While we await word if the Kinks will really get back together for some live gigs and a new album, let's not forget that "You Really Got Me," their Casino
-led proto punk/metal masterpiece, turns 51 this month. The single was a worldwide smash and it's hard to imagine the grit of the Who, The Small Faces, and even the Beatles' "I Feel Fine" (which came later in 1964) without the glorious, distorted call-to-arms of Dave Davie's amazing riff which was played through his Elpico amplifier with razor blade cuts to the speaker cone.
The inspiration for "You Really Got Me" was Jimmy Giuffre's 1957 classic "The Train and the River" most famously heard on the soundtrack to the epic concert film, Jazz On A Summer's Day
. Notice in the video below that Jim Hall is playing what amounts to the same jazz box as the new (and equally epic) Epiphone Ltd. Ed. ES-175 Premium.
"Ray (Davies) was messing around on the piano in the front room at home, inspired by this song, and came up with the two-note riff to ‘You Really Got Me,’ which I played on guitar," Dave Davies told Ultimate Classic Rock.
Kinks producer Shel Talmy in the studio with The Who (Courtesy Sound on Sound)
The riff that launched a 1,000 bands almost didn't get recorded. The Kinks' label, Pye Records, was ready to drop the band but luckily their producer, Shel Talmy (who also cut records for The Who and the Small Faces), had his own contract with quartet. “At this point, the question was whether Pye was going to drop the band or allow me to do it, and as things turned out I was allowed to do it," Talmy told Ultimate Classic Rock.
"Why? Mainly because, as part of the wonderful deal that I’d made for myself, I was liable for the studio costs, which were going to be deducted from my pittance of royalties," continued Talmy. "I made it clear that somebody had to be the captain of the ship, and that, because I had brought the guys in and had a contract and a royalty deal, the captain was going to be me. That meant we would do the songs we wanted to do in the way we wanted to do them."
As with all things Kinks, Ray has the last word. "“When I left the studio I felt great. It may sound conceited, but I knew it was a great record. I said I’d never write another song like it, and I haven’t.”