Make 'em say "You really got me...a good present" with Ray Davies' tips

In 1978, Kinks frontman Ray Davies sang ”Father Christmas, give us some money/Don’t mess around with those silly toys.” But even rock stars have mums, so the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer agreed to meet us at a Manhattan Tower Records, where he could cross a couple of names off his gift list.

We rush past boxed-set displays of every size and genre and head for jazz and blues. ”People getting records from me know that I look out for little gems, like an old soundtrack or rock record,” says Davies, who, with his Ray-Bans and tousled hair, looks like the stylish ex-fop that he is. ”I think they have much more value than a boxed set. A boxed set is something you give someone as a retirement present or something.”

Davies picks up Otis Redding’s Otis Blue and Charles Mingus’ Blues & Roots before heading into the film-and-theater section. ”My neighbors have a difficult child who stays awake all night,” he explains, with a wry smile. ”I’m gonna buy them the soundtrack to Vertigo. That ought to settle their nerves.”

Flipping through the soundtracks, he selects a compilation disc of four scores: The King’s Thief by Miklos Rozsa, Scaramouche by Victor Young, Captain Blood by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and The Three Musketeers by Max Steiner. ”For someone who’s into boy bands, I’d get them Captain Blood,” he suggests, only half joking. ”It’s totally great, the Errol Flynn movie…. A lot of great composers came to America in the ’30s and ’40s and couldn’t get work other than in movie studios.”

After much prodding, Davies agrees to visit the Kinks section to offer a recommendation. ”People seem to like The Village Green Preservation Society,” he says of his band’s 1968 album. ”It’s unbelievable because it’s really under-recorded, like a demo album. But everybody who’s wanted to play a song on stage with us has picked a song from that album.”

As he leaves, Davies eyes a copy of Scottish Moods. ”This looks perfect for someone who’s into heavy metal and drinks a lot. It’s just the thing for a hangover, I bet, especially the bagpipes,” he says, a smirk inching up his face. ”I think I’ll send that to [Motorhead’s] Lemmy.”