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"You Really Got Me" is a rock song written by Ray Davies and performed by his band, The Kinks. It was released on 4 August 1964 as the group's third single, and reached Number 1 on the UK singles chart the next month, remaining for two weeks. It was the group's breakthrough hit; it established them as one of the top British Invasion acts in the United States, reaching Number 7 there later in the year. It was later included on the Kinks' debut album, Kinks.
"You Really Got Me" was an early hit song built around power chords (perfect 5ths and octaves), and heavily influenced later rock musicians, particularly in the sub-genres heavy metal and punk rock. American musicologist Robert Walser wrote that it is, "the first hit song built around power chords" while critic Denise Sullivan of Allmusic writes, "'You Really Got Me' remains a blueprint song in the hard rock and heavy metal arsenal."
In 1999, "You Really Got Me" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone magazine placed the song at number 82 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and at number 4 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. In early 2005, the song was voted the best British song of the 1955-1965 decade in a BBC radio poll. In March 2005, Qmagazine placed it at number 9 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. In 2009 it was named the 57th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1.
The song was recorded by the Kinks in a number of styles in the summer of 1964 before the final sound was achieved. The group was under tremendous pressure for a hit from their record company, Pye, after their two previous single releases failed to chart. Ray Davies in particular was stubbornly persistent in forcing the Kinks' management and record company to take the time and money needed to develop the record's landmark sound and style. Davies' efforts on behalf of the career-making song effectively established him as the leader and chief songwriter of the Kinks.The influential distortion sound of the guitar track was created after guitarist Dave Davies sliced the speaker cone of his guitar amplifier with a razor blade and poked it with a pin.The amplifier was affectionately called "little green," after the name of the amplifier made by the Elpico company, and purchased in Davies' neighbourhood music shop, slaved into a Vox AC-30.
The guitar solo on the recording is the source of one of the most controversial and persistent myths in all of rock and roll: that it was not played by the Kinks' lead guitarist Dave Davies, but by then-session player Jimmy Page, who later joined The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin. Among those claiming Page played lead guitar was Jon Lord of Deep Purple who also claimed to play piano on the track. Page has always denied playing the song's guitar solo, going so far as to state in a 1970s interview cited in Sound On Sound magazine that "I didn't play on 'You Really Got Me' and that's what pisses him (Ray Davies) off." Rock historian and author Doug Hinman makes a case that the rumour was begun and fostered by the established UK Rhythm and Blues community, many of whose members were resentful that an upstart band of teenagers such as the Kinks could produce such a powerful and influential blues-based recording, seemingly out of nowhere.
Recent Kinks' releases have given full official credits for the musicians on the track. Group members Ray Davies (vocals and rhythm guitar). Dave Davies (lead guitar), Pete Quaife (bass) are joined by session men Bobby Graham(drums), and Arthur Greenslade (piano). Regular Kinks drummer Mick Avory plays the tambourine.
Shel Talmy, the Producer on the track has recently gone on record and put the controversy to rest in an interview with the blog, Finding Zoso, "I mean, Jimmy Page did not play the solo on “You Really Got Me” which I’ve said about 5,000 times to people who insist that he did. The reason I used Jimmy on The Kinks stuff is because Ray didn’t really want to play guitar and sing at the same time. In fact, Jimmy was playing rhythm guitar.
Ray Davies in his autobiographical release "Storyteller" (Capitol, ASIN: B00000635E, released April 21, 1998) also addresses the guitar solo on track 28 ("The Third Single"), in which he tells the story of how the Kinks needed to have a hit within their first three singles in order to maintain their record contract. "You Really Got Me" was their third chance. According to Davies, not only did his brother Dave play the solo, but he also yells "fuck off" to Ray Davies right before the solo starts. Per Ray Davies's recounting of the story:
- "Halfway through the song it was time for Dave's guitar solo. This moment had to be right. So I shouted across the studio to Dave, give him encouragement. But I seemed to spoil his concentration. He looked at me with a dazed expression. 'Fuck off.' If you doubt me, if you doubt what I'm saying, I challenge you to listen to the original Kinks recording of 'You Really Got Me.' Halfway through the song, after the second chorus, before the guitar solo, there's a drum break. Boo ka, boo boo ka, boo ka, boo boo. And in the background you can hear 'fuck off.' You can, you can. When I did the vocal I tried to cover it up by going "Oh no", but in the background you still hear it 'fuck off.' And it's even clearer on CD, it's really embarrassing."
According to Ray Davies, the song's characteristic riff came about while working out the chords of The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie." Though in 1998, he said: "I'd written 'You Really Got Me' as tribute to all those great blues people I love: Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy. The Kinks' use of distorted guitar riffs continued with songs like "All Day and All of the Night," "Tired of Waiting for You," and "Set Me Free," among others. Pete Townshend of The Who has stated that their first single, "I Can't Explain," was an intentional soundalike of The Kinks' work at the time (The Who were also produced by Talmy at that time).
The Kinks would go on to perform successfully together as a band for over 30 years, through many musical styles, and they would always play "You Really Got Me" in concert. Both Ray and Dave Davies still perform the song in solo shows, generally as a closing number.
- 801, the short-lived progressive rock supergroup featuring Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno, performed the song in concert, and included it on their 1976 album 801 Live.
- Deborah Blando covered the song for the Special Edition of her first album, "A Different Story", in 1993.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks covered The Kinks' version in their 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunks video game
- Alvin and the Chipmunks also covered the Van Halen version with Honor Society for the 2009 film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
- Tom Baker covered the song for charity in 2006.
- Boyband, from New Zealand, released a version in 2006, a New Zealand No. 1 single.
- Ali Campbell covered the song on his 2010 album Great British Songs.
- Eve 6 covered the song and was featured on The New Guy soundtrack in 2002.
- Peter Gabriel performed the song in concert on his first post-Genesis solo tour in 1976 but never recorded it.
- The Human Instinct covered and released the song as a single in 1969, and it was also released on their album: Burning Up Years
- Dennis Leary crooned the song in the 1993 crime-comedy film National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1
- Constantine Maroulis released the song as a single in 2011.
- Metallica recorded the song with Ray Davies on his 2010 album See My Friends.
- Mott the Hoople released the song as an instrumental on the 1969 album Mott the Hoople.
- Oingo Boingo covered the song on their 1981 album Only a Lad.
- Robert Palmer released the song on his 1978 solo album Double Fun.
- Robots in Disguise covered the song on their 2006 album Get RID!.
- Salt N Pepa quoted the song in their 1987 hit "Push It".
- Helen Schneider covered the song on her 1981 album Schneider with the Kick.
- Search, a Malaysian rock group, covered the song with the lyrics changed into Malay and the song re-titled Sirih Gambir, on their 1985 debut album Cinta Buatan Malaysia.
- Sly and the Family Stone covered the song on their 1982 album Ain't but the One Way.
- Stack Waddy covered and released the song as a single in 1972, on his 1972 album Bugger Off!
- The 13th Floor Elevators recorded a version that can be found in the bonus tracks of the 2005 reissue of their debut album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.
- Ryan Starr and Sanjaya Malakar both covered this song on the first and sixth season of American Idol, respectively. Both received negative reviews but were both announced safe the next day.
- Van Halen covered the song in 1978.
- Dirty Tricks (UK) performed the song in San Antonio TX 1976, and which was included as a bonus track on the 2004 CD rerelease of their 1977s album ‘Hit & Run’.