The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    The Kinks ‎– Mister Pleasant
    Label: Pye Records ‎– PNV 24 191, Pye Records ‎– PNV. 24191
    Format: Vinyl, 7", 45 RPM, EP
    Country: France
    Released: 1967
    Genre: Rock
    Style: Garage Rock, Pop Rock, Mod


    A1 Mister Pleasant 3:00
    A2 This Is Where I Belong 2:28
    B1 Two Sisters 2:00
    B2 Village Green 2:08
    So here we get an interesting EP ...

    We open with the two songs from the single yesterday, and then we get two new songs, and yes it was Village Green being so early in the piece that surprised me .... quite a lot actually.
    As someone that never bought singles, and never really bought EP's, it was quite a surprise to see Village Green coming out so soon before the album.

    but first we have a track from the album that comes later in the year

    Two Sisters.

    mono mix (2:01), recorded 24, 25 Nov, 1966 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    Sybilla looked into her mirror
    Priscilla looked into the washing machine
    And the drudgery of being wed
    She was so jealous of her sister
    And her liberty, and her smart young friends
    She was so jealous of her sister

    Sybilla looked into the wardrobe
    Priscilla looked into the frying pan
    And the bacon and eggs
    And the breakfast is served
    She was so jealous of her sister
    And her way of life, and her luxury flat
    She was so jealous of her sister

    She'd throw away her dirty dishes just to be free again
    Her women's weekly magazines just to be free again
    And put the children in the nursery just to be free again
    Priscilla saw her little children
    And then decided she was better off
    Than the wayward lass that her sister had been
    No longer jealous of her sister
    So she ran 'round the house with her curlers on
    No longer jealous of her sister

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Noma Music, Inc./Hi-Count Music, Inc. BMI

    This is a wonderful song.... it is quite a surprising song too, to me at least.

    We open with harpsichord, and instantly get a somewhat baroque sound. It is musically beautiful, and has a delicacy that paves the way for these lyrics to come in.

    It is somewhat speculated that lyrically although we have two sisters we are actually more likely looking at the relationship of two brothers cast into a different framework.

    We have two sisters names starting off each verse, and a compare and contrast set out. We have a single, younger sister, Sybilla, whose only cares are really, how she looks, and where she is going to go and party. Then we have Priscilla, who has responsibilities .... washing and cooking and looking after her children .... We have this framed as a jealousy issue.

    Priscilla misses her freedom, and sees her younger sister just running around and partying and only needing to care about herself, yet Priscilla is in the midst of the day to day drudgery of life.

    But I really like the way Ray turns this around. Priscilla thinks about throwing it all away, but when she sees her children, she realises that her life has more substance, and casts off the misleading beast that jealousy is....

    Musically this is just beautiful. Ray's delivery is so tender. This isn't a sarcastic satire, this is a really good piece of observational writing. It is a character study where we have a character making the right choice.
    Again Nicky is the star of the show, with that beautiful harpsichord ....

    It seems almost a shame to look at this outside of the context of the album, but here we are.

    This is a beautiful song, and all the directions Ray could have taken this, I am pleased he went the direction he did .....

  2. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Just to make sure, if we're doing 'Two Sisters' today does that mean we're skipping it when we do 'Something Else' in order?
  3. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Two Sisters is one of the very best R Davies-penned songs. Just beautiful and poignant.
  4. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Oh my, does it mean we'll also discuss Village Green today ??? Just because of us French doing something almost criminal with the Kinks timeline in early 1967?
    This is a crazy “pre-best of” EP, a time paradox EP. This is not supposed to exist at all. As a matter of fact, I am not sending this post this right now!! :nyah:
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Village Green.

    stereo mix (2:08), recorded 25 Nov, 1966 (string overdubs Feb 1967) at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    This song being recorded around the time of Two Sisters, virtually two years before the other songs for Village Green Preservation Society, really suggests to me that Ray had the idea for the Village Green album brewing for quite a while .... and it makes sense. All these character studies, the reflections, and all the changes in the direction the band and his songs were heading it almost seems a foregone conclusion of where we are heading .... anyway, in hindsight that seems likely, but who knows how it actually came around the way it did.

    Out in the country,
    Far from all the soot and noise of the city,
    There's a village green.
    It's been a long time
    Since I last set eyes on the church with the steeple
    Down by the village green.
    'Twas there I met a girl called Daisy
    And kissed her by the old oak tree.
    Although I loved my Daisy, I sought fame,
    And so I left the village green.

    I miss the village green,
    And all the simple people.
    I miss the village green,
    The church, the clock, the steeple.
    I miss the morning dew, fresh air and Sunday school.

    And now all the houses
    Are rare antiquities.
    American tourists flock to see the village green.
    They snap their photographs and say "Gawd darn it,
    Isn't it a pretty scene?"
    And Daisy's married Tom the grocer boy,
    And now he owns a grocery.

    I miss the village green,
    And all the simple people.
    I miss the village green,
    The church, the clock, the steeple.
    I miss the morning dew, fresh air and Sunday school.

    And I will return there,
    And I'll see Daisy,
    And we'll sip tea, laugh,
    And talk about the village green.
    We will laugh and talk about the village green.

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Noma Music, Inc./Hi-Count Music, Inc. BMI

    This song is among Ray's most beautiful reflections .... I can almost see Mr Pleasant singing this, or perhaps Dandy ... This feels like someone who has taken off to either build their life in the big city (the modern world) or to party in the big city nights, and it has gone awry.... the reality that throwing away the beautiful simple things for the modern flash things .... throwing away the simple and personable life for the corporate ladder and the back biting and win at all costs world, that leaves its casualties lining the streets of the world, while only the successful get celebrated ... it isn't perhaps all that it is made out to be.....

    Again Ray has this beautiful relaxed and nostalgic delivery that for me at least is very endearing .... songs like this give me a peaceful feeling in the core of my being ... they also bring a slight sorrow at the way it has all gone ... like the life one dreams of becomes mutilated by the requirements of the world, and becomes completely unrecognisable....

    The musical arrangement is also beautiful

    This song was inspired by the band playing some small country areas around Devon in England, and Daisy is representative of Ray's actual first real love. I haven't been to Devon, to the best of my knowledge, I was only five when we left ... but I get the impression it is the picture in my head of a small English village, and certainly the way the song comes across leaves that impression ...

    anyway, so much reflection and so little about the song.....

    I don't know, this song leaves me with this relaxed, whimsical, nostalgic feeling for a life that was never an option, from the best of my ability to know. It moves me. It takes me far away. It does all the things that a great song is supposed to do....

    That's all I have guys, take it away ...........
    This is beautiful, and now I just want to go home, and back to bed and leave this industrial nightmare to its own designs....

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I love the fact that going through the songs/albums/EP's this way, really starts to show a clearer picture of how the music all went down.... how it all came together. The incremental changes that end up moving so far from the original source that when directly compared .... it seems kind of staggering .... It's like a journey in itself ..... from the grinding pumping lust of You Really Got Me, through the breakdowns and madness, to these beautiful reflections on where life could have gone if only we were more wise, when we were younger.....
    I think these are the things that make the Kinks among my favourite ever bands. there is something so very human about their journey, and Ray's way of looking at things.
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I'm not sure really.... Something Else is unusual in that so many songs are released prior to the album....
    I'm happy to run through them again.... and also Village Green coming so far out of the gate, feels like it needs to be with the album ....

    Feel free to throw out opinions on this guys. It seems like it would be redundant to do them again, but by the same token, there's a way the albums work, for me at least, that makes it seem necessary.... to some degree.
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  8. bvb1123

    bvb1123 Rock and Roll Martian

    Cincinnati Ohio
    "Two Sisters"
    Great song and an apt lyrical simile about Ray and Dave's life at this time. You really feel the longing for something different in the lyrics, the vocals, and even the music. Always like this since I discovered it after getting Something Else By... in 2018.

    "Village Green"
    Wonderful song and a sign of the direction of both Ray's writing and the band's entire sound would head in the next couple years. They do not sound like the band who did "You Really Got Me" at all. That's one of the best and most beautiful things about The Kinks, they just did their own thing, not really caring what was happening in the rest of the pop music. Granted, they attempted (and succeeded imho) to seem contemporary and cool in the late 70s, but, who knows? Maybe it was just rock music and The Kinks both sounding the same wavelength after the malaise of the mid 70s music and the disappointment of the concept album phase respectively.
  9. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Two Sisters is of course one of the most sublime songs Ray (or anyone) has ever written. So concise, so empathic, so extraordinary acute and visual. He really was a filmmaker in disguise. Sebillah looked into a mirror / Priscilla looked into a washing machine. How great is this ? Maybe the two sisters are in fact named Dave and Ray, who knows, lest we forget how gender is a relative notion in the kinkdom. Musically, this is exquisite, just the drums coming in at 25'' are a thing of beauty. It's another chorus-less story song, with an uplifting minor to major change leading to a fantasy bridge. Then, like you @mark winstanley, I really appreciate the way the story ultimately resolves. But I love it even more because it's still bittersweet. Priscilla is "better off", yes, and our heart is with her, but we leave her there, with beautiful longing strings and Ray's humming, which is part appeased, part regretful. Which is why the song stays with us long after it's over.
  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    These songs today have created this whole reflective pattern of thought...
    I was thinking about times when life moved more slowly, when savoring things was possible.... like the time you stop in the old English/Irish style pub in the countryside.... you were heading somewhere else, but it seemed too attractive to go passed.
    You sit in the quiet country garden looking across the unspoiled countryside, and the mind and body actually relaxes. The core of your being gets a massage. You sip a couple of beers, and the muscle relaxant effect helps switch off the perpetual adrenaline of the day to day workaway life.... you feel human again, and have time to soak up the environment ... the worries and cares of the world move into the background.... the barrage of negative information creating dischord and mass hysteria.....
    Ahhh the Village Green, a quiet pub, and a long lost simple life..... or perhaps that's just idealizing a life that never was..... who knows.... thought provoking stuff
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
  11. FJFP

    FJFP Host for the 'Mixology' Mix Differences Podcast

    Time for some internet detective work...

    So, this French EP was released in May 1967, according to 45cat. What is very curious is that around this time there was an unreleased Pye EP, which can be found through this 2009 Popsike listing here, which is very cool. Visually, all we have is the following:


    What is interesting, is that the catalog number is NEP 24282. A discogs search shows no listing, but a look at the adjacent numbers brings up the following:

    NEP 24281 - Sandie Shaw: Tell The Boys EP, released May 1967:


    NEP 24283 - Warren Mitchell, Anthony Booth, Dandy Nichols, Una Stubbs: Intolerance, release 1967 (month unknown).


    The fun fact here is that this EP is from the TV show... "Till Death Us Do Part"! Funny how these things come full circle.

    Either way, this EP would feature the following:

    A1: Two Sisters
    A2: Mister Pleasant
    B1: Village Green
    B2: And I Will Love You
    B3: This Is Where I Belong

    And would finally be pressed up for RSD in 2016:


    In short, these tracks were clearly almost intended to be released at the time, but then were all held back. I'm not sure why, because this would have made for a very nice little EP, and my only complaint is the RSD used the Blue, not Pink Pye labels, which would have been in place in May 1967, which is when this would have been released in the UK. Also, maybe the cover photo is a couple of months late.


    Ultimately, there's not much here to blow anyone's mind, but it's still a fascinating look into how the release schedule could have differed slightly. I'll discuss the two tracks themselves later.
  12. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks for confirming. Also the dude on he also a presenter?
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  13. malco49

    malco49 Forum Resident

    push come to shove might be the one kinks lp album(is i had to make such a horrible choice) i would take to a desert island!
  14. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "Two Sisters"

    This is, of course, utterly exquisite as a tune and as a lyric. It's a great enough song as it is, but Nicky's harpischord takes it onto another level. I also love the contrast between the delicate song and backing and the muscular, four-square drumming. You could take it as an analogy of Ray and Dave's relationship, but it works just as well by taking the story at face value. It's one of Ray's greatest, and you could sit and analyse it for ages, but you would gain more by just listening to it and taking it all in.

    "Village Green"

    I suppose when you listen to this alongside "Two Sisters" you can hear that they could have been recorded in the same time period, but "Village Green" is so ingrained within the lyrical and musical theme of VGPS that it's difficult to see it any other way. Again, it's exquisite on all levels and creates a world inside your head that you can live in. I love how Ray can just throw in a couple of lines about the American tourists but they give you all the detail you need.

    Both songs pack a ridiculous amount of content into two minutes, which makes you wonder why anybody ever needs to write songs longer than this.
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Spot on, beauty sometimes just needs to be appreciated
  16. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Exquisite poetry from Ray, the slant rhymes + matching stress patterns:
    morning dew / sunday school
    antiquities / village green
    houses / darn it
    drudgery / liberty

    just the phrase ... "the drudgery of being wed" ha!

    Those 2 songs are an impressive 4 minutes of music!

    DISKOJOE Forum Resident

    Salem, MA
    The "dude" on the Joanna was Robert Wace of the Kinks' managerial tag team of Collins & Wace
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  18. Martyj

    Martyj I come for the regatta, I stay for the arm sweat

    Maryland, USA
    Village Green

    It’s hard for me to think of this song outside its 1968 LP context. But when one considers it was actually composed in October of 1966, it is realized it comes from the same vintage grape as “Big Black Smoke.” Possibly they were written back to back. They are parallel companion pieces: two tales of leaving the small town for the big city.

    It’s instructive how Ray weaves a contrasting narrative around the different genders. The man’s adventure is a success and he reflects back with fondness of the quiet, simple place he left…because in his heart he never wanted to leave. The woman’s adventure leads her to ruin.. because she failed to appreciate the quiet, simple life and couldn’t wait to get the heck out of there. In an even broader view it reflects the times: men were allowed to go out into the world. Women were expected to stay put. Ray’s two takes on this are not endorsements of these gender roles, merely acknowledgements of their existence. For the woman, “Big Black Smoke” turns out to be a cautionary tale. For the man, “Village Green” it’s a pleasant, wistful confirmation that there is no place like home.

    I’m also struck by the contrasting imagery suggested by specific choice of words. The Swinging London recreational drug purple heart declaratively sets “Big Black Smoke” in modern times. For “Village Green,” words like Daisy and old oak tree are, if not inspired by then at least evocative of, lyrics of hit songs from the turn of the century (“Bicycle Built for Two” and “Down By the Old Mill Stream”). One song shines a light on the ugly present, the other on the beautiful past.
  19. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Dearborn, MI
    It makes sense to discuss both songs today. Much more sense than it did to talk about "She's Got Everything." These tracks were actually released at this point in the story.

    Skipping "Two Sisters" when it comes up in Something Else makes sense. Something Else is coming up soon so it's not a big gap. It's what we would do with a single or b-side that later showed up on an album.
  20. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Wow. Two beautiful poignant songs - with excellent introductions by Mark. I didn’t realise Village Green was so early, but it makes sense given the things Ray had been writing about. I need to have a good nights sleep and compose some thoughts while waiting in the Record Store Day queue tomorrow morning Australian time.
  21. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Another humorous guy on stage, both hands methodically ‘playing’ the same mid-section of the piano...even during the runs!
  22. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Nice observation
  23. Chartstuff

    Chartstuff Forum Resident

    Manchester, UK
    Oh my! I had no idea that these two wonderful songs were recorded at the same time (and - just for the record, on the SAME DAY that the Beatles started work up the road on Strawberry Fields Forever).

    Such drama is packed into only a little four minutes in total for both set pieces. Two Sisters of course pivots on the moment where Priscilla 'sees her little children'- it may in fact be the instant when the protagonist becomes an adult, nothing short of that. It’s almost as if the compromise of real life is recognised and weighed up - after which life moves on again. So touching and if the words or chord changes don't make you tear up, then the unexpected entry of the strings will.

    But...Village Green has got another Davies 'rug pull' moment as well. First time around the verse is 16 bars long, but the second time around we only get 12 bars and after our protagonist finds out about Daisy we slam straight into the chorus. This might be the moment where our protagonist realises that life has got away from him. Story and music (and arrangement) are all working together in a wonderful, instinctive way. God bless Ray!
  24. Orino

    Orino Forum Resident

    Mind blown in many directions today.. two songs so essential to their later parent LPs it seems almost blasphemous to look at them so early.. but, after all it's enlightening to remember that they should stand alone, too, and they can offer a more accurate glimpse into where Ray's head was at when he actually wrote them.

    "Two Sisters" another of my favourite "Kitchen Sink" kompositions.. quite literally this time, ha. Would sit nicely on an EP with Dead End Street etc. The imagery and so on is, as ever, impeccable. You can pretty much smell the Acdo.

    What's lovely though is that it's a character song too (we may guess at who these two characters are based on). Moreover, it straddles and expresses two personalities crucial to the Kinks music, the colourful dandy gaddabout and the monochrome workaday realist. The contradictions of the Kinks, and the soon-to-be-swinging 60s, addressed and perhaps encapsulated, in three minutes.

    And it's a musical delight, in particular the wondrous "free again" middle eight..

    Indeed. Enough. :)

    As if that wasn't enough it's "Village Green" time. I knew this song long before the parent album so it doesn't feel transgressive to hear it at this point. However I guess we'll come to discuss the song's nostalgia/conservatism in a wider context later on. There's a compelling argument that all this rose-tinted talk of quaint English traditional life is as unreal/illusory as the late 196os' countercultural utopianism which The Kinks quite consciously dodged. But, as someone who has supped warm ale on a balmy June day at the local cricket club, I also can't help be seduced by it..
  25. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    That's what I thought originally, but had my doubts! LOL (well, didn't know which one of the duo it was, but thought it was one of the managers.)
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
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