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.

  1. Around The Dial
  2. Give The People What They Want
  3. Killers Eyes
  4. Predictable
  5. Add It Up
  6. Destroyer
  7. Yo-Yo
  8. Back To Front
  9. Art Lover
  10. A Little Bit Of Abuse
  11. Better Things


    • I haven’t been back to the Opry since the Ryman re-opened but it’s not a bad seat there. It’s really intimate. They would from time to time have a rock act during the week. It is a great place to see an act…The Ryman is best here but it wasn’t re-opened until the 90s.

  1. Max, it’s about time The Kinks got on the list! A couple of the songs you highlighted sound familiar. Davies is so good at the lyrics and he’s so right about the dark voyeur tendencies of the masses. Look at what fills TV shows these days! I just started reading Chuck Palahniuk’s new book and one of the characters is a “foley artist” that specialized in the sounds of murder! When Hans was writing about The Kinks before I borrowed some CDs and thoroughly enjoyed them, but this wasn’t one I borrowed — until now. Adding it to the list. So very cool that you got to see them live, and in The Ryman no less! Excellent write-up and addition to the draft list.

    • Thanks Lisa!
      Yea with the reality shows the title song probably is more true today than in 1981…far more true.

      The Grand Ole Opry is confusing. The Ryman closed in 1974 and they opened a new building for the Grand Ole Opry near Opryland…I saw the Kinks there but it is a great place…the Ryman reopened in 1994. Both were called the same thing so it is confusing.
      Both places are built for sound though…not a bad seat. They still use the 1974 building for the Opry….Ryman for concerts. I like the Ryman the best though.

    • No…I like the Ryman better if only for the historical feeling…and it sounds great also. In 1974 and later they were going to raze the Ryman when the new one was built and public were outraged…they got it saved.

    • OK, so now the new building is called something other than the Ryman? I am so glad public outrage stopped the razing. I saw in Burns’ series that Emmylou Harris played a big role in saving it?

  2. Can’t go far wrong with the Kinks! I had forgotten about ‘Around the Dial’ but do remember hearing it back then, pretty good sound and message. And always liked ‘Destroyer’ even if it was self-duplicating. Davies is one of the UK’s finest songwriters.
    Although it didn’t come that close to my final 10, I did have ‘State of Confusion’ on my long list for album choices. Glad someone got them represented here.

    • It’s not their greatest album but it’s really good. It got me buying the older classic albums. Around the Dial’s message has come to pass.

  3. My first Kinks album was Misfits- and it has great sentimental meaning to me- as your Give The People What They Want -has to you- both pretty good albums- and opened the doors to more Kinks for us both! Nothing wrong with that.

  4. Well Max, you beat me to the punch. These guys are one of my top bands. This album was later on in my Kinks journey but not any less loved. And your absolutely right on their lives show. To see them in a venue like you did would seal the deal.. One thing (Of many) that gets over looked with the Kinks is Dave’s guitar playing, he’s killer. Great pick. It was cool to open this up and see this album. Stay tuned for part 2.

    • There were many I could have picked from the Kinks but like Hans said…it was the sentimental pick…it blew open the doors to their other albums. Before this album, all I had was the greatest hits and a single of “Rock and Roll Fantasy” by the Kinks.
      Dave plays by feel and tone…he did add so much to them…he needs to get more credit.

    • I’ve been going over what Kinks to take. It all works for me. This era was good for them. It started with ‘Sleepwalker’ then Hans’s ‘Misfits’ (great album). You taking this helps me narrow it down (I love ‘Art Lover’. One of those songs only Ray could write). I was leaning towards ‘Sleepwalker’ but might go back to the vaults or not but just remember that after today ‘Summer’s Gone’

    • I do like this period for The Kinks. I thought about featuring Art Lover…I like that one also.
      I’ve been reading the old reviews for this one…they were mixed but the funniest quote was “This is punk music if punk music was played by real musicians.”

      It was hard not taking one of those late sixties early seventies albums. This is the only real time (for me) album that I’ve picked…. I can’t believe it’s over.

  5. Interesting choice! I’d forgotten all of these songs other than Destroyer. They were all really good. I particularly loved Around the Dial. Somewhere around this time, it seemed like the Kinks elevated their status from 60s relic to multi-generational, like the Stones and The Who. And as you said, they kept their sound intact. It was great revisiting this.

    • Thank you… You are right they became part of that clique around this time. You don’t hear many of these songs on the radio much so they are fresh.

  6. Great pick Max. Though I’ve always liked the Kinks from day one, I’m really only familiar with their hit songs. I just checked out their discography on Spotify, and had no idea they remained so prolific throughout the 70s and 80s.

    • Thank you…they had a string of good albums from Misfits to Word of Mouth…They are interesting…they adapted to changing styles but remained The Kinks.

  7. Pingback: 2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 8- PICK 4- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KINKS- GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT — slicethelife (Reblog) – The Midlode Mercury·

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