The guitarist who first put the filth in rock 'n' roll has found tracks in the attic
Dave Davies is famed for being one half of the warring brothers at the helm of The Kinks – and for popularising the distorted guitar sound after physically slashing his amp in the ‘60s. Though overshadowed by Ray as Kinks songwriter, Dave was responsible for a few of the North London band’s best songs, including ‘Susannah’s Still Alive’ and ‘Death Of A Clown’.
Lately, the Davies brothers have been back in the news as Ray is keen to bury the hatchet and reunite the band that, arguably, were the biggest inspiration on the ‘90s Britpop scene three decades after they formed. Dave confirms that he’d “love to play on stage with [his] brother”.
In the meantime, there’s ‘Decade’, a collection of songs and demos that Dave recorded throughout the ‘70s, a prolific period for The Kinks and one which saw the establishment of their Konk Studio.
The original recordings for ‘Decade’ were unearthed by Davies’ sons Simon and Martin from “under beds, in attics, in storage”, and have been newly mixed and mastered. Some of the musicians who contributed to tracks include longtime Kinks drummer Mick Avory, who appears on ‘If You Are Leaving’ and Dave’s nephew, Phil Palmer, a guitarist who’s worked with Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey and many others.
“I am so pleased that after all this time these tracks are being released to see the light of day,” says Dave. “These songs have been silently nagging at me to be recognised all these years. At last I can proudly present this album ‘Decade’ to the world. I do hope you all enjoy the music.”
A full tracklisting for the album is below, and Dave answers our questions on the album and the future of The Kinks.
These tracks weren’t necessarily written as Kinks songs, but are there any that you consider could have been ‘lost’ Kinks hits if they had been put out there by the band?
Dave Davies: “Maybe there could have been a few of the songs that could have been suitable for a Kinks albums, but I didn’t pursue them because Ray was really prolific during this period. And anyway I wasn’t sure whether they were suitable for the Kinks at the time that I wrote them. Many of the songs weren’t finished productions until this year, when my son Simon produced the album and knocked it into shape and I finished laying down some vocal and guitar parts on a couple tracks.”
The album’s called ‘Decade’ – what are your abiding memories from the ‘70s? Was it a good decade, personally?
“It was an extremely busy Decade for The Kinks, the 70’s. We put Konk studios together in the early ‘70s… I had always been into engineering and production and it gave a chance to get more hands on experience from this point of view. In the early ’70s I had a hard time emotionally (I’ve written about it a lot in my autobiography, Kink). The ‘70s were an interesting time for music, experimenting, new influences, I liked punk rock and some prog and disco. I’m not saying I liked all the music that was out there but it was an interesting time. There were ups and downs for me and the Kinks but it was a great decade looking back.”
A lot of ‘Decade’ was recorded at Konk, your studio. What’s your favourite album recorded at Konk, either by you, The Kinks or someone else entirely?
“There’s been a lot of cool artists who’ve recorded at Konk over the years, some great Kinks and non-Kinks albums. ‘Sleepwalker’ and ‘Misfits’ were recorded at Konk in the ‘70s, and have always been two of my fave Kinks records. One album I have a soft spot for is ‘Living on a Shoestring’ by Andy Desmond which came out on the Konk label in 1975. I had fun producing it with John Gosling. Also I recorded my  solo album ‘AFL-3603’ at Konk. I’m very proud of that album. The songs on ‘Decade’ foreshadowed the ‘AFL-3603’ solo album.
The press release says two instrumental tracks on ‘Decade’ were intended as an overture for an unknown project that remains elusive. Can you tell us any more about that? Was it to be your Who-style rock opera?
“These recordings were kind of intended vaguely for a solo album but there was no rock opera in mind. Arthur by the Kinks was the first British rock opera!”
Did you ever see the musical Sunny Afternoon, and if so, what did you think about it? It wasn’t exactly too kind to you!
“I had a few issues with the original script, which had to be approved by me. There was a lot I wasn’t happy with but I let it go because it was an entertaining musical. it wasn’t meant to be a documentary. In reality I was alone with my amp when I slashed it with a razor blade.”
You’re considered to be the man who ushered in a wave of heavier guitar music in the ‘60s. What do you consider to be your legacy in the modern music scene? Which guitar bands do you rate these days? Are you an Arctic Monkeys fan?
“I like Arctic Monkeys, but I don’t have a particular favorite guitar band. I’m fond of Radiohead and Redd Kross, also my sons Daniel and Russell. Incidentally, me and Russ had an album out last year called Open Road which we co-wrote. Daniel has a new solo album as well called ‘Events Score’. Mostly I listen to classical music by composers such as Haydn and Vaughan Williams and Delius.
Ray’s been talking a lot about a Kinks reunion. Are you tempted? What would it take to make it happen? Are you two talking now?
“Ray and I do talk and we have spoken about possibilities. Hopefully we can put some new music together. We’ll just have to wait and see. Of course I’d always love to play on stage with my brother.”
If a reunion happened, what would you want to do? Glastonbury headline slot? New album?
New album probably, not sure about shows yet.”
There are a lot of comparisons between you and Ray and Liam and Noel from Oasis. What would be your advice to them?
“Just because they’re brothers in a band doesn’t mean the situation is the same as ray and I. I don’t know them anyway, but I’ve heard Noel has said nice things about me.”
The ‘Decade’ tracklist:
Cradle to the Grave
If You Are Leaving
Web of Time
Give You All My Love
Within Each Day
Same Old Blues
This Precious Time (Long Lonely Road)