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The Kinks at the BBC ()

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The early days of the Kinks saw a band run ragged by the onset of newfound superstardom. The Kinks hit the ground running at an exhausting pace in 1964, with a relentless schedule of touring, recording, and various on-air interviews and performances that would keep them in the charts and jet-lagged until an eventual slowing down into the '70s and '80s. Pared down from a six-volume set that collects every known recording from the BBC archives that the band ever did, The Kinks at the BBC focuses on peak years 1964 through 1977, still cramming in 54 tracks, but leaving the band's less inspired material from the '80s and a wealth of poor-quality bootleg recordings to the absolute completists. The incredible thing about this collection is the time-spanning portrait it paints of not only the Kinks, but the landscape of music and culture they partially represented as the British Invasion gave way to the Summer of Love and then on into even more undefined times. Beginning predictably with raucous live versions of early hits like "All Day and All of the Night" and "You Really Got Me," the set quickly finds the band moving into less beat group waters and Ray Davies' songwriting maturing at an accelerated rate with timeless classics like "Waterloo Sunset" and "Victoria." Top of the Pops performances offer a rougher live take on the band's often polished studio sound. Dave Davies' hard rock-leaning "Mindless Child of Motherhood" sees a rearrangement heavy on acoustic guitar, which unexpectedly works well in the live setting. Conversely, a couple of understandably non-album tracks from the Village Green Preservation Society days like "When I Turn Off the Living Room Lights" drag the quality of the set down, as does a selection of out-and-out bad tunes from a phoned-in 1977 Christmas concert. Much like their greater body of work, The Kinks at the BBC rides a relative hot streak for the majority of the set, with uninspired songwriting shifts taking over in the mid-'70s, but still producing the occasional gem. This collection ultimately serves as a chronology of an incredibly important band as it phases through the good, bad, and ugly of an unprecedented run of magical songs in every era. ~ Fred Thomas, Rovi Hide synopsis

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