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

    Interestingly, there don't seem to be any other versions of this song, unless in my rush to get this all down today I missed it.
    ajsmith likes this.
  2. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    One thing is certain, the theme of the album is not village greens, or bucolic memories. The village green is presented as an object of nostalgia ( the greater theme of the album), but so is draught beer, Donald Duck, billiards, variety shows and childhood friends. There is no reason the town’s rebellious misfit is any less viable as a subject of nostalgic memories. Yes, the village green is the most referenced nostalgic ideal, but its use is primarily symbolic, not literal. Even then, there is no reason to think Johnny Thunder might not have been found roaring past the village green on his way out of town.
  3. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Sitting By The Riverside: This is such an old-fashioned style song, except for the swirling sounds that take it from the 30s to the 60s. An excellently piece of production.
  4. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Yes, it’s such a sweet simple little song, but the music and production adds layers, ambiguity, depth and possibilities of interpretations. The melody, singing, piano motif, the chords and key changes, the one phrase “bridge” (“Sitting by the riverside / with you-oo-oo-ooh”) resolving the whole tune… it’s all so pretty and charming, dreamlike and lightly psychedelic… But there’s also the distorted instrumental breaks, where it’s hard to tell daze from dread or even discomfort, telling us things are maybe not as idyllic as they first appear. A feeling supported by the sequencing. The song is placed just after Big Sky, and from that alone, it takes on a completely different, more profound meaning. “Don’t let it get you down”, said the previous song… So the singer brings goes to the riverside in order to forget his pains and anguish, finding contentment by overlooking the human condition. “Life is complete” but only in abandonment and blindness, for a moment that is not made to last or represent anything more than a passing sensation. Something very real that’s also a break from reality, almost an illusion. When the song ends, the A side’s done, and the river’s already all but a fading memory.
  5. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Technically there’s the bootleg audio of the performance from the ‘Colour Me Pop’ TV show that’s on the BBC box, but as far as I can make out (unlike most of the rest of the show) it was just a straight mime of the studio version with no live or alternate elements.
  6. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    In Lazy Old Sun Ray emphasises the differences between him and the sun.

    In Big Sky it's more of a two-way agreement.

    Incidentally, I seem to have started a small debate about which song would make the best ending to the album. Maybe we should keep that debate until we've commented on all the tracks.
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter


    I think after we have gone through the material we have, I may set a day aside for folks to post their preferred versions of the album.

    I like it just the way it is, personally, but I would also like to have seen it as a double album..... then there are the folks that prefer different orders, and substituting songs etc....

    It could be an interesting little side day, and catch up for those not interested.
  8. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Sitting By The Riverside.

    Hard not to picture a man in a top hat and cane doing a soft shoe dance routine around a young lady on an old wooden vaudeville stage.

    Not my thing.... and yet I love this song.

    Oh, and I'm sure the sequencing is no accident. In Big Sky we have all the people who "think they got problems" and a rather vague reference to "One day we'll be free, we won't care, just you wait and see." And no we have "Now I am free and the world's at my feet."

    We've gone from feeling like victims of an indifferent universe to, as Mark puts it, knowing our place in the universe. Now, the world's at our feet.

    In the consistency of theme on the album, it's only appropriate that this is expressed in a most pastoral setting.

    Beauty, eh?
  9. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    Picture Book.

    Markelis: Love this one. As mentioned upthread, it was used in the opening episode of The Umbrella Academy (in a pivotal scene where it was really impactful) and I knew it from there (great show, btw). I guess I somehow missed it on Kinks Kronikles, too young and stupid to appreciate it back when I was a teenager it seems. …but boy what a tune! Ray says a lot again with just a few words, raising an unusual and intriguing topic/concept that is not the same old love, sex, drugs, drink or rock and roll song everyone else writes about. The lyrics are brief, only two verses, and the chorus is only one word really, so some might think the song too skeletal, but all the super catchy lalalas, nananas and scooby doobie doos carry the song the rest of the way. …and Dave asserts himself in a big way in this song. No room for a rip snortin’ solo like in the days of old, no worries, he’ll just tear it up on rhythm guitar on this one like nobody’s business. Special note again to the rhythm section, as many here have noted, the bass and drums by Mick and Pete are consistently much better and more noteworthy than I have noticed before. Three for three on VGPS so far in my book!

    Courtney: Once again, ray seems to use the happy up beat, fun, dynamic music to express the subject matter on the surface (a picture book depicting a happy childhood,) in fact I think it sounds like a childhood’s theme song. Filled with daily adventures and joy.

    Meanwhile, his words imply the lack of happiness he has felt since commencing his adolescence “when you were just a baby, those days when you were happy, a long time ago.”

    His voice sounds like he’s given up on ever trying to achieve that level of happiness that he remembers. He has submitted to his melancholy. To me, the “na, na, na, na, na” part sounds painful followed up by a melancholy tone to “A-scooby-dooby-doo”
    which sounds very similar to “what else can you do” coincidence? I’m not sure.

    Per usual the has at least 3 layers of meaning.
    Now why is he, a 24 year old young man looking at a picture book and prematurely imaging a day that he will be one of the only ones left alive in there? He doesn’t mention his sisters, or brother, just older family members, mom dad and uncle charlie. Are they what make him feel happy? Well, we know he knows that’s not even true. “Picture book, of people with each other, to prove they love each other a long time ago.” He seems to at least suspect that this image of happiness from his picture book is an illusion.
  10. malco49

    malco49 Forum Resident

    lou reed also had a fantastic rocking song called big sky, the last track on his last proper solo album ecstasy
    mark winstanley likes this.
  11. FJFP

    FJFP Host for the 'Mixology' Mix Differences Podcast

    Sitting By The Riverside is a wonderful little track that really melds sounds much sonic variety into such a short run time. I love the filtered vintage vocal in the mono mix, but the stereo is much cleaner and has some nice separation at times too. It’s always been the perfect closer to side 1 and despite Days being in this position on the 12-track LP and doing a great job of it, this just feels like it one-ups it in every way as a sequencing job.

    It’s a shame the tapes have obviously vanished, as there could be some great alternate mixes from this one.
  12. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Jumping ahead 6 years here, but 4 days ago, someone uploaded a full video of a Preservation era show to Youtube! Poor quality, but , er.. WOW!

  13. Orino

    Orino Forum Resident

    Sitting By The Riverside is irresistible, balm for the ears and the soul. I've never thought as 'Big Sky' as heavy (few Kinks tracks are) but its thoughtful depths are offset perfectly by this song following it up. Delighted to see that it ends side one, had no idea. ]

    Tended to suspect that this supplanted "Mr Songbird", its semi-pastoral precursor, from the cancelled stereo LP. (But there's a stereo mix of this one too..)

    Maybe that's why I never think of this song if I think of the album, plus it's not as bold or lyrically distinct as the others. But aurally, and in mood, it fits beautifully. And by itself, remains a little moment of perfection.
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Reference guide

    Oct 1963 - Nov 1966


    Apr 1967 Mr Pleasant - Alt version - Beat Club - live - beat club - instr (whistling)
    This Is Where I Belong - Ray live - Ray with Francis Black

    May 1967 Mr Pleasant EP
    Mr Pleasant
    This Is Where I Belong
    Two Sisters - Ray live (with chat)
    Village Green - Instrumental - Ray

    My 1967 Waterloo Sunset - instr. - live 73 - Ray live 78 - live 94 - Ray and Damon Albarn - doco excerpt - Ray and Bowie - Ray live (Peter dedication)
    Art Nice and Gentle

    May 1967 Waterloo Sunset EP


    Jul 1967 Death Of A Clown - Dave Live - Dave live 2002

    Sept 1967 Something Else By
    David Watts - Live 84 - Dave live 97 - Ray live 2010 - Alt mono - alt version
    Death Of A Clown
    Two Sisters
    No Return
    Harry Rag - BBC - Ray 2010 - alt version
    Tin Soldier Man - Sand On My Shoes (original) - Alt backing track
    Situation Vacant - mono
    Love Me Till The Sun Shines - BBC - live 69 - Dave 97 - stereo
    Lazy Old Sun - alt version
    Afternoon Tea - German Stereo - Alt stereo - Canadian Mono
    Funny Face
    End Of The Season
    Waterloo Sunset

    Little Women backing track

    Dave And Ray interview sixties

    Echoes Of The World - The Making Of Village Green Preservation Society

    Oct 1967 Autumn Almanac - stereo - Top Of The Pops - live fan jam - Ray - breakdown

    Nov 1967 Sunny Afternoon LP

    Nov 1967 Susannah's Still Alive - stereo - video

    1967 BBC sessions - Sunny Afternoon
    Autumn Almanac
    Mr Pleasant
    Susannah's Still Alive
    David Watts
    Death Of A Clown
    Good Luck Charm

    Jan 1968 Live at Kelvin Hall
    Part 1

    Part 2

    Jan 1968 Wonderboy - video - Top Of The Pops - stereo mix
    Polly - stereo mix

    April 1968 The Kinks EP

    June 1968 Days - stereo mix - Glastonbury 2010 - live 1969 - video edit - Basil Brush - Alt stereo - Acoustic - 1991 EP version

    Aug 1968 Lincoln County - stereo mix - Dave live
    There Is No Life Without Love

    Colour Me Pop Medley

    She's Got Everything Promo film

    Nov 1968 The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society - the gold disc award
    The Village Green Preservation Society - Alt mix with studio banter - Live 73
    Do You Remember Walter - Euro Stereo - Backing Track - live 94
    Picture Book - real stereo - live 69 - live 73 - Ray 2011
    Johnny Thunder - alt mix - stereo - original stereo - Ray (+VGPS) 2008 - Ray 2010 - Crouch End Chorus
    Last Of The Steam Powered Trains - alt ending - live 69 - live 70 - Dave live
    Big Sky - alt stereo - live 69 - Crouch End Chorus
    Sitting By The Riverside

    Preservation Live

    Starmaker Tv Play

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    'Sitting By The Riverside" just conjures up a picture of bliss, away from daily life, especially w/someone you love. It kinda reminds me a little like Lou Reed's "Perfect Day". More personally, it reminds me of the times I went to a folk festival in a park in Essex, MA near the end of summer, which is near a lake. I would love to go down and sit by the lake and watch the water, especially when the sun hit it. Everything I worried about was behind me & all I had before me was the lake & the trees. The song itself was the perfect way to end Side One.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Here's a picture of the lake I was talking about, Lake Chebacco, in Essex, MA. Part of the Adam Sandler movie Grown Ups was filed there, but don't hold that against it :D

  17. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Wow is right, this appears to be professionally filmed and edited, not what I was expecting. Great performance of Here Comes Flash, wish the album cut had that raw guitar sound. Followed by Here Comes Yet Another Day, ha ha nice congruity in song titles.
  18. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Sitting By The Riverside
    This is a nice simple song and it is really perfect placement coming after the more profound Big Sky. I'm giving it an extra .5 for album placement
  19. Paul Mazz

    Paul Mazz Forum Resident

    I’m not sure why, but I really enjoyed Sitting by the Riverside during my recent listen. I’m very familiar with VGPS, having listened to it many many times. Guess I never paid particular attention to this song. The part that Mark refers to as “the drunken swirling” music” gives me the impression that all is not as the rest of the song seems. Not sure how to describe it, but I get an almost Felliniesque feeling. Gives added interest to the pastoral, contented scene of sitting by the riverside. Kinda neat to hear something new in a song I’m sure I’ve heard many times.
  20. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    You posted the mono version, which has an intense fast-echo effect on the vocal. The stereo has a dreamier feel to it.

  21. Toad of the Short Forest

    Toad of the Short Forest Forum Resident

    90220 Compton
    Sitting by the Riverside

    One of the Kinks' few psych songs that doesn't often get discussed as such. The "A Day in the Life" crescendos that underscore the end of the verses are perfect.

    I always thought the way those were incorporated was clever, too. The rest of the song is easy-going and even the title/lyrics would suggest some sort of tepid folk ballad or lounge music, but Ray keeps the song interesting as always. When he says "I close my eyes" and the crescendo starts it's like the sound of him daydreaming or something... I'm not sure, but it's one of my favorite moments on the album.

    I love the mellotron on it too. The mellotron uses the accordion sound (it's more pronounced on the mono version), which I don't think I've heard on any other song. It's interesting how the 'tron became it's own instrument instead of just a sampler like it was intended. Much like Strawberry Fields, the mellotron parts on many Kinks songs don't sound like the instruments they're supposed to replicate, but it gives the songs a much more unique and original texture.

    Another highlight of the album, imo.
  22. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I have an association between this song and the side one closer of the Band's second album, released a few months after this. "Whispering Pines." They are both quiet, pretty, keyboard driven, relatively pastoral pieces, on nearly perfect albums. They seem to serve similar functions in the overall sequencing of their albums. The similarities end there, I suppose.

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2021
  23. Audiobernd

    Audiobernd Forum Resident

    Okay, I will stop at "Sitting by The Riverside" so to play to the rules this time :p

    I think "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society" might be the "kinkiest" of all Kinks-Albums. Being banned from touring the USA, Ray felt free to indulge in topics that, on the surface, are very very british, but have a universal appeal as it's main topic is nostalgia.

    -The Village Green Preservation Society: This absolute gem of a song sets the mood for the record and it also makes an important statement - this is NOT a "journalistic" album, nor a "realistic" one. The song is full of stuff from english popular mythology and puts them beside real things. Dracula, Moriarty, Fu Manchu are equally to be "saved" as Tudor houses, village greens and china cups. This is Ray at his full writing powers, as he really makes fun of conservatives without ridiculing them in mean way. Heck, Ray manages to want us to be one of those conservatives, as he presents the best version of those people. They want to preserve the things that are worthwile preserving and are still open for the "new ways". But, and this ia big one: As most of what that Preservation Society wants to save is not real, we can assume that Ray sees right through the so called conservatives and, as he would sing on a later album, knows that they "live in a world gine by", and in a fantasy.

    -Do You Remember Walter?: I fully agree with many of the postings you guys wrote before me. I too get teary eyes every time I hear it, and the strange thing is, this happenes since I was young. Somehow I knew even back then that this is what it all will come too, that none of the ridiculous schemes and dreams you have with your best buddy will come true but that real life will kick in for all of us and that some will find some kind of a tranquil happyness in giving up to the demands of a normed society and a few of us will be left to carry on "the dream", be it a good one or a stupid one. Along with the extremely well written music the lyrics make you feel a stranbge pain, a pain that comes from things that could have been but never were, a pain of seing most other people settle in their lifes while you yourself are "still on the road, heading for another joint", as Dylan put it.

    -Picture Book: Another take on nostalgia, and despite the upbeat music, another tear jerker. The passing of time, cruel and unstoppable, portraied in the sad activity of looking at old photos. And really, is it not gut wrenchingly sad to see pictures of your young parents when they were full of hopes and dreams?

    -Johnny Thunder: If there is one song that defines defiance, it is this one. Johnny Thunder did not give up, he did not come along, he did not join the corporate world. He is free and does not even need money, and maybe he will not have a long lifespan, but "Sweet Helena" adores him for exactly his rebellious stand against the demands of society.

    -Big Sky: One of Ray's early epics. With a small portion of psychedelia mixed in, it starts off as a pretty hard rocker with grim lyrics about, well, God, who does not care about us because he is too big and we are only like ants to him, and then comes the bridge and the soothing and hopefull part that "one day we'll be free", and the pleading to not let "it" get you down untill then. I often took solace in this song and I think it was intended as an encouragement to not give up, despite all the bad stuff.

    -Sitting By The Riverside": As there is not one bad song on this record, this mixture of Vaudeville singing and soft psychdelia is another fine work of the Kinks at that period.

    That's it for side one. "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society" might not have been a hit record at the time, but some folks were listening, and not the least important ones. I am sure Paul McCartney played the record up and down.
  24. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I just noticed:

    Side 1 starts with the same 4 songs as on the 12-song version of the album. Then it goes into 3 of the later songs recorded for the album, none of which were included in the prior draft. "Steam Powered Trains" and "Big Sky" were the last two songs recorded for the album. It's as if Ray said "yeah, the album started strong but then it derailed. Let's rip that out and try again." (He moved "Monica" to side 2, and removed "Days.") "Sitting By the Riverside" had been recorded by the time of the 12-song version, and was even performed on "Colour Me Pop," but had been left out of the lineup. (Which I think is remarkable and strange --what would they have done with it had the 12-song version been left as the final statement?!?)

    The comparisons to "A Day in The Life" are smart, and I had never noticed them. An aspect the songs share is that they sort of need these nearly cacophonous rising sections to work -- the compositions are a bit fragmentary. It would be difficult to make this song work as a solo performance without making some further transitional musical moves. One might even argue that as a composition, it's slightly unfinished.

    That's not really a criticism, though. Because at the end of the day, it is a recorded band studio performance, and it works effectively as is.

    (I suppose, though, if you just un-stretched-out the sections after "...close my eyes" and " a willow tree," it would hang together.... though the song wants those sections. Hm. I'm not sure I support my own statement in the prior paragraphs.)
  25. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Strawberry Jam and all the different varieties
    Draught beer
    Custard Pie
    The George Cross
    Office Blocks
    Little Shops
    China Cups
    Tudor House
    Antique Tables

    Your input is certainly appreciated, but there are an awful lot of "real" things in this song. I think it is possible to discuss the Kinks music without bringing the toxicity of modern (media driven) politics in here.
    Certainly the Preservation albums will likely need some delicate maneuvering, but there are going to be many varieties of people on this thread, and I would prefer that the thread isn't shut down due to completely unnecessary political baiting.

    Thank You

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