In 1981 I remember hearing Destroyer on the radio and was confused…Wait…is this a new version of All Day and All of the Night? I wanted that song so I bought the album. Give The People What They Want combines different styles. Punk, Rock, and a little New Wave was thrown in on a few of the songs. I had bought singles and a greatest hits by the Kinks but this was the first new Kinks album I purchased. It’s not considered among their best but I think it’s been underrated and the album still stands up today.
It didn’t get the recognition that their next album “State of Confusion” received because it didn’t have a huge hit single like Come Dancing. Songs like Better Things, Around The Dial, and Destroyer did get radio play though.
Two years after I bought the album I saw the Kinks live at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. They opened with “Around The Dial,” the opener off of this album. Ray started to write songs that played well in arenas during this time. The concert was right up there with The Stones concerts to me. I was lucky to see the Kinks while they still were still releasing new albums.
Their energy was off the charts. They were approaching middle age but they had more energy than their opening band (The White Animals) who were in their early 20s.
The album opener… Around The Dial is a song that I totally can relate to today because of pre-programmed radio shows. It’s about corporations taking over radio and getting rid of the free form local DJ’s who played songs that their audience actually wanted to hear. This was starting to get popular in the late seventies…now it’s standard.
The song Give The People What They Want is my favorite song off the album. While writing Low Budget, their previous album, Ray was watching American TV including “That’s Incredible” where people did dangerous and insane stunts. He writes a fair statement about the viewing public…now and then. Parts of it are crude but is true to life. When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane, But still we watch the re-runs again and again, We all sit glued while the killer takes aim…
Ray borrowed his own riff from All Day And All Of The Night and repurposed it for Destroyer. He also revisits Lola in the song. Destroyer reached #3 on the Billboard Rock Top Tracks chart and #85 on the Billboard 100.
Better Things has a new wave feel to it and one of the few optimistic songs on the record. It’s the closing song on the album and changes the dark cynical tone of the album to a little more hopeful.
I finally brought an album to the island that wasn’t released in the 60s or 70s. This 1981 album rocks. It’s probably the hardest rock album that the Kinks ever produced…but it’s still unmistakably Ray Davies.
- Around The Dial
- Give The People What They Want
- Killers Eyes
- Add It Up
- Back To Front
- Art Lover
- A Little Bit Of Abuse
- Better Things