The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. James H.

    James H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Runnemede, NJ
    One of my personal favorite Small Faces songs. Even though I never been there or even left the Delaware Valley here in the U.S.
     
  2. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    I hadn't read it was ahead and you beat me to it!
    He admitted to doing it in his garage but i believe during his 80's lost weekend he suited up and sat in a lamborghini parked outside Lords during a test match!
     
  3. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    In regards to Ray's confession that he became an asphole through having learnt to drive, just imagine Dave's unprintable repost to that suggestion no doubt likely inferring that it had occurred many moons earlier!
     
  4. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    I wouldn't doubt Moon was car-less!
     
  5. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Ok, i was just going to explain the use of a (fretted) left hand mute!
     
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  6. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Drivin'

    As has been mentioned the new '69 line up are on fire and the recording has improved.
    I think the fact that Dalton is a traditional bassist greatly assisted the band's freedom to expand and play confidently in different ways!
    Love Dave's work here especially, from the muted but motorin' rhythm to the spiraling arpegios or partial chords if you like.
    Somehow this song has always reminded me of Afternoon Tea which one other Avid has pointed out upthread.
    I don't mean in a slavish musical way but rather just in feel and overall tone.
    I had always seen links to the 30's & 60's in this song so never was concerned with pigeon holeing it and hadn't figured the highly plausible flashback or flashforward the scrapped film for television may have splendidly employed!
    In closing I will confess to decades of great enjoyment singing along to this whilst driving!
     
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Brainwashed

    stereo mix (2:32), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    You look like a real human being
    But you don't have a mind of your own
    Yeah, you can talk, you can breathe
    You can work, you can stitch, you can sew
    But you're brainwashed
    Yes you are, yes you are
    Get down on your knees

    You've got a job and a house
    And a wife, and your kids and a car
    Yeah, you're conditioned to be
    What they want you to be
    And be happy to be where you are
    Yes you are
    Get down on your knees
    Get down on your knees

    The aristocrats and bureaucrats
    Are dirty rats
    For making you what you are
    They're up there and you're down here
    You're on the ground and they're up with the stars
    All your life they've kicked you around and pushed you around
    Till you can't take any more
    To them you're just a speck of dirt
    But you don't want to get up off the floor
    Mister you're just brainwashed

    They give you social security
    Tax saving benefits that grow at maturity
    Yeah, you're contented to be
    What they want you to be
    And to do what they want you to
    Yes you are, yes you are
    Get down on your knees

    Written by: Ray Davies

    Published by: Hill & Range Songs BMI

    Lyrically this is somewhat an awkward one. I love this song, but to some degree there is a little bit of ….. “Im Not Like Everybody Else” going on here. As in they are both great songs but to some degree the lyrics don't quite work for me in some contexts...

    If folks that live what are considered somewhat normal lives, because of what they have seen and heard, are to be considered brainwashed, then really, folks who rebel directly against that and do the exact opposite, to some degree, are brainwashed too….. because based on the premise of the song, a sort of reactionary lifestyle equals brainwashing…. So if one follows the path of getting married, buying a house and getting a nine to five job, and they are defined as brainwashed because of what they believe to be true, then really the person who does the exact opposite thing for the exact same reason is merely reacting to the situation in an opposite or contrary way, and therefor they are also brainwashed.

    I think essentially this is looking at the explosion of the consumerist society.

    Consumerism really started around the time of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the mid 1700’s, often said to be 1760. As manufacturing became able to produce more and faster, there was the birth of a new sort of playing field, and the result was consumerism. Back then it was mainly the elites who participated in this, because the majority of people did not have the means to participate.

    Just before the second World War, particularly during the twenties we start to see a focused attempt to encourage people to buy more than they previously had. Whereas people, or in the case of England, the commoners, had always consumed, there was a leaning toward being frugal. Get just what you need to survive. It was the elites that consumed fancy clothes and fancy food and all of those things prior.

    By the end of the second world war, the situation of having had the great depression, and also the terrible conditions that the second world war created, just about, if not, everywhere. People were ready for a life of less pain and struggle, and more comfort. So we saw a scenario where manufacturing and consumerism had fertile soil to take off …. And it did.

    Another thing that helped all this come about was radio, and the advertising that was attached to it.

    It was at about this point that we start to get some serious movement in the direction of economic growth and all of these kinds of things, that are part of the reality of where we live today in this world. The problem was that people now became defined as consumers, and products were made to keep the wheels of manufacturing rolling.

    I think that the barbs Ray is throwing out here are directed at the idea of the consumer culture.

    You've got a job and a house
    And a wife, and your kids and a car
    and of course all the other things that go with that….

    To some degree Ray is saying that these things are control mechanisms, and I suppose the ideology behind it is that the things you possess end up possessing you…. And it is a really interesting thing to look at … and perhaps we are all brainwashed, but who here wants to throw away all their music, stereos/hifi’s, musical equipment etc etc. Who wants to throw out their air conditioners, washing machines, dryers, lawnmowers etc etc. The list is absolutely endless, and I doubt many people really want to throw away their comforts and pleasures.

    The mindset of the song seems to be that we are tied to a system that is using us, but in reality, aren’t we using it just as much?

    The aristocrats and bureaucrats
    Are dirty rats
    For making you what you are
    They're up there and you're down here
    You're on the ground and they're up with the stars

    This is a pretty straight forward observation, and certainly to some degree it’s true, but we need to look at history to really see how all this fits together. The elites will always be the elites, that is just how the world functions, and everybody has somebody they think is “having a better time of it than them”….. In France in the 1700’s we saw the French Revolution and it was a revolt against the monarchy. People were starving, literally to death, and of course the monarchy had certain luxuries and such. This is oversimplified obviously, or this will be a three month (or more) study course.

    In The US the monarchy was dispatched via the revolutionary war also in the 1700’s

    During the 1800’s more and more monarchy’s were dispatched with.

    In the 1900’s very early on we saw more and more monarchy’s being given the boot. The fact of the matter is, that the British monarchy was on the brink of being done away with, but the English royals changed tack, and the Empire started to dissolve….. It is all terribly interesting stuff…..

    But the point is that the first and second world wars created a new class…. It’s awful that we look at it that way, but it is what it is, and so the middle class was born. Prior it had been the working class and the elites, but a ladder of sorts was created to allow folks to climb this consumerist society and try and get more … and this was the fuel for the consumerist fire.

    It is also back in the early 1900’s that we see the invention of the television, and movie theatres became something rather big … and the twentieth century looked completely unlike anything that had come before.

    I am not a learned professor or anything, so please forgive any little hiccups here, but roughly, in the time I have, this is how our modern world came together, and for all its shortcomings, it actually raised the living standard of pretty much everyone in the western world. Even the poor in the western world were better off….

    The thing that seems to annoy everyone is that the elites became so ridiculously wealthy that in comparison to the working class, and the so called middle class, they had more than ever imaginable …. What all folks in the western world need to do if they want to complain about this scenario is look at some folks outside the so called western world and see what real poverty actually is….

    Anyway, I could be completely wrong, and I may well have just wasted an hour trying to bang this into some kind of sense, but che sera sera......

    I don't dislike the lyric, it is really well written and contains the vitriolic heart to say what it wants to say, in the way it needs to say it..... I just don't necessarily agree with the premise that it rests on.

    BUT, the music is excellent, and it is a really solid song that I really like a lot.

    We open with a very cool bass riff that somewhat brings to mind a few tracks, but I don't think it really particularly copies anything.
    then the guitars and horns punch in beautifully. It is a powerful, explosive track.
    Again we have Mick knocking out some great drums.

    Another thing I like in the early section of the song is Dave following the vocal line with a lead line following the melody, and occasionally moving into harmonies. Also he has some free lines that are nice little lead licks and fills. The horns also follow the vocal melody and it really does enhance the whole feel of the song.

    The way the music is arranged is fantastic.

    At just over the halfway point of the song we get a ritard that makes it feel like the song is finished and just as you think that it's a funny way to end the song we get this beautifully recorded bit of electric guitar through a nice valve amp, with all the valves rattling and the tone of the guitar is just wonderful. It is just a chord progression, but it just works beautifully for me.

    This is essentially the bridge, and Ray delivers a rapid fire vocal that is full of class based spite, and again, he does this so well that it works really well in the context of the song.
    This section is probably the most rock section of the song, and the horn augmentation is there but not as prominent.

    This leads us to a final verse where Ray suggests that the financial dangling carrots are the baits to keep us in the hold pattern, and maintain the status quo. We have the same musical arrangement, and it works really well.

    So I really love this song, but I don't really subscribe to the point of view of the lyrics.... I certainly understand the lyrics, because as a young man I would certainly have subscribed to the idea being put forth.... but I think as you go through life your eyes are opened to some harsh realities of life, so I'm not down on the lyrics, I think they are really well written and get across what he wanted to say extremely well.... I just don't necessarily agree.....
    One thing this song really does speak to, is how complex human society is..... I once heard a saying that caused me to write a song about it, because to me it rings true "Live is simple and deep, Society is complex and shallow"

    Anyway, to the best of my ability, that's how I see the song, and hopefully I haven't put anyone offside with my thoughts there, that certainly wasn't my intent.

    I'll be really very interested to see what folks have to say about this track, because I am wondering if I completely missed the theme, or some nuance of the theme that may change it all up.
    That is easily the most difficult write up so far.

     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2021
  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  9. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Brainwashed
    Thanks Mark for another excellent introduction. I really like this song. It’s not quite hard rock but ticks enough of those boxes to make my head shake and my legs want to jump. The genius of this song is Ray Davies juxtaposition of the music of a hard driving upbeat rock anthem with the lyrics of a bitter protest song. Had he dumbed down the lyrics to something like we love rock’n’roll he could have had a big hit on his hands. But such a song would have been totally out-of-place on this album. Instead, we have a song which tells us about Arthur’s current life, but it’s not just about him – the song is addressed to millions of people just like him. It’s almost as if Ray was calling for a revolution in Britain, but there’s no evidence that this reflects Ray’s real-life views: the fact he accepted a knighthood surely shows he’s comfortable with the British class system. Anyway, who knows? Maybe I’m just brainwashed too :uhhuh:
    On the question of consumerism, I think Britain lagged America in the fifties a lot because its government was still paying off wartime loans (to the US) - so shortages, rationing and food stamps were in place for many years.
     
  10. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    'Brainwashed' was a track that really took off live, and was a regular in the Kinks sets from 1969 to the early-mid 70s presumably because it just cooked/worked in that arena, as on paper/in the context of the album it's hardly a tentpole number. 1969 version:

     
  11. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    1972 Everybodys In Showbiz version:

     
  12. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    I've never heard that term before. I wonder if it's where Tentpole Tudor got his name :D
     
  13. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Brainwashed" is probably the nearest thing we've had so far on Arthur to a show tune. The lyrics aren't (necessarily) Ray's view or Arthur's views, they are the views of Terry (I think? - Arthur's son, or nephew? - don't have the sleeve notes with me!) and he's dispensing them to all and sundry in the pub. So it's not so much an angry rock song as a rock song (or pastiche of) sung by an angry character. This gives it more of a detachment than, say, "I'm Not Like Everybody Else", as that one felt like a personal statement.

    Anyway, it's a fine track, with more great musicianship, and the false ending and restart is effective. Having said that, it's probably one of my least favourites on the album.
     
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Nice.
    Cheers mate, that makes a lot of sense.

    I find it hard to detach lyrics from the writer, because I always wrote what I felt.
     
  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Something I love about this track is how it sets some really dull, unsexy lyrical terminology to a storming rock tune. It's a kontrast that's pure Kinks. In particular I love the delivery of the line '
    'They give you social security, tax saving benefits that grow at maturity' - I mean it's small print stuff from a savings loan contract, the kind of phrase you glaze off through near the conclusion of a meeting with your bank teller, but Ray's belting it out with the same fervour as he did the sentiment of 'Til The End Of The Day'.

    As for Ray's politics, I think they're impossible to pin down completely and with regards to the UK an enigmatic mixture of affection and enmity, best expressed in 'Victoria'. I always get the impression his take on the British establishment when the chips are down would be a kind of 'better the devil you know' tacit acceptance. He never struck me as a seriously revolutionary type, despite his many grumblings in song.
     
  16. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Tentpole Tudor sounds like something you use to set up a Renaissance Fair!
     
  17. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    I subscribe to every word of this post!

    In the whole history of the Kinks and their relationship with fame, fans, success, the big question has always been: to rock out or not to rock out. Brainwashed is likely to be a fan’s live favorite, just because it’s to the point, short (the shortest on the album), driven by great guitars, heavy riffs, an infectious groove, and Ray’s demented performance. It all suits the (excellent, if in context) lyrics and the track placing in the sequencing of Side 1 is perfect. I’ll admit I don’t care much whether they “rock out” or not. I love the whimsy flimsy bucolic Kinks just as much as I love the hard rocking metal/punk pioneers Kinks, and even more so. But this question is still an important part of the narrative, because some Kinks enthusiasts mostly care for the big riff stuff. We all fantasize about Dave and Mick’s alleged demand for heavier tracks (like they didn't play wonders and flourish as musicians on the lighter tunes of Village Green). We all tend to imagine they twisted Ray’s arm to force some big rocking riffs out of him, to provide them, us (and the « market ») with their dose of adrenalin. I don’t know whether this is true or not, I tend to think it’s not and that nobody had to (nor could) twist this guy's arm to do anything. And this song is proof of it, if only because of what @ajsmith just noted, the juxtaposition of those protest/slogan lyrics with a fun rock’n roll show-tune.
    Anyway, musically, this track is great fun, basically a pumped-up rewrite of The Last Steam-Powered Train. I love the instrumental break, with the nod to the I Can’t Explain riff (which will come back on 1975’s the Hard Way, be it in another sonically altered form), and the talk/sing bridge is my favorite part, really, with another stunning display of Ray’s unmatched machine-gun phrasing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2021
  18. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    I first heard "Brainwashed" in its live version on Everybody's In Show Biz, where the horns were doing the heavy lifting that the guitars did in the original. When I finally got to hear the original, I was impressed w/the guitar work, especially just before the "aristocrats & bureaucrats are dirty rats" portion of the song. Also, I thought that I read somewhere that the main riff was sourced from a jazz song from someone named Gilfere or something like that. It's a very good hard rocking song, especially w/that riff. As for the lyrics, again Head Avid Winstanly has done his best. Funny how a thread about a rock band has morphed into areas such as literature, sociology & history, but as Ugly Things head honcho Mike Stax has said, that Kinks fans are the smartest in rock.
     
  19. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Today in Kinks History:

    On this day in 1966 Pye records release the compilation record "Well Respected Kinks" in the UK to tie in with the summer success of the Sunny afternoon single. The collection peaks at no.5 and stays on the chart for 35 weeks.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Yes, I think you’re right. I don’t see this as a singer-songwriter presenting his/her own viewpoint. This is in character, from the viewpoint of an angry young man lashing out at what he sees as a staid and, essentially, servile (on your knees) life of Arthur. He’s deliberately trying to hurt him.
     
  21. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    Brainwashed
    I never made out a word of the lyrics in the verses. Reading them now for the first time it's not clear exactly how this screed might fit in with the story, but ARL's explantion is very helpful. Talking politics is against forum rules so it's hard to really discuss a lyric like this.

    I am judging this song on the basis I have always judged it, purely on the music. On that basis it's great fun, another floor-filling bluegrassy rocker.
     
  22. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Brainwashed

    Hugely appreciative of @mark winstanley commentary here. I also don't fully subscribe to the premise for exactly the reasons Mark gives and I find the historical analysis to be quite solid.

    That said, this may be my favorite song on the album for two reasons:

    First, while I don't necessarily buy in the "new class warfare" presented in the lyrics, I just choose not to think of them being levied on everyone, but rather on some fraction of society. I think of the song more along the lines of Well Respected Man or Dedicated Follower of Fashion: a condemnation of conformity. Not everyone is a blind conformist and this song is directed specifically at those who lack the self awareness to understand thir motivations and how those motivations can be used against them. This does not necessarily preclude others in the middle class with awareness to use the system to their advantage as well.

    Second, this is just a kickass piece of music! The riffs! It's funny how discussions of great riffs always seem to center on Keith Richards, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore.... but the more we go through this thread, the more I thing one Dave Davies deserves to be a part of this discussion. And Mr. Avory is bringing some killer drumming here! Not unlike what Keith Moon was doing at thr time, and it really propels this song. The song goes through fantastic musical shifts, but they all maintain that driving momentum. It really is fantastic.

    Long before digital music and ridiculously easy creation of playlists, I would make homemade compilation cassette tapes from my LPs. Song selection was crucial both because of the labor that went into making the tapes and because it was a pain to fast forward through any song you didn't want to hear at the moment. So one had to be much more selective then than now. There was never any question that Brainwashed would be a part of one of my Kinks kompilations.
     
  23. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    I remember that jazz guy's name. It was Jimmy Giuffre & the song was "The Train and the River":

     
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  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I tried to avoid politics, apologies if I failed there.
     
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  25. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Have Julian Mitchell's liner notes to the album been posted in this thread by anyone yet? Has everyone read them? Because I think it's a loss to (fully) evaluate this album without keeping them in mind. These songs were written with the intent of these specific characters singing them. It's fantastic that the songs are strong enough that they work outside this plotline.... But there is a plotline.

    The notes imply that this song is being sung in a pub, either solely by Ronnie (Arthur's student grandson, by way of his deceased son Eddie (ii)) or as a duet between Ronnie and Arthur's son Derek. The notes indicate that Ronnie mouths off in a pub about "the System.". They also say that Ronnie and Derek don't get along; Ronnie feels "the world's got to change one hell of a lot before it's going to be good enough for him"; while Derek feels it has changed "a bloody sight too much" and complains about "bloody bureaucrats."

    This has me wondering if the talk about "bureaucrats" mid-song means that the voice has changed to Derek.... Though i don't perceive a change in world view.

    The synopsis seems to set up Ronnie as a radical leftist or anarchist, and Derek as a right-wing libertarian, but I don't hear such distinctions in the lyrics. Maybe that's even the point!

    The synopsis also sets Arthur up thusly: "Arthur has spent most of his life on his knees, laying carpets.". This gives "Brainwashed"'s line "Get down on your knees" at least two meanings. The singer is mocking Arthur's literal profession as well as his kowtowing to the System. And of course, there are submissive sexual connotations to that as well.
     

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