5. You Really Got Me (Kinks 1964)
An undeniable rock classic, all power chords and sex, a foundational song for early heavy metal and punk. It’s a simple song of brute force more associated with Van Halen than The Kinks. It’s also an early example of why Dave Davies is one of rock’s greatest ever guitarists.
Covers: Hundreds. So let’s go with the less-is-more rationale.
4. Misfits (Misfits 1978)
Misfits was an underrated album that never got big, and the title track is an anthem for the underdog. “Take a good look around you, misfits are everywhere….” The album was the closest The Kinks got to soft rock, but in the best way possible—it’s one of my all-time favorite records.
Covers: Not a single one worth posting. So sad.
3. Father Christmas (single-1977)
Santa gets beat up, and is asked for a machine gun. One of the best Xmas songs ever, it showcases Ray Davies’ dry and cynical wit.
Covers: I posted a bunch here.
2. Lola (Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One 1970)
One of the best known rock songs ever. In the U.S. version, “cherry cola” is replaced with “Coca Cola.” Because The Kinks weren’t above making a little extra bank for endorsements.
Covers: Surprisingly few worth passing along. But there’s always Weird Al…
1. Better Things (Single, 1981)
Never heard of this song? You’re forgiven. Better Things, a song about Ray Davies’ second divorce, only reached #92 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s one of the greatest songs of all time. Seriously. If this song doesn’t make your heart swell in the face of pain, you’re probably immune to hope. It was first released as a single, and then edited a bit as a track from the band’s biggest album, Give the People What They Want.
Covers: Don’t miss Dar Williams’ cover.