In an exercise in what he calls ‘historically informed rock criticism’, Mark Doyle considers the Kinks, a band that emerged from a north London suburb in the 1960s. He describes how the fiercely distorted sound of their first hit, ‘You Really Got Me’, was made by slicing the cardboard speaker cones in the front room of 6 Denmark Terrace, N2, with a razor blade. There the Davies brothers, Ray and Dave, jammed with friends from nearby streets, all working-class boys with a passion for the music of black American bluesmen. Ray Davies called it ‘north London blues’.
Professor Doyle, who has previously written books on the British Empire and on Northern Ireland, makes the claim that in the mid-1960s Ray Davies ‘did for Swinging London what Charles Dickens had done for Victorian London, peering behind the façade of self-congratulatory comfort and prosperity to find the