Face to Face is the fourth studio album by the English rock band the Kinks, released in October 1966. The album had marked the band's shift from the hard-driving style of beat music, catapulting them to international acclaim. Being their first album consisting entirely of Ray Davies' compositions, it has also been regarded by critics as rock's first concept album.
Ray Davies suffered a nervous breakdown just prior to the major recording sessions for the album. In contrast to the band's earlier "raunchy" sound, he had started to introduce a new, softer style of writing the previous year with compositions such as "A Well Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion". In July 1966, the single "Sunny Afternoon", also written in that style, reached #1 in the UK, and the song's great popularity proved to Ray and the Kinks' managers that the group could find success with this style of songwriting. The new album would follow this pattern, as would the group's recorded output for the next five years. The 1966–71 period inaugurated by this album would later be called Ray's and the Kinks' "golden age".
Rock historians have credited the album as arguably one of the first rock/pop concept albums, with the loose common theme of social observation. In the album's original inception, Ray attempted to bridge the songs together with sound effects, but was forced to revert to the more standard album format by Pye Records before the album's release. Some effects remain such as in "Party Line", "Holiday in Waikiki", "Rainy Day in June" and on songs not included on the final album ("End of the Season", "Big Black Smoke").
"I'll Remember" was the earliest track on the album, having been recorded in October 1965 during sessions for The Kink Kontroversy. Two other songs recorded during the Face to Face sessions – "This Is Where I Belong" and "She's Got Everything" – were eventually released as B-sides to singles released in 1967 and 1968, respectively. Both songs eventually appeared on the 1972 US compilation album The Kink Kronikles.Pete Quaife had temporarily quit the band before the June–July 1966 recording sessions, and his replacement John Dalton can be confirmed playing only on the track "Little Miss Queen of Darkness". Contractual issues held up the release of the album for several months after final recording, and Ray was also in conflict with Pye over the final album cover art, whose psychedelic theme he later felt was inappropriate.
Two songs on Face to Face, although written by Ray, were originally recorded and released by other British bands in the months prior to the release of this album. The Pretty Things had a minor UK hit in July 1966 with "A House in the Country", which peaked at #50; their final entry on the singles charts. Herman's Hermits, meanwhile, took their version of "Dandy" top ten in several countries (including #5 in the US and #1 in Canada), beginning in September 1966. The Rockin' Vickers also recorded a version of "Dandy" which they released as a single in December 1966 in both the UK and the US. Despite what the sleeve notes say on The Rockin' Vickers The Complete the song "Little Rosy" was not written by Ray Davies.(Music: Herbie Armstrong; Lyrics: Paul Murphy)
The album was released in a particularly tumultuous year for the band, with personnel problems (Pete Quaife was injured; he resigned and later rejoined the band), legal and contractual battles and an ongoing hectic touring schedule. The album was critically well received, but did not sell particularly well at the time of its release (especially in the United States), and was out of print for many years. Reissues since 1998 have included bonus tracks of songs released contemporaneously as singles (most notably "Dead End Street") as well as two unreleased tracks.
"Mr. Reporter" was recorded in 1969 for Dave Davies' aborted solo album and was released as a bonus track on the 1998 Castle CD reissue of Face to Face. An earlier version featuring Ray Davies on lead vocals was recorded in February 1966 and was apparently intended for this album or an unissued EP. The scathing track satirizes the pop press, and was probably shelved to prevent offending music journalists who had been crucial to the Kinks' commercial success. Other unreleased songs from the Face to Face sessions reportedly include "Fallen Idol", about the rise and fall of a pop star, "Everybody Wants to Be a Personality", about celebrities, "Lilacs and Daffodils" (AKA "Sir Jasper"), which is reportedly about a schoolteacher (and is the only Kinks track with vocals by Mick Avory) and "A Girl Who Goes to Discotheques". It is unclear whether any of the unreleased tracks will ever be released officially. Dave indicated they were never satisfactorily completed for release and some were later reworked into different songs such as "Yes Man", another song from these sessions which was an early version of "Plastic Man".
All songs written and composed by Ray Davies (Dave Davies claims to have written "Party Line" in his autobiography Kink). On one of the earliest covers of the album (CVPV 76032.30), the song is credited R.Davies - D.Davies.