The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    It’s a damn injustice to think that A. Mueller got commissioned and paid to write that, when you think of all the reams of well thought out thoughtful commentary that are posted to this thread every day. I appreciate that a professional rock journalist can’t be expected to fully appreciate every single item that lands on their desk for consideration, but those write ups both really have the whiff of ‘gotta hit this deadline/wordcount and I’ve only listened to the album once, I’ll just scribble down my first impressions and hope for the best’ about them.
  2. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    I don't think anyone is infallible when it comes to completely missing the point of a lyric here and there. If there's one thing music writing does in general, whether professional or on boards like this, is make me realise I do it all the time. At least he still called the song a "masterpiece" even if he misjudged the lyrical tone.

    Anyway, I would like to join the choir (in a trainee position) joining in how wonderful this song is.
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter


    Single by the Kinks
    from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
    "Mindless Child of Motherhood"
    Released 20 June 1969 (UK)
    Recorded May–June 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
    Label Pye 7N 17776 (UK)
    Songwriter(s) Ray Davies
    Producer(s) Ray Davies

    Dave Said "[It] was a compromise record, it wasn't that bold."

    Drivin' was the lead single from Arthur in the UK, and surprisingly it failed to chart at all, and was the first Kinks track since the pre-You Really Got me tracks to fail to dent the charts.... and to some degree that is a little surprising, based on the fact that it is a pretty easy going song, with a really nice arrangement and a really good melodic structure. I would have thought in 69 that it would have been a minor hit, but this seems to speak to the inexplicable situation of the UK audience seeming to reject the band.

    mono mix (3:12), recorded May 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    It seems like all the world is fighting
    They're even talking of a war
    Let all the Russians and the Chinese
    And the Spanish do their fighting
    The sun is shining
    We're going drivin', drivin'

    Drop all your work
    Leave it behind
    Forget all your problems
    And get in my car
    And take a drive with me

    The sandwiches are packed
    The tea is in the flask
    We've plenty of beer
    And gooseberry tarts
    So take a drive with me

    We'll take your mother if you want to
    We'll have a picnic on the grass
    Forget your nephews
    And your cousins and your brothers and your sisters
    They'll never miss us
    'Cos we'll be drivin', drivin', drivin', drivin'

    Thousands of trees
    Hundreds of fields
    Millions of birds
    So why don't you come
    And take a drive with me

    We'll talk to the cows
    And laugh at the sheep
    We'll lie in a field
    And we'll have a sleep
    So take a drive with me

    And all the troubled world around us
    Seems an eternity away
    And all the debt collectors
    Rent collectors
    All will be behind us
    But they'll never find us
    'Cos we'll be drivin', drivin', drivin', drivin'

    Passed Barnet Church
    Up to Potters Bar
    We won't be home late
    It's not very far
    So take a drive with me, take a drive with me
    Drivin', drivin', drivin', drivin'

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Hill & Range Songs BMI

    Here we appear to have Arthur convincing Rose to go for a drive with him to forget their, and the world's troubles.

    We open the album with a sort of requiem to the Victorian age, somewhere post 1901, and it works perfectly as an overture to the album.
    Yes Sir No Sir and Some Mother's Son are based in the first World War from July 1914 to November 1918.... some imagine Some Mother's Son may be based in the Korean War, but that seems to be too late, being in 1950-1953.

    We open this track speaking of the Russians and the Chinese and The Spanish doing the fighting.
    The Russian Civil War 1917-1923
    The Chinese Civil War 1927-1936
    The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
    In 1913 Ford made the motor car an item that could be mass produced and owned by anyone who could afford to let about four months pay slide for one.

    So I guess this song is based somewhere in the 1930's. Forgive me if the details are incorrect there, I was just trying to get a rough idea of roughly where we might be on the timeline.
    We also get the line "They're even talking of a war" .... Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, and by 1935 things were looking pretty grim. World War II finally began in 1939....
    So we are probably around 1936 I imagine.

    There are a few interesting things with this song. We have just been through the most harrowing couple of Kinks songs up to this point, and it seems to some degree that Ray/the band thought it would be a good idea to lighten things up a little, and Drivin' is the perfect song for this. It beautifully takes the edge off, and reduces the tension that has built up over the last two songs.

    We open with a really cool guitar pattern and some "doo dah doodoo's".
    We again return to the band's love of descending patterns. Then we move into a really smooth feel with held chords and a piano accordion providing accompaniment.
    As the song moves into it's groove, we have a really nice bassline bouncing along with the guitars and the drums.
    In the background we have a really nice chorus of "oooo's" that I assume Rasa is involved with, because there is a feminine timbre to those vocals. It is also really interesting to me that the backing vocals here are working in the same way that a synth pad would be used in the 80's and 90's. The backing vocals almost have an eerie sound to them too....

    Over the decades since its introduction into the marketplace the automobile has been often used as a sort of escape pod, and that is what we have being described here. I remember being a teen and when I had had a bad day, I would jump in my car and go for a cruise with Here's Little Richard blasting from the speakers.

    We have food and drinks packed for our little escapist journey, with the thought of a picnic somewhere along the way seeming and attractive proposition along the way.
    We also have a revisit of Village Green here, with the idea of getting back to nature and hanging out with the animals. Lying in a field talking to cows, laughing at the sheep, and millions of birds.
    To some degree this uses the escape of the car to try and find the Village Green again.
    It's really interesting how Ray has laid all this out, and the idea of "the decline and fall of the British Empire" seems to rest in the idea, that what was lost at the end of the Victorian era, and the tragedy of the First World War, is occasionally able to be found by alternate means of driving away to find that Idyllic spot where the feel of the old world can be visited for a few hours ....

    With this being early on in the age of the car, it is very possible that the introduction of forgetting the debt collectors could well relate to the fact that the car was bought on credit.... perhaps.
    This is pure escapism, and it works on many levels in regards to forgetting all the turmoil of humanity, and all the costs and debts, and family strife and just getting away from it all and allowing ourselves to be free from trouble and relaxed in the world of nature, rather than the industrialisation.

    Musically this is very cool.
    It is such a bouncy, joyous track. There is just a hint of the ominous, but it is light and fluffy compared to the two previous tracks.

    I really like the palm muted clicky rhythm guitar in the verse and there is also a bouncy piano accompaniment here, and it all blends perfectly. So much so that we can almost feel the breeze in our hair...

    (sorry if this is disjointed, a morning of constant interruptions)

    In many sections of the song we have these ascending and descending guitar arpeggios and to me they sound great.
    About three quarters of the way through we get a really nice little guitar break. It is essentially just working as a highlighted chord accent, but it works really well.
    Again Mick Avory is laying down some excellent drums that fit the feel perfectly.

    Anyway, it seems this morning is just not going to go smoothly, every time I try and get into a train of thought someone's knocking or calling, so I'm going to leave it there.

    I reckon this is a really cool track, and in context with the album and its structure, it's perfect.

    The MEZ, zipp, pablo fanques and 19 others like this.
  4. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  6. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    Some Mother’s Son: Another one that failed to ignite for me despite repeated listens. I got it, it’s brilliant tune, but boy was it a downer each time. Finally, at the revisit stage, it gelled in a way that I began to look forward to it kicking off as Yes Sir faded away. I give it high marks now. That said, while it may be the “best song” on the album, I don’t think it will ever be my favorite on the album.
  7. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident


    This is just a brilliant tune, one of Ray's greatest for me. You have the wonderful plaintive melody in the opening, the joyousness of the chorus, and then the strange bridge/alternate verse section where the two-chord sequence gradually descends down the fretboard. I love Ray's vocals in this, and the backing vocals. Another detail to note - which I only noticed the last time I played the album in headphones - during the guitar break and the chorus before, Mick's drums are doubled. He's playing two contrasting parts during the guitar break.

    Lyrically it's great as well, as it refers to places I know. Potters Bar is a town I've stopped often recently with my sandwiches and flask of tea. Its convenient location by the M25 motorway (which didn't exist when Arthur was released) makes it a good place for a pit stop and the park is a nice place to sit for a while.

    It's also a good pick-me-up after the despair of the previous two tracks, and moves the narrative forward.
  8. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    After the heavy liftings, here comes the single, the easiest-most-straightforward song on Arthur, right ? Sure, but what a cool structure it has. It begins with a wordless didi-didi intro what will turn out to be the verse melody. Then the song proper starts with the "it seems that all the world is fighting" section, that will mostly be used as a bridge for the remainder of the song. Now, that's confusing. Well, the chorus, at least, can’t be mistaken (and I must say it’s my least favorite part). The didi-didi didi-didi (verse?) melody is almost a rewrite of the “Picture yourself / When you're getting old” from Picture Book, so it’s clearly the first Arthur song that could’ve been part of Village Green or even replace Afternoon Tea on Something Else. I agree the ooh-ooh-ooh's make Rasa really shine on this song, which has become more rare at this point (even though she can also be heard on Some Mother’s Son). The guitar solo is a restraint beauty, the rhythm guys at the top of their game, with two parts that are essential to the song. They don’t back the song, they play it. I don't know if the plucked part on the second verse is played on guitar or bass, but it's fantastic. But really, it’s the structure of it all and the way Ray works his way through it as a ring leader that I find extraordinary. Listen to his delivery of that "Seems an etErnity away-a-ay" line ! This is genius, really, indisputable pop genius, so musical, so enthralling, a master songwriter, a master singer, a master frontman.
  9. FJFP

    FJFP Host for the 'Mixology' Mix Differences Podcast

    I forgot to chime in yesterday, but boy is there nothing to be added here. Some Mother’s Son should be studied along side the deeply moving war poems from the trenches, and always takes me back to the GCSE studies of these. Breathtaking and heartbreaking.

    As for Drivin’, I’m sure this was sequenced next to give the listener a bit of light relief after the incredibly heavy weight placed upon them previously. It’s just light hearted fun and easy breezy, but there’s a lot to enjoy.
  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yes. I noticed that listening in the car on the way home last night.
    DISKOJOE likes this.
  11. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Brilliant overview Mark. I’d never thought about the timeline before but your detective work makes perfect sense. This song is light and summery- an ideal follow up to the previous two songs with heavy messages. My only reservation is that Ray chooses to sing the word drivin’ as six syllables (six silly bulls for Blackadder fans) which makes the chorus at the end of the song sound more repetitive than it should be. Even so, I still like the song and its wonderful sentiment.
    Others may be relieved to know that I claim no special knowledge or interest in driving and own no books on the subject. :D
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Loved Blackadder. I like Bean, but Blackadder is Rowan's best work for me.
  13. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    Drivin’: Old school pop/rock Kinks, which is pretty hard to argue with at this point. As others have mentioned, it adds a little levity after the heavy onslaught of the last two songs. That said, a close listen to the lyrics makes it obvious that the song forwards the story and ties things together as the story becomes more directly focus on Arthur and his travels. I like this one, it’s hard not to start moving in your seat when it comes on, and I’m quite surprised it didn’t dent the charts. Still, not necessarily my favorite on the album although I wouldn’t skip it.
  14. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Great song, great single. Breezy and catchy. Criminal it didn't chart. I'm guessing the gatekeepers (DJs, radio, TV, magazines) judged the Kinks to be old hat at this point and chose not to publicize it and that most buyers didn't even get to hear this song. (That's pure speculation on my part, but it's hard to see what this song is lacking as a pop single, even though it's no "Victoria").
    One of my favourites on the album.
  15. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident


    Love this track - one of the first two Kinks singles I bought. You are correct, of course, in describing it as bouncy and a relief from the two tracks preceeding it. The production, despite there being a lot going on, is very clean and the drumming by Mr Avory very very good.

    Despite the opening lyrics referring to certain conflicts, precisely placing the timeline in the 1930's, I always considered it a 1960's song. There could not have been many people in England who were lucky enough to own a car pre Second World War. So driving had yet to become something people did just to get out of the house. However, by the 1960's car ownership was much higher and the M1 had just been completed. I remember those people in my street going out for Sunday afternoon drives when I was growing up in the 1960's. It was just a thing that people did.

    Also, in the story I know a few of the men go down the pub after Sunday lunch and get worked up about the system, but they coud have jumped in the car instead and visited the countryside and had a picnic to ease the stress. Maybe the song was written as an option depending on whether the director decided to have a pub scene or a driving scene.

    Anyway, Drivin' will always be on my Kinks Greatest playlist.
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Drivin’: I keep thinking Autumn Almanac when I hear this (though @Fortuleo mentions Picture Book so maybe I’m confused).

    I don’t think this would have been the lead single that I would have chosen to market the album (that would be Victoria). But as part of the album it fits and helps drive (pun intended) the narrative. Initially, the “drivin’, drivin’, drivin’” chorus drove (uh oh, unintentional!) me nuts but this morning’s listen wasn’t too bad.
  17. A well respected man

    A well respected man Some Mother's Son

    Madrid, Spain
    I have that, and thought the same. Thos Uncut complete guides are really good as consulting guides, and they are visually engaging, but many times the texts are really puzzling. It's not a question of "oh, that song should be awarded 4 stars instead of 3", it's that many analysis seem completely unfounded.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    "Drivin'", a jaunty little song about the attempt to avoid the realities of a world going mad again after a botched end to a destructive war, as well as the more mundane one of the bill & rent collectors, by going on a drive on a sunny Sunday afternoon & having a picnic. As the other Avids have said, a bit of light relief after the last two songs, although w/the mention of conflicts going on, there are storm clouds on the horizon.

    Avid Winstanley is puzzled as to why this song, despite its pop ability, did not light up the UK charts as its predecessors. My explanation would be that the Kinks in the UK were in the same position in 1969 as the Beach Boys were in the US: passé. Neither band could offer what was popular in their respective homes at that time. The Kinks were reduced to doing cabaret, Europe & Beriut. They were one step from ending up like bands such as the Searchers, Gerry & the Pacemakers or the Dave Clark Five, pleasant memories of a bygone age. The Kinks avoided this fate due to the sheer talent of Ray & his determination to make it back to the US. We have been talking about Ray's self-sabatoge, but it's equally clear that he can also be very determined to reach a goal, which he did in re establishing the Kinks in the US. Ironically enough, the Beach Boys were still very popular in the UK, where their vision of America was still potent, while the ye Olde English Band perception of the Kinks was their calling card in the US.

    Finally, Avid Winstanley, off topic, but what were you driving when you were terrorizing the Outback w/Little Richard blasting outta the speakers? Were you a Ford, Chrysler or Holden man? I'm into vintage cars & I'm always fascinated by Australian cars of the 60s & 70s, that look like US cars from a parallel universe.
  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Totally agree mate, Victoria should have been the lead single.... ideally, if not for the tv movie, Victoria lead single June/July, album July/August.
    I reckon Drivin' would have made a great second single around August/September.... and I know it probably wouldn't be popular with many, but if a third single was on the cards, for me it would have been Brainwashed... I love Shangri La, but it doesn't seem like a single to me..... but all that is to come :)

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    To me, the main value of the Uncut guides are the vintage stories & interviews that show what was happening at the time. The new reviews are mostly OK. It was that Arthur review that was most jarring.
  21. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    The two main cars I had early on were a Chrysler Lancer... mid seventies model I think.
    Then the LX Holden Torana.

    Almost identical to this

    I've never been loyal to a car brand..... later on in life we did have a really nice
    HQ GTS Monaro though
    Something like this, except it was a coupe
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Thanks for your answer, Mark. I can see you behind the wheel of that Monaro. Australian cars of the 60s & 70s always interest me.
    mark winstanley likes this.
  23. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yea there were some nice ones.
    Funnily enough the Monaro was the wife's car lol, had a really nice fully blown 308? Chev motor, went like a shower of.... sugar :)
    At the time I had a 68 Mustang... still left hand drive.... cars are an expensive, money-pit nightmare really lol

    Funny story with the Mustang... I was pulled over by a cop when I first got it, surprisingly not for speeding...
    He said "is that left hand drive?". I said "yea mate, I'm not driving it by remote control" ... and he dutifully told me I needed to get a big red and white sticker stating that it was left hand drive lol
  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

  25. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico

    Yes, a well needed respite. I'm usually not much on escapism, but boy is this welcome at this point! A link to this song should appear in the definition of "Jaunty." This song puts me in the countryside, cruising narrow lanes in a little two seat roadster. What could be more charming?

    That said, it's quite easy to see why this didn't hit the charts. It runs so counter to the music of the day. Jaunty was not what the late '60s wanted. There are periods where retro was in; think of the mid 80s when groups like The Smithereens and Huey Lewis were getting big. But the late 60s was a time of revolution. Of course this wouldn't fly. It almost has a Hermans Hermits feel to it. Which certainly isn't bad; I love the Hermits! But just a case of right song, wrong time.

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