On our kitchen calendar the last Sunday of November every year is always marked ‘KK’. Given the connotation of those letters I’ll move quickly to explain.
In this case KK stands for Kinks Konvention – an annual gathering of 400 or so Kinks fans from across the world who assemble in a north London pub (where else?) to celebrate the career of a group whose recorded output is at the forefront of popular music. From 2pm on this given Sunday an array of musicians known collectively as the Kast Off Kinks – nine former band members consisting of three keyboard players, two drummers, two bassists and two backing vocalists – play a game of musical chairs, performing in groups of four or five for half an hour, each ensemble playing songs from an incredible back catalogue (perhaps that should be katalogue). This Kinks collective, supplemented by guitarist Dave Clarke, have all at one time been sacked, retired or no longer been able to stand the fierce sibling rivalry between the brothers grim of rock – Ray and Dave Davies.
On occasion, last year being one, Kink Kink himself brother Ray has been known to appear and lead which ever variation of the Kast Off Kinks are currently in situ into a song – and with no sign of ill will on the stage coupled with wondrous acclaim in the audience, it really is something the following day to say: ‘I saw Ray Davies in the pub yesterday afternoon.’
From ‘You Really Got Me’ through ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Days’ to ‘Lola,’ The Kinks made a run of singles unequalled by any other group and at least four of their albums belong in the ‘Masterpiece’ category. If I was allowed one item on a desert island it would be my wife – but would ask her to bring along as hers their monumental 1971 offering ‘Muswell Hillbillies.’ No other songwriter has captured the essence of daily life in such a simple but poetic way as Ray Davies. Pete Townshend has called him the ‘poet laureate of rock’ – that from a man who knows a thing or two about song writing.
Unfortunately I cannot be in N10 this weekend and will miss my first Kinks Konvention in eight years but will be able to imagine the cheers as each song played by the Kast Off Kinks is greeted like an old friend. Tomorrow afternoon why don’t we all have a Kinks Konvention of our own – root out that Kinks compilation and marvel at the sheer majesty of their material.
You want have anything better to listen to – it hasn’t been recorded.