So here’s where we move into the 2020s with me making up for lost time on bands that I love, would consider myself a deeply devoted fan of, and yet have only a limited collection of. That’s The Kinks, and this is a great example. “Face to Face” is their fourth studio album, the very first one comprising entirely Ray Davies compositions, and yet, I never bought it. Represented on my greatest hits collection only by “Dandy” and “Sunny Afternoon,” I was never sure I wanted to know more about it back in my record collecting days. (Hey, when you’ve got a very limited budget, you want to be sure you’re getting maximum entertainment value.)
But now it’s 2020, I have disposable income, a friend with a record store, and a renewed interest in all the music that I missed 40 years ago. So yes, I will buy a beautiful reissue of “Face to Face,” and I will love it. It really shows The Kinks coming into their own, moving from just another British R&B cover band and into some of those uniquely British themes they would explore in the coming years. It’s a beautiful album, really, and I love it more every time I play it.
It’s already got those Ray Davies touches, the theatrical turns of voice, some slightly baroque touches, and a little bit of edge that really wasn’t being shown on too many Britpop albums in 1966. Some of those baroque touches are provide by “Nick Hopkins,” later much better known as Nicky Hopkins, playing harpsichord. This is one of his earliest credits, though he had already put out a solo album by the time he was on this. Probably best known for his work with The Rolling Stones, Nicky Hopkins is everything in the world of ’70s keyboards; I hadn’t previously realized he also contributed to The Kinks.