177. ‘You Really Got Me’, by The Kinks

Chart-topper No. 177, AKA The One Where Heavy Metal is invented. Or so the history books would have you believe…

DeZB8dhW4AAJjaL

You Really Got Me, by The Kinks (their 1st of three #1s)

2 weeks, from 10th – 24th September 1964

It’s easy to see why ‘You Really Got Me’ has gone down in the annals as the first metal/hard rock song (let alone #1 hit). There hasn’t been a chart-topper yet that has relied so heavily on its riff. Da-da-da-dun-da, Da-da-da-dun-da … Two sharp blasts from Dave Davies’ guitar kick us off, and it doesn’t let up until the very end. Da-da-da-dun-da, Da-da-da-dun-da…

Girl, You really got me goin’, You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’ … Lyrics that rival the riff for brutal simplicity. You really got me now, You got me so I can’t sleep at night… The band called it a ‘love song for street kids’, and you can understand the sentiment. Poetry it ain’t; but the message comes across loud and clear. It’s a simple, yet intense, song. An intensely simple song. With that dense, monotonous riff dragging all along in its wake.

And the solo, when it arrives, is definitely the hardest rocking twenty seconds or so to feature at the top of the UK charts. And I don’t just mean up to now – I mean ever. Pure, unadulterated ROCK doesn’t often make it to the top of the charts and this solo, even listening to it fifty-five years on, still has the power to grab you by the balls. Ray Davies screams, and his brother goes wild.

My favourite bit, though, of this whole record, is how the choruses build into that oh yeeaahhh! moment, where the whole band join in and propel us into that unforgettable hook: You really got me, You really got me, You really got me…! It’s at this point that you realise you’re also listening to the first true power-pop record, too, with the vocals and the riff coming together to punch out the tune. Plus, you could argue that this is one of the first garage rock discs, too, in its simplicity and its rough-round-the-edges charm.

the-kinks-you-really-got-me-1964

Whatever genre this is – metal, garage rock, power-pop – it’s an undeniable classic. Few bands have announced themselves to the world like The Kinks did with this disc. And, like all great songs, a mythology has grown around ‘You Really Got Me’… Allegedly, the lead guitar was played by a then session-musician Jimmy Page (it wasn’t). Also allegedly, you can hear Ray Davies telling his brother to ‘fuck off’ in the drum fill just before the solo (I’ve really tried, but can’t). And then there’s the story of how the band achieved that gritty, crunchy guitar sound – by ripping the amplifier open.

I’ve listened to this song seven or eight times now in writing this, and I could listen to it seven or eight more. It’s perfect: short, sharp and sexy. It really feels as if every #1 we come across at the moment is raising the stakes – whether it’s The Honeycombs stamping on Joe Meek’s staircase, The Animals and The Stones bringing the blues, or The Beatles killing off Merseybeat in the outro to ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. Look back one year, to the days of Frank Ifield, Cliff, even Gerry & The Pacemakers, and it feels (and sounds) more like ten.

Weirdly, despite the fact that this may well be The Kinks’ biggest, best-known hit; it really doesn’t sound like them. The follow-up to this was ‘All Day and All of the Night’ (basically ‘You Really Got Me’ Pt. II), but after that they went in all kinds of different directions: Beat, music hall, folk, as well as pure pop. They have two more #1s to come, though, so let’s save all that for another day.

To end… I have a confession to make. This is such a classic, timeless, influential record that… and I think this just goes to show how irresistible this song truly is… I love even the Van Halen cover version…

15 thoughts on “177. ‘You Really Got Me’, by The Kinks

  1. Pingback: 178. ‘I’m Into Something Good’, by Herman’s Hermits – The UK Number Ones Blog

  2. groundbreaking gritty track this one, prob why I have no childhood memories of it at all. 64 was awash with pop classics but this one never made it onto the variety shows and the limited BBC radio pop shows. Too raw I guess! I first came across it on a 1973 album of 60’s chart-toppers, and it still sounded great, one of the highlights of the album.

    1. Interesting to hear that. It’s such a ‘Best Of the 60s’ staple nowadays that I’d have assumed it always was. Hearing it in context, next to Manfred Mann and Herman’s Hermits, it really does stand out as a slap in the face

  3. badfinger20

    This one STILL pops off the radio in FM or AM… Dave Davies cut slashes in his amplifier speakers to get this sound…Brilliant!
    This is one of those songs that I would have loved to hear at the time…it probably would have been just as different as Telstar….in a different way. This one influenced the Beatles, Stones, and The Who…also I would say.

  4. Pingback: Recap: #150 – #180 – The UK Number Ones Blog

  5. Pingback: 183. ‘I Feel Fine’, by The Beatles – The UK Number Ones Blog

  6. Pingback: 187. ‘Tired of Waiting for You’, by The Kinks – The UK Number Ones Blog

  7. Pingback: 192. ‘The Minute You’re Gone’, by Cliff Richard – The UK Number Ones Blog

  8. Pingback: 199. ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, by The Byrds – The UK Number Ones Blog

  9. Pingback: 218. ‘Sunny Afternoon’, by The Kinks – The UK Number Ones Blog

  10. Pingback: 223. ‘All or Nothing’, by The Small Faces – The UK Number Ones Blog

  11. Pingback: Top 10s – The Kinks – The UK Number Ones Blog

  12. Pingback: 299. ‘Double Barrel’, by Dave and Ansil Collins – The UK Number Ones Blog

  13. Pingback: Cover Versions of #1s – Girlschool & Van Halen – The UK Number Ones Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s