Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
haha. Dave strikes me as a live and let live kind of guy so I'd be surprised
a stereo version - unclear from which album this was sourced:
PC is one of my most cherished songs on the planet. It's funny. Moving, profound - and nobody but Ray could have written something like this. Plus once again (as in Wonderboy, Waterloo Sunset...) he coaxes a band member into singing a cool, weird part: like the poster above, I love Dave's cat-character vocal! As I mentioned upstream, I named one of my own phenomenal cats Kathmandu in this tune's honor.
Funny that we should discuss "Phenomenal Cat" today, as I shooed away a cat that entered through my open front door as I was putting bags from food shopping in. Anyway, it has to be the most psychedelic song the Kinks ever did. It truly is a mellotron festival. As my fellow Avids have shown, it has several layers of interpretation, One one hand, it can be a children's song (John Mendelshon suggested in his book Kinks Kronickles that Ray should have done an album of them; maybe he wrote some things for his children in private. I know Martin Newell of Cleaners from Venus quasi- fame has written songs & poems that were originally written for his daughter, a few that involved cats, interestingly enough). I also like the interpretation of a send up of the gurus that were around English/American pop society at that time (the Beach Boys had a tour w/the guru that the Beatles had followed & Mike Love still followed, which was a disaster). There's also the Alice In Wonderland quality to it that was shared w/Syd's Pink Floyd & "White Rabbit" by the Jefferson Airplane. However, one thought I have which could be an example of a Ray twist in the lyrics is that one hand one should care about your inner self more than outward appearances. On the other hand, you eat too much & you're gonna end up like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's the Meaning of Life. to the detriment of your health (I won't post that scene from the movie due to the fact that it's rather gross).
Really? There goes my breakfast.
Just jumping in at this time. Love all the comments and discussions on VGPS. Hard to pick a favorite but Animal Farm is exquisite in its declaration of simplicity. Boy do I want to be there! Again thanks to all for the inciteful comments!
Not meaning to be the spelling police, but I don't think anyone is trying to incite things!
Vintage stereo mix of the song, set to a quite cute and funny collage of cats, sometimes animated slightly.
Mark has been trying to incite discussion from the very beginning. Arrest that man!
The Mellotron swinging flutes, demonstrated by someone who clearly knows this song.
A discussion on Facebook about this song on the Official Kinks group led by Dave's son Christian; which is where I got those videos.
The Kinks Official Facebook Group : I have every kinks album on my phone and occasionally I just put all the songs on shuffle so I get to hear songs I might not have listened to for a while..
My contribution to that thread:
I think you'd have to grok a lot about the inner world and nature of cats to write a song like this. I mean, what English cat would literally get to go to Hong Kong and elsewhere to learn the secret of life? And yet, it's all correct and believable -- I can picture the whole thing. A Phenomenal Dog song would be a different scenario entirely.
Interesting... does this sort of diminish the intro of this song for anybody else? I mean, I'm not knocking the mellotron, and love how it has been used on many records of the Kinks, Beatles, and Zombies. But I had thought that it was mostly just sounds or effects that bands could use to mimic strings or flutes or other instruments/sounds like birds, etc. But this particular usage is just lifting a whole little melody. It's weird that Yes used it, and I think it diminishes just the intro for Phenomenal Cat. It'd be different if they used the flute sound and then developed that melody. Who wrote those swinging flute melodies? Do they get writing credit on any song that uses them? Are there lots of other songs that take whole melodic bits from the mellotron, rather than just a string sound or flute sound or horn sound/etc?
This is how I see it. (At least until my mind is messed with after reading further down the thread.) I walk all over my neighborhood while walking my dog and have recently started to take photos of the neighborhood cats. One of whom is especially Phenomenal.
Here you go again, throwing my simple and pure interpretation out the window...because now the lyrics have blossomed into a whole new meaning! I’ll think about this but probably will stick with the idea of Ray sitting out in his garden watching a regular cat visitor jumping up on the wall, maybe grooming itself, like it owns the place. And Ray sees the cat as an important cog of the the village and so writes a song.
I'd always thought that the intro had been lifted from some older record - when I heard it used on the Yes track as well, I thought it might have been some old Brazilian record or some such that they had both used! So I'd never really thought that The Kinks had played it themselves anyway. Although if they were actually pressing keys to play it as per the video, then I think they are playing it themselves. It's no different to using samples, or sequencers or auto-chord accompaniment - it's just using a facility provided by their instrument in a creative way.
Thanks for that explanation. I never heard the Yes song until today. But yes, I see your point that they themselves played various keys to customize it and make it their own a bit. I just never knew the mellotron had whole little melody snippets like this! I thought it was just samples of instruments or sound effects (like a precursor to those Casio keyboards where you can just hit the "Steel Drum" button).
Oooo will that involved handcuffs
Quite a complex instrument...
I believe it had tapes that looped and you had to change the tapes for each sound
Rather than my dodgy reply.
Here is an article with videos and diagrams about the mellotron
How Mellotrons Work and What Makes Them So Special – Soundfly
For folks that don't like to follow links
The Mellotron had both-- sustained notes, and a few little intro or riff things. The intros are of limited utility in a recording studio precisely because they will always sound compositionally the same, and are immediately identifiable. So, a little silly.
"The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" on the White Album has a flamenco guitar intro that comes from a Mellotron guitar tape set, of which strummed notes are heard in the verses-- at tape which I'd also suspected might have been used on "Rosemary Rose", later on in that song, on the "You look nothing like a child" section, and the end (but maybe not).
This is the flute sound used on "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Little Women," and "Phenomenal Cat." Also Paul presenting the hokier side of the Mellotron.
There are a lot of demo tapes of John Lennon messing around with one. And there's an outtake of "Flying" with a Mellotron playing an old-timey band.
I wonder if the old-timey music heard faintly at the end of the early (12-song album) mix of "People Take Pictures of Each Other" is a Mellotron sample... Perhaps related to the thing heard at 1:30 here (Beatles' "Arial Tour Instrumental", containing "Flying.") I know I'm getting ahead a little, but we are discussing the instrument.
Great video, so funny (and much needed)! I think this just made my day (thank you!); after all, as the Cheshire Cat said:
As for the song, I agree with many of the posts above that it lends itself to multiple interpretations, which is very much a part of its charm, not to mention the whimsical feel of the music of course. I can well understand how most listeners might regard this one as a throwaway (perhaps along the lines of Bowie's "Laughing Gnome"), but the (inciteful ) comments in this thread so far clearly suggest otherwise, and that has made for a quite welcoming read.
An outstanding discussion, to which I may contribute more, and please do carry on.
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