The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Both of today's tracks seem heavily inspired by classic Chuck Berry: snappy witty lyrically-focused rock'n'roll vignettes. As Mark notes, maybe placing them back to back wasn't the best sequencing idea long term given how they appear on a CD. Then again, if you were listening to a Chuck Berry greatest hits, you wouldn't be complaining about hearing two such similar tracks back to back, you'd just be enjoying each one as it appeared.

    I think with these two songs and the next one on the album, we hit a seam of very lyrically orientated songs that maybe aren't so appealing to some people, but I love all three: they're all so lyrically well written and funny, and the music is no slouch either but it's playing a supporting role for sure. They're not Ray Davies showing us his soul, but they are Ray motoring along at his puckish Berry/Dylan inspired (but with an all new English twist) pithily observational best, and that is no small or second best thing to be, in fact on some days I'd call it some of the most brilliant rock and roll ever laid down. 'House In The Country' in particular just effortlessly leaps out the gate and never lets up. I LOVE lines like 'well he got his job when drunken Daddy tumbled down the stairs'. So blackly funny, and delivered so brilliantly. Love the solo too: yeah it's not re inventing the wheel, but it's pure rock and rolling joy on wax.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
  2. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Yes, today’s pair is very different from what went on before. A-side closer and B-side opener are both set in an uncharacteristic (for this LP) rocking style even though some astute class system observations add to the overall feel – if not theme – of the album. House in the Country is the first of a trilogy of real estate tunes on Side 2 (the others being Most Exclusive Residence for Sale and Sunny Afternoon), and another (crude) portrait of an obnoxious rich guy. Musically, it’s indeed a straightforward scruffy rock song, with a tight sharp (albeit thin) sound, excellent staccato rhythm guitars and no harpsichord this time as far as I can hear, but a tremendous barrel house piano courtesy of our beloved session man. More than a precursor to Blur, I hear a slightly stonesian touch in the bit preceding the chorus. This attitude blossoms into a full-on influence on Holiday in Waikiki, a song that expertly brings 19th Nervous Breakdown back to its Chuck Berry roots, yes, and with a lot of style. Both tracks are pretty exciting, though I’d argue they’re the two less memorable songs so far in the LP – which is saying a lot more about what preceded them than it does about them. Overall, we’re at track 8, and I’m stunned by the sheer energy level of this album. Every track is a blast, even the ballads are full of edge and power and the more rocking tunes display a blunt wit and humor that is hugely entertaining.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
  3. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    The Pretty Things cover of 'House In The Country' which came out several months before 'Face To Face'. Apparently they were very unhappy about having the song, which they didn't think much of, forced on them by management. Their displeasure shows in this pretty perfunctory reading that pales before The Kinks version, although note the extra verse that didn't make it into the later release:

  4. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Two duds today, the collective nadir of the album for me.
    Curious choices for side ender and side closer on vinyl, but excellent for cassette and you can skip them both.
    "House in the Country" feels a bit old school everyday rock and roll for this band.
    "Holiday in Waikiki" feel like it's supposed to be funny, and humour is the most subjective thing at all, but. Could do with some better gags.
    Roll on, "Fancy".
  5. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Both of today's songs are good rockers that continue the decent production quality of the album.

    "House in the Country" is way better than Blur's "Country House" for me. I like the "drunken daddy" line as well, in fact the whole lyric is like a screenplay.

    "Holiday in Waikiki" is less impressive lyrically for me - I find it a bit too clunky and obvious. It's as though Ray came up with the line about PVC grass skirts and then had to write a song around it.
  6. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    House In the Country: yes, yes, yes! A song with grit. Harmony vocals swooping in and out, just a touch off kilter, a raw lead vocal. All sorts of changes in the song itself. And the lyrics are biting.

    According to my knowledge (based on British mystery novels!), yes, a “house in the country “ is a second home.
  7. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    House In The Country
    I like this one musically more than lyrically. The jealousy and rancor here are less appealing than Ray's more observational or even satirical outings. But this thing does rock along powerfully enough to hold my interest.

    Holiday In Waikiki.
    Ray has definitely given us more clever lyrics than this one, but still I can relate, so I enjoy the song. Almost any place know primarily as a tourist destination is going to be more plastic than substantive. Finding authentic experience can be a challenge. That problem is compounded for our protagonist here since he's not a seasoned traveler who knows wo to look beyond the surface trappings; but then most seasoned travelers don't try either, which is why these inauthentic trappings continue to dominate. There's the irony that he traveled clear around the world only to get the familiar repackaged. Even this song has a poke at the upper classes tucked into it inasmuch as it points out that those who can afford to do this all the time are just getting the same ol' same ol' in a different setting, so are they really that clever after all?

    Musically, another solid little rocker, especially the surf drums.
  8. kw21925

    kw21925 Lieutenant-Corporal; Gazpacho Police

    Actually, according to Nicky, he wasn't paid at all!
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  9. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Holiday In Waikiki: another barn burner and two thumbs up. Opening with the sound of the surf and then...Dylan morphing into (and better said by Fortuleo):
    Mark’s description of a tourist trap is spot on. The pvc grass skirt always makes me laugh. I really wouldn’t have thought that “pvc” was part of the language back then. (Now I’ll have to look up when pvc was invented!)

    Naturally, both of today’s songs make the playlist (as did yesterday’s pair).
  10. Zack

    Zack Forum Resident

    Easton, MD
    I'd like to shine a light on the work of Young Dave on House in the Country. A really killer solo, and he was still just nineteen at the time!
  11. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D I didn’t know that.
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  12. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    House In The Country &
    Holiday In Waikiki

    Not a bad idea to throw in some rockers for some welcome diversity from much of what we have seen thus far.
    Both have some amusing lyrics and move along at a fair clip though I find them to be good though relatively undistinguished songs in the grand scheme of things.
    Possibly lyrics aside, i don't find it too much of a stretch for either to have been from an earlier Kinks album.
  13. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    House in the Country -- TMI, maybe, but hopefully mildly entertaining personal story. Several years ago a girlfriend left me for a friend of mine, who had a house in the country. And I was realizing, to my horror, that maybe she left me partially _because_ the guy was one of those House in the Country guys, and she wanted that life, which I could not provide. I posted House in the Country on Facebook, without comment, on a summer weekend day. Apparently she was monitoring my page, because she contacted me immediately, livid. I'd struck a nerve. It was small solace, but at least I got a sardonic smirk out of it.

    As with Dandy, (but better executed here in HITC), the lyrics seem to cut both ways. We have a narrator who is sizing up a character, in this case a guy who has stuff he didn't deserve. But, crucially, it is also a song about the envy of the character singing, and this makes him sort of an unreliable narrator. There is a level of irony. And yet.... we can also climb into the shoes of the guy singing and BE him, empathize with his envy. And that's the part my ex missed .... I was also showing my envy by posting that song, and mocking my own pettiness at the same time.

    The song rocks. What a great, nearly deranged intro.

    Holiday in Waikiki -- It's a cool topic, and still legit. WHERE are we really going when we go on vacation? Has anyone gone to Disneyland as an adult? One is paying for a massive artificial experience that pales next to what you could get just spending a day in some nearby forest. But it's the fun music that puts it over the top. I agree that the guitar riff sounds sarcastic -- that's perfect.

    I agree that the satirical lyrics feel Chuck Berry-inspired, especially on this latter song. In fact, Chuck Berry's lyric influence seems to hang over the whole album, more than on anything else Ray ever did. It's a similar sense of amused detachment with some compassion in the mix. Whole stories told by simply describing details. A year after the release of "Chuck Berry in London," we have an album that is spiritually "Chuck Berry inhabits London."

    There is something else about the lyrics on "Face to Face".... I feel they are running the show more than on the next couple of albums. Is it that the songs are wordier? They enter the brain differently. Soon, Ray started evoking even more, without having to spell things out as much. I think he trusted the power of suggestion as he continued writing, and things got even more delicate. I've noticed a similar thing in the Rolling Stones' writing as found on their massive output from this same exact time (as found on "Aftermath," "Flowers" outtakes, and singles). Performances designed to highlight wordy lyrics, while later on there is an increased trust that the words don't need to be quite as literal to convey the song. The overall mood is more important than telling everything.

    As mentioned earlier in the thread, the outro of Holiday in Waikiki is a reprise of the Kinks' arrangement of "Got Love If You Want It."

  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Sounds like you hit the nail on the head with that one :)
  15. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Side note: I’m way off on my (lack of) pvc knowledge. Invented late 1800’s, commercialized 1926.
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  16. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Holiday In Waikiki is a nice Chuck Berry style rocker with some funny lyrics about commercialization.
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  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Somewhat surprising to me too
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  18. Orino

    Orino Forum Resident

    These 2 songs do feel like a deliberate attempt to end Side 1 and start Side 2 with a "bang". But unlike "Party Line" these are pretty involved, loaded lyrics. Having never read them before, they both stand up on their own terms, where in theory musically both songs could have any old generic lyrical tosh applied to them.. both songs could easily have been called "Gonna see my baby" or some such.. this in the end is what begins to really mark The Kinks out. Just imagine what could have been with some of the earlier 'ravers' in their catalogue.

    At the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, Ray really is (as an avowed socialist) now regularly writing about class, in a way that I don't see many of his contemporaries doing much at the time, if at all. In one way he's doing exactly what his presumably beloved Music Hall songs did, poking fun at the "haves", and dressing genuine social observation in jokey drag, but there's often a real bite to his songs. It's notable, and no accident, that the protagonist in "Holiday in Waikiki" wins his holiday in a newpaper competition. And naturally discovers only tatty commodification and set dressing when he gets there. "House in the County" is rather less subtle, ha.

    The link with the Blur track is interesting, to me anyway.. inasmuch as Damon Albarn pretty much idolised Ray and there's little doubt he was familiar with the Kinks song. But "Country House" is much more about a particular (90s?) neurosis, the combination of new wealth with spiritual uncertainty and emptiness. (Never mind the socialism, open the champagne.) As I say I think the Kinks song not very subtle but perhaps more radical, for the time, pulling no punches with its portrait of the privileged classes, who in this case display no internal strife whatsoever.. unlike the Blur protagonist he "don't need no sedatives" and "it don't matter much to him". (Compare to "knocking back the prozac" and "I am so sad, I don't know why"..) This maybe betrays a slight lack of nuance in Ray's work when it comes to lambasting the well-to-do, though he's quite capable of going deeper, as doubtless we will see.
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  19. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Agree. I get the exact same sense. Some of these are fine lyrics, but on the next few albums, Ray masters a compactness in his style that still gets the message across, but with fewer words, and the songs benefit even more as a result.
  20. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    House In The Country
    I love the double hit accents in the chorus. What a fun little addition (among many others) to the arrangement. I always expect another double hit before “big sports car.” Ray’s “he’s got everything he needs” raw vocal reminds me of some of John Lennon’s rawer vocal takes. And he’s oh so smug… the lyrics are just dripping with disgust for the upper class character. Much more disgust than the man who is well-respected or the guy who follows fashion dedicatedly. The harder edge of the vocal and lyrics match the harder rocking tune of this song over those earlier two character studies. Certainly not a master class in songwriting, but a great rocking tune that fits in with the concept of the whole album.

    Holiday In Waikiki
    Another song that isn’t incredible, but I can’t imagine this album without it. It again fits the theme, and is another fun rocker with a lot of character and things going on. Love the surf drums and guitar. The music is very 60s surf but the arrangement and lyrics are pure Kinksian. The jangly (?) guitar tone is perfect for this and (in my opinion) hints at some sounds we’ll hear on Arthur (where they mock/pay homage to the Beach Boys on a song there as well).
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
  21. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "House In The Country"

    Nothing wrong with a little rock n roll to keep the party going. I love Ray's vocal. It sounds like it could have been an earlier single. This is a great addition to the album which seems to have a taste of everything The Kinks are good at. Play this song at maximum volume!

    "Holiday In Waikiki"

    Possibly his most humorous lyric yet, and another excellent vocal "I'm just an English boy who won a holiday in Waikiki". The guitar tone sounds like a tribute to Duane Eddy. Perfect for a little surf style song about Hawaii. I love this song and it's yet another song unlike all the others. This record has it all!
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
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  22. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    For many years I heard “socially dead” from House in the Country as “also in debt”. When taken as the first song in a triptych, I like it better than with the actual lyric as it foreshadows what’s to come.
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  23. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    I'm sure pvc raincoats were quite fashionable in the 60's.
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  24. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Maryland, USA
    I’m taking a wild guess here because I’ve never read anything specific about this regarding “Holiday in Waikiki,” but it is likely it was censored for the same reason “Lola” was. It wasn’t publicized or much of an issue because the success or failure of “Face to Face” didn’t hinge on whether or not a solitary deep cut among the 14 tracks received BBC airplay. That wasn’t the case with a single like Lola, whose life in its home market was dependent on that outlet.

    (Not being British, I’m curious when BBC starting playing deep cuts off youth-appeal pop albums anyway? My understanding is during the mid-60’s it was a venue for singles or stuff re-recorded specifically at BBC’s own studios only, although a massively popular band like the Beatles may have been exceptions. But it strikes me unlikely that “Holiday in Waikiki” was ever going to get airplay anyway. At what point would programers have started scouring sides of albums for broadcast material? Late 60’s? 1970s? 1980s? Anyone?)
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  25. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I love that Peter Quaife's bass pattern starts a beat late because of the double hit accents, and then he turns it right-side around on the next measure. Fun little dislocation effect.

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