The Kinks on Pye: Part 2 – “I’m not like everybody else”

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Collectors Corner 5

During our last article, we concentrated on The Kinks hit-packed period when they never seemed to be off the charts. As psychedelia took hold of 1967 and strangled most British bands in beads and flowers, The Kinks took off in a different direction and released some wonderfully wistful and melancholic masterpieces. These songs seemed to hark back to a more innocent time which probably only existed through rose-tinted (psychedelic) spectacles anyway. Ray proceeded to write a series of genius 45’s, and more importantly, albums which unbelievably sold less and less with each release. 1968 started well for the boys with the budget LP release “Sunny afternoon” hitting the top ten during the important Christmas market and selling very well indeed. So when Pye released the first new material of the year in April 1968, the lovely and restrained stand-alone 45 “Wonderboy” would have been assumed to sail into the top ten, but it unbelievably stalled at a lowly number 36 in the charts. This began a run of wonderful, yet underappreciated single releases which were low sellers, hence the rarity of some of them today.

Two months later in June ’68, one of Ray’s most loved compositions, “Day’s” was released and fared much better, just stalling outside the top ten at number 12. Though all the bands singles contain nuggets hidden away on their B-sides, this one had one of the bands hardest rockers on the flip, “She’s got everything”. Originally recorded and shelved two years earlier, it could have been a big hit in 1968 as The Stones, Beatles and Move all had massive rock’n’roll influenced hit singles. Luckily it wasn’t forgotten and still fills mod dancefloors to this day as soon as it starts up. Into 1969, the thumping “Plastic man” was released and again reached no higher than number 31, a flop by the band’s lofty standards. It seemed the better Ray’s songwriting became, the fewer people bought the bands records. “Drivin'” was released in August 1969 and became the first 45 to miss the hit parade since “You still want me” in early 1964. Even worse was the total no-show of “Shangri-la” in September which sold incredibly poorly and is one of the hardest of UK Kinks singles to find. In December, the upbeat album track “Victoria” at least managed to hit the low 30’s in the chart but it took a tale of a Soho nightclub meeting with a transsexual to have the band visiting Top of the Pops again. “Lola” was soon flying up the charts and hit the number two slot in August, kept off the top by Elvis. Shortly after “Apeman”, backed with the wonderful “Rats” on the flip, became the group’s last UK top ten hit when it reached number five in the summer. “Days”, “Lola” and “Apeman” apart, these 45’s are now quite hard to find, especially in top condition and prices have risen in the last few years. Expect to pay between £10-20 for the low sellers and up to £30 “Shangri-la”. All were pressed up as yellow demo copies, these are also really sought after and can reach £100+ at auction. A quick shout must go out to Dave Davies at this point. In between 1967 and 1968, he released four cracking solo 45’s and a super rare EP, “Dave Davies Hits”, which is a £200+ artifact nowadays. All four singles (Death of a clown, Suzannah’s still alive, Lincoln County and Hold my hand) are worth seeking out, the last one, in particular, is hard to find and is coveted for it’s fantastic psychedelic B side “Creeping Jean”.

The decline of fortunes in the singles chart was mirrored with the blue label Pye album releases, none of which charted at all. The 1968 release “The Kinks are the village green preservation society” needs no introduction to Kinks aficionado’s, it’s simply one the all-time album masterpieces. Originally envisaged as a twelve track album, a handful of white label promos were pressed up before the track listing was changed to the fifteen track album we all love today. It’s impossible to put a price on the promo copies, but even the released album reaches £200+ in top condition as it sold in small amounts. This album, and it’s follow-up were both released in mono and stereo, the former the harder to locate and more valuable to collectors. They were both encased in very flimsy laminated gatefold sleeves which are invariably damaged and worn, make sure you look after any mint copies out there! “Arthur (or the decline and fall of the British empire)” was released the following year in 1969, and although similarly full of stellar Ray Davies songwriting, this one sold in small amounts too. Hence it has a £100+ price tag nowadays with the “Queen Victoria” insert still there (it’s invariably missing!). 1970’s “Lola vs Powerman and the money-go-round” was the first to be a stereo only release and sold more than the previous two, mainly due to the massive hit singles released at the same time. For a band to release so many groundbreaking and classic songs on Pye, it’s a shame that their parting shot was a soundtrack to
the 1971 Hywel Bennett film “Percy”, a comedy about a man who has a penis transplant. The album still sells for a good price, mainly due to its creators, and Pye also released four tracks from the album as a “maxi-single” with a picture sleeve at the same time. The band signed a contract with RCA in 1971, becoming the “Muswell hillbillies” of that decade who would, at last, have massive success in the USA. But it’s that catalogue on the iconic pink and blue Pye label that will always hold a place in most collectors hearts.


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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May 9, 2017 By : Category : Articles Bands Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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