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

    As a couple of folks have noted... this track is kind of a look forward to the next album.
    We know Ray was already writing Village Green material during the Something Else period, which was why the song Village Green was somewhat held back.
    So based on all that it seems very possible, even likely, that Afternoon Tea was written with Village in mind, and perhaps Ray felt he had enough stuff coming together to put it here.... or perhaps he just felt that it fit in the flow well, which for me it does.
     
  2. tables_turning

    tables_turning In The Groove

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic, USA
    This has been my sticking point with most of the Kinks' Pye output -- the sometimes (to me, anyway) rushed sounding mixes, and those midrange peaks that run through most of the originally mastered versions. It's not that Pye was a bad sounding studio -- most of Petula Clark's early hits came from the same facility, after all. But they (Pye) do sometimes sound as if they were giving short shrift to the Kinks' efforts.

    If one uses the sound coming from other UK studios of the time as a measuring stick, it almost sounds as if Pye were doing the absolute minimum for the Kinks -- just enough to get by, but not putting too much effort into the end result. Pye head Louis Benjamin was well known as someone who squeezed recording budgets until they screamed -- likewise, Shel Talmy was probably on a pretty short financial rope with Pye, probably at Benjamin's direction. There are some technical differences too -- Pye built their own consoles, as did Abbey Road for example -- monitoring at Pye was usually done with Tannoy or Lockwood concentric speakers, while Abbey Road used the venerable Altec 600 series speakers, so perhaps it all came down to how things sounded in the room. Only those who were actually there could tell us for sure.

    By the way, this is not to denigrate the very capable engineers that worked on the Kinks' sessions -- men like Bob Auger, Alan MacKenzie, Alan O'Duffy and others.

    So, are financial constraints imposed upon the sessions to blame in some fashion?

    Yes, improvements have been made with recent remastered versions, but still -- I think things could have been done better for them. Considering the money they were generating for Pye, they certainly merited it.

    Okay, rant over.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  3. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    Afternoon Tea
    I like this a lot, the whole sound of it along with the words is very charming.
    This is not the sort of fancy afternoon tea we now have all over London and other cities with tiny sandwiches, scones and little cakes, but literally a cup of tea they shared together in a cafe; I'm picturing a Lyons corner house here :D
    It feels to me (and I'm probably misinterpreting again! ;)) that he's saying she can take as long as she likes drinking the cup of tea so he doesn't have to buy another! It sounds generous but is actually the opposite! I can see them sitting there for hours sipping a single cup of tea each, but referring to it as 'taking afternoon tea' in a cockney faux-pretence of being a bit posh ('faux-pretence' isn't really a thing, but I mean that everyone else within their social circle would know exactly what was meant, but no one says it, like saying 'must go, my limo's waiting' when really its the girlfirend in a knackered Ford Cortina. Its Burlington Bertie From Bow again).

    Edit: Lyons Corner House, Piccadilly, pictured in 1966 (home to the first ever Wimpy Bar, apparently!)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  4. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D I doubt it but you made me laugh at the thought. Personally, I think he enjoys her company and wants to linger and stretch out the time in her company.
     
  5. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    Haha, yeah I'm sure you're right, that is more romantic, but it just reminded me of those people who sit all day in a caff drinking the same cuppa! :p
     
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  6. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    That was a good rant though. In the liner notes to the 2011 Sanctuary reissues Peter Doggett says ‘As the Kinks were working to a tight budget, in a studio that only used 4-track tape machines, they could not afford to spend months building up their tracks.’ … and Dave said ‘if we’d been doing it these days we would have had all those instruments around but Pye didn’t have that kind of equipment so we always had to improvise.’ The liner notes also have some interesting comments on their preference for mono mixes even then and how multiple versions of songs arose from different mixes being sent out for singles and b-sides in different countries!
     
  7. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Afternoon Tea

    Totally disarming! There's a lot that would make this a second tier song, yet the ultimate effect is captivating, relaxing, and very smile inducing.

    I agree with the comments about sorry engineering/sound on these early Kinks albums, but I do like how the bass is brought more to the fore on this one. Dave's lead licks are also quite tasty.

    Second tier or not, this is easily the most charming song on the album and well beyond in either direction. That it can be so without being sappy or cloying is another testament to the talent of this group.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Actually, I was just thinking on this thought a little more...
    I've done a lot of studio work, with tons of track editing, which involves listening to the same thing over and over to choose or edit takes, but it is a different kind of listening.
    So I think when listening to stuff for these kinds of threads it is more like that.
    I generally put the cd on in the car, but at a lowish volume to kind of subliminally acclimate to the album. Then later listen to it properly.
    On the post morning, the song gets a lot of repeats, but I'm not really listening to the song.... if that makes any sense... it's more like mentally deconstructing the song....

    That's probably a pointless post, but you got me thinking about it, and I just figured it wouldn't hurt to try and be more accurate in my reply.

    Edit: then when you finally listen to it properly, in the right frame of mind/context it has a clarity that prior to the thread I didn't have ... idk something like that
     
  9. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I mentioned The Jam's "Saturday's Kids" in my post, and this would tie in with that - the idea that these council estate kids with their V-neck shirts and baggy trousers who are sometimes in the pub watching the football scores, sometimes shagging in the back of their fur-trimmed Cortinas and sometimes sipping mugs of builders' tea from the Lite-A-Bite (which no doubt had a Pepsi logo on its shopfront) - are taking "afternoon tea" is probably a sardonic observation from Mr Weller!
     
  10. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Can I just confirm which album we discuss after this one?
     
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  11. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    That song is "Lucky Old Sun" that was done by Ray Charles & others & was also the basis for the Brian Wilson album of the same name. Speaking of Ray Charles, I have a story involving one of the Kinks' songs, but it will have to wait until we discuss Soap Opera

     
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It will be Kelvin Hall
     
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  13. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    My interpretation of the lyrics of "Afternoon Tea" is that the narrator is looking back at the relationship that he had w/Donna which probably consisted solely on the ritual of having afternoon tea. To me, I think that Donna probably had enough dealing w/the narrator ("they said that Donna walked away.....") & the narrator is so delusional that he's still going through the motions at the end of the song.

    Another fine song w/great hooks and also the first Kinks song that mentions tea, the real thing, that is, unlike the "tea" that got plenty of mentions in 1967.

    FUN FACT #2 about Something Else: There's a scene in Bob & Nadya Gruen's documentary about the New York Dolls All Dolled Up where the band is doing a photo shoot in Gruen's studio & you can hear "Afternoon Tea" play in the background.
     
  14. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    That sounds about right I don't know much from The Jam (aside from Down in the Tube Station at Midnight and A Town Called Malice :sigh:) so missed the reference!
     
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  15. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    To me, the repetitive use of “Donna” is not a case of laziness, but of brilliance. This emphasizes the totemic power of the name and the real theme of the song. It’s about Donna, not tea. Afternoon tea is the device Ray uses in an effort to resurrect Donna, but he doesn’t stay awake dreaming about Earl Gray. I wonder if Donna is really Daisy.
     
  16. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I think we concluded on page 76 that the first Kinks song to mention tea was "Don't You Fret"!
     
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  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Is Kelvin Hall an ep? It’s not on Apple.

    After @Fortuleo inspired me to do my own independent dip into the Kinksian well (so to speak), pre-thread, I started with Something Else and then went directly to Arthur. Up until then my Kinks discography only consisted of Village Green and Muswell Hillbillies, both in my top 100 album list, so I must not have seen a reason to include either of the two in my examination. So, to the point (!), I have no sense of the discography chronology. I keep having to look at my playlist so was thinking that the next album on standby was Arthur.

    edit: I see Kelvin Hall is a live album
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
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  18. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    You are correct!
    (Do you know how long it takes to scroll back to p.76 on a phone? A long time! :D )
     
  19. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    Much longer, I’m sure, than doing a thread search for “tea”.
     
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  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D Too logical
     
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  21. tables_turning

    tables_turning In The Groove

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic, USA
    A pic from that event. Note the Neumann recording mics interspersed with the vocal mics for the PA system.
    [​IMG]
     
  22. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    AFTERNOON TEA

    There's a bit of humour in the lyrics that I like.

    At the start of the song he says he likes being in the cafe with Donna, but by the end he kind of admits he goes to the cafe every day anyway and would like to be with any girl who wants to be with him.

    He also admits that he didn't actually expect Donna to wait for him, but he thinks "at least she might have stayed ... to drink her afternoon tea." It's as if he can accept that she doesn't like him, but her not liking tea is the last straw!

    Apart from that, this song is repetitious and boring.
     
  23. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    My wife just walked by as I played it again. Looked quizzical as she sang, “bomp bomp bom dee dum dum.” (No exactly right but a better reaction than the “what the f is this!” look she gave to Harry Rag).
     
  24. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Location:
    Maplewood, NJ
    Afternoon Tea
    Another song I first heard just a few weeks ago exploring this album. This one is certainly very easy to catch onto, and yes, pleasant and cheerful are the appropriate words for it. It's nice to have a song approach 3:30 in time again. A great return to a more lighter pop structure after the last couple heavier songs.

    Agree with this -- nailed it. Love that bass. I also love the guitar tone that comes in right after the "'Cause I like you, girl" and "You ease my mind" parts and into the "ba ba ba ba" chorus. The "ba ba ba ba" perhaps should be "bla bla bla" because I think that represents that Ray doesn't really care what they talk about. As long as they spend that time together enjoying that tea. The jazzy feel of the "I think about that small café" line is just so smooth and lovely.

    And is that Rasa again on the "ooooh" background vocals? All in all, with the Englishness of this track, this rates high on the Kinkdom Scale. Or should that be Kinkdom Skale?
     
  25. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    This is a subtle song. We aren't getting the whole story, but there IS a story, and we have to make it up. I like these conflicting interpretations:

    I've always assumed it was something along the lines of what Fortuleo says, a sort of "Remains of the Day" situation where the guy just never makes his move out of terror, or is sort of naive and has no concept of romance beyond staring adoringly over tea and scones. He says "Take as long as you like" but isn't picking up that if this situation is to progress, he is going to have to stop being "patient" and tell her his feelings. Perhaps he is missing serious cues from her, and his patience is overlooking her impatience. (Is he waiting for her to make a move?) So she gets fed up and ghosts him. Or.... somewhat along LX200GPS's theory, it's all been a one-sided crush; she's been kindly tolerating him, and gets fed up eventually with his self-involvement. I agree with Zipp that the last line is sad/funny: "You think at least she might have stayed, to drink her afternoon tea." He's saying this instead of "I thought she liked me"?!?!? She ghosted him!! He seems to be saying "Even if I'm not the greatest thing in the world, how could she leave this English ritual??!" At that point, the backing track gets pretty intense for a moment, a little threatening and dark.

    I'm starting to be able to pick out Rasa's voice from her charming Lithuanian accent. Are she and Dave alternating saying "Afternoon Tea"? Near the end of the song, on the mono mix at least, it seems to be all Rasa at the end.

    It's great to hear a decent version of the mono mix. Much better than the standard stereo. There are some weird mixes of this. Alternate (presumably early) mixes were released on the mono and stereo German "Something Else," perhaps because the correct mixes weren't sent in time (or the label didn't care enough to correct them). They have a rather ugly out-of-tune guitar part with a tone pedal or volume effect. This version, or something similar to it, was also released on the Anthology:

    This link lists all the mixes:
    Lyrics for "Afternoon Tea"

     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021

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