The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    Your interesting discussion of the lyrics made me think of a similar sentiment in Do You Remember Walter, "If we talked about the old times you'd get bored and you'll have nothing more to say"
     
  2. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I was actually going to mention those particular lyrics and “people often change but memories of people can remain” but forgot to! Totally agree with you!

    Incidentally, Walter was based on Ray’s and Dave’s nephew, Terry (Terry was roughly the same age as them since Ray and Dave have many sisters who are significantly older.)

    I guess “Nothing to Say” is supposed to be sung by Arthur’s son, also named Terry.

    Maybe coincidental, but still an interesting connection.
     
  3. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "Nothing To Say"

    It does feel like the most disposable track on the record, but that's only because it is on this fabulous record. Slot it in on Everybody's in Showbiz and it becomes more of a highlight. With the horns and style of the tune it sounds like it could be a part of that record. I do think he should have sang the tune in more of his normal voice. At this point the over the top character vocal can get exhausting, but it also brings us back to the vocal at the beginning of the album. So maybe it works perfectly and I am just trying to find something to complain about? Ok. I give in and after several listens this morning I have no complaints. It's another wonderful song with really excellent playing all around.
    Doesn't this make him sound like Dave? I found this interesting as well.
     
  4. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I used to have an Arthur songbook. Unfortunately, it got lost somewhere over the years but I still remember how to play the cool little piano riff that opens "Nothing To Say".
    I never thought that side 2 of the record was noticeably weaker than side 1 and I consider "Princess Marina" to be one of the best songs. I guess Ray likes it too as it's one of the few songs from the album that was in the Kinks' live repertoire for a while.
    "Young and Innocent Days" is such a personal song and so quiet that it's probably the last song I think of on the album.
    "Nothing To Say" is a decent father-son song in the tradition of (although it came before those) "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens and "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
  5. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    They have such different voices, but they can sound so alike sometimes. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out if it was Ray or Dave who sang "This Is Where I Belong" and "Wicked Annabella."
     
  6. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Nothing to Say

    I will echo the sentiments of those who have praised the music here.... melody, structure, progression, leads, etc.; all top notch,

    As to the lyrics, I can understand the confusion and am not entirely clear myself. The thing is, this album covers so much, across time and geography, that there's bound to be holes and/or inconsistencies. I'm sure it all made perfect sense in Ray's head because he's got all the blanks filled in in there, but there's no way all of that can be expressed in a single album.

    I know I've been squishy about timelines and relationships a couple times listening to this album. I can't help but think of the occasional episode of any of the Star Trek series in which they only way they can make a particular point or explore a particular plotline means having some inconsistency with a plot or timeline from some previous episode. Of course only the nerdiest of the Trekkies are likely to catch this, so it's usually not a problem. Here on Arthur, it does seem that for an individual song to be coherent, it might seem out of sync with other songs at times.

    As to those lyrics and the psychology behind them, I offer another possibility. It is fairly common in human nature, no matter how backward it seems, for someone who is moving away or merely moving on, to exaggerate differences with whoever/whatever they are moving away or moving on from. They may even create differences entirely from scratch. I think people subconsciously place difficulties in these relationships to help justify to themselves their decision to move on. They also do so to make a complete break, again likely subconsciously, so that they can spare themselves later the pain of separation. People prepare to make a break by learning to hate each other. It happens and even the parties involved have no idea why, or even have any conscious awareness that it is happening.

    I will also add that I think this song may also be following that pattern of using an interpersonal relationship as a proxy for the relationship to King and Country. We may be giving the kiss off to family, but we're also giving the kiss off to the British Empire of old. To me, this metaphorical interpretation also helps explain the lyrics that sound like outright derision. This also ties back to the idea of subconsciously growing a hostility to what you're giving up. How do we say goodbye to the Village Green? We convince ourselves it was crap all along; we delude ourselves in such a way as to ease the pain.
     
  7. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    fantastic !
    My very favorite moment of the whole song, if not the whole record!!
    Yeah, I find myself with @jethrotoe here. However harsh the words may sound, it's still a son talking to his father, so there's nothing definitive. Resentment, yes, argument, maybe, but only like close family members do, saying things that go beyond what they actually think or feel out of frustration or in order to let off steam. The story was written by a novelist and a genius sensitive songwriter, guys who know all too well that sometimes you say the opposite of what you mean, and that good writing is made of this. "I've got nothing to say to you" can mean "I have so much to say but I don't know how". It can mean « we have nothing to say to each other and I feel so bad about it that I turn it against you but in truth, I blame myself for it ». Or it can mean what @Fichman just wrote while I was typing this: you feel so bad against yourself not being able to connect that you convince yourself that it was not worth it anyway. Being harsh and cruel to the closest ones is a big human flaw. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it just means you often don’t exactly know what to do with that love.
     
  8. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Really interesting observation and something I have detected recently in a once(?) important personal relationship of mine. This has helped put some of that person's recent behavior/statements into context. Thanks.
     
  9. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    In this case we can also add the frustration of Derek and family that Arthur declined to come along to Australia. This, in fact, may be at the heart of Derek’s apparent enmity.
     
  10. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Nothing to Say
    It took a few listenings for me to take in the lyrics. And upon doing so, I can so relate to this song. Some of us may grow apart from our parents or relatives as we mature and go through life. It doesn't happen for everyone, but it does for some of us. Ray has a way of capturing the idea of what was and how that felt and what IS and how that feels. I have wonderful memories of childhood and all those little things that stick out. But also things change and you can't sustain that same relationship as you grow older...and hopefully wiser.
    Those happy days we spent together
    We thought our world would never change
    How the days go by
    And things will never be the same
    Everything changes...and you're left with this wistfulness and maybe some other unwelcome 'stuff' where you're just not as patient. you've moved on. And that's "OK".

    the music...with the horns and the chorus (who is singing?...I hear women vocals, but don't think that's necessarily Rasa) foreshadows Preservation stuff.
     
  11. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Frustrated with himself
    No, their sun set!
     
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  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    That makes a lot of sense
     
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  13. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Exactly, i had thought the same thing.
     
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Arthur.

    stereo mix (5:26), recorded May-Jun 1969, remixed Jul 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    Arthur was born just a plain simple man
    In a plain simple working class position
    Though the world was hard and its ways were set
    He was young and he had so much ambition
    All the way he was overtaken
    By the people who make the big decisions
    But he tried and he tried for a better life
    And a way to improve his own condition
    If only life were easy it would be such fun
    Things would be more equal and be plenty for everyone

    Arthur the world's gone and passed you by
    Don't you know it, don't you know it
    You can cry, cry all night but it won't make it right
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it
    Arthur we know and we sympathize
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it
    Arthur we like you and want to help you
    Somebody loves you don't you know it

    How is your life and your Shangri-la
    And your long lost land of Hallelujah
    And your hope and glory has passed you by
    Can't you see what the world is doing to ya
    And now we see your children
    Sailing off in the setting sun
    To a new horizon
    Where there's plenty for everyone
    Arthur, could be
    That the world was wrong
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it
    Arthur, could be
    You were right all along
    Don't ya know it, I hope ya know it
    Now we know and we sympathize
    We'd like to help you and understand you
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it
    Somebody loves you, don't ya know it
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it

    Arthur the world's gone and passed you by
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it
    You can cry, cry all night
    But it won't make it right
    Don't ya know it, don't ya know it
    Arthur we read you and understand you
    Arthur we like you and want to help you
    Oh! we love you and want to help you

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

    I have to say that I love this song, and prior to this deep dive of the Kinks, Victoria and Arthur were the main song that I would paly off this album, which seems bizarre to me now, but such is life.

    This song is just a wonderful track, and I could almost see it being a single if there was a way to edit the length of it, because surprisingly it is the second longest track on the album.

    We open with that great guitar riff, that moves into an excellent rhythm guitar part with the riff. I'm pretty much instantly hooked.

    This song starts of in the first verse singing about how Arthur has been trying all his life, in spite of his working class roots, he has been striving and reaching to climb the pile, but essentially he has too much integrity to step on everyone in his way.
    All along his journey people passed him by, and the people that made all the big decisions seemed to be working against him..... and I don't know about anyone else, but often it feels like that.
    This didn't stop Arthur striving for a better life though, he did all he could to improve his position, and therefore the position for the people in his family.
    If things are easier, then people don't strive, and in the western world there are few, if any, that could say there isn't plenty for everyone, when we comparatively look at the ages prior.

    When we get to the chorus we have a real understanding of our main character shown. The world's gone and passed you by, and nothing will change that, we sympathize, we understand, we like you and you are loved.
    It's interesting to me, the world passing me by is probably the least of my worries to be honest. The world is a cesspool, and what it's doing and where it's at, really don't concern me. It is pretty easy to have a great life wandering along next to the world, without being entangled in its snares.

    I really like the second verse, because it works in two ways for me, it speaks to the fact that the land of hope and glory has fallen into decline and it surmises that Arthur is exactly where he needs to be, doing exactly what he needs to be doing.
    It summarizes the story well also.
    How is your life and your Shangri La, we see your children sailing off into the horizon for a better life. To me this is a picture of success, perhaps not on the world's terms, but realities terms.
    Arthur lived to work and create a place for he and his family to live, and essentially that empowered his kids to live their lives and gave them the opportunities that now have one of them sailing off to Australia, for what they perceive will be a better life.
    To me that's a job well done. Any parent that can set up a situation where their children have the opportunity to lead a better life, has done an outstanding job against the odds, no matter what the fallout may be.

    Then we get a sort of modified version of the chorus as a meditation on the way out of the song.

    Again the whole band is doing exactly what they need to do to make this work. Dave's guitar is the driving force. John Dalton is laying down and excellent solid bass. Mick Avory is laying down a really nice shuffle kind of beat.
    I think we essentially have Dave and Ray sharing the vocal here, please correct me if I'm wrong folks.

    Dave has so many highlights on this track, in spite of not particularly having a lead break as such. He certainly throws in some nice lead licks, but they are essentially the bedrock of the music in this track, and they're great. He gets in some country twang sort of guitar, that we will obviously see a little more of in the future. At the start of the second verse Dave plays this really nice guitar that follows the melody line and really makes it shine.
    As we go along Dave's guitar gets more and more involved and we get so many cool little bits, it would be futile to try and point them all out.

    The song has a sort of fake finish and then moves into a really cool coda.
    It starts off as a sort of chorus variation and then we move into this really wonderful and ever rising sort of gospel choir type thing, resplendent with hand claps and some more aggressive fills from Mick, and the song brings us to a wonderful conclusion as the vocals die out and the music fades off into the distance..... and I can almost see Derek's ship sailing over the horizon here.

    This, to me, is a wonderful upbeat close out to the album, and it always leaves me feeling good. For all of the things that this song is, and has, it feels like a hit single to me. It seems to contain all these elements that make me love it, and I suppose for some folks it may go on too long, but for me it is pretty much perfect....

    I have nothing but good things to say about this track, and it leaves the album on a high for me.

     
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  16. WHMusical

    WHMusical Chameleon Comedian Corinthian & Caricature

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    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
  17. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    Hearing this, it seems a bit odd that they next did the Lola album as musically 'Arthur' would have fit nicely on Muswell. It's all a bit country-rock for my tastes, but I never skip it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Arthur (and the decline and fall of the British Empire) is a wholly remarkable album.
    Somehow Ray manages to summarize the early twentieth century and the fall of Britain from being the biggest Empire in the world, and morphing into what is now called the Commonwealth. During the course of this history lesson, he manages to tell the story of one of its citizens in the process and it works....
    In fact, except for Nothing To Say, which I really like as a song, I think this is one of the more coherent and best of the concept albums released. I would place it up there with Gentle Giant's Three Friends in terms of succeeding in its aims, and managing to be an engaging album, and managing to tell its story in a coherent and engaging way.

    The whole band shines, and there are certainly some stand out moments for everyone. Ray well have reached a sort of peak of his sixties writing in 1969, and prior I would have said that was done on The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society.... Initially I wasn't really that taken with Arthur, but this is an album with a lot of lyrical and musical depth, and it has so many layers, that as one gives it repeated listens it really draws you into how well it is done. The songs aren't all pop classics, but to some degree I think that's the point. The writing is technically excellent, and I now find myself wondering if this is my favourite Kinks album..... but the thing is, as we go through this thread from Kontroversy right yup to the point we are now, I see the band making albums that are now among my favourites, and I think it is undeniable for anyone that has bothered to really listen to these albums, that from Face To Face all the way through to where we are now, the guys are as good, if not better than any band, and their albums are much more solid that I think they are given credit for.

    Arthur is a stunning achievement in so many ways, and is now firmly entrenched in amongst my favourite albums of all time.
     
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  19. malco49

    malco49 Forum Resident

    i know i will pulling out arthur over the weekend and give it a good listen. just not sure if it will be my old reliable vinyl copy , or i might just listen in the car as i drive around town on my weekend errands.
     
  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Reprise went all out on the promotion.
     
  21. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    You're right about Muswell, but Lola has more than a little country-rockish flavor to it as well (if only the opening and closing songs).
    So very true. Come to think of it, the guitar is key to the whole LP, in quite an unusual way, even for the Kinks. It's like a constant presence, almost a greek choir commenting on the action and the lyrics. Most if not all tracks feature those lead guitar licks working not so much in symbiosis as in parallel to the tunes and vocals. This comes to such a wonderful climax on this buoyant closing number, summarizing the whole story arch and giving us all the clues we needed to understand the whole LP concept. It was not so much a story but a character study, by a whole array of different angles, characters and points of view, some contextual, some historical, geographical, sociological, emotional, sentimental, domestic… Fittingly, Arthur is the only character named in the whole record, and he is only named in this very last song…
     
  22. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Nothing to Say
    Arthur

    I had an idea this album tailed off towards the end, but it was entirely fallacious. Both these songs are really strong both lyrically and musically, so I have to conclude that the album has no real weak points. The title track is particularly appealing and catchy.

    I bought my Kinks albums in a flurry a few years ago and Something Else and to a lesser extent Kontroversy got the lion's share of my attention and needletime. So, this album was one of the ones that got neglected. I only have the minor gripe that there's a little too many songs with a blues scale or a bluegrass feel and a bit too much heavy guitar for my personal taste. That doesn't make it bad in any way, just means it's not going to be my personal favourite.

    In addition, this album does what no prior Kinks album did, which is to tell a single sustained story. For all its supposed "concept", TKATVGPS doesn't do that. And on this album they manage that without ever accepting a lower level of song quality. Maybe I shouldn't cast shade on the Who's rock operas because I haven't listened to them all that much but it does seem to me the Kinks were more successful in this regard.
     
  23. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    The title track is fantastic.

    Dave's guitar riff snakes along like a genuine living thing - I think it represents Arthur's life continuing to endure for many years despite the tribulations we have learned about during the last 45 minutes. (I know that the title track of Muswell Hillbilllies is built on a similar riff, but as things stand I don't like that album anywhere near as much as Arthur).

    The way the track builds towards its end with the rising backing voices and handclaps is great as well. This is a proper album in every respect and has exactly the finale it deserves. We may not have seen the TV play, but we can see the rolling credits, and imagine the Granada TV ident on screen after the music has faded away.
     
  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    ‘Arthur’ (the song) didn’t make the first round cut in my initial playlist selections but I added it a few days ago (and can’t figure out why I wasn’t taken with it from the get-go).

    My Arthur (album) playlist tracks:
    Victoria
    Yes Sir, No Sir
    Some Mother’s Son
    Shangri-La
    Mr. Churchill Says
    Australia
    Arthur
    King Kong (was this an Arthur track by our thread reckoning? I think so)

    This album isn’t going to topple Village Green or Muswell (in my world) but that’s fine. Thanks to this thread I have a real appreciation for it and consider it a remarkable work, one that could be used as supplemental material in the classroom. (How interesting has our discussion been? It’s been fabulous!)
     
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  25. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    In fact, as we've wrapped Arthur, let's give it the finish it should have had:

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