The Kinks – The Kink Kontroversy

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The Kink Kontroversy

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  • Here’s a rare one — a wonderful copy of an early Kinks album, in mono no less, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides here are clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with excellent bass and tons of energy 
  • Till the End of the Day was the big hit, and Where Have All the Good Times Gone is also a classic 
  • Allmusic raves, “The Kinks came into their own as album artists — and Ray Davies fully matured as a songwriter — with The Kink Kontroversy…

We discovered the hard way that mono is the only way to go for The Kinks’ third album. The stereo version may in fact be the worst sounding stereo record compared to the mono that we have ever played.

Imagine taking the mono original tape — for whatever reason, The Kinks, like the Rolling Stones, were not recording in stereo as late as 1965 — and simply adding stereo reverb to it. What you end up with is a tiny little group of Kinks in the middle of the soundstage about ten feet behind your speakers, swimming, one might even say drowning, in echo. How anyone at the record label managed to approve the stereo release is beyond me. It certainly belongs in The British Invasion Hall of Shame if there is such a thing.

What do Hot Stampers give you? Less distortion, more ambience, clearer transients, and more weight to the bottom end. On a top copy like this one you get more energy, more dynamics and more presence to the vocals. It certainly doesn’t turn this music into an Audiophile Demo Disc, but if you love the Kinks like we do you’re going to get a lot out of this copy. We sure did!

The overall sound is clean, clear, open, and transparent. The piano actually has a little bit of weight — something missing from most copies. You get wonderful energy and presence with lots of texture to the instruments.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on The Kink Kontroversy

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Milk Cow Blues
Ring the Bells
Gotta Get the First Plane Home
When I See That Girl of Mine
I Am Free
Till the End of the Day

Side Two

The World Keeps Going Round
I’m On an Island
Where Have All the Good Times Gone
It’s Too Late
What’s in Store for Me
You Can’t Win

Allmusic Rave Review

The Kinks came into their own as album artists — and Ray Davies fully matured as a songwriter — with The Kink Kontroversy, which bridged their raw early British Invasion sound with more sophisticated lyrics and thoughtful production.

There are still powerful ravers like the hit “Till the End of the Day” (utilizing yet another “You Really Got Me”-type riff) and the abrasive, Dave Davies-sung cover of “Milk Cow Blues,” but tracks like the calypso pastiche “I’m on an Island,” where Ray sings of isolation with a forlorn yet merry bite, were far more indicative of their future direction.

Other great songs on this underrated album include the uneasy nostalgia of “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?,” the plaintive, almost fatalistic ballads “Ring the Bells” and “The World Keeps Going Round,” and the Dave Davies-sung declaration of independence “I Am Free.”

Richie Unterberger