Listen to END OF THE SEASON by The Kinks.
One of the reasons I was interested in doing this "appreciation" of Rasa Davies is I spent a long time wondering why I was so much more partial to the "Something Else By The Kinks" LP as opposed to "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society" or "Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)." It occurred to me one day that "Something Else" is the only album in which Rasa's backing vocals are essential to The Kinks' sound. By way of illustration, out of 33 tracks (give or take) that Rasa Davies sang on for the Kinks, 8 are on "Something Else," 3 on "TVGPS," and none are on "Arthur." (The rest are scattered over various singles and the previous LPs.)
Just the additional vocal range really helps these songs, but it's obviously much more than that. Her vocals really make the difference between a good song and a great one. Take End Of The Season, for example. End Of The Season is possibly the oldest Kinks song on the album. It was originally recorded in April 1966, but there is good reason to believe it was re-recorded a year later with the rest of the "Something Else" album. What evidence is there? Mainly, the vocal arrangement! In 1966 Ray's use of his wife's voice was rudimentary; by 1967 it was expert. End Of The Season is expertly arranged. Another of looking at it is that Rasa found her voice by 1967, and she knew best how to make the records her own.
End Of The Season is quintessential "Something Else"-period Kinks. Handled differently, this song would be hard to take seriously. A bit like Paul's pastiches on The White Album, End Of The Season flirts with older song forms and singing styles. It's very nearly just a genre exercise. But like so many of the songs on "Something Else," The Kinks manage to create something subtle and poignant out of these unlikely themes and forms.
How do they do it? Besides Rasa's backing vocals, the tempo is just right, the piano playing is warm and sympathetic, and Ray's vocal is heartfelt and sincere in all the right places (that is, not in every place, but every place it mattered. He knew what he was doing). Still, it's mainly Rasa here that lifts this track. If you listen to the song, 29 seconds in, halfway through the first line of the first verse, "Since you've been gone," and you're thinking this song is a joke. But then the falsetto comes in, and immediately, 30 seconds in, it's a beautiful sad song. Good trick!
Photo: Holiday near an island in Greece.