The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. tables_turning

    tables_turning In The Groove

    Mid Atlantic, USA
    Agreed wholeheartedly. If the Kinks ever had a "secret weapon" in their stable, it would be Avory and Quaife -- a very underappreciated rhythm section in my opinion. Perhaps that'll change over time, hopefully.
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  2. Brettlowden

    Brettlowden Forum Resident

    Rochester ny
    I like everything about "Lincoln County"
    Great song, great performance, great backing. Dave is at his best here, in my opinion. He has a voice like nobody else, and I for one, love it.
    The live one by his band a few years ago is really good too. I am a big time Dave fan, and this is one of my favorites.

    I wish I could know for sure what the lyric that sounds like "sweet Helena Dupree" is, weather it's someone English, that I've never heard of, or a character in the song. I really love the song, but wouldn't want to sing the wrong words if we played it. A great anthem.
  3. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "Johnny Thunder"

    Another great song - probably my least favourite of the four so far, but still an inspired piece of writing and an irresistibly catchy tune with the "ba-ba-ba" chorus. Again the rhythm section holds everything together, and the lyric says enough for us to get a picture of Johnny while still retaining an air of mystery about the two characters in the story.
  4. FJFP

    FJFP Host for the 'Mixology' Mix Differences Podcast

    Sorry for the delay, my little Wonderboy arrived yesterday and has just dozed off, so let’s try and catch up!

    Picture Book:

    One of two tracks highlighted to me by the vendor I bought the CD from originally, this has never disappointed. Pure Kinky Pop Perfection, with an irresistibly hooky composition from woah to go. Everything has been highlighted by everyone else, but that Electric Guitars and Vocals mix on the SDE is delightful, and I’d never really picked the guitar put properly before either! It’s variably muted in the mono, but plays entirely in stereo, but honestly this song is perfect in any guise. My wife always sings along whenever I’ve put the album on.

    Johnny Thunder:

    I do really enjoy this track, but it’s never been a favourite of mine on the album. It’s just not got quite the same pizaz as what we’ve had so far, but that chorus is irresistibly in its simplicity, and especially the “Ba Ba” bridge. A solid continuation, but we’ll get right back on track ( ;)) tomorrow!
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  5. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

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  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    In a live scenario a mild slur will go unnoticed by 99.9% of the crowd, if not 100.... if you sing it, just get the sound right, and you'll be sweet.
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  7. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Johnny Thunder
    A good song that fits well with the album with some typically strong Kinks backing vocals.
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  8. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Picture Book

    So many great posts so again it's indeed very hard to add a different slant!

    Another infectious melody from Mr Davies which is aided and abetted by a positively propulsive elongated rhythmic riff.
    Once again iam most stunned at this young man's observational storytelling and almost at a complete loss to fathom how he came up with this futuristic angle and then nailed it completely fleshing it out!

    For those adamant it should be an A side i would mention it was on a 7" and if the catchier or preferred song, perhaps it would have garnered airplay?

    When i first heard it 20 years ago it was as though I was already familiar with it and I hope and trust that was not due to the Green Day riff off?

    Sorry I cannot add a link but there is a fun cover on YouTube by Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers which seems to take place on a moving tour bus!
    Anyhow this offers a nice visual off all parties performing in the one camera shot so we can see all the nuts and bolts ingredients (or should I say bindings) that make the book.
  9. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Maryland, USA
    I used to imagine if I ever found myself in the presence of Ray Davies and was given permission to ask one—and only one—question, it would have been: What are you singing in Johnny Thunder right before you say “prays for Johnny/God Bless Johnny?” Now, I can Google as well as anyone and several years back found the lyrics online, which are still only guessing at the line in total, but at least identify a character named Sweet Helena Somebody. I’m glad someone cracked that code because I found it—to my ears—completely undecipherable. I lived with this song in my head for many years before the google-able internet age, so this mystery line was driving me crazy.

    Which begs the question: who is this Helena, who arrives in the narrative without explanation? She’s like “Picture Book’s” Fat Old Uncle Charlie boozing with his friends—a secondary character introduced to allow a sharper definition of the song’s main protagonist. And that’s fine. But whereas Uncle Charlie is easy for me to imagine, Helena still holds mystery for me. And her last name? If indeed that is what Ray is singing? Are those lyrics 100% verifiable accurate? Has anyone ever seen the printed, official copyrighted lyrics? I don’t own the box set, but I imagine the booklet therein might have them?

    Another anecdote: Before I was a late-teen Kinks fan I was an early-teen comic book nerd. There was an occasional member of the "Golden Age"-era (1930's-40's) Justice League of America named Johnny Thunder. He was a regular guy whose power was a sidekick—half man/half lightning bolt—who did his bidding, hence his name Johnny Thunder because he could summon thunder and lightning. Before I ever heard the song and learned it was about a Biker, I only knew it as a song title printed on the LP back cover. And because the printed lyrics there for VGPS song made reference to comic characters Donald Duck and Desperate Dan, a song about an obscure super hero made sense to me. Cool, I remember thinking, the Kinks are into DC comics… It wasn’t outside of my imagination because McCartney had done a song around Marvel’s Magneto.

    Another minor point: there was yet another pre-Kink Johnny Thunder: a small-time top forty recording artist by the name who had a few songs in the charts in the early-mid 60’s.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It is merely a thought, but it seems like there are several support actors on this album.... and I wonder if it is just Ray's way of saying people matter.
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  11. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Johnny Thunder.... somewhat of an enigma to me musically. The music just seems a bit soft for the subject matter. It seems to me the biking anti hero warrants some heavy distortion guitar; that proto punk sound the Kinks had earlier on.

    But this is pretty easy going, almost pastoral even, which is of course in line with the rest of the album. So it seems that what we're looking at here isn't so much Johnny Thunder, but rather Ray's memory of a character, and that memory is softened around the edges like any memory which has taken on a nostalgic air.

    Whatever the genesis or intent, disconnect or no, it does work. I'm not sure this song could really fit anywhere else or on any other album, but there's no doubt it does here.
  12. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Maryland, USA
    Interesting take, because to me a character on a motorcycle doesn't conjure a soft, idyllic mood.

    In fact--and I'm not being critical, merely observational--but Johnny Thunder is the one character on the entire LP who doesn't fit my mental image of the Village Ray has created: little shops; childhood friends, photo snapping tourists, animal farms; lovers kissing by an old oak tree; a wistful dreamer on the riverside; magical cats...all of it, somehow--to me--seem to exist in a time and place before Brando-esque bad boys on noisy motorcycles existed.
  13. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    I'm not so sure about that. For all their beauties and harmonic twists, the songs on this LP are less structurally complex than the ones on Something Else, Face to Face and a lot of the 66/67 singles, most of which had different sections, multiple melodies and dozens of chords. On this album, of course, you get quirks and turns, unusual phrasings, sophisticated harmonies, inventive rhythm patterns and hooks, but four songs in and there’s still no bona fide bridge in sight! I think it can’t be a coincidence. Knowing Ray’s deliberate nature, it must’ve been a conscious guideline during the writing process. This is a record full of decidedly simple tunes, made for whistling away under the sun.
  14. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    I am with you on some key points here such as the entirely peaceful musical backing and that the biker seems a bit of a left field addition to Ray's village green.

    That said I never before thought of the Who Sell Out era link and i feel it is so spot on that they may well have perhaps even managed a better version of it?

    That's not to say it's not a good song or performance it is, but to me it is clearly the least startling of all the tremendous songs so far.
  15. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    I believe it makes more sense if you don’t take the bucolic village green literally. As well as being sometimes noisy (or always noisy if they are Harleys) motorbikes are synonymous with freedom and - in the 1960s - youth. Even in the quietest corner of the country/village there will be a non-conformist. That’s Johnny Thunder - and God bless him.
  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Johnny Thunder "he lived on the outskirts of town"
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    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Congratulations! I was wondering what was happening the past few days.

    Back to "Johnny Thunder" , one of the few Kinks songs to have a sequel, the Brando/Dean biker type captured the imagination of UK popular culture as much as the States. There was Twinkle's song "Terry", which was the UK's version of the Shangri-La's "Leader of the Pack". Helena in this song was probably the mute equivalent of the narrators of those two songs. There were also the Rockers, the arch enemies of the Mods, whose headquarters in London was the Ace Cafe, who thought that music after 1959 was crap (maybe they were right :D). All this was probably going through Ray's mind when he wrote this song. As the other Avids have pointed out, Johnny is not exactly like the others in the village. Perhaps he stands for Ray's restlessness, unsatisfied even in a world that he has made.

    As for the song itself, I do like it, but I think that it's sequel in Preservation Act 1 captured his spirit better.

    Finally, the "other" Johnny Thunder was a one hit wonder of the early 60s whose hit was "Loop de Loop". He was still performing on cruises as late as the 90s. A friend gave me an autographed copy of his best of CD.
  18. Adam9

    Adam9 Русский военный корабль, иди на хуй.

    Toronto, Canada
    I like Lincoln County too, First heard it here:


    I thought you were commenting on "Picture Book", hence my post.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  19. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Maryland, USA
    Expect to be singing to yourself "I Just Can't Go To Sleep" for the next month. Or two. Or three....

    Anyway, congratulations.
  20. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    And you will find him out on Highway 61.
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  21. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    My sincerest wishes that your son does not inherit your sense of humour.;)
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  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Your sense of humour is drier than the Sahara in summertime lol
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  23. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Congratulations mate.
    I hope you have managed to stockpile some sleep.
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  24. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    I would say something about Wicked Annabella….
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  25. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: Musically, one of Ray's best, but lyrically, it seems to be the most incongruous track on the album. To me, some greaser on a noisy motorcycle with what sounds like a name that was concocted by Larry Parnes, simply makes no sense in the context of this otherwise bucolic imaginary setting. I think the song would've sounded a little more in the spirit of the rest of the lp had it been about some sort of Robin Hood type rebel on a horse instead of some Marlon Brando type rebel on a motorbike.

    :disgust: And for the record, like all rock hits that are just nursery rhymes with drums, this is just plain irritating:


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