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The Kinks

A Thoroughly English Phenomenon

Carey Fleiner

Emerging from the same British music boom that birthed the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Dave and Ray Davies’s band, the Kinks, became one of England’s most influential groups. Remembered best for such singles as “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” and “Sunny Afternoon,” the Kinks produced 24 studio albums between 1964 and 1996. The Kinks’ prolific and varied catalog have made them both a mirror of and a counterfoil to nearly five decades of British and American culture.

The Kinks: A Thoroughly English Phenomenon examines the music and performance of this quintessentially English band and shows how aspects of everyday life such as work, play, buying a house, driving a car, drinking tea, getting drunk, and getting laid, affected and shaped their creative output. Through an investigation of their music, lyrics, and image, Carey Fleiner shows how the Kinks reflected both the ordinary and the absurd, sometimes confronting topics with anger and sometimes with self-deprecating humor. The Kinks follows the band’s trajectory more or less chronologically and explores themes such as growing up in post-war Britain, the packaging and exploitation of the “British Invasion” bands, satire and self-consciousness, sexuality and gender-bending, social and political pessimism, the comforts of family, and the effects of fame and fandom.

Fleiner’s investigation into the influences on and impact of the Kinks’ music takes readers on an engaging adventure through the musical culture of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, revealing how the Kinks created an undeniable sound and image that still attracts new followers today.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 244Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-3541-0 • Hardback • March 2017 • $45.00 • (£29.95)
978-1-4422-3542-7 • eBook • March 2017 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
Carey Fleiner is currently a senior lecturer in classical and early medieval history at the University of Winchester. She has taught classes in both ancient history and the history of rock and roll.
Preface: Ordinary Lives
Chapter 1: Introduction: Around the Dial
Chapter 2: Something Better Beginning: Rock and Roll in the late ‘50s and Early ‘60s in Great Britain
Chapter 3: ‘Top of the Pops:’ Packaging, Marketing, and Image in the British Invasion 1964-1965
Chapter 4: Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy: Humour and the Kinks
Chapter 5: I Know What I Am, and I’m Glad I’m a Man: Sexuality and Gender in the Music of the
Chapter 6: Here Comes Mr Flash: Anti-Utopia, Politics, and Social Consciousness
Chapter 7: I Miss the Village Green: The Past as Refuge
Chapter 8: Rock and Roll Celluloid Heroes: The Legacy of the Kinks
Fleiner, who teaches classical history at the University of Winchester, nicely places the reader into the atmosphere that produced the Kinks, one of the most important bands of the British Invasion. The book veers from their image as teenage rebels into their status as champions of average folk; Fleiner sets the tone early, saying this is 'not a biography of the band,' and focuses on the culture and world that surrounded the Kinks and influenced their music. Arranged chronologically, the book offers an excellent history of postwar Great Britain told through the eyes of the Davies brothers, Ray and Dave, and their bandmates. The author’s background as a historian shines through in the book’s meticulous research and analytical perspective on the cultural context in which the Kinks wrote their music. Coming out of Britain’s working class in the mid-1960s, the Davies experienced a bit of social mobility during the postwar economic boom. The book deftly discusses the influence of their economic perspective on both the sound of their music and the stories they chose to tell.
Publishers Weekly

The Kinks were among the most idiosyncratic bands that emerged during the British Invasion of the 1960s. They were defiantly English. In fact, as Fleiner notes, they were often celebrated as an icon of 'Englishness.' And, true to form, their Englishness was in full display in such works as The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968) and Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969). Their songs evoked social satire, personal memories, political satire, and, especially, nostalgia for a lost England. Still, their best-known song is probably the enduring and gender-bending 'Lola,' about a transvestite. Fleiner examines the Kinks’ musical influences, which ranged from the music-hall tradition to the Davies family’s own Saturday night house parties, when the front room was filled with family and friends singing and dancing around the piano. Other strong influences were the exciting sounds coming over from America. Fleiner also explores the band’s very distinctive, and often self-deprecating, humor; the sexuality and gender issues in their music; the Kinks as a socially conscious band; and, especially, their reputation as champions of the 'ordinary guy' as well as their ongoing legacy. Fans of the beloved, and often underappreciated, band will enjoy this thoughtful examination of their music. To paraphrase a line from their own lyrics, and as this book proves, the Kinks arenot like everybody else.