TBR Challenge – You Really Got Me: The Story of the Kinks – Nick Hasted

Genre: Music, Biography

Narrative Style: Third Person, Chronological

Rating: 4/5

Published: 2011

Format: Hardback

Synopsis: Hasted takes the story from The Kinks origins in the early sixties up to the modern day. Using interviews with original members, he traces the history of one of the sixties most interesting bands.

Reading Challenges: TBR Challenge 2019

Time on the shelf: This was bought when it first came out in 2011 as my husband is a bit of a Kinks obsessive. 

I’ve always liked The Kinks. Some of my favourite songs were written by one of the Davies brothers – Waterloo Sunset, Stop Your Sobbing, Death of a Clown to name but three. Having read two of Ray’s books – X-Ray and Americana – I thought it would be good to get a less biased view of what life with The Kinks was like.

It seems that life with The Kinks was dramatic and even life threatening. This biography is filled with incidents that if one or two of them happened to a band you might consider them unlucky. Not helped by the almost constant fighting between the Davis brothers and between them and other band members. Pete Quaife started to travel with the roadies to escape the constant fighting and ended up nearly dying in a car crash. Mick Avory threw his cymbal at Dave on stage, knocking him out and immediately went on the run. There are many other incidents that would have felled lesser bands but somehow The Kinks kept going.

There is also insight into the writing of the songs and the mindset of Ray and Dave Davies. Hasted uses a lot of quotations from various interviews so the reader gets a genuine insight into the creation of some of the most iconic songs of the sixties. However, this use of quotes from the various band members, and other involved parties, does break the narrative up and I would have liked more straight reporting of events.

However, this isn’t really an unbiased look. Hasted is obviously a huge fan and you would have to be to be able to write this book and still love all involved afterwards. Both Ray and Dave are very difficult people and their personal histories are filled with failed marriages and bad behaviour. The worst of which – such as Ray’s troubled relationship with Chrissie Hynde – were glossed over and not really investigated. Bad behaviour is reported but not really commented on.

Another thing that I found annoying was Halstad’s insistence that The Kinks were the only band that were any good or meant anything. Generally, when another band or song was mentioned, it was in a critical light. Okay, so the Kinks are very good but that doesn’t mean that everything else was rubbish.

Overall, this was an entertaining read. It certainly made me wonder how on earth they kept turning out hit after hit when they could hardly stand to be in the same room together.

Full House Reading Challenge – Americana by Ray Davies

Genre: Autobiography / Memoir

Narrative Style: First person, non-chronological

Rating: 4/5

Format: Hardback

Published: 2013

Synopsis: Ray Davies discusses his relationship with America at various points in The Kinks career. The narrative moves from the very start of The Kinks career and their banning from America to the botched robbery that saw Davies shot and re-evaluating his relationship with the states. 

Reading Challenges: Full House Reading Challenge.:  Autobiography / Memoir

I’d been meaning to read this for a while. Not only do I really enjoy The Kinks music but I knew from reading X-Ray, Davies’ earlier autobiography, that it would be well-written and interesting.  It’s no secret that Davies is a brilliant raconteur; you only have to listen to The Kinks songs to know that so all in all I was looking forward to it.

It did not disappoint. It isn’t really a conventional straight from A to B sort of autobiography. Ray moves from descriptions of his life in New Orleans at the time leading up to his shooting to various points in The Kinks career, touring and recording in America. It was an interesting perspective, showing all the good and the bad about touring in a rock band and trying to keep relationships together.

Ray was willing to examine his own behaviour and to describe mistakes as well as triumphs. The mood moves from great highs – triumphant shows, hit albums – to the low of lying in hospital after the botched robbery that saw him shot. He examines it all with the same critical eye.

The only thing I found a little disappointing was that he didn’t really examine the relationship with his brother, Dave. While the difficulties of this relationship are mentioned, I might have expected more insight into the problems, more detail about the nature of their problems. Of course, I understand fully why this may be difficult for Davies to talk about and it’s not for me to decide what he should talk about but I felt it was a gap in the narrative.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read. Davies was willing to laugh at himself and also was candid about the difficulties he suffered and the relationships he lost. It was touching, amusing and informative in equal measure. Well worth a read, even for the casual fan.