This month marks fifty years since the August, 1964 release of The Kinks' third single and first international hit 'You Really Got Me.'
When that song hit the airwaves that summer and fall, it sounded like nothing that had come before it in the popular music domain. The closest possible reference point might be The Kingsmen's hit recording of the Richard Berry composition 'Louie, Louie.'
The Kinks came in under the wire of the first wave of British Invasion groups that assaulted the US charts at the very beginning of that year and continued unabated, but most of the signature elements of the other acts' music were not present on this record.
There had already been a few bands from across the pond that summer that were having success not following The Beatles template of chiming harmonies on top of infectious melodies with a Merseyside back beat, like The Animals' hit version of the cautionary tale folk song 'The House of The Rising Sun,' but for all Eric Burdon's impassioned vocals and Alan Price's great organ stylings, nothing sounded as out of control and raw as this Kinks number.
Given a boost up the charts by televised performances on Ready Steady Go! in the UK and Shindig! stateside, 'You Really Got Me' reached number 1 in Britain and number 7 in America. When viewers got a first look at the group that recorded this bit of primitive hard rock that became a primer for all over-driven guitar slinging bands of the future ( lead guitarist Dave Davies, as the story goes, slit the cone of his amplifier's speaker and a whole world of distortion guitar effects was born) it was almost an audio/visual disconnect to see them decked out as ruffled shirt dandies.
Brothers Ray and Dave Davies along with drummer Mick Avory and bassist Pete Quaife would go on to have numerous hit singles as penned and sung for the most part by 2014 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee brother Ray, and in many other musical styles, but none that would match the "shock of the new" that their first hit delivered.