Jul 122012

The Kinks x 2

Has there ever been a band who’s first two big, international singles sounded so much alike that they were like twins? If you just met and liked Bob, you’ll love his identical twin Rob! The Bob and Rob of the rock world would have to be those two British Invasion, proto-heavy metal doppelgangers “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.” These two sound so much the same the first 100 times you hear them. Same new (for the time) guitar distortion, similar sliding barre-chord riffs, same wild and  un-schooled guitar solos, same dramatic endings.

But you mad scientists here in the Hall can put on your lab coats and really dissect the differences between this pair. Which is the better song and why?

You’ll have to get deep into the tiny details to do it right. I’ll post the audio files (no Youtube – I don’t care about look or stagecraft here) for your use and put my thoughts down in the comments later.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/You-Really-Got-Me1.mp3|titles=The Kinks: You Really Got Me] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/All-Day-and-All-of-the-Night.mp3|titles=The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night]

  27 Responses to “How Do You Tell the Twins Apart?”

  1. pudman13

    There’s a very simple answer to this question, and it wasn’t me who first explained it; it was a rock critic. (I forget who–Greil Marcus maybe?) “You Really Got Me” is the better song because he sings around the riff rather than with it. That’s a more sophisticated type of song construction, and as such it stands up better to multiple listens.

  2. I think that may be the correct answer. I kinda prefer ALL Day (and like their triplet Till The End Of The Day even better) but You Really Got Me is the better twin.

  3. You Really Got Me is the better twin. The Kinks had to have been equally aware that they were doing the same song over again. Can’t see them giving 100% knowing it’s a copy cat song.

    Martha and the Vandella’s Heatwave follow up Quicksand. If it aint broke, don’t rewrite it.

  4. This is hard for me to decide, but I’m going to lean toward “All Day and All of the Night.” I get the point about the melody not being so locked into the chord progression of “You Really Got Me” – and the intro guitar sound is excellent – but I prefer the drums and pre-chorus of “All Day…” To top it off, I’ve always been a big fan of the setup for the solo: the drum breakdown followed by Ray’s shout of encouragement and the stumbling beginning to the guitar solo itself.

  5. alexmagic

    I think there are elements of All Day that are better, but You Really Got Me is the better song. The “singing around the riff” concept is a pretty astute observation that I don’t think I would have consciously noticed, but two other reasons that You Really Got Me takes it come down to inferior moments in its twin:

    -the best part of You Really Got Me is the sneering sound you can hear in the “Yyyyeah!” (both in the lead and backing vocals). Like, that’s probably the definitive “YEAH!” in rock from the age when “yeah!” was the definitive word in rock, right? The attempt to replicate it with the “Giiiirl!” in All Day just doesn’t hit it as hard.

    -Similarly, All Day tries to replicate the “crazy” toss into the intentionally messy guitar break, and while I think the break itself might be better in All Day (along with the little drum break before it, which makes All Day the slightly taller twin), the “Oh, come on!” comes off as halfhearted compared to the “Oh no!”/wordless yell that happens at almost the exact same moment in You Really Got Me.

    Side note: is that section in You Really Got Me (1:14 – 1:31) the single thing that Nuggets-era US rockers tried to replicate more than anything else from the British Invasion?

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    I just got a note offlist from RTH Labs Director Milo T. Frobisher saying he and the gang are in the midst of some very revealing quantitative research on these two tracks. He’s hoping to share his findings before the week is out. More later, I guess.

  7. I think Chickenfrank was getting at it when he said that the Kinks tried harder on the original – “You Really Got Me”. To me, this one seems like more of a hit-single production. It has more production elements to catch the ear like piano and tambourines. It has building, layered background vocals. And the famous guitar solo actually seems better organized than it’s twin. The guitar sounds twangier, like a rockabilly sound. The song has a trickier rhythm as well; that may be due to the vocals being off of the riff like Pudman points out. When I learned them with my rudimentary guitar skills, I picked up “All Day” right away and had to work at “You Really Got Me”.

    “All Day…” is built from the same stuff but it sounds like a garage band demo of “You Really Got Me”. The drums sound like trashcans, the guitar tone is dirtier. The background vocals come in at full volume and stay there. And the guitar solo here sounds more like The Sonics, whom they couldn’t have known about, than anything else. Ray’s vocals on this one are a little more English/affected sounding, maybe something they smoothed out when they cut the earlier single. So of course I dig “All Day and All of the Night”.

    Looking forward to Milo Frobisher, bring him out of the lab and into the light.

  8. Both songs are actually outstanding, but as long as we’re picking nits: doesn’t anyone else hear an ever so slight fake calypso kind of singing style on All Day? Nothing wrong with that, but it just seeps through a little that the Kinks weren’t taking it as seriously as You Really Got Me.

  9. Yeah, I know what you’re talking about but I also think it better points to where the Kinks would be headed on their best records. They purposely undercut any “macho” rock ‘n roll poses. That’s part of what made them the Kinks.

    I’ve got more thoughts on a relative weakness of “You Really…” for later.

  10. Hey, check the archives. I made the exact same point about the riff-centric vocal of “All Day…” being inferior to the verse melody of “You Really Got Me” in an ancient thread.

    Also, I’d like to put in a plug for the second born, but clearly superior twin, the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song”, which copied the monster groove of “I Can’t Help Myself”, substituted a more emotionally charged lyric for the original’s dippiness, and went all meta by referencing the recycling in the lyric..

  11. OK, here’s my minor quibble with “You Really Got Me,” kind of the flip side of the riff-centric vocal of “All Day…”: as the song modulates through its verse-chorus structure I find the chord riff structure to be oppressive. It’s cool at first, but after a while (after 40 years of digging the song) I’ve had enough.

  12. BigSteve

    I vote for All Day. I think Mod is exactly right about the set-up for the guitar solo — taking the riff at half speed and then letting the drums wallop the song into the break is genius. The drum fills in general throughout the song are more intense than anything in You Really Got Me, and the guitar solo is more unhinged. You Really Got Me is effective because it’s so single minded, but there’s just more to enjoy in All Day. And the slight hint of a Latin rhythm in the guitar at the chorus makes it swing in a way You Really Got Me can’t imagine. The slightly fake accent thing is sly, and I can dig it. It’s not totally serious, which is the perfect attitude. By contrast You Really Got me is almost dogged, too focused on maximum efficiency.

  13. Slim Jade

    Where does The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You” stand in this family tree?

  14. Weirdly enough, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I chose YRGM because it is the ur-text. Without it, there would be no “All Day…” I can see the arguments that the latter may have a more interesting arrangement and structure, but if I want interesting arrangements and structures there’s about 40 other Kinks songs that do that just fine. But for a completely stripped-down, lustful, totally unProck shot of energy, well it’s YRGM all the way.

  15. And if I wanted to really be a jerk, I’d say the correct answer is “I Need You.”

  16. pudman13

    I actually tend to agree with both Oats and Jungleland, that “I Need You” and “Till the End Of The Day” are arguably better than either of the bigger hits (and in both of those they sing around the riff too.) I don’t mind if a band repeats itself as long as they do it well. It’s notable, by the way, that the Kinks cover songs of choice among hip bands (i.e. punk, garage, neo-garage, powerpop) are almost always “I Need You” and “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.”

  17. I’ve always liked YRGM better but never really though about why. I guess it’s because it has that chord after the last time they sing “You Really Got Me” in the chorus that transitions the song back to the original key, whereas ADAAOTN just modulates up and then starts over abruptly. And now that it’s been brought to my attention, the “singing around the riff” thing probably has something to do with it too.

  18. I should mention that I’m on Team Till The End of the Day as well.

  19. Oats’ point that YRGM is a lust song (while ADAAOTN is a more traditional love song) runs counter to my point that YRGM is a more of a hit single production, but it is an interesting distinction. Also, when I was putting this together, I had a small section on “Till the End of the Day” (3 chord riff, 1 too many) and “I Need You” but it was beginning to clog my circuits.

  20. cliff sovinsanity

    I’ve searched high and low for other “twins” such as proposed by K. I didn’t find anything quite as similar as the two Kinks songs proposed in the main article. The only two comparable bands I’ve been able to come up with are as follows.

    1. The Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK (released November 1976) VS God Save The Queen (released May 1977). Both are anthems of course, but as far as punch and sneer go, my vote is for GSTQ.

    2. Arnold Layne and See Emily Play were singles release by Pink Floyd in the US. They went nowhere, but they were of course moderately successful in the UK. It might be me, but I always confuse these 2 songs although they are quite different. Am I the only one?? On the other hand they both share a psychedelic freak out in the bridge and are written about a person. In the end, I prefer Emily over Arnold.

  21. BigSteve

    I love Till the End of the Day too, but it’s a completely different animal, a song that uses a great riff as part of a much more varied approach. With the twins we’ve been discussing, the riff basically is the song in a way that’s not true for Till the End of the day.

  22. I vote “All Day & All of the Night” – it’s groovier.

  23. mockcarr

    I vote You Really Got Me. There’s just something about the way he leaves words out of lines on AD&AOTN that bothers me.

    I guess the Kinks’ Destroyer is like getting a piece of Doublemint gum that’s already been chewed.

  24. hrrundivbakshi

    Two more twins: “My Sharona” and “Baby Talks Dirty” by The Knack.

  25. I’m sorry, but, other than these two Kinks songs, the only twins worth mentioning are “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina” by Tone-Loc. Have fun staying put in 1982!

  26. bostonhistorian

    I think the Kinks were cribbing the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” solo: let’s give it to them right now!

  27. I’m standing firm with Mr. Mod and BigSteve. All Day and All of the Night, while not the ur template for garage rock that You Really Got Me might be, may be one of the earliest examples of epic rock drama. Not just the drum lead in to the solo, but the key transition sections right before the choruses induce goosebumps with tension created by the backup vocals staying on the word “side” and not changing against the guitar chord riff as it goes through its position on the 5th right before the explosive release of the chorus. The resulting dissonance on the 2nd and 3rd chords of the riff right there is thrilling in a way that is just not present in You Really Got Me, awesome as that song is. To me, YRGM may foreshadow punk, but ADAAOTN foreshadows rock.

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