Why The Kinks initially hated ‘You Really Got Me’

Wherever The Kinks went, chaos followed. Nothing was ever straightforward for the band, but somehow, they always found a way to sail on through and stay on the right path. The perfect example of the mayhem whipped up by The Kinks is the recording process of their hit song ‘You Really Got Me’, which was almost ground to a halt because of creative differences.

The track was the group’s third single and was the band’s first hit record. Their two previous releases failed to dent the charts, but unexpectedly, ‘You Really Got Me’ climbed to the top in the United Kingdom. It’s one of the defining moments in the history of The Kinks and put them on the map.

According to Dave Davies, ‘You Really Got Me’ is a song “about young men, kids really, trying to understand the world around them through music and magnetism,” he once said, adding: “Music is like magnetism — information made into energy. It makes you realize what an incredible world we live in. I’m flabbergasted how much information was involved in music and emotions”.

Although he now sees the song as a source of “magnetism”, The Kinks felt less favourably toward the track when they got the initial mix back in the studio. At the time, the group were an unknown entity in the grand scheme of things. Despite that, the members still threw their weight around to stop the original recording of ‘You Really Got Me’ from being released, and instead, took the issue into their own hands.

The song reportedly began in a bluesy guise and was much slower than the fast-tempo recording we know today. If the label had their way, this version would have been released immediately, and who knows whether The Kinks would have gone on to become one of Britain’s most iconic bands, sewing the seed for Britpop in the process.

As The Kinks’ first two singles had failed to recoup any money for the label, and they were not willing to fork out any more finances on re-recording the session because they felt ‘You Really Got Me’ would likely be another chart failure. With that in mind, the Davies brothers paid out of their own pocket and fulfilled their creative vision.

Dave explained to Vulture: “It always seemed everything was a struggle for the Kinks, even from making the first record. We didn’t like the first version of ‘You Really Got Me.’ The record producers said, ‘Well, that’s it, then. That’s what it is.’ We said, ‘Well, we don’t want to put it out.’”

He continued: “Ray insisted that we wouldn’t release it in its current form, and we gave the producers a hundred pounds to get it re-recorded in a way that we envisioned when we saw it. Many times the Kinks could have finished and ended, but we didn’t. I think the bond of family, and the love of music, helped see us through.”

In another universe, if The Kinks didn’t put their foot down, the song could have failed to land with the British public, leading to their label dropping them, which could have potentially caused them to split up. This decision would have robbed the world of hearing their future releases and changed the fabric of British music forever.

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