Living on a Thin Line by Dave Davies review – a Kink in his armour

This powerful tell-all from the Kinks guitarist puts the spotlight on his own bad behaviour, dalliances with the occult and his recovery from a stroke

Dave Davies, co-founder of the Kinks, has had a life of era-appropriate excess and lived to be contrite about it. This new and updated memoir – a previous account, Kink, was published in 1997 – has its origins in a period of intense rehabilitation and re-evaluation prompted by a stroke the guitarist suffered in 2013. This firebrand once slashed the speaker cone of an amp with a razor blade to get the distorted sound on one of the most electrifying riffs in rock – You Really Got Me. After his stroke, he had to completely relearn how to play guitar. His enthusiasm for neuroplasticity – the way in which the brain lays down new pathways – is one of the book’s more endearing aspects.

If the past is absolutely another country, the rock past seems more foreign still with every passing hour. Where once rock’n’roll was a viable and heroic alternative to square life, the egregious behaviours enabled by fame’s warped power and cartloads of drugs make for increasingly uncomfortable reading now: it was an era of rampaging ids with little accountability. The arc here is redemptive, though; the focus very much on Davies’s own stormy internal weather.

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