KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

THE KINKS Part 7 – Better Things Are On The Way

Out of all the artists & albums I’ve revisited and written about here over the past three years, there’s never been a batch of records I was more familiar with than the four Kinks albums I spent time with the last 6-7 days. As I explained in Part 1 of this series, I was introduced to them via their late-‘70s & early-‘80s resurgence as an arena rock band. I had very little knowledge of their ‘60s & ‘70s recordings beyond the cover versions I knew from Van Halen and The Pretenders, as well as a single LP collection of their earliest hits. Eventually I acquired their entire discography and came to love so many of their classic albums (which was only enhanced as I’ve become reacquainted with them recently), but those first few albums I heard after discovering them always had a special place in my heart. Ironically, listening to them so soon after working my way chronologically through their catalog, my initial reaction was slight disappointment. It was then that I understood why so many fans who grew up with their earlier records were underwhelmed by their arena rock incarnation.

The Kinks Photo (circa 1979)It was interesting to hear them in this new context, but after playing them another 3 or 4 times I was reminded why I loved them in the first place. They may not be stone-cold classics like Something Else, The Village Green Preservation Society, Muswell Hillbillies, etc., but when you have the unique songwriting & vocals of Ray Davies combined with the musical muscle of lead guitarist Dave Davies, drummer Mick Avory and new guys Jim Rodford (on bass) & Ian Gibbons (on keys beginning in 1980), there are sure to be a number of unforgettable songs…and they didn’t disappoint.

I’ve always disliked the cover for Low Budget (1979), but that’s about the only negative thing I have to say about this album. It’s clear that they were influenced by punk The Kinks - Low Budget& new wave in the sleeker arrangements and aggressive vocals & guitar work, but the most noticeable differences from earlier recordings are the topical lyrics focusing on the state of America (which was going through another energy crisis at the time), resulting in them sounding more American than ever before. They also cranked out a set of tunes that were a perfect fit for FM radio, and it’s no surprise that it’s their highest charting US album. The majority of the 11 songs included here are worth noting, but a few didn’t hold up as well as I had expected. So if you don’t see one of your favorites listed below, that doesn’t mean I think it’s a clunker; it’s simply not as strong as the others.

The Essentials:

♪     “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” – A tender piano-led intro gives way to a “Jumping Jack Flash”-indebted riff. Sung from the perspective of America looking for assistance from other nations during tough times. Even though it’s 6 minutes long, it never overstays its welcome. Dave is impressive on all of his solos, and there’s a nice sax solo as well.

♪     “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” – Also known as “The Kinks go disco” with that Giorgio Moroder-style dance beat. I love the blend of Ray’s lower vocals mirrored by the higher vocals during the verses. On the surface it’s about a man striving for strength in the face of adversity (“Dissatisfied with what I am, I want to be a better man”) but it could also be an observation about society as a whole.

♪     “Low Budget” – A loose, ragged rocker with Dave riffing like Keith Richards at his best. Ray’s vocals are strong & forceful, and it’s packed with memorable melodies (“Times are hard but we’ll all survive, I just got to learn to economize”; “I’m on a low budget, what did you say…I thought you said that”).

♪     “Little Bit Of Emotion” – I always liked this song a lot but I probably didn’t consider it essential until playing it numerous times this week. It’s pretty & tender with twangy lead guitar & the first appearance of a strummed acoustic guitar on the album, I believe. The drum sound is a little plastic (not surprising considering the era it was recorded) but it’s not a distraction. I love Ray’s over-enunciated English vocals in the chorus (“A little bit of real emotion”). Probably the most subtle, heartfelt performance on the album.

Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Attitude” – The punky album opener featuring a chugging guitar riff, stomping drums and Ray alternating between screaming vocals and a quieter approach (“It’s not the makeup or the way you dress”). Dave’s guitar tone is biting & tough.
  • “Pressure” – A fast power-pop/punk song with great “oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah” call-and-response vocals. It’s a bashing, handclapping blast of fun, and I especially love the way the vocals slow down at “Whenever I…am…close…to…you.”
  • “National Health” – A tense, brooding intro leads into one of the quirkiest arrangements they’ve ever committed to tape. The syncopated rhythm and bubbling synth sounds really hooked me, as well as the chanted “oh-oh-oh-oh” & “ah-ah-ah-ah” vocals. Seems to be about the negative effects of prescription drugs (“nervous tension, man’s invention, it’s the biggest killer that’s around”).
  • “A Gallon Of Gas” – A straight-up blues shuffle that’s slightly more George Thorogood than John Lee Hooker, but I see that as a good thing since Dave really shines on guitar. Lyrically, Ray tackles the energy crisis with his sardonic humor: “I can score you some coke and some grade one grass but I can’t get a gallon of gas.”

The Kinks - One For The RoadThroughout the ‘70s, the double-live album was a rite of passage for just about every rock band. The Kinks may have joined those ranks a little later than the rest with One For The Road (1980), but their muscular sound in ’79 & ’80 was perfect for showcasing their recent material while beefing up some of the earlier songs. Emboldened by the commercial success of Low Budget, they were a confident live band who brought tons of energy to every performance (although sometimes at the expense of subtlety & nuance). As a 14-year-old hearing The Kinks in concert for the first time, this is the version of the band I always think of first, and I consider myself lucky to have discovered them at that point in their career. The track selection favors the ‘70s (12 of the 19 songs are from that decade, including 9 from the 4 most recent albums) but also highlights 7 key tracks from the ‘60s.

I like how the lead track, “Opening,” acts like an overture with several identifiable riffs getting the crowd excited. “The Hard Way” is super-fast & energetic, and possibly better than its studio counterpart. “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” is faster than the original and packs more punch, but it lacks some much needed finesse. The sing-along version of “Lola” was an FM radio hit and is still fun to hear. Ray’s introduction to “All Day And All Of The Night” has always been a The Kinks Photo (circa 1980)highlight for me: “Rock bands have come & rock bands have gone…but rock ‘n’ roll’s gonna go on forever…All Day And All Of The Niiiight!” The tighter & heavier version of “20th Century Man” is excellent, especially the Who-like instrumental section with Dave channeling Pete Townshend. This version of “Stop Your Sobbing” was the first time I heard The Kinks perform it after falling in love with The Pretenders’ interpretation. “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” replaces the original’s disco rhythm with a driving rock beat, and it’s equally as effective. “Celluloid Heroes” has long been near the top of my list of favorite Kinks songs, and that likely started when I heard this version. It’s a masterpiece, and Dave’s guitar work is stunning. I like how they ended the album with two of their most quintessentially British songs (“Victoria” and “David Watts”), even though they’re performed a little more forcefully here than on the originals. I’ve never seen One For The Road on lists of all-time best live albums, but it deserves to be in the mix. It certainly sent me on my way to becoming a bigger Kinks fan over 30 years ago.

The Kinks have always been a band that likes to surprise their fans rather than repeat themselves, so even though it must have been tempting to record “Low Budget Part 2” they chose to go in another direction with Give The People What They Want (1981). A rawer & heavier record than its predecessor, with metallic guitars & loud, The Kinks - Give The People What They Wantbashing drums, it still boasts a slew of great songs and about the same hit-to-near-miss ratio as Low Budget. There are also a handful of diversions from the otherwise heavy sounds, giving the record a nice balance as well as a few of its best songs.

The Essentials:

♪     “Around The Dial” – A propulsive, rocking tune with heavy guitars and snarling vocals (“Are you listening? Are you listening to me? Can you hear me?”). It’s an homage to FM radio, and musically it takes cues from artists like Blondie, The Buzzcocks and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.

♪     “Destroyer” – The big radio hit at the time, and deservedly so. They borrow a riff from one of their own songs, “All Day And All Of The Night,” and it immediately catches your ear. I also like how they reference “Lola” in the first line. The lyrics are about the effects of paranoia, and that intense mood is captured throughout. Dave really showcases his guitar prowess here.

♪     “Art Lover” – A pretty melody with a slightly disturbing vocal from Ray. I always thought he was playing a pervert looking at young girls, but now I see that it might be about a father who can’t see his daughter anymore after a divorce (or death?). Even if that’s the case, his delivery of lines like “Come to daddy, come on” is a bit creepy…yet it’s one of the charms of this intoxicating song.

♪     “Better Things” – How could they hide such a brilliant song at the end of the album? It’s a melodic classic that starts off with plunking piano before morphing into a jangly pop/rock song with a Pretenders-inspired guitar line. This song has some of Ray’s best melodies as well as possibly the most uplifting lyrics he’s ever written: “Here’s hoping all the days ahead won’t be as bitter as the ones behind you” is one of many great lines.

[The Kinks – “Better Things”]

The Kinks Photo (circa 1981)Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Give The People What They Want” – Love the buzzing snare drum intro (nice job, Mick Avory) with the chanted “hey hey hey” vocals. It’s a bright, rollicking rocker with a metallic guitar sound and a catchy rhythm in the chorus (“Give the…people…what they want”).
  • “Killer’s Eyes” – Ray is trying to pry into the mind of a killer (possibly Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassin, John Hinckley Jr., or John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman).  Somehow the melody maintains a lightness of touch in spite of the moody & dark music and staccato guitar riff.
  • “Add It Up” – The chiming guitar refrain reminds me of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” which was released a year later. Otherwise it’s a relatively minor but radio-friendly new wave rocker with a catchy chorus (“Add it up…ohhhh, add it up”).
  • “Yo Yo” – A quiet, moody tune with a sparse steady beat and a strong vocal melody. It’s all about the ups & downs of relationships (the pun was obviously intentional): “You needed me when you were crying but now you’re laughing and I’m the last thing on your mind.”

Shifting gears once again yet not straying too far from the successful template of the previous couple of albums, they streamlined their sound & polished off those metallic edges for State Of Confusion (1983). It has the reputation of being a soft album because of two hit singles (both of which are essential Kinks songs that would have The Kinks - State Of Confusionto appear on a career-spanning anthology), but it still contains a number of excellent rock songs. Several months before the album was released I remember seeing the promotional video for “Come Dancing” multiple times on HBO (then still known as Home Box Office) and not knowing where the song came from. Apparently it was released as a single in the UK more than 6 months before this album appeared, so imagine how pleased I was to find it included on State Of Confusion. The video, which is included at the bottom of this post, is like a mini movie that adds some nice visuals to a song which was already quite vivid in its nostalgic look back on Ray’s boyhood, when his sister would go out dancing with a different suitor every weekend. It’s one of many highlights on an album that probably deserves a stronger reputation than it has.

The Essentials:

♪     “State Of Confusion” – Begins with guitar stabs reminiscent of The Police’s “Roxanne” and then turns into a catchy, stomping & upbeat rocker. There are various hooks throughout: “I’m in a state (state) of confusion, whoooahh”; “Don’t know why I feel this way…”; “Should feel happy, should feel glad, I’m alive and it can’t be bad.” He’s trying to stay optimistic in a negative world.

♪     “Come Dancing” – From the strumming guitar intro to the fake steel drum sounds and on to the dance-band horn section, there’s a reason why this was one of their biggest hits. Some elements of ‘80s production pop up (like the keyboard & drum sounds) but it still has a timeless quality.

♪     “Don’t Forget To Dance” – A beautiful ballad with pretty guitar & keyboard work, and Ray’s soft & warm vocal performance is especially inviting. The synthetic drum sound probably turned off some fans, but it’s never hindered my enjoyment of this gorgeous song. The lyrics are sung to an old woman, but they could be a pick-me-up for anyone with “a sad & lonely heart.”

♪     “Heart Of Gold” – A perfectly arranged acoustic pop/rock tune which at times reminds me of The Grateful Dead’s 1987 hit single, “Touch Of Grey.” I love the bouncy bass line and various guitars (chiming, jangly and strummed acoustic…all lovely).

[The Kinks – “Heart Of Gold”]

The Kinks Photo (circa 1983)Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Definite Maybe” – The cool off-kilter intro brings to mind Billy Squier’s “My Kinda Lover,” but then it morphs into a steady pop/rock song. I like the “no decision, no decision” backing vocals and the shift to power-pop at “Round & round the circle goes, stood in line but the counter was closed.”
  • “Labour Of Love” – Dave delivers an introductory 30-second nod to Jimi Hendrix before a midtempo groove takes over. With lyrics describing marriage as “a two-headed transplant,” Ray was clearly not in a positive frame of mind regarding relationships (“Love’s full of fears, bruises & tears, that’s the way that true love grows”), but I don’t sense that negativity in the music.
  • “Property” – I’ve always enjoyed this song, but I really came to love it this past week. The slinky, bass-heavy groove and subtle guitar work are particular highlights. The lyrics focus on the end of a marriage (“Nobody noticed then we wanted to be free, and now there’s no more love, it’s just the property”), but once again the negativity is offset by warm & inviting music.

I had so much fun spending time with these albums again after all these years. I realize they probably appeal mostly to people in my age group who discovered The Kinks at that time, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that they’re just as highly regarded by fans old & new. Please let me know your thoughts on this era in the Comments section. Thank you.

As promised above, here is the “Come Dancing” video for your listening & viewing pleasure.

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53 comments on “THE KINKS Part 7 – Better Things Are On The Way

  1. stephen1001
    February 26, 2014

    I like the misleading title ‘give the people what they want’ – and then have a whole different sound from the previous record inside. Some curious album art choices in this era!

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    • Geoff, I actually didn’t pick up on the ironic nature of that title, even though it should have been crystal clear. Guess I had my mind on other aspects of the album. Thanks for pointing it out. Good job.

      Also, I agree about the “curious choices” of album art, especially Low Budget. A lot of people don’t like the artwork on One For The Road but I’ve always enjoyed the bold colors. They capture the energy of the performances.

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  2. Frank Lima
    February 26, 2014

    The KinKs the greatest band there ever was, is or ever will be from 1964 to the last time they ever set foot on stage together in Oslo, Norway in 1996 they were The Greatest show on earth led by the undisputed world champion of songwriters. –

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    • Frank, I always enjoy your enthusiasm AND your unbiased opinions. Haha. Although they’re not my favorite band, the more time I’ve spent getting reacquainted with their music over the past month the more I’m reminded of how great…and under-appreciated… they are.

      How do you feel about this era of their career as compared to their earlier material?

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      • Frank Lima
        February 26, 2014

        It is hard for me to compare to critique an era of their music because as time went on and it was Ray’s writing that really affected me not so much the sound but I have favorite songs from every era of the KinKs career…their music really was and still is the only thing that gets me by…

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      • Frank, it’s great that you love their music (and the songwriting) so much that you can easily look past the sonic choices they made which turned off a number of fans. I feel the same was you do. It always comes down to whether the song is good or not, and they had plenty of good (and great) ones through every era of their career.

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  3. ianbalentine
    February 26, 2014

    Man, you nailed the 4 great songs off of Give The People…, and once again you uncover a hidden influence I was unaware of: I had to dig out a few of my Pretenders discs, but I think the opening riff from Better Things sounds an awful lot like Back On The Chain Gang. Actually, reverse that, as the later came out 3 years after. Fine< I'll have to do more research! Anyhew, awesome summation of this period, Rich, especially the analysis of One For The Road. I share your enthusiasm for that vastly underrated double!

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    • Thanks Ian. I didn’t have a particular Pretenders song in mind when I made that comparison for “Better Things,” but the guitar sound really reminded me of James Honeyman Scott so I figured there might be a connection. Plus, I think Ray was already dating Chrissie Hynde around this time.

      Glad you feel the same way about One For The Road. I wasn’t sure how it would hold up but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I still love it. I can just imagine, though, how longtime fans felt about their new sound at the time. I’m not surprised that a lot of fans still dislike those records, but I think they’re missing out on a lot of excellent songs.

      As always, thanks for the feedback. Nice to know we’re on the same page, as is often the case.

      Like

  4. Flashman
    February 26, 2014

    I’ve enjoyed this! But is this the end, or are you going to delve into their last 5 albums as well? All have overlooked gems, I’d say.

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    • Thanks Flashman. I think there will be two more posts in this series. I’ve already started listening to the next batch today (Word Of Mouth, Think Visual, Live: The Road and UK Jive), and I own a few other titles that I’ll address in my final post. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the series so far. Do you have a particular favorite era of their discography?

      Rich

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      • Flashman
        February 26, 2014

        I like it all. It’s such a long, rich discography that I can get into certain periods for a while, then switch to others depending upon my mood or other unknown factors. I thought the last few, like UK Jive and Phobia were a bit hard to crack but it was fun to seek out the the good tunes. I made a compilation of stuff from Word of Mouth forward and find that when you weed out the filler it’s really a pretty satisfying listen.
        I really like the Return to Waterloo soundtrack as well.

        I appreciate that you’re going through the whole discography. I think a lot of people write off the RCA years and the last few albums without really giving them a careful listen.

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      • Flashman, it’s always great to meet another open-minded music fan. I try to never be dismissive of anything until I give it the attention it deserves. I can understand why some fans don’t like the direction The Kinks took during this era, but they’re missing out on plenty of new classic songs. Plus, Dave Davies cemented his reputation as a guitar god on these albums.

        I’ve already given the next batch of albums a listen, which I’ll be doing several more time during the next week. I don’t know those records as well as the ’79-’83 releases (other than Word Of Mouth, which I loved back in ’84), so I really need to spend time with them. I hope you’ll stop by again for the next post. I’d love to hear your thoughts on those albums.

        FYI, I won’t be including Return To Waterloo in this series, even though I own the LP, because it’s a Ray Davies album and I’m just focusing on releases by the band. Maybe someday down the road I’ll do a post on Ray’s solo releases.

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  5. mikeladano
    February 26, 2014

    Rich, I’m glad you escaped the temptation to pun that the cover for Low Budget looks low budget. I admit I would have said it.

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    • Mike, I’m a big fan of puns (much to my wife’s chagrin), and I rarely pass up an opportunity to pick some low-hanging fruit, but I figured the “low budget” joke was a little too obvious. Thanks for being the one to point it out.

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      • mikeladano
        February 26, 2014

        Oh no problem Rich! Anyway another installment that I enjoyed.

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      • Glad you enjoyed it, Mike. Not sure how many Kinks albums you own, if any, but my guess is this batch would be more up your alley than anything other than their earliest stuff like “You Really Got Me.” I know you have diverse tastes but you tend to really love heavier stuff, so Give The People What They Want would be right up your alley.

        On a separate note, I recently got WASP’s The Headless Children CD and I really liked it. Great recommendation.

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      • mikeladano
        February 26, 2014

        Cool! I’m glad you enjoyed. I admit I poke fun of Blackie (it’s hard not to) but that is a solid metal album.

        I do have diverse tastes, and as you probably know I tend to dig into the underdog albums. The ones you don’t hear on the radio every ten minutes. The Guess Who have a ton of great stuff that doesn’t have Randy Bachman on it, for example.

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      • We’re similar in that we love focusing on the overlooked & under-appreciated music, but we’re just as passionate about stuff that’s really popular. Not sure if you get That Metal Show in Canada, but in a recent episode when they were discussing their Top 5 list of a particular topic, one of the guys said something like, “I didn’t want to pick any of the hits.” I don’t like that attitude, like somehow it’s a badge of honor to only talk about more obscure songs. It should always be about what’s good, whether it’s overplayed or underplayed.

        Sorry, not sure where that rant came from. I had no idea that The Guess Who had anything without Randy Bachman. Interesting. Speaking of Canadian artists, I recently completed my Blue Rodeo collection. For years I only owned Casino & Lost Together but didn’t really listen to them. Then I picked up a few others and really enjoyed them and before I knew it I got them all (at least the studio albums). What a great band.

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      • mark trafford
        February 26, 2014

        The kinks have a fan base that loves many sounds,some of my older friends still do not think you can enjoy both the beatles and stones…lol.so its not a surprise that many who loved the musichall flavoured late 60’s would not embrace the crunching femour quivering rock of ‘onefor the road’.I actually worked in radio from 82 on and though i had always known the hits and loved them,it was the live album that spurred my interest and created a monster..lol.as for the musclecar comment..a great rock song can alter your speed,you start at 60 mph and by the time its done..90 is coming up..Thank God for cruise control..its just something few songs have but on the live album,just about all have this ability to drive space and time..that is a feat. ps.randy bachman who was mentioned above has been touring ,i saw him awhile back,he is a real student of the guitar and never stops learning,a treat live..Blue Rodeo are amazing,i worked at the first station to playlist their first hit,a great bandto see and listen too…be great,mark.looking forward to the next series..

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      • I’ll never understand why some fans limit what they listen to for arbitrary reasons. There are very few styles of music I dislike, and I love when my favorite artists branch out & surprise us…as well as themselves.

        One thing I didn’t mention about One For The Road is how fast everything is played. I didn’t do any A/B comparisons but I get the sense that most of them are faster than the studio counterparts. You can tell how excited they were to be playing those songs for enthusiastic audiences. What a change that must have been from some of their earlier tours.

        I saw a Bachman & Turner concert on TV a few months ago and was really impressed by how good Randy looks, plays & sings. He’s a musical treasure who’s been sadly overlooked.

        What impressed me most about Blue Rodeo was the diversity of their two songwriters. If they just did straight-up country & Americana (or would that be Canadi-ana?) they’d be a very good band, and if they just did those extended atmospheric songs they’d be enjoyable to listen to, but when those styles are combined they’re dynamite.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        February 27, 2014

        ” Americana (or would that be Canadi-ana?)”

        No, since Canada is part of America.

        Now, someone tell me why the abbreviation for Canada is CDN and not CND.

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      • Hi Phillip. I have a feeling my Canadian friends would disagree with your “Canada is part of America” comment, unless there was some kind of political agreement reached in the last 24 hours.

        I’d be curious to find out about the CDN abbreviation. Then again, why is the country code for Switzerland CH, and why is the measurement for pounds (not the British currency) indicated as LBS? Ah, the mysteries of the universe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mikeladano
        February 27, 2014

        That is correct Rich 🙂 We consider ourselves a proudly unique people, though we do also love and absorb much of the culture from our warmer cousins in the US! American Idol was much more popular than Canadian Idol for example which no longer exists.

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      • Thanks for confirming that, Mike. I still like my concept of Canadi-ana music, even though it doesn’t roll off the tongue like Americana.

        I find it ironic that you refer to us as your “warmer cousins” now as we’re 2+ months into a non-stop arctic blast. Of course it’s probably much colder by you, but that doesn’t make me feel warmer.

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      • mikeladano
        February 27, 2014

        I actually feel worse for the people further south, the ones that are not used to this kind of cold. Driving in ice and snow is its own challenge as you know. It’s been very nasty. However having said that, the amount of snow we’re getting is about the same as a typical winter when I was a kid. We build giant snow forts, and the snow is finally back to the kind of depth I remember as a kid.

        Canadiana is definitely a word that we use. The Guess Who would be a great example…”Running Back to Saskatoon”.

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      • I do feel bad for those down south who are not equipped for the cold & snow. The biggest difference for them, though, is that it usually warms up within 48 hours & everything melts. We’ll probably have snow on the ground until June. Even though we’ve also gotten the same amount of snow as I remember from my childhood, it’s not as enjoyable since I now have to shovel it all…and my 47-year-old back is not as strong as it used to be. If I didn’t exercise every day I would’ve been in traction by now.

        I’m disappointed to find out I didn’t invent the word Canadiana, but I’m glad a music expert like yourself also uses it.

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  6. mark trafford
    February 26, 2014

    i love this period,if you added “word of mouth”to this list you would almost have my fave run of albums..I love when both brothers contribute on a more equal footing,Rays wonderful lyrics,driven by Dave’s blazing guitar,my all time fav Kinks piece is The 1980 live album..love the versions of classic kinks songs but with Dave reaffirming his rights as creator of that sound to those who covered them.these albums had so much wit and observation of this period.as a Canadian who listened to a Rochester Ny station that loved the kinks,Low budget really reflected the mood of the usa,with the iranian crisis in full bloom, as it appeared from outside the country.”catch me now i’m falling”,seemed to echo how isolated the usa felt at this time in the world.i really feel ray’s social commentary was spot on thru these albums,Give the people what they want,shows what a 500 channel and internet universe runs on,”Young Conservatives” understood the perspective the children of the hippies would possess.i can go on and on but may i suggest you hop in a musclecar,put “One for the Road”on load ,crank the windows down and feel 18 all over again..i do..lol..be great.mark trafford. http://www.marktrafford.com

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    • Hi again, Mark. I would have included Word Of Mouth in this post, since I’ve always lumped it in with the albums that preceded it, but I already covered a lot of ground with these four records so it’ll be part of my next post (along with Think Visual, Live: The Road and UK Jive).

      I’m happy to find another fan who loves the era covered in this post. It seems that a lot of fans from their early days tend to dismiss these albums, but they’re missing out on a lot of great music simply because they don’t like the harder edged sound (or possibly because they think the band “sold out”). You have an interesting perspective on these albums, especially the lyrical content of Low Budget, having seen it from just north of the US. Thanks for sharing that. As for the muscle car & One For The Road, I’ll leave that to my readers since I drive a Prius and I just listened to that album a few times this past week. I was so pleased that I still love that live album after all these years. My 14-year-old self would be pleased as well.

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      • Craig
        February 27, 2014

        Interesting thoughts these. I wonder if my 14 year old self would be pleased with the fact that I still enjoy Trick of the Tail and Power Windows after all these years!!

        One of the songs my son loves is Low Budget, “What did you say”? and “Excuse my shoes” are his favorite lines.

        I have to admit after said LB and One for the Road I’m afraid much of the later stuff does not grab me as much. I would put the phrase as much in italics. There are tunes here and there, but I find myself going back to the earlier period stuff I really love, I have a few live boots from this period though and they are really great, rockin’ and heavy but still quintessentially Kinks.

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      • Hi Craig. I’m sure your 14-year-old self would be happy to know that the music he thought was great back then is still inspiring to you all these years later. He would only be disappointed if you stopped listening to new music, or discovering other classics, in the intervening years. At least, that’s how I feel about my 14-year-old self.

        Nice to know your son has listened to The Kinks. Those are good lines to latch onto, and a good intro to their discography. It was certainly a good intro for me.

        Sorry to hear you’re not as much of a fan of their work from ’81 & after. I like a lot of the songs on those records, even as I admit that they’re not nearly as essential as the best of their ’60s & ’70s output. I also understand why they don’t appeal to many fans.

        Hope you’re having a good week and enjoying some great music.

        Rich

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  7. 45spin
    February 27, 2014

    The later Kinks albums always seemed like Ray’s solo albums under the Kinks brand. They just didn’t have that “Band” feel to them as much anymore. Excellent series of posts.

    Like

    • Hi Rob. That’s an interesting observation. I never felt that way about those particular albums, since in many ways The Kinks have been Ray’s “backing band” for years. Certainly those theatrical albums of the mid-’70s were vanity projects that the band merely went along with. The ’80s recordings may not have the nuance of their earlier work but I think the band was extremely tight and powerful during that era. Also, Dave cemented his reputation as a guitar god on those albums and tours. Of course, I understand why a lot of fans just don’t respond to their arena rock years, and I wouldn’t try to convince them otherwise.

      Thanks for checking in.

      Rich

      Like

    • mark trafford
      February 27, 2014

      Hi,perspective is interesting,i find these albums more a balance in what the brothers bring to the band,much more than the70’s theatrical pieces..I have seen the brothers solo and the band in sound check without ray..ray ,solo is a troubadour,almost a classic music hall performer,dave ,solo is a great player who is becoming more comfortable as a troubadour,the band live without ray is more of a blues rock band,but put the boys together and it elevates into the greatest live show i have ever seen..the two brothers on stage,with the boys. ray is great live,but put him with his brother on the same stage and it goes up a notch..behold the power of “the kinks”…lol..thanks for the blod..be well..and as for canada,our bilingual nature may be a factor in why its cdn,but why is one state vt and another ma??and why do they call them buildings if they are already built?? be great,mark.

      Like

      • Mark, those are all fantastic observations about The Kinks. They’re definitely a band that becomes more than the sum of their (already impressive) parts. I still hold out hope for a 50th anniversary reunion. Album, tour, whatever they want to do. The important thing is that they need to play together while they’re still able to, and the fact that 3 of the 4 original members are still alive and relatively healthy is an amazing feat.

        Never heard that “buildings” line. That gave me a nice laugh this morning. Thanks for that.

        Like

  8. Deke
    February 27, 2014

    Wow Kamer you just keep going with the Kinks!!!
    I’ve been reading up the history on them and it’s a interesting read and Man U know your history!
    Really my first intro to them was the Come Dancing single as I was in high school when it was a hit here in Canada and a friends brother had the live album One More For The Road….it’s amazing how much history the brothers have and had kept it together for the most part unlike those crazy Gallagher brothers..lol…
    Ummm speaking of which I really like there Be Here Now release, the one Noel dislikes the most..hahahahaha…
    Kudos to u on this blog!
    Thanks for the music history lesson!

    Deke

    Like

    • Hi Deke. Thanks for stopping by. As you might have seen from my previous series, I’m very thorough with each artist I write about. Usually I own most or all of their albums, and the goal is the revisit all them, play them multiple times and then share my thoughts after I feel I know the songs very well. The Kinks catalog has been a blast so far, and I still have 4 more studio albums, 2 live albums and a collection of BBC recordings to cover…so stay tuned.

      It’s interesting that your first experience with The Kinks was via “Come Dancing.” I was also in high school at the time (I think it came out during my junior year), but I had already been a fan for a few years. With that being your introduction to their music, how do you compare it to their earlier recordings from the ’60s & ’70s? It seems like some people only enjoy one or two eras but not all of them, although I’ve spoken with a handful of people who love albums from throughout their career…myself included.

      As for Oasis, I was a huge fan of the first two albums (and all the related b-sides) but I remember being a bit disappointed by Be Here Now, which seemed too bloated. I continued buying all of their albums after that but never reignited the spark I had at the beginning of their career. I just read that they’re reissuing the first three albums this year in expanded editions, each with at least 3 CDs worth of material. That might be a good time for me to reassess their music because it’s been a while since I’ve played them. Not sure I’ll write about it here, but if the mood strikes me you never know.

      I appreciate your feedback and I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. I hope you’ll stop by again. It’s always a pleasure talking about music with you.

      Cheers!
      Rich

      Like

      • Craig
        February 28, 2014

        Be Here Now was bloated because ol’ Noel had his head buried in Columbia at that point. Oasis 2nd album was the one I liked becuase the cover was taken on Berwick St in London, home of the famed Rough Trade and Selectadisc (RIP).

        The other day I had on One For the Road and realized for the first time Stop Your Sobbing was an original tune. I was like, where have I heard this song before? Why do I think this is a Pretenders cover? Now I pride myself on knowing a lot of music trivia but this I did not know.

        Like

      • Craig, you’re absolutely right about the reason for the bloated state of “Be Here Now.” Noel has never been shy in admitting his intake of various substances, and he was out of his mind at the time. It’s a shame because there are some great songs on that record, but it’s just so indulgent. The previous two are much tighter records with a lot more punch. I was in London in ’95, prior to the release of Oasis’ second album, and I took a photo on Berwick St. after leaving Select-a-disc. Imagine how pleased I was when I saw that same street on the album cover a few months later.

        Since The Kinks’ had been kind of forgotten in the US by the late-70s, it’s no surprise that The Pretenders version of “Stop Your Sobbing” was assumed to be an original song. I remember seeing the name Davies on the record label and assuming it was a Kinks song, but I never heard them play it until I got “One For The Road.” I think it wasn’t until a few years later that I finally heard the original ’60s recording. I love that one, but The Pretenders version is really something special.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        February 28, 2014

        “The other day I had on One For the Road and realized for the first time Stop Your Sobbing was an original tune. I was like, where have I heard this song before? Why do I think this is a Pretenders cover? “

        Did you know that Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies have a child together?

        Other trivia: with what other famous British musician does Hynde have a child?

        Like

      • Without cheating by using the internet, I’m going to say Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, since she was with him for many years. In fact, I think she left Ray for Jim, and may have even started an affair with him while she & Ray were together.

        Like

      • Craig
        February 28, 2014

        Jim Kerr

        Like

      • We have another winner. Congratulations, Craig. Sorry there’s no prize, though.

        Like

    • Phillip Helbig
      February 28, 2014

      Right; she even married Jim.

      Like

      • I think they’re divorced now, right? Chrissie might be my all-time favorite female singer. She’s such a cool woman, writes great songs and has that one-of-a-kind voice.

        Like

  9. Deke
    February 28, 2014

    Wow man no love for Be Here Now….hahaha..I guess I’m in the minority on this one fellas.
    Do You Know What I Mean the first time I heard it I was floored with it! Just loved that’s single and My Big Mouth….good songs and well that was my first introduction to them I heard about them of course and bought the first two before as well.
    But maybe the reason I dig Be Here Now is that’s my first into to Oasis and well I guess I have a spot for big bloated over produced rock..hahahaha….!
    It’s all good fella’s….good to have healthy debates….

    Like

    • Deke, just to clarify, I do like Be Here Now but I think it was a step down from the amazing first two albums. I have an affinity for “bloated overproduced rock” (nicely phrased) but in this case I think the bloat took away from what would have been more powerful songs. I’m very excited about the expanded reissue series coming this year, though. It’s been a while since I played any of their albums and it’ll be a great time to reappraise them (and hear all the bonus tracks, many of which I probably don’t have).

      Like

  10. Deke
    March 1, 2014

    Yeah for sure Rich… Hopefully the extended versions aren’t a let down.
    I hope it some good live material added as well….

    Like

    • As long as they include every related b-side and some choice live recordings from their respective eras, I can’t imagine how these remasters will be anything but a good thing. It also looks like the packaging will be of the hardbound book variety, which is always a nice choice (over jewel cases or digipaks).

      Like

  11. Flashman
    March 1, 2014

    One thought: while I’ve always mostly liked Catch Me Now I’m Falling, why did they lift the Jumping Jack Flash riff?
    It’s identical, it’s blatant. It’s so blatant they could get sued over it, seems to me. Did they not notice? Was it deliberate? Did the Stones never hear it?
    Plus, it’s not like The Kinks were incapable of writing good riffs. I’m a bit baffled by it, and it really reduces my appreciation for the song.
    Please someone tell me it was some deliberate move for a specific purpose.

    Like

    • Hmm, that is an interesting question. I remember when the song first came out and the “Jumping Jack Flash” riff was so obvious, but because the DJs didn’t say anything about it (other than maybe mentioning the similarity) it was just accepted. I always heard it as an homage to the Stones and not just a rip-off because they couldn’t come up with something fresh, and I do think it was intentional. It also never bothered me because the rest of the song has no connection to the Stones. It has its own unique set of melodies. Maybe someone with a better knowledge of their history will know for sure. If so, please let us know.

      The same thing applies to “Destroyer” and its obvious reference to their own song, “All Day And All Of The Night.” I always assumed they were just playfully referencing their younger selves, and at least “Destroyer” is a cool song and not just a rewrite of the earlier song.

      Like

      • Flashman
        March 1, 2014

        I don’t mind Destroyer because it seems deliberately self- referential. At least they’re borrowing their own material. It bothers memore when it’s someone else’s riff.
        Though I also don’t really like how they reused Misfits for Don’t Forget to Dance.

        But hey, just a couple complaints over a 30 year discography of some of the best songwriting ever!

        Like

      • This conversation is a bit ironic because we’re living at a time when using existing songs as the basis for “new” songs has become the norm. Compared to what we hear now, the idea of incorporating someone else’s guitar riff into a song with completely different melodies isn’t that big a deal…although I understand that it can be distracting. The Misfits/Don’t Forget To Dance similarity is more in the tempo & overall feel of the song, but I think they’re different enough to not bother me. In some ways I think it’s good that Ray was able to recycle an idea that should have been a bigger success in ’78 into a very successful single 5 years later. I’m glad I’m not the only one who heard the similarity between these two.

        Good point about the couple of complaints vs. a lengthy catalog of original & memorable classics. One of the best aspects of the discussions I’ve had as a result of this series is finding Kinks fans who have preferences for specific portions of their catalog, but it always comes down to a shared love of Ray’s unique songwriting abilities.

        Like

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