The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.

  1. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Seriously, though, I think putting this in the Great Kinks category may be a stretch. I’m putting it on my playlist because I support the underdog (and whether it stays or not will depend on my highly honed, extremely sophisticated, method of listening to the entire playlist on shuffle…and determining whether it’s up to the level of the other songs).
  2. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I have two themes—-my playlist and The Quiz. Ha!
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    The Ray and Dave vocal thing is interesting really.

    As I said very early on, I thought just Ray sang Kinks songs.... but
    - The two albums I had originally were One For The Road and Low Budget (no Dave)
    - Ray put a lot of varying inflections, accents and timbres into his vocals...

    Once we started looking at the stuff properly here, it was fairly obvious someone else, ie Dave, was singing... very different timbres to their voices.
  4. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    I have sometimes wondered if Ray is a "pig headed dude" in general, or just where Dave is concerned. The sibling rivalry dynamic there has always been extreme. Sometimes you have to wonder how they kept it together as much as they did.
  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    All Down The Line, DISKOJOE and Zeki like this.
  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    To some degree it is in all creative musicians, I think.
    I think the brother thing just makes it stand out more, because there is this unrealistic side of us that just wants them to be best mates.... because they're brothers.

    When we look at other bands, Floyd, Beatles, even the Stones once Keith came back to the planet... the butting of heads between creative forces often causes a sort of uncompromising fixation, with little room for compromise.
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Adding to that...
    One of the nicest sideline things about this thread for me, was learning that Ray and Dave have been enjoying a quiet drink down the pub together in recent times...
    Life is short, grudges are futile, bitterness is toxic.
    I sincerely hope they share quality time with each other while they are still able
  8. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    There's no evidence that Ray would've been the one demanding that clause to be included (if it existed at all). It's more likely that it came from the label, wanting to prevent any sort of Mardi Gras-type Creedence debacle. In the same line of idea, it's well known that Brian Wilson had to be the author or co-author (and producer) of a pre-determined number of tunes on any Beach Boys record in the 70's and 80's for them to be accepted.
    « They pull me back in… »
    (apologies for being about to be much too long :angel:)

    I don’t know any other TV series that were as knowledgeable and creative in their music choices as the Sopranos were. Surely, the show runners were connoisseurs, had good music supervisors and an in-house advisor of the first order in that Silvio Dante guy (Miami Steve aka Little Steven aka Stevie Van Zandt). The songs were never explanatory or simply paraphrasing the writing, they always added layers, power and texture to the images. Not a mere writing device but a filmic one.

    Like many, I’ve never admired a TV show as much before or since. I think it’s a touchstone of post-WWII pop culture as we’ve known it, the last creative hurrah of the “boomer” generation and a wonderful meditation on the ending of the golden age of what started as “youth culture” before growing older, then old, while losing its landmarks one by one, from the “strong silent type” to the Twin Towers of America’s supremacy, inviolability and insouciance.

    David Chase went on to write and direct Not Fade Away, a most excellent film about the garage rock boom in the sixties. This film duly offers the theory that for his whole generation, everything did start with the rock’n roll (atomic) explosion and was destined to end when the last rock'n roll radiations would dissipate. Youth as a force (financial, cultural, vital) invented itself and the music that would accompany it at the exact same time, in a chicken and egg kind of way. That was the thesis of that film and, in a much less obvious way, it was always there too, somewhere, in The Sopranos’ meta-melancholy. That show was designed to be a requiem for all things lost. Innocence, youth, ways of thinking, certainties of any kind. And rock music was a HUGE part of it.

    So while watching the Sopranos, I was always listening, taking notes, being happy when it made me discover good records (I remember the remarkable Twisted Little Man by a guy named Michael Sheehy, just one out of the hundreds of superb tunes used in the show) and enjoying the many meetings of the minds I’d have with the creators over songs I already knew and loved.

    On that episode 6 of season 3 (april 2001), the series was just starting to become more edgy, violent and disturbing. Living on a Thin Line was featured twice and it concluded the episode, in a state of stupor on a very unsettling long shot of the naked dancers in the strip club before continuing for the whole end credits. I couldn’t believe it. It was a Kinks song but one that only a dedicated fan would even be aware of and think of at this point. It stopped me on my tracks, hair raised on the back of my neck, my stars aligning in perfect sync, my favorite writer digging up this monster master forgotten song from one of my top 3 bands ever in one of his best episodes (to date).

    When you realize that people you love actually love other people you love, it's always a very special thing. These are pivotal moments when you understand that taste is not futile or just entertaining, it really defines you in a profound way. This song now always reminds me of that episode and of that transcendent personal moment, when I was jumping around in front of the TV saying to my puzzled wife “That's Living on the Thin Line!! Do you realize ? It's from an obscure 1984 Kinks record that nobody even owns anymore, judging by the number of copies I keep seeing in the used bins of every single record store I've ever been to in my life ! David Chase is a Kinks fan !!”. Suddenly, all seemed to make sense in the pop culture universe. In my pop culture universe. Everything was as it should be. What a sweet, sweet feeling…

    But most of all, it proved Chase understood the power of the song. That's why the whole episode revolves around it. We first hear it in the scene @ajsmith posted, introducing us to that pretty dancer Tracey and then a second time at the very end, once things have turned sour, painful and really grim, leaving us with a terrible sense of defeat, loss, fatalism and injustice. That's what the ending of that episode was about and what Chase knew the song could help establish in a powerful way. It would leave the audience with a lump in their throat and the bad taste of adrenaline in their mouths, long after turning off the TV that night. In my opinion, that's why the song resonated so strongly and why it's gained such a cult aura amongst people watching the Sopranos at the time and ever since.
  9. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Ah! Very astute observation.
    Edit: except the record label knows Dave is also a proven songwriter. It seems dismissive of his talents…and why didn’t someone act on Dave’s behalf?

    Further edit (keep thinking of stuff): I guess if I was an Arista Suit…I might insist on the clause. I’ll have to look again at the ‘singles’ choices and see if I’d have chosen differently.

    And final edit: I confess I wouldn’t have done anything differently than what was released.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
  10. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Here's Satisfaction many times over.......

    DISKOJOE, Zeki and mark winstanley like this.
  11. pantofis

    pantofis Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany
    Living On A Thin Line

    Astonishing Dave Davies composition, one that elevates the album considerably. Which must be a first: a Kinks album where the saving grace is found in a Dave Davies song? Never would have guessed that he was able not only to write such an elegant melody, sing it in such a pleasant voice, but also the topic. A home run on many levels.
    The political theme and the general "war" sound of the track makes me think of all the other 80'es political songs like "We Are The World", "Hammer To Fall" or "The Final Cut" album. The "serious" production walking a fine line between classy, timeless and some rather '84-sounding handclap and reverb effects. And some mercilessly sharp synths.
  12. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Fantastic post.
  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    The whole handling of Dave throughout the Kinks career was really very strange.

    Got My Feet On The Ground – Ray and Dave - Kinda Kinks

    Wait Til The Summer Comes Along – Kwyet Kinks

    I Am Free – Kontroversy

    Party Line – Ray and Dave – Face To Face

    Death Of A Clown – Ray and Dave – Something Else – on the Kinks album, but released as a solo single?

    Love Me Til the Sun Shines – Something Else – bside of Death Of A Clown

    Susannah’s Still Alive – released as a stand alone Dave solo single, with the album track Funny Face on the B-side

    Lincoln County – released as a solo Dave single, with There Is No Life Without Love on the b-side

    Hold My Hand – Released as a solo Dave single, with Creeping Jean on the b-side

    Strangers – Lola vs Powerman

    Rats – Lola vs Powerman

    You Don’t Know My Name – Everybody’s In Showbiz

    Trust Your Heart – Misfits

    Living On A Thin Line – Word Of Mouth

    Guilty – Word Of Mouth

    (I might have missed something, please correct me if I did)

    Obviously just up to this point.

    Also, obviously, we have had the three Dave solo albums….

    But we weren’t aware of any extra tracks, or the Decade material, or the extra tracks that appeared on the later release “Lost Dave Album” releases….

    It just seems odd how all the record companies handled Dave… particularly releasing Dave songs as solo singles, but on Kinks albums in the late sixties…. I know they were grooming him for a solo album, and he pulled the pin… but it still seems odd…..

    When we get to Arista is that knowledge of the withdrawal from making a solo album held against him. Is he considered too flighty?

    Then when he starts releasing solo albums it’s on RCA, where Dave had little representation on RCA Kinks albums…. Also the first one does pretty well and then subsequent releases fall away.

    The whole Dave scenario in the music industry has been quite bizarre from what I have seen…. And I don’t pretend to know much about it…. but it is interesting to look at how it unfolded.
  14. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    “Living on a Thin Line”

    Brother Dave outshines Ray for the first and only time on a Kinks album. In my estimation, this is the only album where Dave’s song takes the #1 spot. I heard this song long before any of Dave’s solo albums. It’s why I was so shocked at the difference in styles. There is no yelping or guitar jamming to be found here, just a tasty lick (along with a low key and heartfelt vocal) that conveys the lyrics perfectly. I would have liked to hear more of this style on his albums.

    This should have been a double A-sided single along with “Do it Again”. It would have seemed like the old days. Two Kinks classics together on one 45.

    I still feel like this was the hit on the album. It must have been played a lot in the States, because I always assumed it was the most popular song on the album. I have also never seen a minute of The Sopranos, so I never heard it on there. That’s how far behind I am on television. I’m still working my way through The Twilight Zone. :)

    The Kinks are finally successful in using 80s production to their benefit. This is a monumental tune, and Dave's finest moment since his previous masterpiece "Strangers", 14 years prior.


    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Don't forget about Chosen People which appeared on WB about 12 years after the Kinks left Reprise/WB.
  16. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    Brilliant post, my friend, Merci! No other series ever captivated me as did The Sopranos; well, Breaking Bad came a close second. Didn’t David Chase flee to France to escape the media after the kontroversial final scene? It’s all becoming crystal clear. On a personal note, for many years I lived in the New Jersey town where James Gandolfini grew up, Park Ridge, about three blocks over from his sister, Johanna, on the border of Montvale. She’s still there, and the stretch of road outside the Ridge diner (how fitting) has been named James Gandolfini Way in his honor.
  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Neither have I. I’m always a winner in games of “who knows the least about popular culture.”
  18. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Cape May, NJ

    I get that whole Ray is pig-headed dude narrative in regards to Dave but then why give Dave the lead single for the next album (simply to embarass him? I'm not sure I buy that), three songs on the follow-up and a more metalish sound and production that always struck me as more aligned with Dave's hard rockin' ways on their final two albums. It's never added up but then again what does when it comes to the Brothers Davies.
  19. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    According to this interview, it was creator David Chase that chose the song for the episode University:

    A: Another Kinks song, "Living on a Thin Line," sets such a tone of dread for that episode ["University"] in a way I'm not used to hearing from them. A lot of Kinks stuff I like is a little more playful. Was that one you knew pretty well?

    D: No, it wasn't, and it was by Dave Davies, not Ray. Most of their hits are Ray Davies songs. That song is about England, of all things. Denise and I had a CD of some kind of amalgam of Kinks songs, and that was on there. We were living on 57th Street and listening to it, and I heard it and thought, "That's great." For some reason, I made the connection with that and "University". Don't ask me why, I just did. I don't particularly believe that is a [Bada] Bing song, but it was just too good to pass up. It worked really well.
    For me the it's incongruity that's striking when hearing Dave sing "there's no England now" while the bored strippers dance in a seedy mobbed-up Jersey strip club called Bada Bing, and then "Living on a thin line" snaps the desperation of the scene into focus. As Chase says, it just works.

    University was a pivotal moment for the Sopranos (and one of its best episodes), and the events set up the major plot point for season 4 and beyond. How wonderful for the Kinks to play such an important role in one of the best dramatic series ever created. As Fortuleo points out, the use of music in the Sopranos was groundbreaking and vital - I recall reading somewhere that David Chase insisted on a 7 figure budget for music licensing when working out the contract with HBO for the first season, which was unheard of at a the time, but to his amazement and delight it was agreed to.

    Finally, I will second @Fortuleo in recommending Chase's movie "Not Fade Away" to my fellow Avids, or any amateur musicians and music lovers.
  20. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    I'm definitely out of it as far as the last 25 years of TV goes. Curb Your Enthusiasm is the only show I have followed, and pretty much the only television show I watch. I'm a classic movie fanatic, so most time spent watching anything is 95 percent on the Criterion Channel.
  21. Paul Mazz

    Paul Mazz Forum Resident

    I guess I'll have to finish watching The Sopranos one day soon. I had seen the first couple of seasons and really liked it, but I was without HBO for a period of time, and have been having a hard time convincing my wife to go back to it. She really enjoyed it while we watched, but I guess she just moved on. I'm sure that I would have been thrilled to hear Dave's song when it aired. Some of my family think I have strange taste in music, but I always get excited when a relatively obscure song that I like appears in a TV show or movie by a director that I admire. It feels like validation.
    I've had this experience with my wife so many times, and her reaction is usually nonplussed to say the least.

    I don't really have any insightful musical or lyrical analysis of Living on a Thin Line, but its definitely a great Dave song. I was going to say Kinks song, but it seems so atypical that that' s the way I think about it. Who knew Dave could write a song that would have had such potential to be a hit record. I hope he reaped the financial benefits of its being used on The Sopranos, as I'm sure not much money is being made from physical media sales, or from the streaming services. It did get almost ten times the streams on Spotify as Do It Again. Similarly, because of its use in the finale of Breaking Bad, Baby Blue evidently charted in the UK for the first time after the show aired. The use of Baby Blue really gave the final episode of what was already a show that just seemed to get better and better as it went along the perfect emotional resolution.
  22. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Intermission: Well, I’ve taken that next step and listened to ‘Think Visual.’ I hope my thinking changes as I didn’t find a single standout song.
  23. Mark R. Y.

    Mark R. Y. Getting deep down

    I apologize for temporarily jerking this thread back to 1968, but for those who like reaction video, Crystal Shannon just uploaded her take on Village Green Preservation Society. So give this vid a look or carry on with the chronology of mid-80s Kinks.

  24. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    I also gave it another listen yesterday. There are perhaps less peaks and valleys? More of a consistently average type of album. We will have to wait and see until we get there! Things can change so fast around here. Some songs and albums can sneak up on you, so don't let the visual of the album cover throw you off.

    Speaking of the album covers. Here is a thread and poll that was started by @ajsmith 7 years ago. Which Kinks album cover is least worst?
  25. Brian x

    Brian x half-animate bean

    Los Angeles
    Living on a Thin Line

    Speaking of which, caring for a six 6 year old who just tested positive for COVID, so we're all walking around in masks and washing our hands every ten minutes and trying to comfort-without-touching the poor little thing.

    Agree with @Fortuleo (once again) -- there's a Moody Blues thing going on, or anyway a prog anthem thing going on, as well as (to my ears) a hint of Big Country or similar (the Alarm? I've forgotten most of their tunes though).

    DD's voice is sublime, intimate, sincere, unaffected. There is just no reason for this guy to shout the way he does. And, as mentioned, the various parts of the song actually connect, and there are fewer than a dozen various parts. The structural difference between this, Trust Your Heart, Strangers etc and DD's solo stuff is glaring, and I can only imagine that RD served as producer/editor to one degree or another when DD wanted to put something on a Kinks LP. But DD's vocal delivery is what brings the tune home.

    It's a beautiful, dreamy song that stands out in every way, but the lyrics leave it a bit short of Strangers-quality IMO.

    Side note: Bratty father that I am, I used to put my eldest through a battery of Fab quizzes every time one of their tunes came on - what's the chorus, what era is it from, who's singing lead. Her biggest challenge was distinguishing between John & George on the earlier tracks.

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