UK rock royalty The Kinks are celebrating 50 years since the release of their classic 1970 album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround Part One with a special limited edition box set including rare photos, memorabilia and unreleased tracks. A concept album ahead of its time, its satirical appraisal of the music industry, including song publishers, unions, the press, accountants, business managers, and life on the road still rings true today. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with guitarist Dave Davies to find out how the album came at a period of transition for the band, what he is most proud of about it today and whether he really did invent the distorted guitar sound.
So the 50th Anniversary of Lola versus Powerman comes out today! How has been revisiting some of these songs and has it kept you busy in what’s been a pretty different year for all of us?
It certainly has. Ray [Dave’s brother, singer/songwriter of The Kinks Ray Davies] and I have spent a lot of time putting the remixes together. Plus I did some conversational pieces between Ray and I, they’re going on there as something extra.
Do you remember, what the feeling was like as a band going in to write and record this album, compared to those that came before it?
It was a transitional time for The Kinks. There had been changes in the band members since we last made a record. We had management problems, problems with our publishers etc etc. The album really reflects exactly what we were going through at the time with so many things going on. We had also just been allowed to tour America again which was a big deal for us as we had always had a really good fan base there.
There are a bunch of outtakes from the original sessions on this reissue. What do you feel are the real treats or easter eggs that Kinks fans can discover on this new release?
There’s quite a lot of stuff actually, a few old demos. As I mentioned Ray and I sat down in his kitchen for the “Kitchen Tapes” where we talked about the songs and how they came about. There’s a lot of fun things that make up the box set, a lot of things that are really interesting that have never been heard before.
It seems as though there was a lot of thinly veiled criticism of the music industry on this album, amongst a few other things, does a lot of that still ring true for you today? As someone who has been in the music game for a while, do you think it has gotten better or worse?
In some ways it’s better these days because through downloading people do have more access to music than ever before. In some ways it’s “same old, same old” too. There’s a lot of good people in music but there’s also a lot of weird, not-so-nice people too so it’s a matter of navigating the waters. Overall music has been very good to me so I can’t complain.
The fact that this album was called “Part One” is intriguing. Did you record this with a “Part Two” in mind? And do you feel that influenced the approach you took to it?
In a way yes but in a way Part Two really ended up eventuating with the following albums like Muswell Hillbillies, and so I think Part Two has already stated itself in those albums. We always seemed to have a lot of material in those days. Part One came about in a way but really it’s not over til it’s over. The story is still continuing, it’s as if we’re up to “Part 50” now.
And musically were you exploring new things and new sounds on this album as well?
I think it helped going to the new studio, Morgan Studios in London. Before this we recorded our albums at Pye Studios so the change was exciting. It sounded different and the vibe was very special and it captures a period in time. We had a lot fun making the album. After we finished the album we were going to tour the States again which was exciting and I think that excitement injected itself into the music as well.
The songs on the album…listening to them again after all this time you realise what a special album Lola was.
The legend has it that basically invented the distorted guitar sound, a sound that became central to your popularity particularly with your early hits. Is that an accurate recount of what actually happened? Or did you feel you were you trying to replicate the sound of someone else at the time?
It was very much something that came out of the blue really. This amplifier I had, I decided to cut the speaker out with a razor blade. I wasn’t even thinking that it would blow. And it came out with that incredible sound. We decided to record some of Ray’s songs with it which included You Really Got Me and of course All Day and All of the Night and I Need You and several other ones. I actually used it a lot on stage too.
Finally what songs are you most proud of on the album and why?
Naturally it’s Strangers and Rats, the songs that I wrote. Strangers is a reflective piece which was trying to explain what we were going through at the time and we really needed to pull together through difficult times. Other than that I have always been very fond of Powerman and This Time Tomorrow.