1.) You Really Got Me (1964). The best song on their debut album is the title track, "You Really Got Me."
2.) Kinks-Size (1965). This was the most successful Kinks album in the US in the 1960s. It contains the two hits "Tired of Waiting for You" and "All Day and All of the Night."
3.) Kinda Kinks (1965). This album contains the hit single "Set Me Free."
4.) Kinkdom (1965). The hit song off this record is "A Well-Respected Man."
6.) Face to Face (1966). This was the first album composed entirely of Ray Davies originals (previous albums had contained some cover songs). It is also considered the first "concept album" in rock history. Davies suffered a nervous breakdown in 1965, and this album was recorded after his recovery. The new, more melodic, sound can be clearly heard in the song "Sunny Afternoon."
7.) Something Else (1967). This album was the first produced entirely by Ray Davies, who was the creative force behind The Kinks. This album did not do well in the US because The Kinks were under a performance ban in America. With this album and the next, The Kinks would focus on very British subject matter. My favorite track off this record is "Waterloo Sunset."
8.) The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968). This is, by far, my favorite Kinks record. It's another concept album having to do with a wistful longing for a British pastoral lifestyle that was pretty much destroyed by the industrial revolution. It's a smart, funny, and highly unique album. The title track, "Village Green Preservation Society," is representative of the album's tone and style. Shockingly, this album was a commercial failure in the US, selling under 25,000 copies. No wonder I didn't hear of it until around 2005.
9.) Arthur (or, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969). Another concept album written as a musical play about a British man named Arthur, living in the years after World War II. The album is a sometimes nostalgic and critical reflection upon Great Britain in the 20th century, and its various wars. It's pretty epic. The hit single off this record was "Victoria."
10.) Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part 1 (1970). Yet another concept album (a satirical look at the pop music industry), this album is most famous for its hit single "Lola." Other songs like "Strangers" and "This Time Tomorrow" were included on the soundtrack for Wes Anderson's film The Darjeeling Limited.
11.) Percy (1971) was a soundtrack album for a British film called Percy, about a man who receives the world's first penis transplant. "Percy" is the nickname for the transplanted penis. The best-known single from this strange album is "God's Children."
12.) Muswell Hillbillies (1971) is my friend Landon's favorite Kinks album. He describes it as "a very British country album." The album focuses on the plight of 1970s working class people living in Old Victorian neighborhoods of London that were being destroyed and replaced by modern subdivisions. The album vacillates between anger and nostalgia. Pretty much all the songs are amazing. Like Village Green, this album was also a commercial failure. People are dumb. "20th Century Man" is an especially great track.
13.) Everybody's in Show-Biz (1972) was a double album, featuring one studio record and one live record from a performance at Carnegie Hall. This album, as the title and cover art suggest, has very Broadway/Vaudeville feel to it. My favorite song is definitely "Supersonic Rocket Ship."
14.) Preservation Act 1 (1973). This album, and the one that followed (Preservation Act 2) form a satirical rock opera about a conflict between two antagonists: Flash, a capitalist baron, and Mr. Black, a Puritanical socialist. Like previous albums, this one is epic in scope and instrumentation. My favorite track off Act 1 is "Sweet Lady Genevieve".
15.) Preservation Act 2 (1974). This is, like many Kinks masterpieces, a highly underrated album. The tone of the story reflects a kind of early 1970s disillusionment, with lyrics like "While the rich run their rackets he sits in his attic / And casually clocks their defeat. / While politicians cover up mistakes that they've made / And all the promises, the lies and deceits." For all its flamboyant rock-opera-ness "Preservation Act" is a real cry of outrage and despair. It's pretty great. A good, representative track off Act 2 is "Money Talks".
16.) Soap Opera (1975). Continuing their streak of strange/satirical rock operas, the Kinks' next album Soap Opera was actually turned into a play for British television called The Starmaker, starring Ray Davies and Julie Ritchie. The story follows a rock star named Starmaker who trades places with an "ordinary man" named Norman, in order to better understand life. One funny track from this album is called "Ducks on the Wall." It's about Starmaker's dismay at his wife's love for the decorative ducks she hangs on the wall.
18.) Sleepwalker (1977). Okay, I'm gonna be totally honest here. I'm generally not wild about The Kinks from this point on. Up to this point, I love them, but when they switched record companies in 1977 and started creating more commercial "arena rock" sounding albums, they sort of lost me. Interestingly, those more commercial albums often did quite well in the United States. Oh, America and your poor pop music tastes. So, the albums I list from here on out, I'm doing more for historical, rather than artistic, interest on my part.
20.) Low Budget (1979). This album, another artistic failure, was a great commercial success in the United States. This album is a weird attempt at "punk" and "new wave". The single off this one was "(Wish I Fly Like) Superman."
22.) State of Confusion (1983). The worse the Kinks records became, the more successful they became in the United States. The single off this record, "Come Dancing," reached #6 on the Billboard charts. Ok, I'm just gonna list the last four Kinks records without comment, because I hate to talk shit on one of my favorite bands. I just think they should have stopped around 1975, or Ray Davies should have become a writer of musical theater, because he was getting good at that.
23.) Word of Mouth.
24.) Think Visual (1986)
25.) UK Jive (1989)
26.) Phobia (1993)