The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. anervousehearse

    anervousehearse Well-Known Member

    yr grocers freezer
    this song is arguably the only strictly autobiographical song on the album, which made me think of a subplot of songs in the first person where the singer/narrator leaves his home and consequently misses it (Sitting by the Riverside >> Animal Farm >> Village Green) and becomes famous (Starstruck & All of My Friends Were There)
  2. Safeway 2

    Safeway 2 Forum Resident

    Manzanillo Mexico.
    A couple days spent with the Dr. and quickly seven pages behind. Well as Ray says "The World Keeps Going Round"
    Village Green-The sound of this song is slightly different from the others, having been recorded two years before, and as such, although a great song I don’t think it’s as strong as the other pieces on the album. Being the older track that was the seed for the album, it still reinforces the theme of the album without being redundant
    Starstruck-"Starstruck" is an upbeat pop-rocker whose status like so many others I want to elevate as one of the best on the album. He makes reference to leaving to find fame and fortune, then uses the to scold the lady, warns the object of affection to not leave the comfort of British pastoral life in favor of the excitement, top shelf culture and debauchery of the Big City. It’s a great tune with great background vocals, so I can only attribute its failure to connect with the public to the tenor of the times. Maybe it was too pop too bouncy, catchy piece of pop with lush strings that a lot of the public was running away from and to the heavier music of the time.
    Phenomenal Cat- Opening with a jazz-like flute and soft mellotron to a vignette about a “fat cat” told in the literary style of the parable. The childlike voice on what passes for a chorus adds a fairy tale flavor to this song. Now I must admit I love “Phenomenal Cat”, as ridiculous as it is. We’re in fairy tale storybook time, and if the creepy gnome la-la-la voice is a bit overboard — a BIT — it’s almost forgivable during this brief exploration of whimsy and childhood. Definitely a psychedelic groove to it.
    All Of My Friends Were There-A bit of music-hall, bouncy and then smooth and ballad-like. The melody is very good and a lot of fun. A moment of on-stage embarrassment, which was only helped by having good friends around to take some of the sting off of the occurrence. Great cut.
  3. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    All Of My Friends Were There

    It's been great reading the different thoughts on the lyrics. I also never really caught on that he did a 2nd performance, I just thought he had the bad experience and then showed up to an old café and saw that his friends were there too. Could it have been the café where he had afternoon tea with Donna?

    Anyway... I love this track, so bouncy and literally upbeat. I love the transition to the 3/4 waltzy chorus. I love Ray's music hall performance about a music hall performance. It's very meta. Every time I hear it, I imagine Ray lifting his head up, placing the back of his right hand against his forehead, closing his eyes, and saying "oh, the embarrassment! oh, the despair!" It's a very specific image painted in my mind.

    Funny that it has been mentioned alongside "The Moneygoround" because I think musically, both this song and and that song come from the same music hall vibe and both kind of end unresolved...
  4. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: There were quite a few songs during this period that featured choruses with different meters than the verses. What's unusual about this is that it's the chorus that's in waltz time and the verses that aren't (the opposite of among others, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Pay You Back With Interest"). The verses are what I would describe as being a jig.

    The whole thing sounds like something out of a Broadway musical, where one of the characters is describing to the others an event that recently happened that changed him (think, "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat"). It's ironic that a song about performing live would be the one on the lp that's probably least likely to go over well if performed before a live audience (at least a rock 'n roll live audience). It does fit the theme of the album well, though.
  5. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident


    No, I don't think this is a sad song. It's more about overcoming adversity and learning to accept your own failures.

    It's also about knowing who your real friends are. They're the ones who won't let you down whatever happens.

    But most importantly it's about the past that can never be taken away from you. Your past is as eternal as Donald Duck and Dan Dare.

    Musically a knees-up with Ray in fine comic vernacular. He goes so easily from the ridiculous (putting on a false moustache) to the sublime (the return to the old café where he is permanently safe from the future).

  6. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Yeah! I think what may answer the question somewhat is the musical setting. The verses are anxious, and the chorus is relaxed. Granted, in the first chorus that relaxed vibe appears to be ironic, as the lyrics are telling us he's mortified, and the music seems to be addressing this like a car crash in slow motion. But I do feel that in the second chorus, we are supposed to hear some sort of relief in that setting. Now, why I'm giving one interpretation for the first go-round and another for the second, I'm not sure. Could be wishful thinking towards our song's anti-hero.

    Ambiguous for sure.
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  7. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Is there another way to imagine it?? LOL I have the same visual as well.
  8. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    All of My Friends Were There

    Today this song has hit me as being tremendous. I think I have vague memories of this song from childhood. the organ sound, for one. And the pace of the then slow. What a freakin' enjoyable song for the ears.

    i agree with Mark when he said: the kind of disjointed rhythmic structure, with the offbeat kind of feel, manages to give the feeling that the performer is intoxicated to some degree. I totally feel that.

    and love the bashing of the cymbals before "days went by..." Go Mick!

    The lyrics...exquisite. So much fun...and Ray, as always, painting a picture (that you the listener get to fill in as you will). A highlight on Side 2 of many fantastic offerings. I'm running out of superlatives. damn.
  9. Toad of the Short Forest

    Toad of the Short Forest Forum Resident

    90220 Compton
    Phenomenal Cat

    The Kinks had a few psych tracks.... probably more than people think (especially if your definition of psych is rather loose), but I think that this one embodies British psych pop most perfectly. The mellotron, sped up vocals, surreal fairy-tale lyrics... all hallmarks of British psych pop. Reminds me a bit more of the Bee Gees than Pink Floyd though (I always hear this one get compared to Syd). I love the slow tribal-sounding drums that play on the offbeats. And the minor second (or whatever odd scale degree that is) when he gets to the "sahara too" section. Especially on that lyric, it seems to really reinforce the 'exotic' nature of the cat's travels. Perfect.

    I like that songs like this, Monica and Wicked Annabella all sound a little 'out of place' on the album because it's supposed to be character sketches. It's like you're talking to everyone in the Village Green and they each bring something unique to the conversation. Naturally a globe-travelling wise cat would make for something unusual, wouldn't he?

    All of My Friends Were There

    Love this track. I love the goofy lopsided rhythm and I especially love the chorus. I think a lot of songs on VGPS have another song on the album that sounds like it, and this one always reminded me of People Take Pictures of Eachother. Both are rather odd and sprightly rhythmically, and both owe much to the music hall compositional style. The fast delivery on both tracks reminds me of Harry Champion (who famously performed "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am" at the turn of the century, which was (in)famously revived by Herman's Hermit's some 50 years later) and several other music hall singers who did that sort of "patter song" fast singing.

    It has one of the best choruses on the album too, imo. And for everyone wondering what the "wore a moustache and parted my hair line" refers to, then look below:


    pic is from 1966 btw ... right before the Beatles!
  10. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    Ray clearly had quite a struggle trimming his moustache, leaving him too shagged out to part his hair (or fill his gap).
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  11. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Elsewhere, I have seen this referred to as the "breakdown stash". After his '66 breakdown, he came out with this mustache for a hot second or two. Glad it didn't last (sorry, not being very deep here. I've always adored Ray).
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  12. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    I am a few songs behind. I was actually sitting by the riverside for a few days out in the mountains of Western Washington. I felt like I was free and the world was at my feet. I enjoyed the excellent reading material on the last several songs, all of which I love!


    This was an early favorite of mine all those years ago, but now that's becoming redundant. This should have been a pop smash hit. Ray is in exquisite voice. I love the "Baaaby" hook. It could be a song from the later theatrical records. It has a bit of that show tune quality. Ray is already flaunting his cabaret ways. This is pure ear candy and I find it absolutely delightful.

    Phenomenal Cat

    So many fantastic touches that could only be from 1968. We have a mellotron that is reminiscent of Odessey and Oracle. The Kinks are just as successful with their mellotron attempts as any other band, and they had some lofty competition. The drums set a sort of tribal trance and I thought @Fortuleo or @Zeki might comment on the sound of this style of drums being the foundation of the Wilco album Ode To Joy. Wouldn't this be the perfect song to add to the setlist with other Ode To Joy songs? The drumming is right out of the Glenn Kotche Ode To Joy playbook. The tiny gnome vocals are another added 60s bonus. How can a song about a "Phenomenal Cat" not be phenomenal? It's songs like this that make this record one of the greatest. A song coming in from the bench, but still knocks it out of the park, and the crowd cheers:

    Fum, fum, diddle-um di
    La la la la, la-la la la

    All Of My Friends Were There

    From "Phenomenal Cat" to this? How great is this album that we can be taken through so many stylistic changes, but still listening to the same record? I struggle to even put together a few sentences to say how much I love all of these songs. Bowie was certainly taking notes as @Fortuleo already pointed out, but I think Ray and Bowie were also listening to many of the same influences. There was a gnome vocal on the last Kinks song, but at least it wasn't laughing. When Ray breaks into "All of my friends were there, not just my friends, but their best friends too." is another moment of the power of music and melody. I adore this song with my entire heart. "Oh the embarrassment, oh the despair".

    Bring on Wicked Annabella!
  13. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    yes! That is certainly a highlight. Each crash sounds different too. Left right left right cymbals? And a snare hit along with them too!
  14. Jon H.

    Jon H. Forum Resident

    Raleigh, NC USA
    Late to post on the wonderful tracks, each one lovable in their own way, though everyone who has posted on the VGPS album has contributed thoughtful interpretations and opinions. I’ve really, really enjoyed this thread. I have to say, though, that I personally like Face to Face, Something Else and VGPS equally. I discovered them in the late ‘70’s before the band’s eventual resurgence on US FM radio, and I could never understand why these three albums were not more universally acclaimed and revered! There was so much musical seismic changes in rock albums from 1966 to 1968 that the Kinks output during this period seemed to be overlooked.

    Some audio touches worth mentioning:
    Animal Farm is real strings, I believe.
    Starstruck is definitely a mellotron, and played wonderfully by Nicky. Strings sound at first, then the brass tapes following the ba ba ba sections before the next verses.
    Phenomenal Cat’s intro (only the intro!) uses the pre-recorded swinging flutes on the left side of the two-sided mellotron; the “accompaniment “ tapes were on the left side, whilst the “lead” or solo tapes were on the right keyboard. The electric guitar solo on that track is in fact the rare “electric guitar” tape in the mellotron! Listen to the weird attack and slight click upon each key being depressed. In all of my years picking out mellotron sounds on records, this is the only example of this sound I’ve ever heard.
    Had to point this out!

    And I love every song, though Big Sky and Animal Farm made the biggest impressions on me at first. What a treasure trove of great songwriting and playing, continuing an amazing run for the Kinks in terms of…

    Sorry, had to!
  15. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: The only two songs on that first Idle Race album that I can actually envision emanating from a scratchy 78 are the first and last. "Skeleton & The Roundabout" could just about pass for a modernized Brecht & Weill composition from the Wiemar Republic and of course, "End Of The Road" is a British pub singalong that could be of any decade. The other goofy songs on that LP ("Sitting In My Tree," "Lucky Man") sound more like typical Bonzo Dog Band tunes. Easily the most 20s British music hall sounding thing they ever recorded was on the 2nd album, "Mr. Crow & Sir Norman."
  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    That's a beautiful thing.
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  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Wicked Annabella.

    Ray said "Wicked Annabella" was, he replied: "Annabella was too good for me. Sexually she was out of my league. She was very voluptuous and I was a shy kid. She knew how to take virginity and not feel anything. She had a dark side, but also a good side. Her innocence was crushed when she was young. You see, I do a back story on all of them. I'm like a detective."

    Ray also said "Her mother was a widow and she lived in a big house with her mother. It's very Dickensian. I cast the song for Dave because it had power chords in it."

    Apparently the Kinks never performed the song live, but it is a song that Dave did during his solo shows.

    stereo mix, 15-track VGPS version (2:40), recorded Jul 1968 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    In a dark and misty house,
    Where no Christian man has been,
    Wicked Annabella mixes a brew
    That no one's ever seen.

    Relatives have passed her by,
    Too scared to even say hello.
    She's in perpetual midnight,
    She shuts out the day,
    And goes about her sinful ways.

    I, I've seen her hair, I've seen her face,
    Look towards mine.
    I, I've felt her eyes burning my soul,
    Twisting my mind.

    Little children who are good
    Should always go to sleep at night,
    'Cause Wicked Annabella is up in the sky
    Hopin' they will open their eyes.

    Don't go into the woods tonight,
    'Cause underneath the sticks and stones
    Are lots of little demons enslaved by Annabella
    Waiting just to carry you home

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Noma Music, Inc./Hi-Count Music, Inc. BMI

    We open with the drums and it is a really nice part. We notice that the rattle isn't on the snare again, giving it more of a tom sound. Mick's drums drive along on this track with lots of nice fills that fit in and drive along this song really well.
    Pete's bass changes its spots several times during the course of the song. We get some root note stuff, some octave stuff, and also we get some wandering melodic basslines, and it all comes together with the drums to give us a really solid platform for the song.
    Dave's guitar has a really solid grungy sound to it, and again we get some nice variance in the way the guitar parts are constructed. A riff here, some solid chording there, some grinding rock, it is a textural landscape of dark beauty.

    Lyrically we move into the realm of English folklore type stuff.... a dash of Grimm's fairytales, or something like that.

    Having read the backstory by Ray, it is almost like he was somewhat scared of this girl, and she obviously had a seriously messed up childhood, and in this song Ray takes it into the fantasy zone. It sort of works like when kids see the old man in the street who seems a little creepy, and never talks to anyone, so kids imagine that he is a bad or dangerous person, but in reality he is a very sad and lonely old man who has had something terrible happen in his life and has removed himself from society in many ways.
    So the same here with Annabella, Ray may well have lost his virginity to Annabella from the way he describes her, and from his perspective, seemingly being younger than her, Ray saw her as a little dark and intimidating, and it sounds as though she was almost certainly looking for someone to share some light and joy with her .... but of course that is just speculation.

    On face value the lyrics, without the backstory speaks to the idea of a witch of some description, mixing brews, living in perpetual midnight ... her relatives are even afraid to say hello to her.
    In the second verses we move into full blown fairytale where Annabella is waiting for naughty little children who stay awake at night, so she can take them away. Annabella controls the demons of the woods, and they will help her to carry the naughty children home.

    The bridge in the middle is really interesting, because it kind of changes the focus of the song.... Although it keeps with the idea of Annabella being a little threatening, it seems like the person who has seen her eyes and face is caught in a double bind, somewhat enraptured and somewhat scared. It is a really interesting bridge.

    This track is very different to any other song on here, but again in this form of character study, it fits in with the rest of the album perfectly, because it is another personality of the Village Green, or perhaps just outside the Village Green.
    We end up with a picture that shows that for all the idyllic portraits painted here of the Village Green, there are still all the characters from the modern world, because although our surroundings may change around us, the nature of people and the types of people in the world, doesn't really change much at all.

    This is a really fantastic track, and part of what makes it so good is Dave's vocal. It is barley recognizable as Dave in many ways. He takes on a character, and his vocal delivery is just perfect.
    The mood set and maintained across this track is intense and quite awesome. It only goes for about 2:44, but every second counts, and everyone is contributing to the greatness of the song.

    I feel like I have just scratched the surface of this song. There is so much going on in the actual song, but the backstory for me really adds to this song. I have a deep empathy for the misunderstood in this world, and this character is obviously a very modified version of the real character. This starts me thinking about how the trials in our lives can create perceptions of who we are that are inaccurate, and also these trials can shape things in our lives that were never supposed to be ... anyway, that is something for another thread, and possibly even another forum .... but the song, and Ray's comments can't help but alter my perception of the song here.,

    Anyhow, however we look at this song, backstory or none, this is a fantastic song .... in fact this is a song that Alice Cooper could have done ... this is so very different .....

    I'm just going to leave it there and look forward to all your comments, because the more I think about this song, the more things come to mind ....

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
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  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Wicked Annabella stereo.

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  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Interestingly, again there are no other versions on the big box
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

  21. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Yet another new flavour on this fantastic album - I wonder if the sheer variety of styles may have put some listeners off in 1968?
  22. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I think this track is a good example of the more inclusive group sound on this album: sure Ray wrote it, but with Dave on lead vox and the almost live in the studio feel (including that feedback at the end) it really feels like the band getting a chance to let loose a bit.

    Pete Quaife was proud of his Bach-derived bass line (apparently it’s a quote from ‘Jesu, Joy Of Mans Desiring’ but happy to be corrected on that by any bigger Bachheads on here) improv after the first chorus and it does sound very cool, though I also find it somewhat of a poignant reminder of how little input he was usually allowed that a relatively small addition like this is often highlighted as one of his most notable arrangement contributions.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  23. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    I love the sinister Halloween vibe of the song, part Meet Me in Saint Louis part Tim Burton, part Dickensian part Stephen King. Dave sings the hell out of it, especially the screaming bridge. Astounding little bass lick just after that (be it a Bach quotation or not), to come back to the verse. The power chords and (superb) heavy drums hesitate between channeling/challenging the Who and inventing grunge (and/or Tame Impala). Well, no, they don’t hesitate, they do both at once! Alice Cooper ? Never thought of it, but now I will every time I'll listen to it ! Among us Kinks fans, the tiresome “Jimmy Page played the riffs on the early hits” myth has long been debunked, but it’s still a pleasant revenge to note that Led Zeppelin couldn't help but rip Annabella off for the intro of Physical Graffiti’s The Rover, where Page unashamedly lifted Dave’s low guitar riff, pure and simple.
  24. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Thanks for posting this. I have seen it before but can't remember when or where. Just to say this was filmed in Waterlow Park. A stone's throw from the Archway Tavern and where the remains of Karl Marks lie.
  25. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    This doesn't sound much like the Kinks to me - it sounds like some obscurity by a band that did only one single that has been dug up and preserved on a cool compilation album - but it does sound great. Very spooky and esoteric.

    I find the sequencing a bit odd. You'd expect harder rock/pop songs like this and "Monica" to come up earlier in the album. We can talk about that more when we sum up the album and suggest alternative tracklistings.
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