The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Sing Mr. Songbird
    I just heard this song for the first time in the past week and so far, it doesn't do a whole lot for me. It does have a Simon & Garfunkel feel as Mark suggested...which doesn't help me to like it any better. :D I don't like that flute in there. Kind of annoying. But this song would be great on Sesame Street. Would surely love my kid listening to this compared to some of the crap they're exposed to because they dummy down music for kids often enough.

    I like the vocals on the badadebada part.

    Pleasant enough, but that's not why I listen to the Kinks.
  2. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    It’s very good indeed. I haven’t gotten over the surprise of finding ‘Suggs’ McPherson of Madness was the most erudite of the many talking heads! I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover - or its baggy trousers :D
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    No rush mate.
    It took me a few spins to breakthrough, and some songs only really came together for me totally during the thread.

    Spend as much time as you want, need to with it. Even if we're doing State Of Confusion at the time, you can pipe in then.
  4. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yea, for some reason my 4:30 am head was telling me it was on Bridge... normally i check myself, alas today i didn't...
  5. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Mr. Songbird
    A nice pleasant song that seems like good B side material to me.
    mark winstanley and croquetlawns like this.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    I had "People Take Pictures of Each Other" on my mind today. My employer just sold his house that he & his family lived in for the past 45 years & he had all of these pictures that he had in his office w/various well known people that he didn't know what to do with since he moved to a smaller place. So I removed the piccys from their frames so he could put them in a envelope. I was just thinking that at one time he was proud to display them & now he couldn't wait to dispose of them.

    Anyway, going to "Mr. Songbird", I always think of it as a Great Lost Kinks Album song. It's a rather pretty song, Ray's Bluebird of Happeness song, especially near the end where he implores it to keep the devil away. I don't really know how it would fit in VGPS, probably as an extension of "Animal Farm". Nice use of the Mellotron, which Ray used a lot around this time, judging from this analysis by my fellow Avids.
  7. Safeway 2

    Safeway 2 Forum Resident

    Manzanillo Mexico.
    Mr Songbird-The mellotron seems to take the place of the bird singing back to Ray. Nice bass by Pete. As Mark stated earlier this could have been a double album. I agree. The amount of music Ray was writing during ths period is amazing and top shelve. Taken as a stand alone "Songbird" isn't going to make anyone forget about "Walter" "Picture Book" or "Big Sky". But thematically it easily slides into
    Village Green without a hiccup.
  8. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    It's little snippets like this that makes me read every post in this thread. Excellent thought.
    I've been contemplating the tracklist of a potential double album (22-24 tracks based on the space available on the format as all the songs are quite short), but I've nothing to add that hasn't been said already about the tracks so far. It's not my favourite Kinks album, but this is not really my era of Kinks music, but no doubt if there was a record store day release of a double album, despite having all the tracks on CD, I'd be first in line for a copy. A sign of madness I guess.
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  9. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Berkeley Mews.

    Here is a little article written about the song Berkeley Mews - Berkeley Mews, London and another Berkeley Mews , sometimes mislabeled as Berkeley Men or Berkeley News , is a song written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks as the B-side to their 1970 tr

    mono mix (2:37), recorded probably Spring 1968 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    The leaves of brown came falling through the view,
    In Berkeley Mews, I first met you,
    I staggered through your chilly dining room,
    In Berkeley Mews, I first met you.

    Your kitchen sink was cluttered up,
    So I put the shutter up forlornly
    I brewed another cuppa up
    And tried to sneak out early in the morning.

    I thought you had much better things to do,
    In Berkeley Mews, I first met you,
    Drowned my conversation with champagne,
    In Berkeley Mews, was not listening.

    I thought you were an intellect,
    But now that I reflect, you left me reeling.
    You made me drink a toast
    And when you finished I was looking at the ceiling.

    The floods of tears I've wept thinking of you,
    Remind me of that night in Berkeley Mews.
    You know that you left me broken hearted,
    In Berkeley Mews.

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Davray Music/Carlin Music Corp.

    Lyrics for "Berkeley Mews"

    Lyrically this seems like a reflection on a woman that got Ray drunk and took advantage of him and left him broken hearted.
    It is a somewhat strange lyric in its construct, and to be honest I may be looking for some of your posts to explain where we are going with this one.

    We open with a piano that gives the feel of an old western bar, it is some really nice playing from Nicky Hopkins.
    We move into a rock and roll vibe when the band kicks in just before the second line.
    Pete's bass is solid and driving the rhythm section.
    Dave's rhythm guitar is a subtle highlight in its delivery .... and at 1:05 it takes on a sort of Beatles Getting Better vibe, that works well here.

    This song comes across as being verse, bridge, verse, bridge .... the bridge is a nice change up that works well.

    This is still a fairly new song to me.

    After the second bridge, we move back to the western bar room feel of the opening, and then we move into an old school blues rave up ending.

    Although I'm finding the lyric hard to completely decipher, this song works really well.... We have this hybrid feel of a sort of music hall/rock variant, and that in itself makes the song pretty interesting.

    This song appeared on the b-side of Lola in the UK, and also on the Kinks Kronicles release.

    A somewhat unusual song to be sure, but I think it has a lot of character.

  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  12. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Two big obvious influences on the beginning and end of this one I think. The opening lyrically and musically reminiscent of the 30s standard ‘September In The Rain’, a chart hit for Dinah Washington in 1961 (also The Beatles recorded it the following year, though few would have known their version in 1968)

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
  13. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Berkeley Mews
    I've loved this B-side since I first heard it on Kronikles. Nicky Hopkins's barrelhouse piano and Pete's bass riff make this tune rock. I've always thought of it as an ode to a drunken one-night stand with a well-to-do lady who drowned out conversation with Champagne (which, now that I think about it, is the way I'd prefer my conversations to be drowned out) and left Ray heart-broken. It's a rollicking tale of lust, drunkenness and longing which is only enhanced by Ray's pronunciation of 'chilly' as 'shi*tty'. Perfect!
  14. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    This is one of the great American things that Ray made his own, in an English/London context: naming songs after places, creating evocative “images” with how the name of a place sounds. After Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, a lot of British bands did it, of course, but Ray did it the best (and certainly the most). And I’m convinced it has a lot to do with his fascination with American culture.
    Anyway, Berkeley Mews / Berkeley Muse, yes, this is an impressionistic tale of a one-night sex encounter. Graced with infectious honky-tonk piano and a powerful boogie bass, it’s one of the great drunken songs I know, with vivid images of what it’s like to drift through a moment in a dazed alcoholic state, because of substances, lack of sleep, lack of connection. You stagger in the living room, you look blankly at the ceiling, you try to leave unnoticed early in the morning… Hopkins’ saloon piano is the great touch here, not only because it's good, but because it tells a big part of the story, informing us of the time (quite late!) and of the fact the protagonist doesn’t walk straight. I’m not sure about the ending, complete with Ray’s mock Elvis voice. I understand the song was part of the Kronikles’ Kanon, but for us European, this is one of the great Kinks rarities, a lost sixties gem that usually didn’t even appear on our sixties singles compilations, because of its status as the Lola B-side (1970). I was stunned when I learned it was a Village Green-era outtake. Yet another superb track coming from that incredible fertile creative time, and one of the most original and different sounding tunes in the entire Kinks output.
  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    ….Also the end bit seems like a direct quote from Elvis’s ‘Rock A Hula Baby’ (although not being an Elvis expert, I stand to be corrected if this bit is itself derivative of something else: it does sound like a very familiar early rock and roll tic that might have turned up in many songs of this period)

  16. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    One of the highlights of the big VGPS box IMO.
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  17. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    I first heard this on the b-side of Lola. It sounded nothing like the A-side or like anything on the subsequent album. No wonder as it was from the VGPS sessions. The usual lazy/unusual diction from Ray which makes the word "chilly" sound like something else, much like "fogging" in a later song.
    Because of this the song was quite enigmatic for me. Seeing the printed lyrics helped.
    Nicky Hopkins is the star of the show here.
  18. Martyj

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

    Maryland, USA
    Or maybe not a woman.

    I hadn’t expected to take time out of my morning to write today, but I had been waiting for “Berkley Mews” to come around; I assumed it would be later as “Lola’s” b-side. I meant to do this in advance to give it a bit more thought, so now I’ll just write as much as I can before I need to jump into my work day.

    In the 80’s I lived in the San Francisco Bay area and was deeply immersed in the local rock press (as a reader—I had not yet turned pro.) There was a gay weekly entertainment/event tabloid that had some of the best record reviews and essays on music that I have ever read. The only Kinks release at the time I lived there was the “Word of Mouth” LP. As many know, in the 70’s the Kinks became heavy cult-favorites in the gay community. Along with this publication’s review of the new album was an essay, something to the effect: A new Kinks record means it’s time for us to again look for the coded clues that Ray Davies is one of Us. Or something like that . (I wish I had the article now for reference. I clipped it and many others concerning other bands. It was in one of the two boxes the shipping company lost during my eventual move to the opposite coast.)

    This essay—which specifically deciphered the lyrics to “Word of Mouth’s” title track—summarized the band’s larger body of work and went to some ridiculous, almost “Paul Is Dead”-like stretches to find homosexual subtext in Ray’s lyrics. But many of them rang true, and some were fairly obvious. Here is where I learned that “Berkeley Mews” is one of Ray’s gay songs. Berkley Mews, as the article identified, was a section in London known to gays as a pick up scene.

    I’ve always wanted to ask a Londoner if they could verify this. Someone who was around back then, although I suppose one would have to be gay to know about this. Come the age of the internet I researched what I could of the place. I found nothing connecting it to the gay community. But who am I to question someone in the know? Here’s my theory: during the swinging sixties tucked away on this London side street was a small, after hours, pick up spot that was known through word of mouth to the gay underground. Knowledge of this leaked to Ray (the street is located in the Marble Arch area where the Kinks recorded) and hence the subject matter of this song.

    Of course, in perusing the lyrics this tale of one-night regret is not gender specific; it works either way. But for Ray to specifically establish the setting in an alley with a secret gay club gives weight to the essay’s point that Ray writes in code to the gay community.

    The other thing that gives it weight is the conscious decision to pair it with “Lola” for UK only—where Londoner’s might get the reference. Why else resurrect this 3 year old cut for the b-side rather than something more contemporary, as they did in the US? Unless, of course, Ray purposely felt the two songs, with their mixed gender pick-up subject matter, were perfect thematic matches.

    I’m done. That took a half hour. Little time to proof read.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
  19. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Great post!!!
  20. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Today in Kinks history:

    Lola is released in the US on this day in 1970. Coming out over a month and a half after the UK single due to the master recording getting lost on its way to Reprise records.
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  21. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    I used to work about five minutes from Berkeley Mews back in the early 1970's and your theory about it being a gay area is news to me. Not saying you are wrong or anything but I always thought he named the song Berkeley Mews simply because it was around the corner from Pye recording studio.
  22. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Never played live by The Kinks or Ray/Dave AFAIK, but The Kast Off Kinks (the ‘more than a’ tribute group made up as the name suggests largely out of ex members) were known to give it a go:

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
  23. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Berkeley Mews

    First heard this in 1970 as it was the B side of Lola which was a single my brother owned. I too was surprised to learn it had been recorded in the Village Green era. For me it will forever be associated with the later period and, for that reason, it is doubtful it will appear on my Village Green playlist.

    Fantastic song that sounds wonderful in stereo. Was my mum's favourite Kinks track.
  24. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Just a thought : could it be that Ray obliquely named the song "Berkeley Mews" because the street shares its name with a place situated in the San Francisco area, thus the gay allusion ? In any case, I think the single pairing with Lola + the fact the lyrics ring true in a gay context make a strong case for @Martyj's theory.
  25. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Certainly an interesting angle.

    I guess I took Ray's looking up at the ceiling as being a subtle reference to the act. It seemed more a reference to the dominant female in my mind....
    but then again I have no experience with gay sex, so I couldn't say really.
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