Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
A great opening song and it could have been a single too.
He was probably thinking of the classic song “Frankie And Johnny,” who were lovers.
The bass riff certainly has some similarities
I'm not sure. I don't even hear a bass riff in David Watts - Mr Quaife barely changes notes. Friday on My Mind (one of my favourite 60's songs) has much more going on in its bass line.
I doubt this theory. Ray wasn't that different to the Beatles in the mid-60s. While not as rich or famous as the Beatles, Ray was wealthy - at least on paper. But no matter how much money they made or how successful they were, the pop stars, movie stars and models who emerged in the 60s didn't jump classes. David Watts was of 'pure and noble breed' but Ray knew that the Beatles were as working class as the Kinks.
Michael Caine narrated a really interesting documentary about sixties pop culture and class barriers a few years ago called My Generation - unfortunately I only saw the second half of it on a plane flight. I'll also give a nod to a book that came out last year by Mark Doyle: The Kinks - Songs of the Semi-Detached. He looks at the social and economic context around the Kinks work up to Muswell Hillbillies. Again, I've only half read it (an unfortunate habit of mine) but it is amazingly insightful - especially for an academic based in Tennessee
"David Watts" is up there with "Victoria" as two of the most kick ass opening tracks a rock band has ever produced. I've always loved this one. After going crazy for Village Green, I picked up this album and immediately released that yep, there's way more to love with this band than that one masterpiece album! And onward my fandom grew! Instantly infectious the moment those "fa fa fa"'s start. I don't have the musical vocabulary to explain it but I love how already in the 2nd verse we have shift to what seems like a higher key and faster pace, though the speed could just be the change in the drum pattern throwing me off. I love that "I wish all his money belonged to me" line. The beginning of every verse just has a great line: "And all the girls in the neighborhood." "And when I lay on my pillow at night." They come at you with such energy.
David Watts-Love how the song jumps out of the gate with a distinct galloping rhythm and the instantly memorable "Fa-fa-fa-fa" vocals that power another one of Ray Davies' finest social character studies, I always liked the self-effacing lyrics about how he's such a nothing next to this wonderful David Watts. One of the great things about Ray's societal sketches is how we can walk in the same shoes remembering characters we have met throughout our lives that mirror the personalities he writes about.
Another cover of "David Watts"
You're probably right.
I have always assumed that that is Peter and Mick's only appearance as vocalists on a record, and that they were goofing on Robert Wace and Grenville Collins. Of course, I can also easily be wrong, so I'll leave it to someone more knowledgeable to give a definitive answer.
While we're still on David Watts, i saw this pretty good cover on YouTube - harp and sitar anyone:
Ooh, very interesting theory. Nice one.
I’ve always wondered if the ‘wish I could be’ s around the minute mark are Quaife, as they don’t sound particularly like Ray or Dave to me. I started a thread about this a while back: Pete Quaife; audible vocals in the Kinks?
Don’t think Avory is on vocals on DW though. I think his (released if we don’t count the unheard ‘Sir Jasper’) vocal debut was b/vs on the stereo ‘Plastic Man’.
Fantastic post, highlighting a lot of the details that I love about this track. I too love the ‘wish all his money’ line and it’s a real weakness of the Jam cover that they omit it, instead repeating ‘wish I could have all he has got’. Why did they do that? It doesn’t sound better!
The bass is very audible after the bridge, and it is very similar to the opening guitar in Friday.
Death Of A Clown .
For those wanting to get a feel for the flow here is Death Of A Clown again, linked in the title there.
Again Two Sisters linked in the header there for flow reasons
stereo mix (2:00), recorded Jan-Feb 1967 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
If, if I could see
Just how lonely my life would be
If you passed me by and said farewell
And there is no return
Stars would shine no more
I would walk up and down this lonely room
I would have friends, but be alone
For there is no return
For you were my first love
And now it looks like you've gone
And I have waited too long
For if, if I could see
Just how lonely my life would be
If you passed me by and said farewell
And there is no return
There is no return
Written by: Ray Davies
Published by: Noma Music, Inc./Hi-Count Music, Inc. BMI
So we open with the rollicking David Watts, then move into the somewhat drunken slashing ballad of Death of a Clown, then roll into the beautiful Two Sisters.... and that leads us into No Return.
No return is quite unusual, it is a somewhat Latin American feeling track, I believe a Bossa Nova, but I am not very good at naming these sorts of things.
We get the bass following this stream of consciousness chord pattern, and the acoustic guitar accenting these chords really nicely, with little arpeggios and strums and it has a really free flowing feel about it.
It has a very written sound about it. It doesn't sound like they just plugged in and started jamming.
The drums sound like brushes on the snare just moving the beat forward.
Lyrically this is really quite interesting, because it seems to be contemplating a what if? scenario .... What if you leave me, and don't return. Almost like the singer is appraising his relationship, with an idea to seeing if he is doing a good enough job to keep his partner.
When you read the lyrics in their sections, the "For you were my first love" section seems to suggest that "now it looks like you've gone" .... but the thing is he has started out with a lot of ifs, and also after that bridge section we head straight back into the ifs.... It seems like that bridge is part of the consideration of what it would be like If, this happened.
So it kind of seems like the, and now it looks like you've gone, is tied into the idea of the ifs and the pondering of what it would be like without this person.
Otherwise the lyric has a confused message. But it makes perfect sense if we have it all taken from the If perspective....
Anyway, it is certainly an interesting lyric .... It almost has the feeling of someone sitting late at night after a few drinks, following an argument or something like that, and pondering the significance of what if this leads to her leaving and there being no more us.
Back to that chord pattern. It matches the wandering thoughts perfectly. The mind is wandering and the chord pattern is wandering, creating this unusual, but quite captivating melody.
Also the vocal has this gentle reflective delivery, that again seems to lean toward this drunken evening of contemplation.
I completely understand how some have stated already that this is their weak song on the album, but for me, this is a really excellent injection of something very different, that in itself creates this interesting atmosphere.
This kind of ties into my feeling of this album having the Kinks variation on psychedelic ..... psychedelics tend to produce changes in perception, mood and cognitive process.... and over the first four songs here we get all these very different moods and feels, and here we get this sort of reflective thinking in a what if mode that gives the overall feel of the album a sort of organic internal psychedelic feel. We aren't imagining magical gnomes dancing on the horizon. We haven't moved into a Tolkienesque landscape of demons and wizards. We aren't just laying back and spinning out on the colours and shapes, we have these very real human feelings and they are presented to us in all these varying styles and presented from all different angles, that kind of gives us a different type of psychedelic journey ...
Anyway I like this track in the album context. I think it serves as an important mood modifier, and although I wouldn't place it in the upper reaches of the bands songs, in context of the album I think it plays an important part in the flow and feel of the album ... and it also adds a buffer for tomorrows completely different mood and feel, that adds to this organic psychedelic journey ..... for me at least
I think Mark nails it - it's a nice little number that works in the context of the album. Nothing brilliant, but still good enough to not want to skip it.
I wasn't referring to the Beatles social class sorry but their lofty height in the group scene.
I hate the term ‘filler’ as it’s often abused in rock criticism as a synonym for ‘track I don’t like’ or even worse ‘track that dares to be more low key and isn’t an instantly accessible single’ and so I’ve spent decades bristling at cloth eared reviews of Something Else that overuse this term to misrepresent subtle miniatures like ‘No Return’. HOWEVER….
… In 2002, I saw Ray live for the 3rd time, and he played quite an interesting set list, including road testing new stuff that ended up (and some that didn’t) on Other Peoples Lives, and some older deep cuts, including ‘No Return’, which he proceeded to introduce with the words ‘I wrote this as a bit of filler for Something Else…’… I mean I know he was being humorously self deprecating, but it still kinda took the wind out of my ‘if you think there’s filler on Something Else you’re not listening hard enough’ agenda!
David Watts / Death of a Clown / Two Sisters / No Return: the sequencing is ideal in my opinion. This song fits perfectly as a low-profile mood piece and a catch your breath moment, almost an interlude, but one with a lot of charm and musicality. It feels like we’re at a reception, the house band has made a big first impression (three stunners in a row!) and now takes a step back so that the guests can engage in light conversation while the refreshments and snacks are served. This fits perfectly. Ray’s singing is endearing, the short bridge is a thing of beauty and emotion, in the tuneful relaxed style he perfected on some of his 65 demos (Tell Me Now So I’ll Know, This I Know, Strange Effect etc.). The bossa exercise shows that he, one of the great ballad writers in the history of pop, is still not confident enough to present too many straight-ahead ballads on a Kinks record (So Long being the only genuine one thus far). I see that as self-effacing modesty. As a fatalistic love song (to Rasa?), No Return is indeed modest, but this restraint makes it all the more touching. If we stop chatting and drinking for a minute and listen more closely, we might notice it’s the moment the house band's singer discreetly muses through his more personal little tune.
Interestingly, Chrissie Hynde did this one recently:
With Ray's humor, he may have said that to shrug off a review he read once. I don't think it's filler. It feels too personal to be filler IMO. If Ray wanted to just get something to take up space, I think he would have included the band. Instead we get this jazzy little thing with a sensitive Ray vocal and it appears early on the album. I really doubt he would have thought of it at filler at the time of it's release.
I have to agree with this.... just the structuring of the chord pattern seems to suggest that a fair bit of time was put into it.... why spend time on filler when one could knock out a turnaround or I,IV,V in no time at all.
I agree heartily that No Return is a perfect album track. Never to be sought out individually, it fits in the sequencing absolutely perfectly, and is executed with the highest degree of professionalism. I see no flaws, but more that it serves it's purpose as a smooth transitional piece.
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