THE KINKS-Dead End Street/Big Black Smoke U.K. Pye 7N.17222 1966
It's tough for me to pick a favorite Kinks single, but I think the winner would ultimately be this killer two sider from Autumn 1966.
Back in the early 90's I was in a bad way for a few months and "Dead End Street" literally spoke to me, with a two roomed apartment on the second floor, a leaky kitchen sink (and ceiling), no job, no money, no long distance plan for my house phone, no cable, and heat that worked intermittently I was in quite a bad place. I liked the track even before then but it gave me some sort of "hope" shall we say and it became a mantra to sing to myself when it all got to be too much. I still see folks walking everywhere in the morning or riding their bikes up the highway while I'm driving to work in a nice warm Mini Cooper and feel like a prat for having it so good and I think back to when I didn't have it so good. This is probably the first Kinks record to utilize brass with it's subtle trumpet and the descending bass line/ main riff comes straight from the school of "Sunny Afternoon", lyrically Dickensian at it's best it still holds up all these years on and rates as one of Ray Davie's best fictional social observations, a genre he mastered so well.
On the flip is another great fictional "social observation" by Ray Davies, "Big Black Smoke". It's a jaunty tale of a small town girl who left her little life for the big city where she wound up turning tricks, giving her money to a cat named Joe and spending the rest on purple hearts and cigarettes (Ray seemed to write a lot about girls leaving home back then, "Polly" and "Rosie Won't You Please Come Home" are two that spring to mind). Years ago I dated someone who often held this utterly ridiculous idea that speed was okay in moderation and this track rankled her, I didn't date her very long. Oh back to the song....sorry....it retains a bit of "rocking" that steers it clear of the sort of knees up/music hall sound a lot of late '66-'67 Kinks records had (never a bad think but always refreshing when they showed they still had the stuff).
|The late great Pete Quaife 1966|
TRIVIA:Some copies (like mine above) were misprinted as "Deadend Street".
Hear "Big Black Smoke":