RaR14 – You Really Got Me
Listen to the recording of the tune by clicking the attached mp3 file. This will open the recording in a new window or tab. Listen and follow along with the listening guide in the book.
Read the liner notes below.
Read the information “What to Listen For”
Respond to the Rate-A-Record/Questions by clicking on the assignment link and then click on on the button “Write Submission” (to the right of Text Submission) to record your response. Do not use the comments field.
You Really Got Me by The Kinks
The Kinks started out (as did many classic rock bands) as a British rhythm and blues group. Ray Davies played guitar for the Dave Hunt R&B Band, one of the first bands to convert from playing jazz to R&B after Blues Incorporated and the Rolling Stones began to find an audience. Davies soon left to join a band formed by his brother Dave and their school chum Peter Quaife. They went through a succession of drummers before hiring Mick Avory (the original drummer for the Rolling Stones) after seeing his “band wanted” ad in Melody Maker, a popular music magazine.
The band secured a record contract with the Pye label in 1964. Their first two singles did little on the charts, but the third, “You Really Got Me,” rocketed to the top of British charts and broke into the top ten in the United States. The song’s riff is one of the most recognizable in rock and roll. Dave Davies, one of rock’s master riff craftsmen, claims he was influenced by the Kingsmen’s “Louie, Louie” and “Tequila,” by the Champs. The alternation between two power chords was additionally sculpted by fuzz tone, a sound Davies adopted to give his guitar more presence and compensate for the small, cheap amplifiers in use at the time. While producer Shel Talmy was reluctant about using the sound on the single, the band insisted and threatened to withhold publishing rights for the song unless it was included. The effectiveness of the sound may have motivated Keith Richards to use fuzz tone on the hook for “Satisfaction.” Certainly, Davies’s fuzz-laden guitar sound and aggressive strumming was a major influence on guitar players from Pete Townshend to Eddie Van Halen.
It remains unclear, though, who played the riff on “You Really Got Me.” Jimmy Page, at that time one of the top session musicians in London, was used on a number of tracks on the Kinks first LP Both Ray and Dave Davies claim that Page did not play on “You Really Got Me,” and it may be that trivia buffs just assumed the future guitar god laid down the signature riff while in the studio. However, rumors persist about Page’s involvement.
The Kinks followed their chart-topping hit with “All Day and All of the Night,” which quickly rose to #2 on the American charts. The band’s future looked bright, but disagreements with promoters during their U.S. tour got the group banned by the United States Federation of Musicians (which had to approve all tours by foreign acts) for four years. This locked the Kinks out of the superstardom achieved by groups like the Rolling Stones and the Animals. As a result, the band turned inward, and many Kinks songs from this period were heavily influenced by British dance hall music and other native pop. Ray Davies’s lyrics were also rooted in observations on English life and customs, which endeared them to native audiences.
The Kinks returned to touring in the United States in 1968, and while their albums were favorably received by critics, the band had trouble finding audience until 1970, when “Lola”— Davies’s tune about a transvestite that features an irresistible hook—found a place on the pop charts.
WHAT TO LISTEN FOR:
Driving dirty, distorted guitar riff
Driving tempo driven by the drum set
Refrain or hook that appears over and over – high level of “ear germ” effect – (i.e. tune/hook gets stuck in your head)
The tune takes you on a “ride” – it builds, builds, builds and then gets quiet and then builds again. Highs and lows melodically.
Raucous guitar solo, considered very aggressive for the time
Simple verse form. Rock and Roll purity at its finest!
RATE-A-RECORD/QUESTIONS TO ANSWER:
Some would say that this recording is a “perfect” rock and roll song. How would you react to this? Why? Think about the elements used to create the tune…
What are some of the important elements used in this tune that make it important to rock history?
Give it a rating: 0 = Bad, 100 = Awesome. Defend your number.
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