The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Miami Beach FL
    Plastic Man:

    I like this song, but it feels like a song out of time as others have mentioned. Had it appeared back around the time of Face-to-Face or Something Else, it would have been just fine as a single or album track. Perhaps not one of their top-tier songs, like Sunny Afternoon, but a good little bouncy pop track.

    As it stands though, it does feel pretty antiquated in relation to both its predecessor album (TKATVGPS) and more obviously in relation to the upcoming Arthur album. Arthur, in particular, really comes across to me like a 70s style album-rock album, with longer songs, changes of speed and style within a song, and more extended instrumental portions. Plastic Man by contrast is quite one dimensional.

    For my purposes, since I am a playlist dude, I’m happy to have it pop up in my playlist where it belongs chronologically (such playlist still under construction as I go through this thread, but likely to run from Village Green through and including the Lola album). That said, it will stick out a bit stylistically and if it wouldn’t make me so uncomfortable to have it “unchronologically” situated, I think it would sound better in my playlist which covers the period rnning from the debut album through Something Else. In fact, since we know that the song was actually conceived, even if it was only in its embryonic state, back at the time of Face-to-Face, I suppose an argument could be made to place it on that earlier playlist anyway and just ignore the release date. Perhaps you guys can all vote and I’ll let you decide !

    Regardless of which ever playlist I ultimately stick it on, it’s definitely a B or a B- level song and would appear further down in the ranks of my playlist, but I bet it will get me bopping in my seat every time I’m cruising up the road and it comes on. As many have said before, a weaker kinks song is still so much better than 80% of whatever else is out there.
     
  2. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Location:
    Dearborn, MI
    I'm going to have to give up on Hidden Treasures. Life got in the way and I just don't feel like catching up at this point. Which is a shame because I ordered the disc just so I can take part in the discussion. But I got about half of it in. I listened to the entire thing last night and I enjoyed it a lot. Definitely gave me a new appreciation for the songs. Let me get these taken care of quick because my Beach Boys Feel Flows box is out for delivery!

    "Plastic Man" - I've never cared much for this song. With all the amazing material left off VGPS, I can't understand how something like this becomes a single. The riff reminds me of "Act Nice and Gentle," a song I much prefer, and the rest of it just seems like something Ray's done already. This song flopping is no big shock to me. "Plastic man got no brain,
    Plastic man don't feel no pain, Plastic people look the same" - I get the point.. but pretty much every other thing Ray decided to write about in 68/69 was more interesting.

    Now instead of flipping over the 7" to hear "King Kong," I have to take the Arthur deluxe CD out of the player and put in the 3CD VGPS set from 2004. What's "King Kong" doing there?

    "King Kong" - It's hard for me to judge this song. If I didn't know it was the Kinks, I wouldn't have guessed. It sounds like it could fit with any of those songs on disc 1 of the Nuggets 2 box set. The intro made me think of The Who. It's a super odd song in the catalog, which doesn't make it bad. It get stuck in my head. It's just so muddy and weird.. It's better than "Plastic Man," but I don't know if it's singleworthy either.
     
  3. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    The thing about Pete Quaife was that he was an original member of the Kinks. He was there from the beginning when they were the Ravens & before Mick Avory joined. He knew Ray and Dave growing up. Ray has commented many times, in X-Ray and elsewhere, that when Pete left the band, that was the end of the original Kinks. Frankly, I'm not that knowledgable about music, but I think that Pete's contributions to the Kinks were great & that his leaving, like Rasa's made them a different band. It would have been nice to have him around, but he probably felt a bit frustrated dealing w/Ray. I'm not knocking his successors, especially poor Jim Rodford (RIP), but Pete's departure changed the Kinks.
     
  4. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    A big part of Pete’s significance is that as a founder member since the very beginning he was (in theory if not practice) an equal to Ray and Dave. Mick joined just as they got the name The Kinks in early 1964 so is technically an original member of the band of that name but he missed the 2-3 years of shared struggle and history together the other 3 had. Even though he was already very squeezed out by Ray’s dominance, with Pete gone they lose all semblance of the Beatles-modelled 60s beat group of equal shareholders and very much become the Ray Davies show with special guest Dave ‘Death Of A Clown’ Davies and supporting players. Dalton Pyle and Rodford all knew what they were getting into in terms of that deal, but Quaife formed the group on an equal footing with the brothers D and saw that status erode. No one else in the group not named Davies would ever have that kind of stature in it thereafter.

    I’ve always been interested by the fact that John Entwistle was so complimentary about Pete’s playing: I mean, that’s a pretty heavy gun in the bass world to get an endorsement from, even if they were contemporaries in comparable groups it’s fair to say they’re almost never mentioned in the same breath when the Great Bassists Of Rock are enumerated in the geezer rock press. But I like to think that it shows that a master in the field recognises quality where he hears it, even if it’s not as immediately visible to the public as his own work.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
  5. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Ah snap! Better said than I!
     
  6. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Ray tried to get him to stick around for Arthur, tried to get him to rejoin during the Misfits-era, tried to get him to rejoin for a Kinks album in 1998, and then spoke about Pete “dearly wanting to make another album” with The Kinks in around 2005, something which Pete denied at the time.

    Despite publicly saying that Pete was the “ultimate amateur” in a disparaging, dismissive way, Ray clearly wanted Pete back in the band for 40 years. It’s a shame it never happened. It seems they got very close though in the late 90s.
     
  7. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Pete does have a (posthumous) solo album (well, not really solo, it’s really a duo of him and another guitarist, Michael Julin). I think Pete wrote or co-wrote these songs (he also did the album artwork):

     
  8. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Here’s their rendition of “Dead End Street”:

     
  9. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Looks like he’s got an Alembic bass there. Would have loved to hear classic Kinks songs with an Alembic. Probably one of the basses with the most distinct sound.
     
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  10. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Any memories about it? What was it like when Pete came out? Was the performance with him good? Apparently he was really drunk at the time (accidentally, he said he was hot and thirsty but all that was available to drink was vodka—that’s about all I know about that performance).
     
  11. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    Thank you. I was going to say the same for you!
     
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  12. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I remember the song and I remember being happily surprised when I heard Ray introduce him on stage. The performance was fine - Pete could have probably played Little Queenie in his sleep. I heard the vodka story but I wouldn't have known it from the performance.
    I met Pete once at a local record show where he was selling T-shirts he'd designed. I really didn't know what to say to him, so I blurted out that I had bought all of the Kinks' records. He said, "Thanks".
     
  13. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. What cool experiences! Seems like he was a really nice, funny guy and a character.
     
  14. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Apologies if this is a double-post -- my browser is acting like I didn't hit send....

    Thank you for this!! Agreed, this would have been a fine record, though I do think GLKA improves on it, primarily by adding the Dave songs. Obviously 3 tracks weren't used because they ended up on Kronikles, and the instrumental was zapped. I hadn't realized how closely GLKA conforms with this list!

    Remember that Ray chose to release "Plastic Man," yet refused Pye's request to release "Til Death Us Do Part" as a single or EP. Would that have done better? I wonder. Maybe not, but boy, I do wish they had tried.
     
  15. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I forgot or didn’t know that “Til Death Us To Part” was considered for a single by Pye. It’s kind of an odd choice…if “Plastic Man” sounds like it’s from 1966, “Til Death Us Do Part” sounds like it’s from 1936. That being said, it’s the only contender I can think of for an early 1969 Ray-penned Kinks a-side besides “Plastic Man” or “King Kong.”

    And I guess “Til Death Us Do Part” does sound a bit like (the beginning) of “Afterglow Of Your Love,” which was a single in March 1969 (it charted at #36 in the UK). Also, “Afterglow” was recorded in 1968 too, so both were already “old” tracks by spring 1969.
     
  16. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "King Kong"

    A great introduction by @mark winstanley and excellent post by @Martyj. This is a super interesting song because of the strong resemblance to Marc Bolan and T.Rex. While Marc was singing in this warble style for a couple years before this was released, he hadn't really yet gone as heavy as this tune. I think it's a case of both of them influencing each other. When Marc started his vocals didn't sound anything like this on his earliest singles. He did however start to become the vocalist that we all know so well quickly after. The single "Debora" hit 34 in the UK charts in 1968 and Tyrannosaurus Rex had two full albums out before "King Kong" was released. However, I think Ray was already doing this vocal warble in small doses well before "King Kong".

    The Kinks were certainly ahead of the game with this song. This sound would become a big part of the rock n roll scene within a couple years. I'm all in favor of keeping "Plastic Man" as the A side. As much as I like "King Kong", the recording is a bit rough and maybe people wouldn't have known what to make of it. It sounds like another side of The Kinks. They took the safer approach and made the A side a familiar Kinks sound while introducing what was to come in the 70s as the B side. I think this works extremely well as a single.

    I was trying to find the clip or article where Ray might have talked about Marc Bolan, but I couldn't find it. I did find this interview with Dave that some might find interesting. He says that Marc could have done a good job with this song, but doesn't go much into it. He also talks about his songwriting and the Hidden Treasures CD that we just covered.

    I Will Be Me: An Interview with Kinks Guitarist Dave Davies - Rock Cellar Magazine
     
  17. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I have trouble knowing what to make of "King Kong" either. It does rock out. It sounds fantastic, brutal, in its lo-fi way. Crank it up!

    It's also the beginning of a new stance we are going to see a lot from in Ray, that makes for an almost completely different experience of this band, and one I will feel perpetually ambivalent about -- to the degree that it may eventually have me tiptoeing backwards from discussions, so as not to be a perpetual thread-crapper. But I will probably say my piece on this a couple of times.

    This is a kinda hit-you-over-the-head, stoopid Ray. And stoopid can be a lot of fun. It's just not what I showed up for--not what makes the Kinks especially special to me. This guy shows up in "Arthur" on the track "Brainwashed", though there we seem to be hearing the point of view of a young character who may not be Ray. Then he's around for "Powerman," and is the guy driving the car on much later tracks like "Give The People What They Want."

    But what I perceive in these songs, except for maybe "Brainwashed," (which I assume is narrated by a character named Ronnie) is a stance with the irony or dual-vision removed, when talking about The Man. Unlike "House In the Country" --which _could_ be a takedown of the powerful, privileged guy, but also feels like a self-satire of the (petty?) envy of the singer-- these songs feel like a more simplistic us-vs-them view of the world. Maybe this sounds snobby, but it feels like it's coming from a brain operating at a slightly lower IQ.

    I have a theory that all the great writers are both dummies and geniuses. Even, say, Dylan. It's as if they are channeling something much smarter than their everyday selves, sometimes, when they write on a great day. Sometimes I feel like Ray's dummy side is at an especially shocking contrast to his genius. (please don't kill me for saying this--I'm not saying I'm right.)

    Is this writing/singing voice, which appears and develops from here, really so different from what we've already hear in hard-rocking Kontroversy tracks like "You Can't Win"? Maybe not. But somehow, in those earlier punky songs, the seeming primitivism of the lyrics matched the seeming primitivism of the music, and I never found myself analyzing anything. Here, though, I feel this trend will be an evolutionary step down from things like "Big Sky." Someone mentioned "Tin Soldier Man," perhaps comparing it to "Plastic Man." I suppose, even though that's one of Ray's music hall songs, that it's a sign even in 1967 of this simplistic streak in Ray.

    Just my take on things. And I feel like a killjoy even bringing it up in the context of this quite fun song. I am hoping, though, that this thread will help me appreciate some of these later directions, in a way I have not examined much since I first fell in love with the pre-1969 Kinks at the turn of my 20's.
     
  18. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Plastic Man
    OK, but Ray did several songs with a similar theme that are better. Again, it is OK and enjoyable enough, but not a Kinks classic.

    King Kong
    Again it is OK, but I don't think this is as good as Plastic Man. It seems more like a formula rocker and it doesn't have that unique touch so many of the Kinks songs had.
     
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  19. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Ray almost killed Dave over chips/fries, and tried to sell Dave to a man so he (Ray) could grt free beer, so you may have a point about being both dummies and geniuses. Keep in mind though, much of this material was written when Ray was still very young. Sessions for Arthur completed a few weeks before Ray turned 25.

    “King Kong” does have a similar theme that carried through much of Ray’s work in the 70s. I, and others, mentioned “Powerman already. But the theme of the little man being taken advantage of by the powers that be, so to speak, starting with Arthur (as you said, “Brainwashed,” maybe “Shangri-La” too), Lola, going to Muswell Hillbillies, the Preservation albums, and I guess even Schoolboys too.

    So in that way, I think “King Kong” really set the tone for much of the next decade of the band’s work too. I’m not really sure if I can think of earlier material with this theme, besides maybe “Dead End Street,” to a degree.
     
  20. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Speaking of Pete looking the part, here's an interesting photo of the band, possibly from their last photoshoot with Pete. Dave is dressed the same way as in one of their first photoshoots after Dalton's return, with that massive yellow tie, so I'd imagine both were taken in spring 1969.

    Notice how Ray, Dave, and Mick all seem to be having the time of their lives, and Pete looks like he'd prefer to be literally anywhere else.

    The Kinks - Where Have All The Good Times Gone
     
  21. Zack

    Zack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Easton, MD
    Great post.
     
  22. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    That Fu Manchu says a lot, doesn't it?
     
  23. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Help save Fu Manchu…
     
  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    King Kong has now made the playlist.
     
  25. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    I had a '72 Plymouth Custom Satellite I bought at auction from a county sheriff auction. Had the 383 Police Interceptor and anti-sway suspension. Plain brown wrapper with spotlights. Wicked ass car! (But no 8 track)
     

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