Ray Davies: The Master

Ray Davies

Long ago back in the mists of prehistory – well, 1973 – Ray Davies came to see my first band Cafe Society playing at The Troubadour club in Earls Court. He signed us to a small label of his own that was starting, called Konk Records and gave us our first vital leg up into the big bad music industry of the early 1970s. Like generations of UK musicians after us – not to mention a great many before us – the members of our band were massive fans of his songwriting.

As is so often the case, the hits for which Ray became known with The Kinks are only a small part of the story. The real genius of his writing is to be found tucked away as album tracks and sometimes even among the rare B-sides. I asked people on Twitter to nominate less well-known tracks that demonstrate Ray’s gifts as a lyricist and composer, and they came up with a gratifying spread of tunes from across the decades – including the title track of his most recent studio album Working Man’s Cafe.

This is the way it’s done…

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...


  1. Adam J. Qüæck/Titus Monk

    The man’s a dude, remember him talking about the record industry (especially in the $tates during a gig in the Cambridge Folks festival years ago, when I was a little one). He gave good advice that got through to a youngster even back then.

  2. Essential listening now,thanks Tom

  3. What was interesting in listening to your Ray list is not only the great songs but a reminder of the influence his music brought to people like Damon Albarn but hearing some of it fresh you can also see the paths followed by Gruff Rhys and even Ron Sexsmith (Creatures of Little Faith)

  4. Andy Zahn

    Great article…I would add attitude from Low Budget to the great choices on this list.

  5. Truly stunning tracks and perfect listening on a Saturday morning i.e. now! I’d agree with Johnno about the musical influence he has brought to many musicians of today.

    Its a real treat cause theres some tracks in the playlist I’ve not heard before. Just exceptional.

  6. Hi, don’t forget celluloid heroes live, art lover live, cliches of the world, yoyo, misty water, killers eyes, scattered, heart of gold, the list is endless, London, storyteller…….

  7. chris

    Replace the stereo tracks with mono (as they were originally recorded and arranged), and this is an awesome selection of tracks.

  8. Tom

    @JBudnyk @AndyZahn thanks for those suggestions – have added those to the list. Only one that hasn’t made it onto Spotify is my own personal favourite, London Song. And Chris, great suggestion about changing to the mono versions of the tracks – have done that too – much better !

  9. Kevin Moyle

    Thanks for the list Tom and thanks for YOUR own musical contribution. Bully for You, was definitely Kinks inspired.
    I would like to add the opening two tracks of the Lola album (This Time Tomorrow and Long Way From Home). Also for good measure Dreams from the Percy soundtrack and Get Up from Misfits. And there are so many others…..
    Act Nice and Gentle maybe? Great B side! I could go on, but I won’t.

  10. No-one has mentioned my favourite song, ‘Moments’ !

  11. Rich Santaguida

    Another great Kinks song that I recently discovered: This Strange Effect covered by Dave Berry in the 60’s and several others more currently “you’re got this strange effect on me…and I like it!

  12. Bill cannon

    Great list very good to see the UK acknowledge a true musical genius -finally.

  13. may I suggest,since post 72 was largely missed….around the dial,young conservatives(a true punk song),scattered,stand up comic,the road,after the fall,art lover, and so many more..im not like everybody else should be mentioned as well and everything of village green preservation society..ray just is in a league few can occupy!

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