November 09, 1981 12:00 PM

The Kinks

Seventeen years after the members of this British quintet scored a smash with You Really Got Me, they demonstrate that they’ve still really got us with 11 punchy iconoclastic rock songs. Despite his current romance with New Wave heroine Chrissie Hynde, bandleader/chief composer Ray Davies proves he’s no pretender—though his flair for put-on is still intact. Is the title cut, for example, just a familiar pander to populist-spirited fans? No, it’s a nasty indictment of network television: “When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane/Now we watch the reruns again and again/We all sit glued while the killer takes aim/’Hey mom! There goes a piece of the President’s brain.’ ” The Kinks remain tight, but not constrained or antiseptic. Dave Davies’ guitar is still boldly original, and brother Ray’s quirky vocals are anything but silky. It’s heartening to see that the Kinks haven’t straightened themselves out.

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