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What Are You Listening To?


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9 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of British Empire) by The Kinks-Nov 1969

I owned that on vinyl.  I never liked it much.  Influenced by The Rolling Stone Record Guide, which in 1979 awarded the album 5 stars, and loving The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, I bought the next 2 KINKS albums chronologically.  Both highly regarded then, nobody listens to them now much.  Or THEN!!! 

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8 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

I owned that on vinyl.  I never liked it much.  Influenced by The Rolling Stone Record Guide, which in 1979 awarded the album 5 stars, and loving The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, I bought the next 2 KINKS albums chronologically.  Both highly regarded then, nobody listens to them now much.  Or THEN!!! 

What do you think of the song 'Shangri-la?

 

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3 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

What do you think of the song 'Shangri-la?

 

I love this song and play it often;   it has those two different sections and,  of course,  the lyrics are great  (Ray at his best).    The song influenced me as a man in his late 20s making good in our capitalists \ materialistic society.

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3 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

What do you think of the song 'Shangri-la?

Like everything RAY DAVIES wrote, particularly in that era, he illustrates his genius.  But I must admit I hadn't heard that song in decades

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The kinks lola versus powerman album.jpg

Lola Vs Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One by The Kinks -Nov 1970

The Kinks enter the 1970s, a good album, though not up to the greatness of the last four. "The Contenders" is the opening song as we hear the narrator wanting to get out in the world though talks more about what he doesn't want than what he wants. "Strangers" is a pretty good ballad by Dave. "Denmark Street" is the first of a few songs satirizing the music business, this one is about trying to get songs to a publisher. Ray slips back into his working class guy persona in "Get Back In The Line" as he waits to see if he can get a union job. The next song is the best, also their first top ten hit in 5 years, "Lola". It's a very funny and catchy tune about falling in love with a transvestite. "Top Of The Pops" continues the thread about the music business as the singer gets his first hit song. The next chapter is "The Moneygoround" a witty sendup of where the money goes after the music is a success. Side 2 opens with "This Time Tomorrow" an OK song, some good strumming guitars. "Rats" is pretty good rocker from Dave. "Ape Man" is another hilarious song with some reggae flavored music. The singer talks about leaving the city and just swinging from a tree in the jungle. "Powerman" is another jab at greed, how whoever has the money has the power. "Got To Be Free" is a pretty good closer about the need to be an individual. 

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Lola Vs Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One by The Kinks -Nov 1970

Also owned that on vinyl.  Thinking back, I listened more to Arthur than Lola Vs. Powerman but never listened to either much.  Once highly regarded, Lola has slipped quite a bit in critics' estimation.  Thought of as a kind-of "come back" record when it was new, THE KINKS record sales continued to slip... Give The People What They Want was a noticeable return to USA charts... KINKS never rebounded in UK charts. 

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"Percy" by The Kinks -Mar 1971

One of their weakest albums and one of their most obscure. It was a soundtrack to an even more obscure comedy film about the first **** transplant. The first song is actually quite good. 'God's Children" which Ray sings about how we need to get back the way God made us. There is an instrumental version of their hit "Lola". The best song is 'The Way Love Used To Be" a haunting love song with some beautiful string arrangements. Most of the rest of the album is unmemorable instrumentals and filler songs. The weirdest song is "Willesden Green" a country tune sung by bassist John Dalton, trying to sound a bit like Johnny Cash.

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Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks-Nov 1971

A few good songs but a disappointing album for the group. They now have a fifth member of the Kinks in keyboard player John Gosling. The opening track "20th Century Man" is an interesting one as the singer feels out of place in this century, "the age of machinery". "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" is an OK song about someone constantly paranoid about everything. The next song "Holiday" sounds like the subject of the last track has been "sent away" for a holiday, good piano on this. "Skin And Bone" is an OK Chuck Berry style rocker about a woman losing weight and also losing her friends. "Alcohol" is a good dramatic tale of man losing everything to drink and a floozie. The rest of the album is mostly forgettable songs. My favorite song is "Have A Cuppa Tea" a witty country hoe down about the healing powers of tea. The last track "Muswell Hillbilly" is about the Davies home town of Muswell Hill, district of London. However in the song, the singer talks about his "heart lies in West Virginia".

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7 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

The Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies.jpg

Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks-Nov 1971

A few good songs but a disappointing album for the group. They now have a fifth member of the Kinks in keyboard player John Gosling. The opening track "20th Century Man" is an interesting one as the singer feels out of place in this century, "the age of machinery". "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" is an OK song about someone constantly paranoid about everything. The next song "Holiday" sounds like the subject of the last track has been "sent away" for a holiday, good piano on this. "Skin And Bone" is an OK Chuck Berry style rocker about a woman losing weight and also losing her friends. "Alcohol" is a good dramatic tale of man losing everything to drink and a floozie. The rest of the album is mostly forgettable songs. My favorite song is "Have A Cuppa Tea" a witty country hoe down about the healing powers of tea. The last track "Muswell Hillbilly" is about the Davies home town of Muswell Hill, district of London. However in the song, the singer talks about his "heart lies in West Virginia".

I love the Kinks.  I'm happy to see someone here taking an interest in them, since despite how good they were, they seem to be less well-known than they deserve to be, especially in the U.S.

Now, I will say, that like so many of the great bands that started in the '60s,  their best work was behind them by the end of the '70s.  Probably the last album they did that I actually like every track is Soap Opera,  and that's probably as much for its silly quirky corny story as it is the music.

So.    Muswell Hillbillies.  Well, we are getting to the end of their golden period, in fact, it's arguably the last album they made where the muse  (no pun intended) is smiling unreservedly on Ray Davies.  It's the follow-up to Lola  (not counting  the little-known Percy),  which many consider one of the Kinks' best, so anything following that might be regarded as a come-down.

Anyway, blahblah, you're probably hearing a lot more about The Kinks than you bargained for when you wrote that post.  To the point:  Although it's definitely not one of the Kinks' best albums, it's pretty darn good.  I like every single track on it - some more than others, of course.  "Alcohol" is,I think, a highlight,  featuring as it does that Salvation Army type arrangement.   I've always thought it was pretty catchy, plus the lyrics are their own little drama.  I like it that he uses words like "floozy" in it.     I agree the "Cuppa Tea" song is nice. I think you under-rated "Skin and Bone".  I'd never thought it was that Chuck Berry-ish, although it certainly is a rocker.  I imagine everyone doing touch-their-toes exercises to it, in keeping with the story.

The Kinks, like a lot of Brit groups, loved American country music in a way that their U.S. counterparts seemingly didn't.  So the whole album is a kind of tribute to country music (even though lots of the tracks are not strictly speaking, country.)

The best example of this is "Oklahoma USA", which you didn't mention in your post.  It's a truly sweet and kind of sad song.  Ray Davies excelled at capturing the bittersweet side of life in his compositions, and "Oklahoma USA" is such a song, kind of wistful and gentle.

I don't know if Muswell Hillbillies is one of the first Kinks albums you've explored, but if you're interested,  I recommend just about everything they did between 1966 to 1970, especially Something Else Village Green,  and Arthur.  As I said,  I love this band a lot.  But they are definitely not for all tastes.

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36 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

The Kinks, like a lot of Brit groups, loved American country music in a way that their U.S. counterparts seemingly didn't. 

There is truth in this statement, GRAM PARSONS certainly failed to ignite public interest in his Country Rock Folk hybrid ("Cosmic American Music" he called it).  There are, however, other bands of that era interested in Country...

36 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

I don't know if Muswell Hillbillies is one of the first Kinks albums you've explored, but if you're interested,  I recommend just about everything they did between 1966 to 1970, especially Something Else Village Green,  and Arthur.

There are other reviews by DetJim on each of those, go back a page or two. 

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3 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

There is truth in this statement, GRAM PARSONS certainly failed to ignite public interest in his Country Rock Folk hybrid ("Cosmic American Music" he called it).  There are, however, other bands of that era interested in Country...

There are other reviews by DetJim on each of those, go back a page or two. 

Thanks, Allhallowsday.  I figured maybe there were other mentions of Kinks albums here, but did not want to take the time to scroll back through the thread.  Apologies to DetJim for not realizing he'd probably already posted about them.

Gram Parsons made some great music. Some say it was he who popularized country music for Americans who were previously just into rock  (not sure when the term "country rock" was coined...)   Of course he brought country to The Byrds, and as you likely are aware,  made one or two beautiful albums of his own. He came to a sad end, like so many young musicians with addictions do.  There's an interesting doc about him called "Fallen Angel".

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On 5/18/2021 at 11:20 PM, Allhallowsday said:

I owned that on vinyl.  I never liked it much.  Influenced by The Rolling Stone Record Guide, which in 1979 awarded the album 5 stars, and loving The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, I bought the next 2 KINKS albums chronologically.  Both highly regarded then, nobody listens to them now much.  Or THEN!!! 

Ok, I scrolled back.  I guess I'm in the "nobody" category, because I love all those albums and still listen to them.  Great music never becomes dated.

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25 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

Ok, I scrolled back.  I guess I'm in the "nobody" category, because I love all those albums and still listen to them.  Great music never becomes dated.

When I talk records, I am hyperbolic.  I am also reactionary because I still reference my 1979 and 2004 RS Record Guides.  I have a friend who gets annoyed when I'd say something like Bat Out Of Hell?  Everybody bought it!  She'd then point out that she had not (and misunderstood again, I don't point out that I hadn't bought it either!) 

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8 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Apologies to DetJim for not realizing he'd probably already posted about them.

It's OK, I am going to continue reviewing their albums in order, since I own every one of them.

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12 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

I think it's fair to start with CHRIS HILLMAN as far as bringing Country to THE BYRDS...

ok,  right, I won't argue with that.   Maybe we could agree it was a collaborative effort.    (But Gram Parsons was better looking.  😐 )

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Everybody's In Show Biz by The Kinks-Aug 1972

A double album, one studio tracks, the other a live disc. The studio one is very entertaining, the live one not so much, seems unnecessary to include it, really brings down the quality of the whole package.

Disc 1

It starts with "Here Come Yet Another Day" a fast paced and funny song about a rock star's life on the road. "Maximum Consumption" continues the life of a performer, he is obsessed with food. "Unreal Reality" is just OK, about illusions. "Hot Potatoes" is another funny and catchy song about food. Ray slips into his working class bloke persona for this one, as his baby nags him about getting a job and if he doesn't all he will get for dinner is potatoes. "Sitting In My Hotel" is pretty good, more about life on the road and stuck in hotels. Side 2 opens with "Motorway" about a job which forces the narrator to ride down the motorway and eat a lot of bad food. Dave's only contribution is "You Don't Know My Name", not one of his best. "Supersonic Rocket Ship" is a fun song about wanting to fly away from earth. It has a good reggae beat and I like the guitar sound on it. "Look A Little On The Sunny Side" is another funny comical song with a  Dixieland feel with the horns. Ray is having a good time goofing around on this one. The last and best song (and one of the group's best ever) is "Celluloid Heroes" a beautiful, poignant tribute to classic film stars. It's about the stars on Hollywood boulevard, some that you recognize (he mentions Greta Garbo, Rudolph Valentino, Bela Lugosi, Bette Davis, George Sanders, Mickey Rooney and "dearest Marilyn") and some you hardly heard of.

Disc 2

The live set does not have any of the classic Kinks hits. It is mostly just songs that were on Muswell Hillbillies, their most recent record. There a  couple of snippets of Ray camping it up on old songs like "Mr Wonderful",  "Banana Boat Song" and "Baby Face". The last track is 1:40 of Ray leading the audience in the chorus of their hit "Lola". So it is not really worth it, but Disc 1 is definitely worth listening to.

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