Book review - God Save The Kinks by Rob Jovanovic
I have read a fair number of Kinks biographies, some good, some not so good and some downright poor, but this has to be one of the very best.
Well-written and easy to read, the book contains many interesting details and shows that the writer has done a lot of in-depth research (not surprisingly, he says it took him 5 years to write).
I especially liked the way he put the events of the Kinks' lives and the songs into historical context, particularly over the early years.
The songs and albums are reviewed objectively, although there are, as is to be expected, occasional points where I would disagree with the writer on matters of taste.
For example, I could not agree that the Springsteen-Davies version of Better Things outshone the Kinks' original. (In fact my preferred version is by the Kast Off Kinks, Ian Gibbons having added an extended keyboard part added towards the end.)
I was also shocked that there was no mention, in the discussion of Everybody's In Showbiz, of Sitting In My Hotel, one of the two stand-out tracks on the album for my money.
Interviewees included Mick, Nobby, Baptist (all as entertaining as ever) and, interestingly, Andy Pyle, but I was surprised that Ian, Jim and Bob, the band's longest-serving keyboard player and bassist and very long-serving drummer, were not also interviewed. Mark Haley's input might also have added fresh insights. Maybe I am asking too much - the book could have taken forever! Unusual perspectives were, however, provided by interviews with backing vocalists, (Debi, Shirlie, Claire and Maryann), friends, studio and PR men, as well as Pete Quaife's brother, Dave.
There are a few interesting photos and several new and amusing anecdotes are included - I laughed out loud at one about Grenville trying to give the band a talking-to about their behaviour!
The biography misses little of substance and runs right up until the present day, covering Ray's various recent solo works, Dave's solo work, the Kast off Kinks and the London Olympic Games. It is quite long at 280 odd pages, plus discography, bibliography and attributions, but I found the book held my interest enough that it took no time to read.
There are a few minor inaccuracies, (mainly who played on what track) which the author has promised to amend if there is a reprint, and it looked as if the proof reader nodded off occasionally and missed a couple grammatical manglings, but there are not enough of these to spoil the book.