own side. It’s much easier to think it’s all down to the other person. In fact, I’m counselling reconciliation for the Davies brothers when my own attempts at this fail every single time. Great idea re. tour – but would Pretenders want to open for them?

  2. Frank Lima says:

    a live reunion is probably not in the kards, a possible 50th anniversary celebration reunion CD of a few new songs from both each Ray & Dave is though, but anything can happen and things could change…either way both Ray & Dave have given us their best over the last 50 years and every fan should be happy and content with that and what they already gave us, should they choose to give us more together that will be great too as long as they treat their past and legacy with respect because their music was, is and always will be far to important to not to, it would be a sad day not only in KinKs history but in the history of rock and roll if a supposed KinKs reunion ever got tagged or called and ” oldies ” reunion, the KinKs never were and never will be like everybody else – no matter what happens though I will be there to support them as I have done for the past 50 years and always look forward to the solo shows and careers of both Ray & Dave to this very day!

    • Thanks for comment, Frank. Well, I guess whatever our hopes may be, we’ll have to be content with what they give us. I wouldn’t like it to branded an oldies reunion either. That kind of tag cheapens and pigeonholes it, negating its importance. You’re undoubtedly a dedicated follower and I agree the guys are under no obligation to give the people what they want, only pursue the best course to preserve their sanity. But they will keep giving us tantalising hints …

    • walterremembered says:

      Enough material for 2 new Kinks albums is already written and recorded. Ray, revealed that in an interview recently for Finland TV/Radio (you can see the interview on youtube). Ray also said that Dave has written several songs for a new Kinks album,

      Ray told the interviewer that a Kinks album would mean that he would need to devote a lot of time to the Kinks. He told the interviewer that he has not yet decided if he wants to devote that time!

      Meanwhile I guess Ray is already contracted for his next solo Americana album. That deal may also involve him in an agreement to tour.

      So a Kinks reunion appears to be clearly now up to Ray as to whether he wants to devote the time needed for a Kinks reunion.

      • Thanks, Walter. I knew Ray had enough material for a solo album but hadn’t seen that interview and didn’t know he’d been writing material specifically for the Kinks too.

      • walterremembered says:

        bashfulbadger,check out the last 2 minutes of the interview Ray did for Finnish TV – it is on youtube. These are songs that are not finished from previous Kinks albums

        I do understand that if the Kinks reform Ray may need to devote a lot of time. Do they have a manager, a recording contract, etc?

  3. Marie Vernay says:

    Thank you for this excellently written post which says it all in a nutshell (as usual). How wonderful that Ray and Dave appear to be finding some common ground again and that it looks as if Mick will be in on the act (what a shame if he were excluded – such a faithful member and an integral part of the Kinks genetical makeup). And Dave’s recent Facebook comment that he had spent a lovely evening with ‘my Ray’ over New Year was touching. Time is moving fast and you get the feeling that it’s now or never. I only hope they come to Paris so that I get to see them. I am still discovering all of their work (savouring it bit by bit) and it never fails to light up my day. Even my children (7 and 13) go around singing lesser-known songs like ‘Phenomenal Cat’ and ‘Skin and Bone’. Ray, Dave, Mick: if you read this – there is a lot of love for you out here and the fact that you are showing some kind of ‘love’ for each other is heart-warming (whether or not a reunion actually happens – oh, and if I were you, I wouldn’t bother with the Pretenders).

    • Thanks, Marie. Yes, maybe the main thing is that they’re talking and getting on. It has to bode better than constant sniping and undermining anyway. I hope that if a live reunion does evolve, it comes your way too. And they have so many US fans, often far more loyal than the Brits, that I hope it includes the States too.

  4. Frank Lima says:

    I know all that ( what was said above ) and a lot more too that I can not discuss, all I can and will say there is a lot more to what is really going on than actually being sad to ” the media “; to quote a Ray Davies song ” Only time will tell ” – if you are a real fan and supporter of the KinKs, Ray & Dave then you should only want for them to do what is best for them, what is going to make them happy, and hopefully that decision no matter what it is will also be based on and take in account preserving the legacy of the KinKs and everything their music has always stood for and been all about. – God save the KinKs and all their fans from around the world who have stood by and supported them through thick and thin all through the years – we remain the KinKs Preservation Society.

    • We do indeed. I appreciate there’s probably a lot going on behind the scenes. I imagine there’s some one step forward, two steps back happening too. But for those of us who never experienced them as a working band or got to see them live, I’ll still keep my fingers crossed.

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