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The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Two Sisters

    A well thought out and very well crafted piece lyrically, musically, thematically, melodically etc.
    A minor masterpiece someone rather aptly stated up thread.
    Despite all this I do favour several "Something Else" tracks over this, perhaps i see it totalling a sum just a little less than it's excellent parts?
    Smiler, FJFP, CheshireCat and 2 others like this.
  2. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: What immediately strikes me about both of these tunes is that they are in minor keys ("Two Sisters" in Bm and "Village Green" in Cm). Unlike say, Rod Argent & Chris White or Graham Gouldman, Ray was never a composer who favored that mode. Note that "Village Green" is the only song on that album that begins and ends on a minor chord, and "Two Sisters" is one of only two songs on "Something Else" that are in a minor key, the other being "Harry Rag." This is why I've always assumed that "Two Sisters" came from the same session that produced "Rosemary Rose," with it's similar minor key + harpsichord motif.

    :kilroy: "Two Sisters" is a nifty little two minute soap opera that works much better within the context of an album that's all about "manners" and things. Note that for whatever reason, Reprise stuck it on the flipside of "Waterloo Sunset" here in the states. We didn't get to hear "Act Nice And Gentle" until it began popping up on compilation albums in the 1970s.

    :kilroy: "Village Green" is a great bit of round-of-4ths songwriting that, when played as an instrumental, sounds a little like a Bach fugue. At least until you get to those bridges with their descending bass lines. In the context of the album, it served as "serious relief" coming in between two musically lighter tracks like "Animal Farm" and "Starstruck."
    Jon H., DISKOJOE, renderj and 10 others like this.
  3. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Not to disagree with your take, but something interesting I find in Big Black Smoke is that this tale of shame and woe told mostly over minor chords occasionally switches to 7th chords played over an upright, bouncing beat with Dave playing energetic and joyful guitar fills ... I like to think of this as a subtle change of perspective to the girl in question having a great time, enjoying her freedom and partying in the big city - meanwhile the folks left back home in the country, perhaps motivated by some jealousy, gossip about her running off to the city and shacking up with some boy named Joe ...
  4. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I’m not coming in completely cold turkey as I do have Village Green and Muswell Hillbillies on my top 100 list...but, yes, otherwise it’s the first time I’ve done something like this. (My forum time references are based on threads: “back in the days of Rock Ledge,” “along about the time of the Heep thread,” etc. :D )
  5. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Today's Kinks News:
    It is Record Store Day 2021 tomorrow (12th June). BMG are releasing The Kinks ‘Percy’ album as an official, limited edition, 50th anniversary, picture disc vinyl LP.

    The one album I never picked up. Looking forward to the discussion.
  6. Allthingsmusic

    Allthingsmusic Forum Resident

    I always sensed a Dylan influence on Ray's vocals on this one. A keeper for me.
    Wondergirl and mark winstanley like this.
  7. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Two Sisters:

    I love the uneven/lopsided structuring of the lines in each of the verses. We get a first, short line:

    "Sybilla looked into the wardrobe"...

    And then a second line which just goes on and on, longer than expected, without a break:

    "Priscilla looked into the frying pan, and the bacon and eggs, and the breakfast is served..."

    The form itself conveys that grumbling drudgery.
    Two lines later gives us another litany in each of the opening verses: "And her way of life, and her luxury flat."

    We also get "She was so jealous of her sister" as the repeated line. And what a hauntingly pretty tune to that line! The whole thing is masterfully constructed, while feeling loose and through-composed.

    And then, also, harpsichord, strings, and yet kazoos! Kazoo seems to be Ray's choice of instrument for songs about frustrated housewives, as "She Bought a Hat like Princess Marina" brings the kazoo back (and the harpsichord).

    Also: the band! I love the entrance of Mick on drums. Everything has been this strict 16th-note baroque music through the first verse, but the drums come in with this swung "buh- doom", which creates a subtle rhythmic tension to the proceedings. Dave (I'm assuming it's him) enters only at the bridge, bubbling under with an edgy staccato minimal electric guitar.

    The strings _could_ be a Mellotron, ("Strawberry Fields Forever" was released in February 1967 featuring Mellotron) but given that Village Green was recorded/overdubbed at the same session with pizzicato strings and what sounds like a real bassoon, I'm going to guess they are real. (The first Kinks songs with Mellotron seem to date to just AFTER the recording sessions for "Something Else" --I'm gonna say August 1967, "Lavender Hill", "Little Women" [backing track], and "Good Luck Charm."-- I'm going by memory, checked this recently, but I may be off by a month.)

    I used to think the stereo "Something Else" album had this in fake stereo; but for some reason I played the stereo LP with the mono switch, recently, and learned that the strings are split between the channels with one of them phased-reversed. So! The strings vanish when the channels are summed. I guess that also means you could reverse a channel, sum them together, and hear _ONLY_ the strings. I have not tried this. I think "Something Else" probably reveals a lot of interesting details if "OOPs"ed-- they were deliberately experimenting with "spacialized" mixes on that one, much to our consternation years later.

    As I mentioned earlier, I bought a copy of this EP on Ebay recently. Trashed, and a little pricey given its condition. I just had to have the thing.

    I love "Village Green" too, but I have little to add to the discussion of it, today. I, too, was mind-blown when I learned it had been released SO early. In fact, I doubted that data for a long time. The only explanation for the song not appearing on "Something Else", and appearing only on one foreign country's EP, was that Ray already had the VGPS album in mind. That is no B-side-level song. Do we know why that 5-song EP was scrapped? I wonder if cramming 5 songs would have sounded bad in 1967 record-cutting technology.
  8. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    For a long time I assumed it was recorded for "Face to Face," and it still seems plausible. The basic track is sonically just like many "Face to Face" tracks. Harpsichord, tinny, no separation of instruments beyond the strings. Did he hold it back, then add strings later? Is the date in November a conjecture by Doug Hinman, or is there data to support this?
  9. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    According to what I can find, the strings were added Feb 67, but like most of our info, I'm not sure how accurate that is....
    I would assume with it being prepared for an EP, or whatever else they may have been looking at, that seems feasible. The French EP came out shortly after that, so I have no logical reason to debate the info, but again, info seems to be fairly hit and miss.
    Jon H. and All Down The Line like this.
  10. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    I think a reason for that is that these two tracks weren’t singles and were never written to be singles.They can take time to grow on the listener: Two Sisters notably. They are the non-singles that make a good album great and a great album outstanding.
  11. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Yet Ray was young even by those standards. He was born in June 1944, McCartney and Brian Wilson were born in June 1942, Dylan in 1941, Lennon in 1940. Ray was a relative baby writing as an adult.
  12. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Great breakdown of Two Sisters. Thanks.
    mark winstanley and Steve E. like this.
  13. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Another excellent analysis. I’m learning a lot about stuff I thought I knew :D
  14. SeeDubs

    SeeDubs Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    My sentiments exactly, for both songs.
    Pawnmower and mark winstanley like this.
  15. BeatlesFanthologist

    BeatlesFanthologist Well-Known Member

    I am new to the site and this is so cool. I'm usually try to listen to bands chronologically, especially if I'm serious about them, and so far I have only made it through the first two Kinks albums. So this will be a great chance to get a bit further in, with all the release info thrown in to save me all that research!

    Now I just need to back a few pages to get myself up to speed...
  16. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Right.... I'm more curious about when the pre-string track was recorded. It's supposed to be November 1966.... but could it be earlier?
    mark winstanley likes this.
  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Welcome to the forum.
    I hope you enjoy going through the thread.
    Every Saturday there is a thread guide that will link you directly to songs and albums. Hopefully that can help you catch up.
    There are a lot of knowledgeable folk on the thread, so you should be able to learn just about anything you want on here.

    Obviously you're welcome to follow along with us each day, we are in the preliminary stages of Something Else... which is album number 5, essentially :righton:
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It would be nice to know
    Steve E. likes this.
  19. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Two beautiful songs today...in the true sense of the word
    Two Sisters
    It was only in the past year that I tuned into this song. Holy mackerel...so sublime. I was focusing on the song a couple of months ago and this is so of its time. The women's movement was ramping up around then. To have a MAN be able to delve in with such sensitivity is pretty revolutionary. Women don't want to be pigeon-holed as breeders of children...but maybe some do. So if a woman finds fulfillment in being a mom...cool. If someone wants to pursue a career...cool as well. I think the song suggests that the mom has the better life. But that's not the end of it. this is simply A VIEW of the complexities of sex. A story. And as someone earlier pointed out, this is a 23 year old man writing this. Mindblowing. This song is just in a different realm. Is this even a rock song? one wonders.

    Village Green
    Like some others, I had recently run across the reality that this preceded the Village Green album by a chunk of time. That blew my mind. Again, is this a rock song? This is a gorgeously drawn.
    Based on my Kinks research, I found that Ray was a big fan of George Orwell. One book of his that came up is Coming Up for Air which i recently finished reading. Very reminiscent of Village Green. The idea of going back to the past and realizing that things are not as they were. a certain wistfulness of the past. Something that is definitely a theme in Ray's writing.
    Fantastic song. I almost want to use the word sublime, but I already did, so...
  20. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Spot on mate. I have no idea why we overcomplicate this stuff... it's pretty straight forward stuff
    DISKOJOE, FJFP and Wondergirl like this.
  21. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Great post and no surprises a man has not zeroed in on these themes to such a detailed degree.
    You made me fully realize that "Two Sisters" is a perfect vignette for a play or musical as it is truly wonderful theatre on it's own as are naturally many of Ray's creations!
  22. renderj

    renderj Forum Resident

    Two Sisters is great writing, not just great song-writing. One of my favorite tracks from SE. Fun to now learn about this French ep
    pablo fanques, Zeki, FJFP and 2 others like this.
  23. Williamson

    Williamson Forum Resident

    I think I was vaguely aware that he wrote Village Green sometime before the rest of the album came together, but still interesting. So I assume this song sparked the idea for the rest of that record?

    The thought that Two Sisters is autobiographical blows my mind, never considered that one before. But yeah, a beautifully drawn piece with smart lyrics and telling details. Has the air of a black and white, kitchen sink drama about it. Nice arrangement. I think the harpsichord is integrated more effectively here than on Rosy Won't You Please Come Home.
    CheshireCat, Orino, Paul Mazz and 5 others like this.
  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    That seems to be what happened. The song was essentially held aside, except for a release on this EP, which would have had limited distribution at the time, as far as I can tell.
  25. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Well....... limited to France!
    mark winstanley and croquetlawns like this.

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