The Ravens in the Studio

The First Recording Sessions of the future Kinks

This text was written before the release of Doug Hinmans "All Day And All Of The Night"!

by Helge Buttkereit

In October 1963, the Boo-Weevils gave themselves a new name. Until the middle or end of January 1964, the band was called "The Ravens," and under this name, the then-current members of the band, Dave Davies, Ray Davies, Pete Quaife, and Mickey Willett, recorded their first songs in the studio. It's not exactly clear when[] or what was included. But according to Doug Hinman's research, it would appear that in 1963 the sessions included at least six songs. (Further details are provided in his new book, "All Day and All of the Night".) Especially interesting are the four songs which have in the meantime appeared on compact disc, of which three are found only on bootlegs.
I Believed You -- label of the first Ravens-acetateThe first pair of the band's songs were certainly recorded in October, 1963, in Regent Sound Studio in Denmark Street, London. Other accounts claim that it was actually in November and at the R. G. Jones Studio, south London, but it's more likely that these were actually two other songs that were recorded. During their first session, the Ravens played an original composition written by Dave Davies, "I Believed You". This song is the sole example of an early demo of the band that was released officially in 1998; Dave Davies included the song on the American release of his CD "Unfinished Business", a 2-CD career retrospective. By his own admission, he characterises the song as a "Beatlesque love song". In fact, the only known recording is of relatively poor quality, but one hears already Dave Davies' nascent 'dirty-rocking' garage sound. In Ray Davies' vocal lead, too, are revealed the origins of a separate character -- although he tried not to sound wholly like himself!
I'm A Hog For You Baby -- label of the first Ravens acetate In the second song, titled, "I'm a Hog for You, Baby", he clearly changed his voice to sound more as it would on the other recordings known from 1964. This Leiber and Stoller song is a rhythm-and-blues cover, and, like "I Believed You", clearly shows that the band had already reached a high musical standard. The arrangement is interesting not only the use of drums and guitar -- and Pete Quaife's background vocals ring through well. Quaife obviously tried to sing clearified, and he does so with great success. When one compares this pair of recordings with the songs on the Kinks' debut album, which itself very much kept to the early rhythm-and-blues style, these early recordings hold up well.
To this day, however, it is still unknown which recordings were made in November. Above all, "One Fine Day" is a mystery song, because it was recorded in early 1964 by a singer called "Shel Naylor" -- the backing track was recorded by Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and maybe Bobby Graham. Naylor was a 17-year-old singer (real name Robert Woodward) who was promoted by Larry Page at that time. There have been previous suspicions that this recording was actually the Kinks playing the backing track which is not correct. The second November recording should be "I Took My Baby Home". This song was later re-recorded and included on the B-side of the Kinks' single, "Long Tall Sally" but The Kinks' first producer, Shel Talmy, said that they re-recorded no songs which the Ravens have recorded before. Because "I Took My Baby Home" was definitely re-recorded in January 1964, it runs counter to the thought that it was recorded in November, which Doug Hinman suggests.
early photo of The Kinks, Satuday Club, August 1964 (source: kinks.it.rit.edu, Jon Savage: Official Biography) Only recently have two recordings surfaced, and Doug Hinman puts their original recording date at December 1963. This time they recorded "Oooba Dioba" and "Revenge," which have a very similar sound. The Kinks recorded more versions of "Revenge", which later appeared on their debut album. The earliest presumed take, available on the bootleg "Kollectable Kinks Kontraband Revised", shows once more the musical quality that the band already possessed. This short take is very similar to the later ones, although one can hear in a single spot that the drummer may have been another man. In general, in the early sessions, Mickey Willet showed himself to be a good drummer, who was disbanded in January 1964 mostly because of marketing reasons. He was older than the other members, he would have made it harder to promote them as youthful new band. Towards the end of January 1964, Mick Avory joined the band, by which point in time bore the name The Kinks. (He was never a member of the Ravens.) "Revenge" was the first song by either Ray or Dave Davies which was registered for a copyright in the United States, and this registration dates to 18 December 1963. The song is a collaboration between Ray Davies and Larry Page. Page, the Kinks' manager, based the song on "Louie Louie"; he kept close to the melody of that song, which the Kinks regularly performed at concerts and released on an EP in 1964. As with "Ooba Diooba", "Revenge" stands out with its intensive use of the harmonica, presumably played by Ray Davies. In all other respects, the (presumed) December take of "Revenge" is a straightforward instrumental, with no audible background vocals, unlike later versions of the song. "Ooba Diooba" is probably the weakest song from the Ravens' studio sessions; at least the lyrics are as na´ve as Dave Davies' "I Believed You"; the bulk of the song is taken up with mindless repetitions of "ooba diooba"! As with the first known acetate of "I Believed You" and "I'm a Hog for You, Baby", this second acetate was auctioned off at Christies, in London, in April 1990. Presumably with this event, the songs started to appear on bootlegs, since there were two versions of the acetate, one of which was or is still in Dave Davies' possession.
early photo of The Kink on stage (source: kinks.it.rit.edu)

In addition to these recently-surfaced recordings from the Ravens-era, there are presumably further recordings -- however, there are so far only scattered, vague references to them. "It's Alright" should have been recorded for the first time in October, and also an early take of "Got Love if You Want it" should have already been produced by the Ravens. Since the band members have poor recollections of this time, and presumably no sources exist, this part of the band's history will probably remain a mystery.

Discography

(The links to Dave Emlen's website and one to Ryoij Shirai's will open a new window.)

Regent Sound Studio, London (October 1963)
Both songs were originally pressed on an acetate, one of which was recently (late December 2003) up for auction on eBay. One acetate is in Dave Davies' possession, from which comes the recording included on the "Unfinished Business" CD.

R G Jones Studio, Morden, Surrey (November 1963)
Both songs are likely to show up on acetate, although so far no copies have surfaced. Which is why there are no bootleg of either recording. The take which later showed up as a B-side of the first Kinks' single and first album was a retake from January 1964.

Regent Sound Studio, London (December 1963)

Sources
Doug Hinman: You Really Got Me (plus supplements and corrections on the website), 1994ff.
Johnny Rogan: The Kinks, 1984
Ray Davies: X-Ray, 1995
Dave Davies: Kink, 1996
Neville Marten & Jeff Hudson: The Kinks, 2002
Rebecca Bailey: The Kinks (Interview mit Pete Quaife), 1995
Kinks Fan Club: Pete Quaife Interview, 1999

text: Helge Buttkereit
translation: Carey Fleiner
assistance: Thomas Bartoldus