To prep for this review, I broke out one of the better sounding Kinks LPs I own: a somewhat rare and out-of-print 1970 compilation of Monaural recordings which were issued on Britain's Pye Records label. Many Kinks kollectors have long known that the original UK Pye editions of The Kinks albums are among the best sounding available. Problem is, they are hard to find. Here in the United States, finding original UK-pressed Kinks recordings on LP is next to impossible apart from buying them at expensive collectors-type used shops. Even with the Internet, it can be expensive to buy those albums from overseas.
Fortunately many vintage Kinks albums have been reissued here in the States, remastered off of the original tapes (reportedly done by Cohearent Audio's Kevin Gray from the original Pye Records master tapes). They are supposed to be great but I have not gotten around to buying those reissues quite just yet; its a little hard for me to justify the expense as I have most of the albums on original US pressings (which still sound pretty fine), but I will get some of the reissues eventually...
However, the Extended Play (EP) 7-inch 45 RPM mini albums that were issued in the 1960s in England are something I -- and most of us here in America -- never had. Accordingly, I have invested in those reissues in this same series, as they have been put out over the past couple years. I am not disappointed. I reviewed the initial wave of these EPs last year.
In keeping with the earlier releases, these new ones sound really great (from what I can figure out from the Internet, they were also done by Mr. Gray)! The 45 RPM playing speed gives them (perhaps) just a bit more punch coming out of the speakers, even compared to my UK album. Consider how Mick Avory's drums rock really hard on "Till The End of the Day" on Dedicated Kinks.
I have never heard "See My Friends" (one of my all time favorite Kinks songs) sound quite as vivid as on this 45, even compared to the Pye LP version. There is a lovely open and airy feel here.
A track like "Susannah's Still Alive" -- which was sung by band co-founder Dave Davies -- really comes alive on the UK mono LP mix with very punchy drums, particularly the snare sounds and tom tom hits. Also included on the Dave Davies' Hits EP, this version of the song sounds in some ways better because there is a brighter high end and mid range. The recording is mastered a little quieter than the LP (so I had to turn up the volume to approximate the same sound) but other than that it sounds fantastic including tracks from the 1968 Kinks album Something Else By The Kinks such as "Death of A Clown," "Love Me Till The Sun Shines" and "Funny Face."
The 1967 EP simply titled Kinks includes a bunch of tracks from the era including "Two Sisters" (from Something Else...), "Mister Pleasant" and "This Is Where I Belong" (non-LP tracks that eventually surfaced on now out-of-print, US-only compilations such as The Great Lost Kinks Album and The Kink Kronikles). This EP includes the song "And I Will Love You" which as far as I know only existed on this EP until it appeared on the CD boxed set called Picture Book and the deluxe edition CD reissue of The Kink Kontroversy.
So if you want this fun little Calypso flavored gem (from 1965 actually) on vinyl, this EP is the place to get it!
Now, on the surface, it may seem a bit costly to buy all these EPs (they sold for about $10 each on Record Store Day). However, if you total up all the tracks you are getting 17 songs -- including a bunch of smash hits ("Dedicated Follower Of Fashion," "Till The End of the Day," "A Well Respected Man") -- in an audio fidelity that rivals very rare and out of print editions on 45 or LP. So its really not that bad a deal.
Fortunately for you, Dear Readers, these EPs weren't exactly at the top of many people's Record Store Day lists, so you can still find them around. In some places they are already being discounted so I wouldn't be surprised if you find them for significantly less than $10 a piece. You can find Kwyet Kinks for about $8 online!
At any price, these EPs are a fun way to hear some of your favorite Kinks music sounding better than ever.