Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Was this the greatest hot streak in the history of pop?

Been thinking about what Ray Davies said when I interviewed him last night at the Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival, about how he wrote all those great Kinks songs in the sixties to order.

They needed a new hit single every three months and he was the one who supplied them: You Really Got Me, All Day And All Of The Night, Tired Of Waiting For You, Everybody's Gonna Be Happy, Set Me Free, See My Friends, Till The End Of The Day, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, Sunny Afternoon, Dandy, Dead End Street, Waterloo Sunset, Autumn Almanac and Days.

That's fourteen smash hits in four years. Mark Ellen's fond of describing it as the greatest hot streak in the history of pop. Even more amazing when you consider they were all written and sung by one person. That's what you call pressure. Pressure appears to be every bit as effective as inspiration.

There's one further single which sometimes gets forgotten in that sequence and it was raised by somebody in the audience last night. Wonderboy came out at the beginning of 1968 and stalled at number thirty-six, which was disappointing by Kinks' standards.

Davies draws comfort from the fact that somebody told him that John Lennon loved it, demanding it was played three times in a row by a DJ in a club because he liked the middle eight so much. That may be an apocryphal tale but if it was my song I too would do my best to keep it alive.



  1. I nominate the Four Seasons. If you generously ignore a couple of odd duds, you've got Dawn (Go Away), Ronnie, Rag Doll, Save It For Me, Big Man in Town, Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye), Let's Hang On!, Working My Way Back To You, Opus 17, Tell It to the Rain, Beggin', Can't Take My Eyes Off You, C'mon Marianne. All top 20, 1964 - 1967. 13 hits in 4 years. Close!

  2. Ray Davies wrote so many other great songs too - not just the hits. Some bands seem to get away with just the one song.

  3. And don't forget the B sides. Sittin' on My Sofa, I Need You, Where Have All the Good Times Gone didn't just write themselves.

  4. The Four Seasons??? C'mon,son.

  5. The Beach Boys equalled that 14-in-4 run with Brian Wilson compositions from '63 to '66 inclusive. I just checked on Wiki. I wouldn't be surprised if the Beatles did too, or passed it.

  6. Anonymous8:49 am

    I thought the hottest streak in pop history was the run of albums from Face to Face to Something Else to Village Green Preservation Society to Arthur to Lola to Muswell Hillbillies.

  7. Anonymous11:57 am

    I had the very good fortune to interview Ray Davies a couple of months ago. He's perhaps more fragile than he was in his heyday, but he was thoughtful and engaging and full of good stuff. People had warned me that he was/could be the opposite. Interesting fact: the Coen Brothers thought about making a film out of his book, X-Ray (which is about 10 times more interesting than most rock star autobiogs).

  8. Every couple of years I hear a great rock song I've never heard before and every time it turns out to be a Ray Davies tune.

  9. Anonymous10:49 pm

    David Bowie, Elton John, T.Rex, Slade, Rod Stewart, Abba etc

    There have been a few prolific artists over the years.

    All depends what generation you grew up in.

  10. Anonymous3:43 am

    I would add several more: This Strange Effect was a huge hit in Europe, also Stop Your Sobbing albiet in the 80's for the Pretenders, David Watts for the Jam, I Go To Sleep for the Pretenders---all written in that span. Key point-1 writer-the Beatles had 2, the Stones 2...and if the Kinks had better management and not be banned in the US-they would have had more!