As I am someone who has long enjoyed the music of the Kinks and the Doors, you might think that I would be over the proverbial moon with the recent announcements—one iffier than the other—that (1) the Kinks are reuniting and (2) there is a 50th anniversary version of Waiting for the Sun coming out this September.
As for the first, Sir Ray Davies (must give the man his propers) told the BBC that he was getting the band back together to record an album, having been inspired by The Rolling Stones’ recent spate of European concerts. The Kinks were formed in ’64, managed to get banned from touring in the U.S. for four years starting in ’65, and disbanded in ’96. The last bona-fide Kinks album, To the Bone, was released in ’94. In addition to Sir Ray, the band included his brother Dave, Mick Avory, and Pete Quaife. Quaife died in 2010. So the reunion would be of a trio, not a quartet.
As for the second, the Doors formed in 1965, and consisted of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger. Their first album, The Doors, appeared in 1967. Waiting for the Sun was the third album, appearing in 1968. L.A. Woman was their last proper album, as it was released in April 1971 and Jim Morrison died in July of that year.
So while there is certainty that the Doors album will appear, whether the Kinks record or not is something that remains to be heard.
And I hope that they don’t.
Realize that the band hasn’t existed since 1996. That’s 22 years ago. The band itself existed for 32 years, which is a long run by any measure and the body of work that it produced includes some of the best songs of the late 20th century.
The Doors that remained tried to have a run at something of a reunion back in 2002, replacing Morrison with Ian Astbury of the Cult. Due to litigious affairs, the name of the band was the “Doors of the 21st Century,” which is the sort of name that a cover band would have, which is appropriate because the three original members notwithstanding, it was a cover band.
Morrison was that instrumental in what the Doors is (or was, to use the appropriate verb for the band as an active thing).
Arguably, Ray Davies is to the Kinks what Morrison was to the Doors. Yet he is alive, so he could re-create the Kinks.
But make no mistake: This is a re-creation. This is not the band that existed for a number of years and then split.
Ray Davies records solo albums so it isn’t just about making music. He might like to play with his brother and Avory the drummer. But would the result be the Kinks or the Kinks of the 21st Century? I don’t mean would it be a cover band of the Kinks—because it wouldn’t be—but would it be the same band that once existed? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t think that it would be the case were Quaife still alive.
Can you catch lightning in a bottle a second time? I don’t think so.
Sure, there’s a band out there with Mick and Keith and Charlie and Ronnie, but is that band the band that put out Exile on Main Street? Since there has been continuity, one would have to answer yes. But does anyone besides their bankers really think that is the same band? (Yes, Exile was the Mick Taylor-era band, but you know what I mean.)
The Waiting for the Sun release is to include 14 tracks that haven’t been heard before, as well as the original album. The music is that which existed then by the band that was the Doors as was known then.
Is old Doors music more interesting than new Kinks music?
In my estimation, yes, for the simple reason that anything that a reunited Kinks would record would have to be compared with what the original band produced, and at the risk of being some sort of ageist, I simply don’t think that the comparison would work well for the band back together.
Of course, chances are the Davies brothers will get together in a studio, one thing will lead to another, and the next thing you know we’re back to listening to Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
From the BBC’s Channel 4 News.
[Note: It would be cynical to suggest that Davies is only floating the idea of a Kinks reunion to drum up publicity for his current solo album…but he certainly wouldn’t be the first artist to do so. Also, one of the later Kinks bassists, John Dalton (1969-76) is still alive and musically active. Sadly, Jim Rodford (1978-96) died in January. (An earlier version of this note mistakenly claimed Rodford was alive.) -ed.]
Audio: Ray Davies – “The Big Guy”
From Our Country: Americana Act II, out now on Sony Legacy.