The Kinks Face to FaceHere’s a clip of the Kinks performing their 1966 hit, “Sunny Afternoon”, a tale of a rich man who finds himself poor in spirit. The song is taken from the album Face to Face.

The concept of the debauched rock star is a pretty new idea, historically speaking. And this is one of the earliest examples I can think of in pop music. In this tune, we’ve got the central figure of the rich, spoilt rock star left to his own devices when his girlfriend leaves to return home to her parents, “telling tales of drunkeness and cruelty”. Yet, this is of little concern to him, “sipping at my ice cold beer/lazing on a sunny afternoon in the summertime”. This is a classic Ray Davies character study, which can be viewed as a snapshot of British upper-middle class life, or as a commentary on the burgeoning ‘rock lifestyle‘ which would soon come to be synonymous with the life of professional musicians – monetary prosperity at the cost of a stable home life.

Stylistically, the Kinks at this point were beginning to branch out from the British beat combo sound. From here, British Music Hall textures begin to make their presence known, which established Ray Davies as a master of his own sound. This would be a general shift, influencing releases from contemporaries as well – both The Who Sell Out, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, both from 1967, would borrow from Davies’ approach.

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