THE ORIGINAL: The Kinks (1964)

I’ve often said that this is one of the first punk rock songs – actually it’s a tossup between this and “My Generation” by The Who — because of the opening guitar riff, the perfect fifths and octaves and power chords. This also influenced future punk rockers and metal bands alike.

Did you know that Ray Davies wrote it on a piano? It apparently had a “jazzy” feel, so I’m glad his brother Dave suggested some fuzz guitar for the opening lick instead. It’s loud, it’s brutal, it shreds, it’s great. Simple lyrics about a girl who has this guy tied up in emotional knots and needs to be set free.

And in keeping with the ‘60s – you can do The Twist to it!

THE COVER: Van Halen (1978)

These guys played this in their shows for a while, so they had it down to record at some point. Ironically, this was the first single released from their debut album.

I can understand wanting to get people to listen to them with a popular cover that isn’t that old, but wow. I would have picked “Runnin’ With the Devil” or “Jamie’s Cryin’.” Now that I think of it, “Ice Cream Man” is also a cover. Have any other bands had a debut album with two covers on it?

Anyway, they did a decent job, using the same arrangement, but sorta updated with Eddie’s histrionic guitar playing and Diamond Dave squeaking and squonking all over the place in the bridge. But I would expect nothing less.


The Kinks. You can’t beat the feeling of hearing the opening riff, knowing how old it is and how great it still sounds.


About Author

Crystal C Durant

Crystal is today's black Renaissance woman. She lives in Harlem, is always up for a new experience, is a magnet for all kinds of crazy, and smells like fresh flowers.


  1. When I was younger I preferred VH’s version. I grew to love and understand the Kinks’ version in context to their time much better. That said, I enjoy “You Really Got Me” played later in the Kinks’ career over their earlier, innocent (and much less produced, tinny sound) version.

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