Dave Davies is a great rock and roll guitar player.
There, I’ve said it. And it’s high time he got the long-overdue recognition his talents deserve.
I mean, put yourself in Dave’s place. He formed the Kinks when he was in his mid teens. When his older brother, Ray, joined, his distinctive singing and uncanny songwriting quickly overshadowed Dave’s vicious guitar playing, and somehow the younger Davies’ lead work never commanded the sort of hero status of fellow Brits such as Clapton, Beck, and Page. To add insult to injury, the latter guitar god attempted to take credit for much of Dave’s work, including the gnarly workout on the Kinks’ first megahit, “You Really Got Me” – a rock and roll classic (the claim has been discredited by everyone from producer Shel Talmy to Ray’s “Storyteller” tour and disc, but those still hanging onto the Page myth are instructed to use their ears).
No wonder Dave’s playing is a maelstrom of such unbridled aggression.
The double-CD BBC Sessions documents Ray’s development as one of England’s (and rock’s) greatest tunesmiths, and in doing so chronicles Dave’s evolution from roughshod basher to lyrical economist, revealing him to be one of the most versatile guitarists of his era. In fact, the only peer who was called on by his songwriting bandmate(s) to cover such a diverse repertoire was George Harrison with the Beatles. And like Harrison with Lennon-McCartney, Dave Davies was the ultimate studio guitarist for Ray’s wide-ranging stylistic gamut.
On the earliest tracks in this collection, like “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night” and “Till the End of the Day,” Dave’s primal-scream leads are thin and piercing, probably due in part to the less-than-concert volume the BBC engineers allowed the band to play at. When the program jumps from ’65 to ’67, his tone becomes meaty and full, particularly on “Love Me Till the Sun Shines,” which also showcases three of Dave’s other talents – singing, songwriting and playing rhythm like nobody’s business, aided by the band’s original rhythm section of bassist Pete Quaife and drummer Mick Avory.
Hearing Dave’s deft, angular work on “Here Comes Yet Another Day” (a song from Everybody’s in Showbiz, presented here in a live concert performance from 1974), it’s eye-opening to realize that it’s the same guitarist who, nine years earlier, was pummeling the blues into rock and roll on Sleepy John Estes’ “Milk Cow Blues.” Two of the many sides of this great player and his great band.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s July ’01 issue.