The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident


    A lot of first names on this album. David, Sybilla, Priscilla, Terry and Julie ... and with today's song, Tom and Harry (no Dick unfortunately).

    This song is great and devilishly fun.

    But it's also deeply true to life.

    People half dead who still summon up the strength to have a smoke.

    The smart young ladies of the day who don't roll their own but who love lighting up a cig from a ready-made packet.

    People complaining about the taxman (pace George Harrison) but accepting life's lot as long as they can keep enough money to buy a fag or two.

    Hearing 'Bingo' at the end reminds me of my mother. She would very occasionally go to the bingo hall with friends. This was mainly a female pursuit since women didn't often go out to the pub.

    And yes it wasn't just for the bingo, it was also to have a good natter and smoke a few cigs.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    England won the World Cup in 1966. According to both Davies brothers' autobiographies, the band watched the final match on the Telly at the expense of a pending gig. They finally went to the gig & it was very late to perform & the audience gave them hell.
  3. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    Dave himself says it’s Pete shouting bingo
  4. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
  5. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    Just got around to watching this. Beautifully done. I have never heard of her before. Does she only do cover songs? She also does a Wilco song. Her vocals remind me of Emma Pollock from The Delgados who were a band out of Scotland, but sadly broke up after their last album in 2004.
  6. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Dearborn, MI
    "No Return" took a bit to grow on me, but I soon appreciated it for it's calm soothing feel. I really enjoy the change for the third verse: "For you were my first love and now it looks like you've gone..." It really seems they tried to keep songs as short as possible back then. Just one verse after another with no solo or anything. Keep people wanting more, I guess, but sometimes you get into something and you want to stay there.

    I've loved "Harry Rag" since the first time I heard it. Not only a fun singalong, but catchy as hell with some awesome lyrics! It might be my wife's favorite Kinks song. "Tom's old ma is a dying lass / Soon they all reckon she'll be pushing up the grass!" "I curse myself for the life I've led and roll myself a harry rag and put myself to bed." Some of you guys have discussed this song far more eloquently than I could. Who thought this song could produce such deep thoughts? I'm stuck at "great!"
  7. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: The weirdest factoid you'll hear all week. Hum this tune at a snail's pace and you'll find yourself humming Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man."

    :kilroy: It might have the same meter as "Harry Rag," but obviously one's in a minor key and the other a major key.
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  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Tin Soldier Man.

    original stereo mix (2:49), recorded early-to-mid 1967 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    Just a quiet city sport
    With a wife and little kids to support
    So immaculately dressed when he walks
    Like a soldier on parade

    He's a tin soldier man
    Living in a little tin wonderland
    Very happy little tin soldier man
    When you set him on your knee

    Every day you see his army march down the street
    Changing guards at the high road

    He's a tin soldier man

    Wickie wa-waddle doo[?]
    And he's got a little tin lady too
    Just to put a little shine on his shoes
    And keep his uniform tidy

    He's a tin soldier man

    Wickie wa-waddle doo[?]
    And he's got a little tin lady too
    Just to put a little shine on his shoes
    And make his uniform tidy

    He's a tin soldier man
    Living in a little tin wonderland
    Very happy little tin soldier man
    When you sit him on your knee

    He's a tin soldier man
    He's a tin soldier man

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

    Lyrics for "Tin Soldier Man" @

    This song is so cartoonish it can take you off guard at first. When I first heard it, I really wasn't sure what to think, but I guess that's the point, it is so different to what you may expect, and it is seemingly singing about soldiers, and so the inquiring mind has to look a little deeper .......

    We come in with the piano banging away on the chords, with some interesting little drop in chords and inversions, and there are horns on there as well playing the melody with the guitar and the bass.
    We get this irresistibly bouncy beat and melody, and it sends us on our way.

    The first verse sets up what this song is about. This is the Well Respected Man after he finally marries and has kids.
    This is the business man, in his suit and tie, and this song is looking at it from the perspective of the working class person. The "quiet city sport" is portrayed as this stiff, robotic toy of a person. Dressing in the correct facade, following the correct directives to fit into the businessman life.
    That's why we get the lines "Every day you see his army march down the street Changing guards at the high road" .... at the designated time every day, we have all the businessmen in their suitably acceptable suits and ties marching down the streets of the city to their office buildings, on the "high road" .... In London, one would imagine that the obvious direct link would be to the Beefeaters, or the Queens guard, with their particularly old fashioned, traditional costumes, and their regimented changing of the guard, and the impersonal, and emotionless presentation, and here it seems Ray is using these lyrical visuals to paint that picture. the businessman is really no different. He has his traditional costume, and according to the correct timeline will march to his correct building, and in a very correct and unchanging manner will go to and perform his emotionless daily tasks.

    Like many songs of the late sixties, this song is making a mockery of the 9-5 businessman with his uniformity, and his way of presenting himself to suit the requirements of the establishment.
    I guess to some degree it seems slightly unfair, as we are all caught in the bind of needing to earn an income to survive in a world that is all about moving little green pieces of paper to satisfy the requirements of out little tin soldier world....
    but although the song has a certain mocking tone about it, it doesn't seem particularly mean spirited, and that's probably why it works for me.
    If you do a compare and contrast, with say, the coal miners that would have been going to work in a somewhat similar manner, but with different uniforms, less pay, and less chance of getting home alive ... it adds a harsh twist of reality....

    So for me lyrically this is a really interesting picture being painted by Ray, and although it isn't exactly flattering, it doesn't come across as being a really harsh criticism, merely a gentle mockery .... and for those familiar with English and Australian culture, mocking each other, with varying degrees of harshness, is pretty much a way of life.

    The song has an interesting structure too. We open with the verse, and then I assume the chorus, which is essentially the same as the verse ... then we get what I assume is a first bridge, with the "everyday you see his army march down the street ..."
    Then we just get a statement of "He's a Tin Soldier Man". That is essentially working as restating what we are dealing with in light of the evidence presented.
    This takes us to a second bridge with the unusual Wickie Wa-waddle do ... which I have heard as many different things over the last few weeks. Listening in the car, I thought he was singing "when he walk walks through", but a closer listen this morning and referencing the Kinda kinks website it is either what they say in the lyrics there, or "Wickie Wack-wack woo" .... or something essentially goofy like that.

    Musically it really is a fun little track if one doesn't take their rock music too seriously. The second bridge is particularly good in my mind. that little change of chords, and the arrangement works really well their too, with the pause and the restatement of the horn line.

    Again, for me, the sequencing on the album is really very good. We have the section we have already discussed leading up to Harry rag, and Harry comes in with its folk meets zorba dance march, and then we move into the bouncy and cartoonish Tin Soldier Man .....

    So far everything on here works perfectly for me as an album, and all the songs stand up by themselves in their own context.

  9. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    On early hearings, I was somewhat disappointed with ‘Tin Soldier Man’ because it’s so lyrically slight: there’s no pay off or satire or anything, just pure surface level cutesy tootsieness . Unless I’m missing some subtext, this guy seems to have Mr Pleasants groovy life without the downside, and that’s all there is to it. But eventually I came to appreciate the lyric for its kitschiness, even if it (again with the qualification that I could be missing an angle here) seems so atypical of Ray. I picture campy chocolate box soldiers with painted red rosy cheeks prancing around in a 30s musical when I hear this.

    But anyway, forget the lyric, cos what I really came to love this track for is the tune and performance. Love the odd structure, like ‘Session Man’ it has this brief descending bridge that appears very early on and then never recurs, a bit of a compositional curveball. And I love the difference in dynamics between the too ‘wiki wak wak ooh’ bits, the first quiet like an aside and the second strident and stirring. The performance of this daft little ditty just cooks imo and sells it. The cherry on top (that I can only hear in the instrumental version on the 2011 deluxe) is that at the end Dave (or maybe Ray?) is quoting ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ riff!

    Now, that immediately, naggingly familiar main melody: the forum member @VGPS pointed out its similarity to the later portion of The Mounty Song as performed by Nelson Eddy. See what you think. It is very similar, although I wonder if there is an even older antecedent.
  10. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    And just who is she?
    mark winstanley likes this.
  11. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    After five songs I love, finally a song I don't love, or even like. The relentless military tattoo of the drums is appropriate to the theme but very tedious to listen to. The lyrics are another lampoon of the city worker that comes off as clichéd and mean spirited. I've skipped this so often it's not really a part of the album for me.

    On the plus side, it does keep up the album's run of variety. Someone was saying they thought it was a mistake to put it after "Harry Rag" but to me the music of the two songs is very different. The Kinks' versatility continues to shine.

    I wonder if United States of America's "I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar" was inspired by this, or indeed by other Ray Davies songs.
  12. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this song title was the Small Faces ‘Tin Soldier.’ I just checked and I see that the Small Faces single was released in December’66, so a bit earlier than The Kinks. Completely different types of songs/lyrics but I would bet there was some confusion at the time. Not that I know for certain!
  13. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Tin Soldier by The Small Faces was actually Dec 1967! But yeah, completely different songs other than the title. The SFs song seems to take direct inspiration from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the Steadfast Tin Soldier with the line ‘want to jump into your fire’. The Kinks usage of the phrase is more generic.

    The Steadfast Tin Soldier - Wikipedia
  14. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Thanks. You’re right. Google has 1966 at the top (which is what I must have imprinted on) but then, as you say, everything else clearly notes it as ‘67. My mistake.
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  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  16. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Another great track which, again, is very different from the tracks around it. The variety of music styles on this album is great!
  17. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    In its earlier incarnation as Sand on My Shoes, the track was slower, more an old tymey tune. In its final version, it’s more upbeat and almost cheerful, like a kid’s song, a Yellow Submarine of sorts (with tuba and all), a change of pace and mood designed to push the new lyrics' metaphor across. The metaphor being that every employee is like a toy in the hands of capricious kids playing with them like they are military puppets. At least that’s the image I see in my head, not really « businessmen » as @mark winstanley thinks, but 9 to 5 «salarymen». The melody is so catchy it almost drives me nuts. Someone said he had the Harry Rag melody turning in his mind all day long yesterday. He’ll find out today that the best remedy against it is to listen to Tin Soldier Man ! Maybe that’s why they follow each other in the tracklist. I like the chromatic descent coming in for the bridge, a kwintessential Ray move, but what I really really love about the track is his use of the tuba, like he’s already moved to New-Orleans. It seems Tin Soldier Man is the first showing of the Tuba on any of his songs, which makes it an historical Kinks moment, as the instrument will, of course, become a fixture in their Muswell and post Muswell sound. Guitar Kinks are legendary, harpsichord Kinks are magnificent but tuba Kinks are often damn irresistible.
  18. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "Tin Soldier Man"

    Can I stop singing "Harry Rag" now? Today's song is one of the lesser tracks on the album for me - it's still enjoyable, but I don't engage with it as much as I do with the previous tracks. The lyric just seems a bit "by the numbers" without any real point. It is a very visual lyric, though - it's impossible not to see a line of bowler-hatted businessmen dancing down the street when we get to the "every day you see his army...." bit. It's OK - it's just not on the same level as "Harry Rag", "Two Sisters" and "David Watts".
  19. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I just checked my trusty playlist to see if I had placed Tin Soldier Man on it. Because if I did I was going to give it the chop as I agree with you . It’s not quite up to the caliber of the other tracks we’ve discussed so far.

    But no cutting is required as I did not put it on in the first place.
  20. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    London, UK
    Tin Soldier Man
    Good fun on a first listen, and I like a good old 'ba ba ba' chorus. I'm not sure I'd get a lot more from it with further listens, but it seems to fit in on the album.
    I'm not entirely sure what its about - a person who is being likened to a tin soldier rather than a military person, I presume? (will read other comments shortly and no doubt be enlightened! Edit: businessmen! :)). The vocal delivery/accent seems quite stylised and reminds me a little of that on Dedicated Follower of Fashion.
    Aftermath, ARL, croquetlawns and 4 others like this.
  21. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    That would be the very talented Mikaela Davis (not Davies) who was the singer in one of the covers of David Watts - while playing a harp.
  22. Orino

    Orino Forum Resident

    Yeah it grates a tiny bit this one, but I don't hate it. In fact I really like the "Sand in my Shoes" version above. It's a naggingly catchy tune but not one to dislike too much, more of a Yellow Submarine, indeed. It feels like a song that evolved and was chopped about a lot, a totally new lyric composed to order, which doesn't always work out.* There's a danger of Ray starting to repeat himself with the 'normal chap in a bowler hat' stuff. I've never read the lyric before but I'm not missing much apparently. Tin soldiers like processed identical figures off a production line.. ok.

    "Harry Rag" also steals its thunder a wee bit. It's arranged to the hilt with all the horns and so on but I wish they'd retained the honky tonk piano, it's all a bit too stiff, even if that suits the lyric.

    *I'm guessing "Wicky wack wack woo" was a placeholder to get the rhyme about the wife in, and Ray decided to leave it be. But full marks for that, I say. It's possibly the most charming moment in the song..!

    Not klassic Kinks then but a decent album track.
  23. adm62

    adm62 Senior Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    If not clear Harry Rag = cockney rhyming slang for "fag", British nickname for cigarettes
  24. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Tin Soldier Man

    So.... it's 1967... anti military sentiment is rising rapidly, and a rock band puts out a song called Tin Soldier Man... so naturally the expectation is that this is a protest song... but no, this is just a metaphor for another manifestation of conformity. Quite clever, really, which of course should be no surprise at this point.

    Musically, it all works as well. Now I wouldn't want to listen to a whole album of this. But for just one song, sequenced where it is, it sits quite well.

    As for the expected condemnation of military conformity, that's coming, album after next.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    "Tin Soldier Man" is an OK song to me. I prefer it to "Plastic Man". I always thought that "Wiki wacki, woo..." line was Ray's failure to find something that rhymes, like Alice Cooper's "School's Out."
    The MEZ, Smiler, CheshireCat and 5 others like this.

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