The Kinks song Ray Davies wrote about his brother, Dave

Portending the Gallagher brothers’ Britpop brawls of the 1990s, the founding brotherhood of The Kinks, Dave and Ray Davies, frequently locked horns throughout the band’s illustrious three-decade tenure.

After forming in 1963, the iconic British Invasion group drew flush with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones thanks to a cache of early pop hits, including ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘All of the Night’. This momentum was upheld throughout the decade and into the next, with subsequent classics like ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Lola’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’.

Although the brothers generally quelled any discord, maintaining the band through years of musical evolution, their feud allegedly threatened to sunder the group before they broke through in the mid-1960s.

Guitarist Dave admits that he frequently came to blows with his brother just before their concerts. “I am a very emotional person, and Ray is more reticent about his feelings, but he was working it all out all the time,” Dave told The Daily Star earlier this year. “We did boxing, and boxing was good for training for The Kinks – keep your guard up, a carefully placed right jab. I wish it had been more flower loveliness.”

Ray, who wrote and sang most of the band’s material, further detailed the intense relationship when discussing The Kinks’ infamous 1965 gig at the Capital Theatre in Cardiff. During the performance, violence broke out on stage after Dave kicked over drummer Mick Avory’s kit. The latter reacted by striking Dave on the head with a cymbal in front of a few thousand startled fans.

“That could have been the end of The Kinks right there – it really had a tremendous emotional effect on me,” Ray once told Wales Online. “We were just kids, don’t forget – Dave and Mick were just 17 and 19 back then and forever having a go. I just guess that on that evening, Mick decided to do something about it, and that meant cutting my brother’s head off!”

Far from the turmoil was The Kinks’ watertight oeuvre. Following a similar trajectory to that of The Beatles, The Kinks’ catalogue flowed from early rhythm and blues tracks about courting and romance to hippie era “flower loveliness”. The latter phase was most memorably flagged by the 1966 album Face to Face, the home of psychedelic era essentials like ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Rosy Won’t You Please Come Home’ and ‘Party Line’.

Also on this early masterpiece was ‘Dandy’, which shared a double A-side single with ‘Party Line’. The punchy two-minute and 22-second hit was distinct as the only known track Ray wrote about his brother, Dave.

In the 2011 BBC documentary Dave Davies: Kinkdom Come, Dave confirmed that the song was about himself, focussing especially on its closing lyrics, “…Dandy, you’re all right.”

The lukewarm compliment was reciprocated in the documentary, where Dave said he loved his brother, even if he was an “arsehole”.

In an interview with Daniel Rachel, as seen in The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters, Ray further detailed the inspiration behind this Dandy fellow, explaining that it could be interpreted as himself or his brother.

“I think it was about someone, probably me, who needed to make up his mind about relationships,” he said.” Also about my brother, who was flitting from one girl to another. It’s a more serious song than it seems. It’s about a man who’s trapped by his own indecision with relationships and lack of commitment. That’s the way I’d write it now, but when I was 22 or 23, I wrote it about a jovial person who’s a womaniser.”

Listen to The Kinks’ ‘Dandy’ below.

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