The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Rockford & Roll

    Rockford & Roll Forum Resident

    Midway, KY
    I can't resist a quick twofer:

    Rock N' Roll Cities - I definitely hear a Low Budget band vibe here and that's great. Sounds like it could have been a Foghat song.

    How Are You - Wow, here's a beautiful jangly gem! Excellent.
  2. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    And why not, do we know that every song on Blood On The Tracks is about Sara?
  3. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    How Are You?: I’ll let you others here unpack all the hurt and anger of these lyrics for clues, I just like the song. Great melody and chorus, and I like the words. The vocals are great, very raw sounding. Nice one from Ray. I am not yet hearing this as a Kinks Klassic, although maybe with a few more listens though. Its at least a great album track and a great lost single (meaning it didn't bother the charts much)
  4. fspringer

    fspringer Forum Resident

    New York City
    How Are You: The gem of the album, and one of The Kinks' best 80s songs. This does sound like a second single, the problem being it followed the flop sweat of "Rock n Roll Cities" which killed any momentum for the album. I think that conundrum, The Kinks being caught between that big, rocking 80s sound they had cruised on since the late 70s and Ray writing more mature songs like this, underlines the problems of Think Visual. This and "Lost and Found" were both very good songs, where the band should have been going, but they had created such an audience that songs like this were not going to fully register. The reality was there were a few songs like this on most of the 80s albums, Ray reminding us, I can still do this, too. I think another problem with Think Visual is the more "rocking" side of The Kinks, their 80s trademark, was really lacking on this album (after that great opening cut of "Factory").

    Finally, a Kinks video where Ray gets dumped! A good video, too, that matches the song's theme. If I had been more hip to men's hair issues back then (something that becomes painfully obvious to a man as he ages), I would have noticed Ray's hairline getting weird on the front. Another odd sign that times were changing for the band.
  5. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Better Things, Don’t Forget to Dance, Heart of Gold, Living on a Thin Line, How Are You ?. That would be my personal “super highlights” list of the eighties Kinks. How Are You is fine, thanks for asking, even with the "friend, friend… friend" echo (doesn’t qualify as a @Brian x song, though) and the little grating synths mimicking the verse melody. It's bullet proof.

    That verse… I mean, the words are some of the best Ray’s ever written. The sentiment they express, the way he kind of makes up the melody as it goes to make it fit with the feeling, the hesitations, the awkwardness of trying to say the right thing… And he finds the right words, doesn’t he ? The simplest one. Every line is better than the last, all those little turns of phrases, the one that convey the unease, the attempts to mask the deep emotions that in reality reveal them for all to see, and hear… "Well, anyway…", "By the way…", "I can’t be sure…" He talks about himself, he talks about her, the melody ascends twice, repeating the melody because he’s running around the bush a little, trying to find his footings, and then (chord change), he gets to the title hook, in all its heartbreaking/heartbroken simplicity, just saying that he cares and that he'll always do… He asks once, and then he just says he’ll ask again, if/when they’ll ever bump into each other again somewhere down the line. It’s fantastic, every bit the equal to the inaccessible Days, indeed. The riffs come from "Tired of Waiting for Set Me Free", in yet another attempt to hint at the passing years and the various ages of man. Ray will then quote this very song at the end of The Deal, one of the best tunes from Americana, for the same reason.
    Is it about Chrissie H. ? That’s what we’ve been led to believe, for many years, but I don’t really know, don't really care, I think it transcends it by far. But in his voice, in his little shyness, awkwardness, frailty and shortness of breath, we can hear it certainly is addressed to someone specific. He sings/talks to her, reaching out. And whoever she was, I'm sure she recognized herself. This is one of the best “after the break up” songs I’ve ever heard, conveying how some relationship continue to slowly fade long after they ended. Best song on the record, kream of the krop Kinks. 86 is just 68 in reverse after all.
  6. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    How are You

    This song alternates with Dave’s closer as my favorite on Think Visual. It underscores how many Ray compositions benefit from the ‘less is more’ approach. I only wish more latter-day Kinks songs sounded demo-ish, like the ‘Art Lover’ demo, which to me is preferable to the official version. Ray’s vocals are so expressive when he’s not trying to emote, and when this vulnerability is exposed it is often magical. For us listeners, that is; for someone so private, it must be a constant struggle as to how much to ‘give away’ of oneself, and so much easier to stay detached or ironic. Well, I’m sure grateful he left this ‘guide vocal’ on, and that Dave chipped in another glorious, fluid solo. And how about that final verse, when it’s time to go, and Dave’s churning guitar seems to be empathetic with his brother’s plight, or maybe it’s taunting, menacing even? Wow, it sure is a great Kinks moment.
    The video seems done on the cheap and with Ray in desperate need of a hair-cut, but it’s not without a certain charm and some imaginative shots. I alway get a kick out of the Joe Cocker look-alike at the bar who gets the floozie’s affections after Ray declines them.
    It always seemed to me that this song was more than about just running into an ex-manager in the street, as Ray has claimed. It seems much deeper than that. Most likely it’s another composite. The video, though, makes me think of Yvonne, wife #2. Her coming home and always finding Ray preoccupied with his craft, instead of her. That might not have been so much an issue for Chrissie, who was probably the same way. Whatever the inspiration, it made for a klassik kut.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    To follow Avid Fortuleo, even when he’s currently on a rampage in the American West, is a tall order, but I have to say that “How Are You” is more like it after that last song. You know that it’s a real KINKS SONG, w/Ray’s vulnerable vocals, the thoughtful lyrics describing two people once in a relationship, but no longer for a substantial period of time. This was another great song that I noticed from the first hearing of Think Visual, an underrated gem of a song.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    You know, reading Avid Pyrrhicvictory’s perceptive, as always, analysis, has got me thinking that Ray’s second wife, Yvonne, to me, is the mystery person in Ray’s life. She gets scant mention, if any, in any of the Kinks/Ray books and there’s no interview and/or tell all book by her. I don’t think I ever seen a picture of her at all.
  9. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    ‘How Are You’: And so somebody thought this would be flow well after ‘Rock’n’Roll Cities’? I don’t think so (both in terms of the album and for a choice as a single). The listener will get whiplash.

    Straight down the middle, the first thing I thought is that this would be a good track to listen to while ironing clothes.

    I gotta say something positive so will close by noting that I was thrilled when ‘Rosy, Won’t You Please Come Home’ popped up on my shuffle yesterday.
  10. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    There is a picture in Johnny Rogan’s Ray bio ‘A Complicated Life’.
  11. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Re “crazy winds”: I’m glad you missed (? hopefully) the “…dust storm caused a 21-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 in Big Horn County, Montana,..” from a few days ago (west of Hardin). I was wondering where you were when I watched the news.
  12. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    The sound in that video clip jumps in a few places, which is unusual for a YouTube clip.
  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I'm hoping to get a chance to watch the videos this weekend.... I haven't had a chance yet, and folks are saying they are good videos.
  14. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    How Are You
    Headmaster Mark has provided a wonderful review of this song and @ARL, @Fortuleo @phyrricvictory and others have summed up my feelings about How Are You far better than I could. Even when the Kinks popularity was waning Ray could still pull a beautifully crafted rabbit out of his songwriting hat. The best Kinks songs in the eighties may not have been up to their sixties peak but they weren't shabby either.

    There is a photo of Yvonne in one of the photo sections of Johnny Rogan's biography. Unlike the photos of Ray's other wives and girlfriends, Yvonne isn't posing for the camera - she's a plane passenger and is looking at the camera in surprise.
  15. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    How Are You - a favorite of mine, among the very best of Ray’s compositions, with some of the best lyrics he’s written. I’m not going to have time to do a full analysis, to the relief of many I’m sure, but what he accomplishes here, capturing, in the manner of Robert Frost, a natural, conversational tone in poetic form, is extremely difficult to pull off successfully. This masterpiece following the raucous, winking fun of Rock ‘n’ Roll Cities is the quintessential Kinks experience. Oh God! How I love this band …
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    ‘How Are You’ video: this is kinda fun. The dog is seen (in cahoots with another mutt) raiding a garbage can…and then, subsequently, jumping up to steal food from the romantic dinner setting. And the woman sets a coffee cup directly onto the piano varnish…(use a damn coaster!). Pure 80s.
  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Personally, I do see this as a Kinks Klassic, and I don't even feel a need to rate it in a different way to the sixties material.

    For me over the seventies and eighties, there are many of these.... to me it is just Ray perpetually being able to communicate in a very human way, that I find musically appealing, in context with the era he is doing it in.

    Not unlike the sixties material, it takes a few listens to get under the skin....

    Personally for me, there is one more Klassic on this album.... and I get anticipation feelings, wondering how others feel about it....
    There is another track that comes really close, and that's Dave's second track....

    I'm interested in how this will pan out...
    I like the next song a little, but the one after that..... well it's coming lol

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    I just dug through my books (you should see my bookcases!) and found my copy of A Complicated Life and you gentlemen are right, there are actually two piccys of Yvonne, one behind Ray in the airport and in the plane, both taken by Debi Doss, one of the Preservation singers. This is still slim pickings compared to the rest of Ray’s wives/lovers. All I know that she was a schoolteacher when she met Ray, Ray had actually legally changed his name to “Raymond Douglas”, when he married her and that she used Ray’s relationship w/Chrissie Hynde as the reason for the divorce. It almost seems that Ray was living out a real life Soap Opera w/this marriage. Again there seems to be no tell all interview or book by her about her relationship w/Ray, which is amazing considering the reputation of the English press.
  19. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    How Are You

    One of my favorites on this album and late period Kinks in general. The "Tired Of Waiting On You" riff is front and center and could be a reference that the character in the song might have been subconsciously hoping he would run into this person someday again. He actually was waiting to see this person again but he did not know or understand this until he actually saw this person again after so long.

    As @pyrrhicvictory alludes to above, it is stated in one of Doug Hinman's book the inspiration for this song could have been a chance meeting on the street in London in the fall of 1985 with ex-manager Grenville Collins.

    I don't agree that every relationship song Ray has written since the early 80s has to be about Hynde or that they are all autobiographical. Folks here put more weight on Hynde since it was the most recent and because she is famous and so well-known in her on right. All of Ray's failed relationships hurt and affected him just as bad whether we know who that person is or not (his ex-wife Yvonne is brought up above and I agree that failed relationship has influenced him as much as any other).

    My only gripe with "How Are You" would be the mix is little too congested. Everything is mixed center or just off center except for some cymbal crashes. I wish there was better separation in the guitars and keys. Incidentally, it's stated in Hinman book, that when Ray was doing final mixes for the album he went back to this track, which had been completed many months earlier, and did a new mix of this track "without strings". If these "strings" had been in this track originally maybe these were wider in the mix and could explain the centered-ness of the rest of the backing track. Synth strings? No real orchestra sessions are listed for this album and we already know they couldn't be bothered with real brass. All this is just my own speculation and spit-balling. We'll never know since no alternate mix of this track or any other song from this album has ever been released.

    "How Are You" actually was the first single released everywhere except the US and Canada. In some countries it was the only single release. This was the third single in the US/Canada after "Rock 'N' Roll Cities" (a single nowhere else, and rightly so) and "Lost And Found".
    Like "Lost And Found", the single edit in the US was copyrighted as an alternate mix, but the record itself contains just a shorter edit of the album mix.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2022
  20. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    This is a better copy of the video without the jumping

    I never saw any of the videos for any song on this album until this week. By the time of this album's release, I had just graduated from high school earlier that year and by this time MTV (and TV in general) were things I spent very little time with over the next decade.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2022
  21. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    How Are You

    Even with the throwback 60s riff/chord progression, this sounds very 80s to me (mostly in production). But here's the crazy thing. I find the 80s sound to be overly synthetic and less capable of carrying emotion than more organic sound.... and yet here we have a song that is almost unbearably heartfelt and overwhelmingly beautiful. Maybe the demo level vocal is actually a benefit here, the more raw delivery being the better vehicle for bringing the unique feel necessary to carry this message.

    In listening to the lyrics this morning, I couldn't help but be reminded of Dan Fogelberg's Same Ols Lang Syne (1981).

  22. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Another song that this distantly reminds me of in terms of lyrical conceit is Sandie Shaw's 'You've Not Changed' from 1967: this breezy popper is a lot callower than the weight of years that bears down on a 40 something Ray, but the set up and the conversational delivery aren't a million miles away:

  23. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I was wondering if that was (or is meant to be) Frank Smyth, the journalist who wrote the Face To Face liner notes and who Ray in ‘X Ray’ describes as being an habitue of the kind of scene pictured at that point in the video.
  24. Boom Operator

    Boom Operator Shake hands with yesterday's tomorrow

    Sherman Oaks, CA
    Almost a full year into the format switch from new wave to heavy metal, my one remaining contact at KNAC (The Knack) broadcasting from high atop the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building in downtown Long Beach, CA (my hometown) called and said he’d pulled the latest promo single by The Kinks out the trash and if I wanted it I’d better make the 10 minute drive from Belmont Shore pronto.

    As I recall that happening in early December ’86, I’m not sure why the label has a ℗1987 phonographic copyright. Hmmmm…

    Anyway, I fetched the record and my friends and I gave it a spin despite already knowing the track from the dismal Think Visual. There was always the hope that these singles might be a different mix or even a different recording (I’m looking at you, the 45 of Rebel Rebel) but this was just the same weak track with 30 seconds lopped off. The sound was so featherweight, it was hard to keep the record from floating off the turntable.

    No station in Southern California that I know of ever played either How Are You or Working at the Factory (this 12” promo had How Are You on both sides—and both sides were labeled Side 1) but one had to admire MCA for doing their best to promote a bad investment.

    It’s always nice when folks find enjoyment in music that leaves others cold… but, oh, those painfully cheesy synthesizers. Yikes.


  25. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    How Are You?

    Easily and very clearly my favorite song on this album. Add it to the list of songs that I have now known for 20 days, when I wish it has been 20 years. The recalling of Tired of Waiting for You is more subtle than Destroyer aping All Day and All of the Night. That one bothered me. This one, it's like the essence of Tired of Waiting (and by association, Set Me Free), but it's not a direct copy, and it's just beautiful.

    The intro drum fill sounds a bit Mick's fill after the opening guitar melody of Tired of Waiting. The single-note lead guitar melody over those back and forth chunky guitar chords... with some 80s smoothness and synth beds underneath, and some more synth keyboards that seem to pluck here and there.

    Lyrically, this is really one of Ray's best works. Again, I think @Fortuleo put it better than I ever could, but the way Ray inserts these conversational turn of phrases.... exploring the lines and melody as if he's making it up on the spot. It's just so human and lovely. The way "How are you..." sort of drifts off before the bridge... The verses have that rising and falling hook that edges up to desperation..

    "Are you still struggling the way that I am?" That single line says so much. It implies that they both were struggling, but Ray assumes he's the only one who hasn't righted the ship yet. Even though he says (or tries to convince him and her) that he somehow got through the troubles he had... I'm not even sure if I read this as an actual encounter, but rather an imagined encounter, what if I saw her. What would I say? It's been at least a year or more, or is it less? Who's counting? Certainly not me. Well, anyway...

    There is another lyrical theme in Kink world beyond friends and weather that I have noticed (and I apologize if another Avid had previously pointed this out!) ...but the recognition of faces in the street...

    We start with Autumn Almanac, and the comfort level of recognition....

    This is my street and I'm never gonna leave it
    And I'm always gonna to stay here
    If I live to be ninety-nine
    'Cause all the people I meet
    Seem to come from my street

    Then we have the lost classic Anytime (from the Lola outtakes), when you may feel down because you are not recognized:

    You can walk outside
    On a crowded street
    People pass you by
    And no one stops to speak

    ...which actually was pretty much re-used in the Nobody's Fool demo, but now there is comfort in not being recognized:

    I can go for a walk on a crowded street
    And see millions of faces staring at me
    Some of them smiling, some of them glare
    But most of them don't even know that I'm there
    That's how I want to be

    Then we have No More Looking Back (another top contender for "best Ray post-breakup song"), with the pain of recognizing a face:

    Walking along a crowded street
    I see thousands of faces before me
    Then I see a face that I used to know
    Long ago in my life story

    Now we have How Are You?, with the hopeful inevitability of seeing her face again in the future....

    I'm bound to see you on the street again some day
    And when I do I'll always say
    How are you?

    Honorable mention to A Face in the Crowd, where I think the "street" is implied:

    Am I just a face in the crowd?
    Is that all I'll ever be?
    Do you think I stand out
    Or am I just a face in the crowd?

    No Ray, you do stand out. None of your contemporaries were capable of writing a song like How Are You? in 1986.

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