Even by contemporary standards, this classic production is still tremendously spiky-sounding, and has even less low end than I’d remembered — somehow it manages to suggest bass power without actually putting much LF energy in there. The gaps between the riffs are also chock-full of extraneous noises and resonances (check out the one at 0:06, for instance), a fitting complement to the chaotic energy of the guitar riff, and indeed the song as a whole. In my opinion, project-studio engineers (myself included!) often obsess too much on removing such apparent detritus, and end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. Yes, it sounds cleaner, but it also stops sounding like a genuine musical event in the way it does here.
By the same token, the lead vocal rushes quite badly at times (for example, “so I can’t sleep at night” at 0:32), and would probably have been sliced to ribbons in any mainstream production these days. But that would have been to lose its palpable excitement — the sense that Ray Davies is too impatient to tell us about his insomnia to wait for the rest of the band! Anyone who reads my Mix Rescue articles will know I’m hardly some kind of ‘it all went downhill after the wax cylinder’ reactionary, but this song does challenge every one of us to question whether we’re spending hours editing audio regions, tweaking plug-ins and drawing automation because we should — or simply because we can.