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Misfits

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Album Review

The Kinks became arena rockers with Sleepwalker, and its follow-up, Misfits, follows in the same vein, but it's a considerable improvement on its predecessor. Ray Davies has learned how to write within the confines of the arena rock formula, and Misfits is one of rock & roll's great mid-life crisis albums, finding Davies considering whether he should even go on performing. "Misfits," a classic outsider rallying cry, and "Rock and Roll Fantasy" provide the two touchstones for the album — Davies admits that he and the Kinks will never be embraced by the rock & roll mainstream, but after Elvis' death, he's not even sure if rock & roll is something for mature adults to do. Over the course of Misfits, he finds answers to the question, both in his lyrics and through the band's muscular music. Eventually, he discovers that it is worth his time, but the search itself is superbly affecting — even songs like the musichall shuffle "Hay Fever," which appear as filler at first, have an idiosyncratic quirk that make them cut deeper. Although Ray would return to camp on their next album, Misfits is a moving record that manages to convey deep emotions while rocking hard. The Kinks hadn't made a record this good since Muswell Hillbillies.

Biography

Formed: 1963 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Although they weren't as boldly innovative as the Beatles or as popular as the Rolling Stones or the Who, the Kinks were one of the most influential bands of the British Invasion. Like most bands of their era, the Kinks began as an R&B/blues outfit. Within four years, the band had become the most staunchly English of all their contemporaries, drawing heavily from British music hall and traditional pop, as well as incorporating elements of country, folk, and blues. Throughout their long, varied career,...
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Misfits, The Kinks
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