The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Northern Australia - there be crocodiles.
    North-Western Australia - there be no water.
    Southern Australia - there be desert.
    Actually all of Australia - even the bits inhospitable to European settlers - is inhabited by Australia’s indigenous people (who, like indigenous people the world over, were minding their own business until their lands were taken away from them).

    I’ve no answer to that question but I think you’ll find Christmas Day temperatures at the beach anywhere in Australia would generally be closer to 35 degrees Celsius than 25.
     
  2. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    Our family came from a small village near Ukraine in the part of Poland that was once part of the Austro Hungarian Empire. My parents later spent time in Kraków.
    My brother & sister in law went to visit the relatives several years ago & had a great time.
     
  3. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I know that my some of my great-grandparents came from that area generally. They were east of Krakow. Their country of origin on some documents is from Austria and sometimes Ukraine. That part of Europe has always been in flux.
     
  4. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    That's true. It's amazing to me how much my mother has lived through in her life. Now she has a bunch of grand & great grandchildren.
     
  5. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    It always seems like a daunting task if you fall behind a few days. It's certainly enjoyable reading all the comments, but you can't fall behind on this thread if you want to keep up! I only missed yesterday and had five pages to read. I am amazed at all the thoughtful commentary and how much everyone is putting into this. Well done!

    "Brainwashed"

    I agree with the comments of the superb guitar tone and punk energy on this one. It's not too far off from The Stooges who released their first album in 1969. The Kinks add some horns to the heavy riff, and on the 1970 Stooges album, Funhouse, they also decide to add some horns to the mix. This somewhat reminds me of another excellent Kinks song coming up later in the program, "The Hard Way". Who doesn't love a great riff from The Kinks with that kind of guitar tone? Killer! How is Dave not often mentioned in that list of greatest guitar players?

    "Australia"

    Another fantastic intro by @mark winstanley to set up the song. Such a brilliant collaborative effort by both of the Davies. I love the dual vocal and with all of Ray's different vocals it can sound like several different singers are joining in on the fun. I never understood the complaints about the jam. I'm not even a jammer, but it's only like 4 minutes and gives Dave a chance to stretch out. It is 1969 after all, and Dave's guitar tone and style is close to Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead during this period, only Kinkier. I bet Dave pushed Ray a bit to let him jam a bit. What is the sound in the jam where it sounds like bubbles? The end sounds like the break down after the promise of all the opportunities of a new life. Someone is starting to drown when they realize it's not all true. The instrumental at the end is key to making the song complete.

    They make Australia sound like paradise, even though we know many of the lyrics are satirical. So many great lines throughout. I'd love to "Fly down to Sydney for a holiday". What a beautiful melody. It makes me feel like I am in Australia and I've never even been there. This is another highlight for me and there is another one straight away on the other side!

    Since we are on the topic of Australia I want to recommend the band The Church and the film Walkabout. Two of the first things that come to mind if someone mentions Australia. This song is another. One day I will visit Australia and you can bet your Blundstone's that this will be on the playlist while I am flying down to Sydney!
     
  6. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Australia
    Starts off good, but this one really goes on far too long.
     
  7. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I think the sound you’re describing as “bubbles” is the wobble-board apparently played by John Dalton!
     
  8. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    The “lengthy” outro of Australia may or may not be appropriate for a simple song, but it is a wonderful ending for the last section of the first half of a major work of art called Arthur ( Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).

    I rarely listen to any of the songs on Arthur, I do listen to the album, though, quite a bit. As such, for example, I don’t judge Kinks songs based on their qualifications to be singles, but when intended for an album, how well they serve that purpose. After the intensity of side one the ending of Australia is like being enveloped by cool ocean breezes and the sound of lapping waves after a long day of work or hard play. Lie back and let the available sensations surround you and bring a satisfying end to the day.
     
  9. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    Nice. Yes! I believe that is what I am talking about. I never knew what that was, but it sounds like someone going under the waves. How can you dislike a jam at the end of a tune called "Australia" that uses a wobble-board?
     
  10. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Whats with the Russian fox fur hat?
     
    DISKOJOE and mark winstanley like this.
  11. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    The Wobble Board was invented by Rolf Harris who first used it in his breakout hit “Tie me Kangaroo Down, Sport”. He first recorded the song in 1960 (and charted in Europe and Australia)but did it again in 1963. It was that second version, produced by George Martin, that charted #3 in the US.
     
  12. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    It's standard surfing attire, of course!

    I love how this is called a surfing photo in X-Ray, but there isn't a surfboard in sight.
     
  13. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Location:
    Dearborn, MI
    "Australia" - On an album full of brilliant productions, we now have the first of two EPIC tracks. I LOVE everything about this song. I'm not sure I noticed before that half the track is the jam at the end. I just always enjoyed rocking out to it and those horns. I love the harmonies that come about during both mentions of surfing (Beach Boys tie-in, but the Beach Boys were hardly the only band to do oooh's--so I have a hard time calling them Beach Boys harmonies), and I love the mix of backing vocals and Dave taking over the occasional line. "No class distinction / no drug addiction." That break down is great with just the piano and "we'll surf" coming up a 2nd time, before the huge build-up again. This wraps up one hell of an LP side if you ask me. Side 2 can't quite keep it up but it sure starts off incredibly, as we'll discuss tomorrow.
     
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Fantastic band, and one day they will be getting a thread like this
     
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    "Shangri-La"

    [​IMG]
    Single by the Kinks

    from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
    B-side "This Man He Weeps Tonight"
    Released 12 September 1969 (UK)
    Recorded May–June 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
    Genre Rock
    Label Pye 7N 17812 (UK)
    Songwriter(s) Ray Davies
    Producer(s) Ray Davies

    stereo mix (5:18), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    Now that you've found your paradise
    This is your Kingdom to command
    You can go outside and polish your car
    Or sit by the fire in your Shangri-la
    Here is your reward for working so hard
    Gone are the lavatories in the back yard
    Gone are the days when you dreamed of that car
    You just want to sit in your Shangri-la

    Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
    You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
    You're in your place and you know where you are
    In your Shangri-la
    Sit back in your old rocking chair
    You need not worry, you need not care
    You can't go anywhere
    Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

    The little man who gets the train
    Got a mortgage hanging over his head
    But he's too scared to complain
    'Cos he's conditioned that way
    Time goes by and he pays off his debts
    Got a TV set and a radio
    For seven shillings a week
    Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

    And all the houses in the street have got a name
    'Cos all the houses in the street they look the same
    Same chimney pots, same little cars, same window panes
    The neighbors call to tell you things that you should know
    They say their lines, they drink their tea, and then they go
    They tell your business in another Shangri-la
    The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car
    Too scared to think about how insecure you are
    Life ain't so happy in your little Shangri-la
    Shangri-la, Shangri-la la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

    Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
    You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
    You're in your place and you know where you are
    In your Shangri-la
    Sit back in your old rocking chair
    You need not worry, you need not care
    You can't go anywhere
    Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

    Written by: Ray Davies

    Published by: Hill & Range Songs BMI

    This song was again inspired by Rosie and Arthur, when Ray and Dave visited them in the suburb of Elizabeth, in Adelaide, in South Australia, in January 1964, when the lads were playing a show near by.
    [​IMG]

    This song is essentially the centrepiece of the album, in a physical and metaphysical way, starting off side two on the record, and halfway through the cd.

    Dave said "Particularly, I like 'Shangri-La,' a very compassionate song which was totally misinterpreted as though we were having a go at the little, common man."

    Shangi La was the second single in the UK from Arthur and was released on September 12th 1969, jus prior to the album. It is a fantastic song, but it may be a little too complex in some ways for a single. There is so much going on in this song that a casual top forty radio listen is probably not going to get the listener as engaged as they need to be to fully appreciate what we have here….. The b-side was This Man He Weeps Tonight.

    We open with a beautiful somewhat folkish acoustic guitar. I believe we open up with an Am, and initially we move through a fairly common chord progression, but as we have found with 60’s Kinks, this is going to be a wild ride folks.

    I know this is tied to the story, but to some degree I have to believe that Ray is writing from his perspective to some degree here. I gather Arthur and Rosie were actually a fair bit older, and to some degree, one of the main things that comes across in the lyrics is a sort of generation gap. To a successful young man in the music industry, it would have seemed terribly odd to be satisfied working 9-5, to have this house and what comes with it. Particularly coming from working class roots, it would seem a little unnecessary I would suspect.

    Anyway,
    The opening verse essentially speaks of a contentedness.
    Now you’ve found your paradise, your kingdom, your car, and inside toilet!!!!!. The days of dreaming for it are gone, and you’re happy to sit back and relax in this little oasis you have built.

    The second verse speaks more to the fact that you have resigned yourself to imagine this is all you can ever be.
    Sitting by the fire in your slippers, and comfortable. “You’ve reached your top and you just can’t get any higher”.
    This seems absurd to someone in their twenties, in many ways. A young man in his twenties is still in the full stroke of trying to take on the world and defeat it. The conqueror on his way to do what has never been done before…. But of course, we know when we get older that that is a sweet thought, but incredibly unlikely for most.

    “You’re in your place and you know where you are… in your Shangri La”. This is a very significant line, I think. I don’t think it is meant in a mean way at all, it is just – okay, you’re in your place, this is what you are, and this residence and home is what you were working for…. But there is a subtle hint underlying the theme here, of, are you sure this is all you want to amount to.

    In a lot of ways this reminds me of The Doors classic line “Trading Your Hours For A Handful of Dimes”, from Five To One, another great track, and in a slightly different way it also reminds me of Bruce Springsteen’s “They Ain’t Gonna Do to Me What I Watched Them Do To You” from Independence Day, or even the song Factory, from Darkness On The Edge Of Town. These are all songs that I love, and I really took the Independence Day lyric extremely seriously as a young man, watching my dad work himself to the bone to keep the family afloat, but here I am… and I don’t know the way around it.

    As a young single man, you can run the field and dive at your dreams with a bravado and carefree attitude that is “devil may care”, but as a married adult with responsibilities, there is a requirement to put others before yourself, and so the dreams need to be put on the backburner, as by a certain stage you need to acknowledge that they are just too likely to remain dreams, and others will suffer for your attitude. Sadly you choose the only method that will hold the line for you and your family.

    Sit back in that old rocking chair, you need not worry, you need not care, you can’t go anywhere…. This again is a picture of comfort and contentedness … I’m not sure exactly how we relate to the “ You Can’t Go Anywhere”…. Certainly, I imagine Arthur could go somewhere, but perhaps in this instance based on the theme being hinted at, is, because you have shut down and decided this is it, you have completed your function in life, and now life is just a holding pattern, an airplane waiting for permission to land…. Which in this instance would mean, that final goodbye from the world…. Otherwise, I’m not sure what the You can’t go anywhere would be referring to.

    The third verse starts to get a little more pointed, but again, I don’t think it’s being mean. I think it is just coming from a position of not being understood.
    “The Little Man gets the train, got a mortgage hanging over his head, but he’s too scared to complain, ’cause he’s conditioned that way”…. I certainly understand what Ray is going for here, but I’m not sure what exactly the little man has to complain about. He entered into an agreement to buy a house, and that requires working to pay the bills. That’s just a simple case of reality. Even prior to the modern world, it was necessary to either go and find food and shelter or suffer the dire consequences of not doing. Certainly, we are all conditioned in various ways to act and react in various ways.

    There is also the possibility that this may tie into Derek trying to get Arthur to move to Australia as well.

    So, time goes by, and this little man pays off his debts, and has his tv and radio…. I assume the seven shillings a week is his wage?

    We get a change here and move into a different thought pattern, as the song breaks into a more rock feel.

    “And all the houses in the street have got a name
    'Cos all the houses in the street they look the same
    Same chimney pots, same little cars, same window panes”

    This tells us that there is a certain conformity to this life that Arthur has chosen to live. Certainly, when you move into a house, it is normally in an area where certain styles of house are being built. You can generally recognise an area based on its styling of windows and architecture etc. I guess it is more a case of deciding what is going to be more suited to your life, and how much value you put in the fancy cave that you live in. To some degree this reminds me of Little Boxes, in its thought pattern.
    Also it is very expensive to set yourself up in a totally “you” house, in a totally “you” place, which of course, unless you are going to be some form of gangster, is going to require even more time at work to earn the money for that special place.
    Indeed one can live off the grid, or in a wild environment hunting your own food, and digging wells or what have you, but this is going to involve issues of another sort.

    The neighbors call to tell you things that you should know
    They say their lines, they drink their tea, and then they go
    They tell your business in another Shangri-la

    This is the most poignant section here for me. There are no end of sad, dissatisfied people that are more interested in what is happening in other people’s lives than their own, and they are quite happy to gossip and blabber about things that just don’t concern them. They tend to cause more discontent to feed their need to be entertained by misery, or in fact doing their best to create misery for their own entertainment.

    The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car
    Too scared to think about how insecure you are
    Life ain't so happy in your little Shangri-la

    Bills are the working man’s kryptonite, just when you feel you’re getting ahead, another comes to bring you back to the starting line. Bills are a pain in the butt, but again, if you want things, they need to be paid for. To some degree we all have to make compromises, and they sometimes seem so pointless, but here we are.

    Life ain’t so happy in your Shangri La, is somewhat dependent on your attitude to reality, and how you choose to deal with it. I remember when I was a young pup chatting with adults about the realities of life and how best to deal with them, and I remember a bloke I was talking to one day saying, “well, I work hard, but then when I have my free time, I play even harder”, and for the most part that works.

    This is a wonderful lyric, and at this stage of my life, it is extremely poignant. I lived the life of the wild young man, unencumbered and free, and I chased those dreams, and I attacked those parts of the system I thought I could get around. I tried to get to a position of being independent from the 9-5 grind as much as possible, but not everyone rises to the top. Not everyone can reach that summit, or it would be very crowded up there.
    You learn to live with as much contentment as you can muster, or you disappear into despair. Or you find ways to gratify, or perhaps justify the way you are required to sell yourself short to survive.
    We live lives with consequences more frequently than we live lives of consequence.
    If I had followed the path more travelled, I would likely be a very comfortable man these days, but I would have missed out on a key part of who I am. So in spite of not being where I would like to be, I can be content in the fact that I threw myself at the wall, and although I may not have knocked it down, I gave it a good shot, and I will never die wondering..... and the experiences I had, were certainly worth the effort.

    Again we have this absolutely wonderful musical landscape here that shines so brightly. This is a masterpiece of musical arrangement and among Ray's key songs, that speak to how good a writer he really is.
    the whole opening sequence is musically wonderful, and it is sung with a tenderness .... it isn't sung with any spite, or sarcasm. When I hear Ray singing this, I totally hear the compassion that Dave was speaking about.
    The opening swells with those beautiful horn lines.

    When we get to the "Put On Your Slippers...." we get this wonderful change, and it again is thoroughly beautiful.

    The chorus is boisterous and bold, and it has Mick again just nailing the drums. All through we have some great choices on the bass by John, and he really adds to the way the song rolls out.

    Then we come to that major change .... funnily enough when the acoustic comes in there, I actually hear ABBA.... when that chord sequence comes in, I almost hear the girls singing "Just One Look and I can Hear A Bell Ring ... " :) ... it makes me wonder if Benny and Bjorn were also Kinks fans.
    The attack here is wonderful, and the vocal from Ray is again wonderful, and yet again I don't hear sarcasm from Ray at all, he is sincere, and if anything I hear a frustration for the individual he is singing about. The descending horn lines add greatly to the feel here...
    Then we get another change in course, as the song moves into a musically light section that is a beautifully written piece of pop, complete with la la la's and all the instruments are working together beautifully.

    This moves us into a ritard as the adrenaline of that break moves into a revisiting of the idea of Arthur putting on his slippers and sitting by his fire. As we go through this, sort of, run out verse, we gain momentum again, due to the arrangement of the drums, and we roll through this section beautifully as we build back up to the chorus section.

    If I didn't mention it, or somebody didn't know, Shangri La is the name of Arthur's house here.

    This is a really wonderful track that has so much to say, and says it so well, with a love and compassion that often was missing in Ray's earlier observations about the class systems in society, and it raises it up in significance, and shows a maturity and understanding as an observational writer of how far Ray has come.
    Musically it covers so much ground, but it is so smoothly constructed that it seems like a pretty regular song, but it is anything but. This really is a masterclass in songwriting..... so much so, that I understand why it was made a single, even if it is probably a little too good of a song to be a single.....

    The writing and construction of the songs on this album are a testament to how good Ray Davies is as a songwriter, and the playing and arrangement by Ray (and the band?) are superb, and this song may well be the highpoint.

    What a magnificent song, on a magnificent album.

     
    CheshireCat, bato, Adam9 and 18 others like this.
  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    2019 remix

     
    All Down The Line likes this.
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Backing Track

     
    All Down The Line likes this.
  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Ray doing the song live, apparently for the first time

     
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    According to set lists in Hinmans book, The Kinks did play it live for a brief time in 1971 (presumably to take advantage of the horn section they'd just added) but it didn't last very long. Never heard a live recording though so I can't confirm 100% though. If they did, Ray had understandably forgotten this 35 plus years later though!

    The Kinks got to play (they probably mimed to such a complex track) this song just once on TV at the time of release: on the first episode of Peter 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely' Sarstedt's eponymous BBC2 show (so presumably it was in colour!) Peter Sarstedt on October 1st 1969. Dusty Springfield was also on the bill. Each of the six episodes of Sarstedt's show had a somewhat grandious thematic subtitle and the show The Kinks appeared on was called 'On Age': I guess 'Shangri-La' was deemed relevant to this theme because it was about a man reaping the benefits/accepting the stratification of what he'd achieved by middle age. Needless to say, this clip is not known to exist!
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021
  21. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Shangri La
    I love this song so much it's really difficult for me to write about it - and I doubt I could do as well as Mark has in his introduction. So, taking the easy way out, I'll riff on a few things Mark has mentioned.
    Hello nail, meet hammer. You've hit this on the head. There's an element of ambiguity in the lyrics. We aren't sure whether Arthur is content with his life - a big improvement from the deprivations his parents faced - or whether he's disaffected but doing it for his children. Either way, he is "in his place."

    I think the seven shillings is the rent on his TV and radio. There was this firm called Radio Rentals, which started in England in the 1930s and later branched out to Australia. If people weren't able to afford to buy a new TV (which cost considerably more as a proportion of the average wage in the 1960s and 1970s than it does now) they could rent one. My family did this for most of the 1970s. It's not something I would recommend.

    To me this is English suburbia. The old style working class houses were terraces, with toilets in the back yards. In the 20th century these were progressively replaced with semi-detatched houses (two adjoining homes sharing a common wall) and, in wealthier areas, detached homes - all built to the same specifications. It wasn't unusual in the part of West Yorkshire that I spent my earliest years for such houses to have incongruous names mounted next to the front door - Shangri La would be a good one.

    Personally I'm not so critical of such folk. They are essentially similar people to Arthur and his wife - gossip is one of the very few things of value they have to trade.

    Hallelujah Mark, I couldn't agree more. This song is a masterpiece.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021
  22. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Shangri-la"

    This is of course fantastic. It's a genuine contender for greatest Kinks track of all. It effortlessly reaches five minutes without a note or beat being wasted or a second of filler, and in another world it would be one of those epic five minute tracks that reaches number one against the odds. The music and the words combine to create a beautifully atmospheric visualisation of English suburbia.

    Mark's introduction has pretty much said it all, so all I've got for now are a couple of nitpicks. The chorus doesn't sound as good as it could do because of distortion, and Ray uses the "Shangri-la/car" rhyme too many times.

    Other than that, there is little to do but sit back in your old rocking chair and admire the genius and artistry on display here.
     
  23. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    The Jam's track 'Smithers-Jones' is famed for it's verses melodic resemblance to The Who's 'I Can't Reach You', however what's less often mentioned is how the end section (from around 2.20) takes more than a dollop of inspiration lyrically from 'Shangri-La'.

     
  24. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    It's just Mick trying to be ironically cute. He was wearing that hat in the other piccy that I mentioned.
     
    mark winstanley and Fischman like this.
  25. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Location:
    Maplewood, NJ
    Shangri La
    Such an epic song that I am generally surprised this was released as a single. There is so much going on in it. I put it up there with “Heroes and Villains” in the category of “yes it’s a great song but no one is going to grasp it or sing along until hearing it maybe 22 times, so why make it a single”. It’s a very specific category with only a handful of members.

    To the song itself, I think Ray felt it came off too harsh on the main character. In the 2019 remix, the “Put on your slippers and sit by the fire. You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher” line is removed. It’s just instrumental there. It’s a shame, because I love that line and the image it invokes. Being comfortable and content.

    The middle rocking part is more harsh I think, with the mentions of the gossip and the cookie-cutter houses. It’s the complete opposite of “I’m not like everybody else”, isn’t it?

    It’s amazing to me how Ray can really combine 2 or 3 songs together into this epic and make all the transitions work and make it a cohesive whole.

    Brilliant centerpiece for the album. It’s reached it’s top, and not sure if it can get any higher! We’ll see.
     
    The MEZ, CheshireCat, FJFP and 16 others like this.

Share This Page

molar-endocrine