When The Beatles and The Rolling Stones broke America, they left ajar a crack that countless British blues bands would try to squeeze through. Artists such as The Animals and Cream may have made some headway, but it was down to supreme Londoners, The Kinks to kick open the floodgates. The band, led by the Davies brothers Ray and Dave, would produce British-centric tunes that the whole world could enjoy. Except, apparently, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.
Let us go back to London in the swinging sixties — the kind of place we always like to imagine. Amid a swirl of creativity and the promise of pop music pounds flooding in, rock bands across the capital set themselves a task of cashing in. The Kinks were no different, and they set their sights on gaining the same fame and fortune that was befalling the Liverpudlian foursome. While other bands relied heavily on covers during this time, Ray Davies was already determined to write his music, giving the world some of the foremost youth anthems of the day, including ‘All Day and All of the Night’.
One of The Kinks’ undoubted classics, ‘All Day and All of the Night’, was a signifier to Britain’s youth that The Kinks were hip. The band made not-so-subtle references to sexual encounters with their girlfriends, which not only made the kids go wild but also provided a searing pop song. We’re not going to sit here and proclaim that this is necessarily some of Davies’ most poignant or purposeful work. But to ignore the potency of his lyrics as well as the subversive subtext is not only to forget the time and place in which they were written but how simply universal they were.
The song was reasonably derivative of their first hit, ‘You Really Got Me’,’ something instigated by the record company’s need for more and more records. Ray Davies later described the track as a “neurotic song – youthful, obsessive and sexually possessive.” It certainly fits the bill for a youthful anthem if ever we heard one despite being initially rejected by the label for being “too blue-collar, too working class.” But the song has another outside of the dancefloor joy it brought to millions.
Not only is the song often thought of as a reference point for The Doors song ‘Hello, I love You’ — so much so that The Kinks’ publisher wanted to sure the Los Angeles band and only didn’t because Davies refused to take action — but, depending on who you believe, it also featured a young Jimmy Page on guitar.
A seasoned session musician at the time, the young pre-Yardbirds Jimmy Page was a contributor to a lot of records around this time. The guitarist was as talented as ever and more than happy to fulfil the role of studio tech and sometimes axeman. Much of his work during that time is well-regarded and not disputed, but this inclusion certainly is. The focus of the argument is the searing guitar solo in the middle of ‘All Day and All of the Night’.
Many, including Jimmy Page, have suggested that he was on guitar during that recording and that Ray Davies was nowhere near the solo. When listening to the track with this knowledge, it is easy to hear Page’s signature style. But, it is a notion that is hotly disputed by Ray Davies, who spoke to Creem magazine in 1981 and not only refuted Page’s claims but dished out his own sentiment too: “I remember Page coming to one of our sessions when we were recording ‘All Day And All Of The Night.’
“We had to record that song at 10 o’clock in the morning,” Davies continued, “because we had a gig that night. It was done in three hours. Page was doing a session in the other studio, and he came in to hear Dave’s solo, and he laughed, and he snickered. And now he says that he played it! So I think he’s an asshole, and he can put all the curses he wants on me because I know I’m right, and he’s wrong.”
Of course, it would be quite challenging to know for sure who was behind the monster solo in the middle of ‘All Day and All of the Night’, whether it was Davies or Page who laid down that fiery lick, but what we do know is that the song will likely outlive the dispute. An anthem for the youth no matter what generation The Kinks track will be played at ragers forever.