Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
The cover of the single, as presented in the big box
The German cover
The cover in Norway
For the record, Picture Book as an a-side in Australia, charted at 36, if we didn't mention that previously
The Big Sky - I don't love this as much as many do. The spoken word section irritates me a little, I'm afraid to say. Otherwise it's pretty good. Count me in as another who thinks the big sky really is the sky, in an imaginary world where the sky is a god.
Sitting By the Riverside - Lots of playing around with accidentals. This has a pre-rock classic pop songwriting feel that I always appreciate ("End of the Season", "Princess Marina") Not a song I think about all that much, though
Animal Farm pretty solid album track, nothing really to find fault with.
Village Green already covered, of course, but this is for me where the album really picks up again. Best song we've heard on the album since "Do You Remember Walter". A top tier Kinks song.
Starstruck Brilliant catchy pop single, should have been a hit. Maybe it would have been in the UK- it might have reassured fans who thought some of their recent singles were a bit too "out there". Not as groundbreaking as "Autumn Almanac" or "Wonderboy" or as broadly appealing as "Days" but not everything has to be.
I'm deliberately condensing my opinions into one post as I have so little to say about most of these songs. I'm just not as familiar with the album as I am with Something Else. It's great to read everyone's thoughts. I like the songs on this album but I haven't fallen in love with most of them ... yet.
The promo video as mentioned by Mark above. Well known and used in many documentaries: for years it was the only known clip from the VGPS era.
The fun is pretty infectious here, nice to see them having a laugh.
As Hewlett Packard used ‘Picture Book’ to great effect, I’ve often wondered why Starbucks weren’t all over this one to promote their range of sweet flavoured bean derived foams.
That German single cover looks great - it would have been a nice addition to the SDE. As for the song, it has a great sing-along chorus.
Weirdly enough, whenever I listen to Starstruck, I can’t help but think of Bowie, somewhere between Kooks and (especially) parts of Starman. It’s down to some melodic moments or some chords or maybe some vocal inflections, I can’t really put my finger on it but it’s definitely there, as it is (even more so !) on the chorus of All of My Friends Were There. But we all know Bowie was an unconditional Ray Davies devotee…
The chorus melody and backing vocals also borrow some parts of Can’t Take My Eyes off You by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. I’m pretty sure it’s not a conscious lift, but the bababa vocals replicate the pre-chorus horns hook of that song almost note for note. But not with the same chart success, I’m afraid…
It's a solid enough track and a catchy tune, but I can't help thinking of it as a more minor work, especially coming after the previous few tracks - perhaps a bit too "bubblegum"? I'd imagine this is one of the tracks that Pete was least pleased with, as he doesn't get to do a lot of this one. I prefer the stereo mix where the backing vocals in the chorus move from the left channel to the right channel. Otherwise, not a lot to say about "Starstruck"!
The stereo version
True story: When I was a cub reporter at the newspaper, one of my colleagues was writing about the local sports team losing in a humiliating fashion and was pacing around looking at his computer screen and talking in search of the right words to convey his indignation. "Oh the embarrassment, oh the despair!" I said. His eyes lit up. "Can I use that?" Sure he could.
Ray live 2008:
I don't think Ray breaks new ground with the lyrics, except to place himself as the focus of the story of another girl being led astray by the lights of the big city. But musically this song is as catchy as that thing we don't want to catch. It's almost as if he was deliberately trying to write a 2:30 pop hit yet it wasn't even released as a single in the UK. Starstruck is a song I don't want to hear on shuffle: it is indelibly stamped in my mind as part of this wonderful album. I only want to hear it where it fits perfectly: straight after Village Green and immediately before Phenomenal Cat.
"Village Green" and it's placement....
Just wanted to write a little bit about the placement of Village Green on the album. I think it really fits where it is. Ray misses the Village Green and all the simple people, the church, the clock, the steeple, fresh air, and Sunday school. It's not the same. It has changed. We've been introduced to the memory of Walter, and Ray is afraid that he has changed. We've been introduced to Johnny Thunder, and how the townsfolk have tried to get through to him. We know that there used to be steam-powered trains, but not anymore -- at least not on the rails. There are tourists now snapping pictures as if this is how it's always been. It reminds me of visiting the Amish Farm & House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In photos, it *looks* like an actual Amish lifestyle! But if you turn the camera around, you see there's a huge strip mall just to your left with a Target superstore and other big-box stores. The parking lot for that shopping center is literally about 30 feet from the side of the Amish house. And just look at that website. So commercialized, with tours, packages, etc. It's a shell of what it actually used to be. It's all for show. That's how I imagine Ray is imagining the Village Green now. "I miss the Village Green" is not just that he's went away seeking fame, he misses what it used to be.
"People often change, but memories of people can remain."
You can really see how Ray built an entire suite of songs around the idea of things changing, remembering what was, and trying to preserve those memories (even if they may make you a little bit sad.
Edit: Here's a Google Earth image of the Amish House, surrounded by big-box parking lots:
The only track (as far as I'm aware) that wasn't recorded during the album's sessions. I love the arrangement on this song. Imagine a whole Kinks album like this. How the strings switch to pizzicatto during the last verse, the low bassoon part during the "morning dew, fresh air and sunday school" sections, the harpsichord... Village Green is baroque pop at its finest.
Another fine track in the vein of the folk rock/pop songs that open the album. Real crisp drumming, fun singalong harmonies, conscious lyrics and mellotron... perhaps not the best song on the album (still love it of course) but perhaps of the most indicative of it's sound. The congas are a nice touch too. Would have been a hit for any other band, but on an album full of classics I think it kind of goes relatively unnoticed.
I love the opening and all the "la la la's...". The lyrics are poignant and the vocals and music fit perfectly
One of the more average songs on the album. Kind of catchy, but not up there with the elite stuff on this great album.
Really good point. I had never even considered that angle.
"Starstruck" was another song from VGPS that struck me from the first listen. Years later, I was amazed to first see this. A video from VGPS! It was almost like seeing their Hampstead Heath photo session come to life. It still gives me the thrills every time I watch it. Notice in the beginning Ray playing w/the child & the mother taking it away. There's also a scene where Ray looks at another mother pushing a baby carriage w/a sense of longing, even though he already has two children. A foreshadowing of "Art Lover" perhaps?
When I first got this album, I was a little put off on first listen. We already had the opening cut all about the village green, so why are we revisiting it here? Perceived redundancy aside, this one didn't seem as catchy as the opener either, so it seemed a letdown.
Of course the answer is that the two songs serve very different purposes. The opener serves much like an overture to an opera, introducing us to the theme of the coming song cycle and this one is a specific scene within that broad theme. As such it works very well. Also, while the opener is catchy and clever, this one is beautifully reflective. In that sense, it is as successful as the opener.
Moreover, it's just a great stand alone song.
Shades of Pet Sounds!
One evening after a workout at the gym I stopped off at a bar to catch some of a ballgame. The TV sound was muted as music was playing on the audio system and Starstruck came on.
I love it when stuff like that happens.
Years back I fell in love with the music and then the promotional film & i am still to this day looking for that European 7' with the green & yellow picture sleeve!
Iam not sure this is the best written song on the album but the wonderful performance elevates it & it remains my favourite.
The snare & Ray's vocal opening set the tone and tempo before we are struck by the excellent backing vocals & horns plus we are again treated to a great Ray Davies descending line trademark.
Another fabulous, affecting lead vocal that again sounds so effortless and yes it should definitely have been a hit wherever released!
Starstruck is a fine, catchy song with a fine, expressive and quirky vocal, but it is somehow the least interesting song on the entire album to me --which says more about its company than about itself. In any event, I truly don't understand why it was tapped as the first A-side over several other options. But... Picture Book? Big Sky? Walter? or...
I said I'd say more about "Animal Farm," but I think everyone covered it really well already. Except to say, again, boy do I love that song. I have no idea whether it would have caught on with the general public as a single, but... couldn't they have tried?
Maybe the chorus of "Starstruck" was considered more singable and hooky as a chorus? I could see that. I guess that's not the only way we rate songs, but it may determine "hits."
That house might as well be in Waikiki.
I always thought it was Pete Quaife at the beginning of the video! Now I’m not sure: him and Ray are dressed similarly so hard to tell.
Separate names with a comma.