While the albums preceding "Give The People What They Want" were both solid, neither "Sleepwalker" nor "Low Budget" prepared us for this. Ray Davies not only brings The Kinks squarely into a new decade, he takes the time to acknowledge his past. "Destroyer" revives the the propulsive two-note drive of "All The Day and All Of The Night," quotes "Lola" and marries it all to Reagan era paranoia that is quintessential Kinks.
Nostalgia aside, Davies usual delivers his typical skewed vision to the instability of relationships ("Yo Yo" and "Add It Up" featuring a then Mrs Davies, Chrissie Hynde), topical; ("Killers Eyes") and statements on the state of rock (the terrific "Around The Dial"). "Give The People What They Want" was a moment of rock and roll acknowledgement; that Davies and company were spiritual forebears to the raving punk rock that was peaking at the time and that The Kinks were legends that necessitated homage.
But homage aside, "GTPWTW" ends with one of the singular most beautiful songs Davies has ever written, "Better Days."
"Here's wishing you the bluest skies and hoping something better comes tomorrow,
Hoping all the verses rhyme and the very best of choruses to
follow all the doubt and sadness.
I know that better things are on their way."
It's delivered in the most humble of voices with a simple melody, without dipping into a maudlin sound. Davies himself recently admitted on an NPR interview that this was one of The Kinks' songs he regrets isn't better known, and frankly, makes me give this CD an essential rating. The following "State of Confusion" yielded the hit ("Come Dancing"), but "Give The People What They Want" is the superior album.