The Beginning

Two Singles, Two Flops

by Helge Buttkereit

Labels der ersten beiden SinglesJanuary 1964 ended thus: The Kinks had their first recording contract in the bag. By the end of 1963 they had a contract with the publisher Eddie Kassner, and his and Larry Page's connections had reeled in a contract with Pye records. Three singles were planned. Probably already a week before signing the contract, on 20 January 1964, the Kinks stood for the first time in Pye Studio and played 'Long Tall Sally' as well as four other songs. Supposedly that song was selected at this time because Arthur Howes, the Kinks' new promoter, had seen the Beatles in concert in Paris on 17 January 1964, and therefore rang up Larry Page on the phone and recommended that the Kinks should record that song. In addition to that cover, they recorded some original Ray Davies songs, including, amongst others, 'I Took My Baby Home', the first Davies song ever pressed on vinyl as the B-side to 'Long Tall Sally'. On 7 February, barely three weeks after the recording session, 'Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby Home' was released in England.

The Kinks' version of 'Long Tall Sally' is an non-exciting little R'n'B piece, musically carried by the guitar, just a few chords banged up and down. Still, one can still perceive not much of the Kinks' sound within. Ray Davies sings lead; however, Dave Davies' background vocal is brought into the foreground partially in answer to the lead voice. As is common in the early works of the Kinks, the harmonica features prominently. Johnny Rogan sees the B-side especially as an attempt to adapt the Merseybeat sound of the Beatles, but also 'Long Tall Sally' has no distinctive sound, particularly since neither Dave nor Ray Davies had found his own voice yet, which is certainly no surprise. 'I Took my Baby Home' is similar to the A-side and likewise not spectacular. Once again Ray Davies' harmonica playing is emphasised, and features strongly in the lead. The instrument work here is brave and nothing original and so the arrangement of 'Long Tall Sally' can regarded as the most interesting piece of the first Pye session. The song lyrics are hardly worth mentioning, especially the hook, which sticks in the memory, 'I said 'A wow wow wow wow wohowowow','

Mick Avory joined the band shortly after the recording session, so Pye Studio session musician Bobby Graham played on the record. Dave Davies recalls in his autobiography 'Kink' that they had rehearsed with Mick Avory in Camden Head regularly after the recording session, because they had their first television appearance lined up. Arthur Howes had arranged an appearance on THE pop show on British television: The Kinks would debut their single on 'Ready Steady Go.' Ray Davies here had problems with his conspicuous tooth-gap, which was covered with a cap. Even with the performance of the song and a small interview with Dave Davies, there was not much success overall. 'Long Tall Sally' entered the 'Melody Maker' charts on 15 February at number 42, and disappeared from there after only a week.

Despite the failure, the Kinks had at least been seen on television, and began their first tour in England. Beginning in March 1964, they were off on their first 'package tour' with the Dave Clark Five as headliners. Package tours were the norm at this time: In one evening, there would be two headliners and three or four supporting groups. At this time, the Kinks were a supporting act (alongside the Trebletones, Mary Winters, and the Mojos); the headliners besides the Dave Clark Five were the Hollies. During this tour, the Kinks' second single came out on 17 April: 'You Still Want Me/You Do Something to Me'. Both songs had been recorded in January during the first Pye Studio session, and came from the pen of Ray Davies.

Quite differently from the first two songs, Ray Davies' voice on 'You Do Something to Me,' seems almost natural. Otherwise this song is not particular distinguished, and not very special musically, although this time sans harmonica. The song dabbles without interesting moments. The Merseybeat borrowings are inescapably noticeable - in Johnny Rogan's opinion, the whole is a pure copy of the Beatles. The lyrics exist mainly to connect the words 'you' and 'me', a formula which Larry Page assured would bring much success. Nothing big came out of it, though, and the greatest British songwriter of his generation, as Ray Davies would later be known, is not in evidence. 'You Do Something to Me' fits neatly amongst the three songs already discussed here, with a noticeable characteristic which distinguished the Kinks of this early period: Ray and Dave Davies sang large parts in common. Even if the other songs' music and lyrics (and it was really a quasi remake of the na´ve lyrics of 'You Still Want Me') are hardly of interest, this early rhythm and blues number was proof of how well the two voices of the brothers melded together.

'You Still Want Me' flopped. The band played it live on short notice, then it disappeared into the vaults. The number 127 is cited again and again in reference to this single. It was meant that this is the actual number of copies sold at this time. Russell Smith wrote that this number was thrown into the discussion by Ray Davies himself and it was meant to show the commercial flop of the single. The number is a myth and the single is not that rare like some of the late-60s. After the success of the third single, it can be believed that more copies were sold at this time although we don't have an exact number (which is normal). The single was deleted from the catalogue in 1965.

Yet to be mentioned is a fifth song recorded on 17 January, this one called 'I Don't Need You Anymore', which was finally heard for the first time in 1998 on a reissue of the first Kinks studio album. The song is an additional Ray Davies composition, but again represents no milestone in rock and roll history. Yet again it concerns the topic of 'You' and 'Me' but in a different way. Overall, though, one can say, that whilst the five songs recorded in January 1964 are solid rhythm and blues numbers, but without the recording of 'You Really Got Me' that summer, they would have been quickly forgotten.

Anzeige: You Still Want Me -- Mit den Charts wurde es nicht (Quelle: kinks.it.rit.edu)

Both 'Long Tall Sally' and 'You Still Want Me' became rarities in the Kinks catalogue, and were very difficult to find for years - but the hardest-to-fimd song was 'You Do Something to Me'. It was the first single that appeared in the United States, the second was only announced in a catalogue but never appeared on the market. 'You Still Want Me/You Do Something to Me' appeared quietly only in England, New Zealand, Australia, and (maybe) Ireland. 'Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby Home' appeared there also (except in Australia); additionally, the single was released in the Canadian and French markets. The songs appeared in other countries: In Spain, 'Long Tall Sally' was first found on an EP in October 1964; in June 1965, the songs of the two singles were pressed on another EP. EPs ('extended play') were a common format at this time. They were single sized (7 inches), but like LPs were played at 33 rpm (revolutions per minute) - singles were played at 45 rpms. On each side of an EP were two songs. Because of the different artwork on the sleeves and the various song combinations on the releases in each country, EPs today are sought after by collectors.

schwedische Single: Long Tall Sally/You Still Want MeSince all four songs of the first two singles were rarities in the 70s, they were pressed onto bootlegs. 'Long Tall Sally' became the title of one of the first bootlegs (1974). Two years later appeared a bootleg EP (less than 100 copies pressed) as well as acetates (scarcely more than one or two dozen pressed) containing 'Your Still Want Me/You Do Something to Me.'

In England, 'Long Tall Sally' and 'You Still Want Me' first reappeared in 1977 on an LP ('File Series'), which was it until 1984, when 'You Do Something to Me' finally reappeared again in the UK. On the '20th Anniversary Boxed Set,' a three LP set, this song was included on the second LP ('Kollectibles'). In the States, they were already on the 'Compleat Collection,' which appeared at the beginning of 1984 (together with the three other songs from the first two singles). The CD age meant for Kinks fans that rare pieces were easier to obtain. In June 1986, the first rare tracks pressed on CD appeared in Japan ('You Really Got Me: The Best of the Kinks 1964-1967.) Whilst Castle struggled in 1998 to reissue the band's Pye-era albums, the songs were chronologically suited to be added as bonus tracks to the first LP ('Kinks').

 
Discography

Chronological listing of all the records mentioned in the text

YearTitle & TracksCountryTypeNumber
1964Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby HomeUK, Neu Zealand, IrelandSinglePye 7N 15611
1964Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby HomeFranceSingleDisques Vogue/Pye 15188
1964Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby HomeUSASingleCameo 308
1964Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby HomeUSASinglePye 727
1964You Still Want Me/You Do Something To MeUK, New Zealand, IrelandSinglePye 7N 15636
1964You Really Got Me; It's Alright; Long Tall Sally; I Took My Baby HomeSpainEPPye PYEP 2060
1965You Still Want Me/You Do Something To MeUKSingleAstor AP 1081
1965Ste Me Free; I Need You; You Do Something To Me; You Still Want MeSpainEPPye PYEP 2083
1966Long Tall Sally/You Still Want MeSweden/NorwaySinglePye 7N 315
1974Long Tall Sally (incl. the songs of the first single)USABootleg LPTrade Mark of Quality TMQ 71084
1976You Still Want Me; You Do Something To Me; This Strange Effect; Sittin' On My Sofa; PreservationUSABootleg EPRistirecords 45-001
1976You Still Want Me; You Do Something To MeUKBootleg 7" AcetateJ&B Recordings (Morden)
1977File Series -- The Kinks (incl. Long Tall Sally & You Still Want Me)UK2LPPye FILD 001
1984A Compleat Collection (incl. the four songs of the first two singles)USA2LPCompleat CPL2-2001
1984The Kinks -- 20th Anniversary Box Set (incl. the four songs of the first two singles)UK3LP (also selled seperately)PRT KINKX 7254
1986You Really Got Me/Best Of The Kinks 1964-1967 (incl. Long Tall Sally, You Still Want Me & You Do Something To Me)JapanCDPRT (SMS) MD35 5026
1998Kinks (incl. the four songs of the first two singles)UKCDCastle ESM CD 482

Quellen
Doug Hinman: You Really Got Me (plus Supplement and corrections), 1994ff.
Johnny Rogan: The Kinks, 1984
Johnny Rogan: The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Kinks, 1998
Jon Savage: The Kinks. The Official Biography, 1984
Ray Davies: X-Ray, 1995
Dave Davies: Kink, 1996
Russell Smith's Collectors Corner, Fan Club Magazine, 2002

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