Step forward author Chris Wade. In his new book, United Kinkdom: The Music Of The Kinks, he has taken the best part of the last three years to piece together this definitive take on the life, times and music of The Kinks.
And it’s the musical side of one of the most important and influential British groups of all time that is the bedrock on which Wade is able to achieve the seemingly impossible.
The kinkpin(!) of the sound, direction and philosophy of ‘the Muswell Hillbillies’ was Ray Davies.
As the elder brother, chief songwriter and dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, it was to be a series of roles and responsibilities that finally took their toll on both his physical and mental health.
As reported in United Kinkdom, Davies once said: ‘Pantomime, that’s where it’s at!’ But the public, it seemed, disagreed.
And as the band threw off their early jaunty and very British reportage style of writing, so did the fine record buying public of this septic isle disagree even more fervently.
Also in United Kinkdom it is left to brother Dave to give the most succinct reason on how the Kinks went from Carnaby Street dandys to West Coast heavy-riffing hard rockers.
“People wonder how The Kinks suddenly changed so much after records like You Really Got Me.
“But me and Ray always had a host of influences. I wasn’t just influenced by Leadbelly – I pulled so many – Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Perry Como…”
Another interview quoted in the book has Dave adding: “We’d had all the hits and the singles every couple of months and Ray was driving himself into breakdown after breakdown trying to come up with ideas for songs and all of a sudden I felt we were doing something original, developing our art.
“And it did absolutely nothing. I was a little bit confused. It’s really strange because when we went to America, the Americans got it straight away.”
On these shores the Kinks had gone from heroes to zeroes in a relatively short space of time.
They limped to a stop (never officially splitting) and Ray went on, in 2006, to produce probably the best album of his career, Other People's Lives.
United Kinkdom goes on to say: ‘The Kinks played for one last time under that name at Dave’s 50th birthday party, ironically an event which Ray arranged.
'Apparently, Dave was moved by the gesture and rushed over to his brother, giving him a kiss on the cheek. Ray froze stiff, not knowing how to react.
'What he did eventually do was typical of Ray’s unpredictable behaviour. He stamped on the cake!’
But Ray has never put the Kinks to bed. His sets continue to be littered with new interpretations of the old songs.
He’s a ‘national treasure’ who remains very much on the outside of the celebrity world.
And, as he gets set to tour this autumn, United Kinkdom: The Music Of The Kinks is the perfect compliment to actually witnessing the legend live.
Ray Davies is still very much a Kink, and United Kinkdom is very much the definitive word on the band.
Catch Ray Davies at Brighton Dome on Tuesday 16th October – visit brightondome.org for more details. To purchase a copy of 'United Kinkdom: The Music Of The Kinks' visit wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com