The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Glad you mentioned The Band as I forgot to and i am certain Dave very listened closely to them (I imagine virtually all the name musicians of the day did really) before coming up with this!
     
  2. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    It sounds more dated to me than their two massive hits from 1964.
     
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Denmark Street

    Down the way from the Tottenham Court Road
    Just round the corner from old Soho
    There's a place where the publishers go
    If you don't know which way to go
    Just open your ears and follow your nose
    'Cos the street is shakin' from the tapping of toes
    You can hear that music play anytime on any day
    Every rhythm, every way
    You got to a publisher and play him your song
    He says 'I hate your music and you hair is too long
    But I'll sign you up because I'd hate to be wrong'


    You've got a tune it's in your head you want to get it placed
    So you take it up to a music man just to see what he will say
    He says 'I hate the tune, I hate the words but I'll tell you what I'll do
    I'll sign you up and take it round the street and see if it makes the grade'
    And you might even hear it played on the rock 'n' roll hit parade


    Daytime, night time, every week you can hear that heavy beat
    Now the walls are shaking from the tapping of feet
    Daytime, night time, every day you can hear that music play
    Every rhythm, every way

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Noma Music, Inc. – BMI


    This is a great little narrative song, sung with a bit of sass by Ray.

    Essentially this song seems to be directed at Denmark Publishing, who were initially the publishing agents signed on to help The Kinks/Ravens inexperienced managers get things in order and help get the band’s name out there.
    If you missed the opening post for the album, we had the two inexperienced managers and the owner of Denmark Publishing running the show. When the Kinks US tour went bad, the publisher took his bat and ball and went home, and the band and more particularly Ray, were in the courts from 64 until 68, and the final settlement of the issue was in late 1970.
    It’s also worth noting that the legal issues that messed with the band over that long period of time were part of the reason for Ray’s personal issues. Certainly, Ray was predisposed to have those kinds of issues due to his nature, but the music industry is a very ugly place, and I think this song captures one aspect of that very well.

    I think this concisely manages to capture the idea really well. You write a song, probably put your heart and soul into it, and then a bunch of businessmen start deciding if there is any value in it. To some degree things are a bit different now, and even in the eighties. Really the sixties were a wide eyed innocent period in many ways, because rock and roll, or youth aimed music, was fairly new in terms of being a big market, and publishers and record companies didn’t want to miss out on the next big thing. By the time we get to the eighties the industry was a machine, and a lot of the companies that used to be owned by music lovers, were now strictly business models and you really needed to have some connections to really get your foot in the door. It was stated, and seemingly very true at the time, that a lot of the legends of the sixties and seventies wouldn’t even have been signed in the eighties…… but I guess I digress.

    Here we have a bit of a return to The Kinks in their music hall shoes, and this track, to some degree, reflects where the band had been. A bouncy, jaunty, tongue in cheek, slap in the face of the industry is what we get here, and I reckon it works beautifully.

    So we have the opening two songs laying out the idea that this band are close and see that together they could well get this rock and roll dream to come true. They see themselves as stronger together than apart and walking down this road together, strangers to the rest of the world, and ready to try and get the attention of the record buying public. So logically the next step is to try and get some songs out, so that folks actually know who they are.
    So we go down to Denmark Street, and get in a deal with Demark Publishing, and we see where things go from there.

    It is really interesting to me when it comes to submitting songs. The rule back in the eighties was, make sure you get their attention within the first twenty seconds, because they won’t be listening after that, if they put on the tape at all.
    I have always found that to be so unusual, because most of my favourite stuff isn’t necessarily going to get to the punchline in the first twenty seconds, but this is the way the game was played, and it explains why so many young bands of that era had instantly catchy songs, that tended to fade away quickly, and then the follow up would fail miserably, because the twenty second attention grabber was the only trick in the bag.
    I mean, think about what we have just seen with the Arthur album.
    Anyway, the subject matter is close to my heart, so I’m probably rambling.

    Essentially, we reach the point here, where the guys have written a song, or some songs, and they have made their way down to Denmark Street to see a publisher, who hates their sound and look, but doesn’t want to pass it up, because “the kids” might like it. This is where the metal of the guys will be tested, because here is where the rubber meets the road, and the egos start dancing and the business starts annoying.

    Musically we have this mélange of styles that I probably incorrectly refer to as music hall.
    The opening piano makes me think of Ragtime piano. Then we get some George Formby type skiffle on the banjo, and Dave adding a little bit of bending lead lick fun. There is a density here, that gives the feel of a band jamming for real. So we end up with this ragtime skiffle type hybrid moving into a kind of rock song, and Ray delivers the vocal with a nice bit of character acting, and a certain amount of venom.

    Just passed the halfway mark we get a change up, that really emphasizes the skiffle type section of the song and it also gives us a beat change. It sort of double times the delivery and I think it works as an emphasis point for the lyrics too.

    We move back into the reintroduced main section, and Ray has a few more slightly pushed vocals, and we bring it around for the close, with a dead stop that has a little guitar riff with some delay, and it works to nice effect.

    So, we opened the first track with some country bluegrass, and burst into some bluesy, virtually hard rock. Then the second track we get a fairly traditional folk ballad type feel, and then here we move into some ragtime/skiffle/music hall and the guys are giving us that amazing variety that we have gotten used to up to this point.

    This isn't the Kinks best song ever or anything like that, for me, but what it is, as seems to be the case rather frequently as we go through these albums, is the right song at the right time to move the narrative forward, keep the sound and the feel fresh, and change the mood up.

    This works really well for me, and personally I hear the same old Kinks, even if the style of delivery has changed slightly.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Interestingly here is an article with Dave talking about the redevelopment of Denmark Street in more recent years Kinks star Davies slams 'soulless' London redevelopment

    Denmark Street 2010
    [​IMG]
    Denmark Street is located at the southern end of the London Borough of Camden, close to its boundary with the London Borough of Westminster.[1] It is east of Soho Square, south of St Giles Circus and close to the St Giles in the Fields Church.[2]

    The street is 108 metres (354 ft) long and connects Charing Cross Road with St Giles High Street. Vehicular traffic is now only allowed to travel westbound.[3] The nearest London Underground station is Tottenham Court Road, between two and three minutes' walk away.[4][5]

    If you want to read more about Denmark Street itself - Denmark Street - Wikipedia
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So for me this album starts off with three really solid tracks that do actually present a coherent narrative. We have, what to me sounds like, the Kinks making their typically idiosyncratic music and managing to change up slightly without losing the essence of who they are.

     
  4. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    A great bit of fun - the lyric is great!
     
  5. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Yeah, music-hall Ray is back full force, with another of his street/places London songs. Agreed it's far from being a masterpiece, but it’s not trying to be either. I love it as a number, the voice (voices), the delivery, the saloon-styled break (I hear saloon but it may be skiffle, you're probably right), the whole spirit of it really, and the marvelous snarky lyrics. I can hear him having fun and singing for the frustrations of the whole British music scene of the sixties. I love the idea that any success street is inhabited by ruthless success makers and paved by thousands of failed hopes, unrealized dreams and painful regrets. And I love how, in authentic Kinks’ style, the subject’s tackled with humor and playfulness – and maybe a bit of drunkenness and cruelty. Obviously one of the lesser tracks on the album, almost a throwaway, but still: lyrics = perfect ; playing = fabulous ; voice = genius ; fun = a tremendous amount of.
     
  6. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Denmark Street"

    One for a thread about "places you've visited as a result of hearing them mentioned in a song". Even in the late 80s/early 90s when I would have first dropped by to have a look down Denmark Street, it wasn't too exciting - certainly nothing like it would have been in the 60s! So on one level this song is a nice little time capsule.

    On another level, it's a bit of a throwaway/novelty song, but in terms of its content and relation to the narrative, it is indispensable. There isn't a lot of melody here - probably less than in "The Contenders", whose lack of melody has already been noted. With Ray employing a slightly exagerrated Cockney accent (particularly at the start), it could be said that elements of his 80s voice are starting to emerge here. Ray is pulling no punches with the lyrics.

    But it's a lot of fun - it has the essence of a pub singalong in there as well. It's not a standout or a great Kinks song, but it's the right song in the right place here.

    So, our protagonist has now got his publishing contract sorted - what could possibly go wrong now??
     
  7. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    I think the music hall stylings of ‘Denmark Street’ are very deliberate to evoke the gaudy, gimcrack almost carny esque world of the entry level of the publishing industry in London, and particularly in the early 60s when pre- Beatles the UK pop scene was more nakedly, cynically entertainment and gimmick based with no concession to art and very little genuine cool, with many early British ‘rock’ stars being very much part of the light entertainment scene, their acts only light updatings of decades old music hall routines. Of course, I’m sure if you asked Ray he’d say not much changed post Beatles either!


    There’s a kind of ‘dance monkey dance’ slot machine vibe to the George Formby-esque middle section in particular: the frantic music reflects the content of lyric exactly: you can just see the young hopeful hurriedly whipping out their guitar and desperately giving it the t*ts and teeth razzmatazz for their allotted minute in some dingy back room while the grizzled management type looks on unmoved. I guess the equivalent in recent years where this kind of exchange is broadcast as entertainment in its own right would be X Factor style talent shows.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
  8. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Now all I visualize is the ‘Mr. Wells’ video that @ajsmith posted upthread.

    I like the song as it, as others have said, drives the narrative. In fact, after the stellar but bewildering (in terms of storyline) ‘Strangers,’ this brings things back into focus.
     
  9. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    "He says 'I hate your music and you hair is too long
    But I'll sign you up because I'd hate to be wrong'"

    Sounds like a win to me, I don't see the problem? If someone who doesn't even like your style gives you money anyway, that has to be a good sign. And life would be boring if we all had the same taste in music or hairstyles.

    Musicians have to be on top form when they satirise the music biz, as it can easily come across as petty or self-pitying. As is the case here. I don't think this a particularly biting satire. And the music doesn't help. It's a generic knees-up with no real melodic hook and if I were a music publisher I would sent a budding songwriter on their way if they showed up in my office with this. I don't like to be negative, expecially when I'm so going against the grain. So I would bow out of the thread altogether at this point except I know there's some more good stuff coming up.
     
  10. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Location:
    Maplewood, NJ
    Denmark Street

    I think I agree with the consensus here that this is not a top-tier song, and in fact, one of the lesser songs on this album. But I wouldn't say it's one of the "worst" songs, I would say it's one of the "least great" songs. Because there are just so many great tunes on this album. It's fun, it's lighter, another good contrast from the previous track. I'm not a huge fan of some of the voices that Ray uses in the verses, but the voice he uses in the double-time ("You got a tune..." bridge?) section works better for me.

    I love the music of this track. The strumming sound of the guitars (is that a banjo or the resonator in the "You got a tune..." section?).

    It's another one of Ray's songs that I can't believe it's only 2 minutes long.

    Story-wise, as mentioned, this fits the concept perfectly where it is. Setting the stage for being the puppet, being told what to do, and essentially owing your livelihood to the union man.

    I think the thing is here, the publisher does not care about giving the artist money. It's about all the suits making the money. Basically, the only thing the artist makes is the music. Whatever chunk of money that goes to the artist means less money for the suits at the publishing company.

    Other little things about the story line:
    -that little cough at 0:02. Is that supposed to be like the singer getting ready for their audition? Is this song their audition?
    -at the very end of the song, I hear what sounds like a coin being shaken in a jar. Maybe this isn't the audition. Maybe this is them just busking in the street, hoping to get noticed. Seeing how many people they can get around them tapping their toes.
     
  11. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Nicely said. I thought about (and still have two weeks to keep thinking) placing this on my playlist because it’s a fine song. But agree with you as to “least great” so felt compelled to cut.

    Exactly. The publisher is giving him a contract, not necessarily in favorable terms (and we’ll see later that only one side of that contract is making the money. And it ain’t the songwriter-musician.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
  12. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    Coming after one song as philosophical as "Strangers" & just before the kitchen sink drama of "Get Back In Line"', "Denmark Street" is a bit of a respite, using humor to describe how aspiring pop stars get screwed by the drivers of the title street, who only care about how much they can make & not caring about the music at all. I would describe this song as "crying & laughing" at the same tone.

    Coincidentally, there is a song with the exact same title and lyrical concern by the person that I musically hold as close, if not more, than Ray, Martin Newell of the Cleansers From Venus. He was also a victim of the music industry, not even reaching the success of the Kinks, which led him to his idiosyncratic career path, from putting out home made cassette albums (you would send him a blank cassette & he would fill it up & mail it back) to being the most published living poet in the UK & continuing to put out albums such as The Greatest Living Englishman (produced by Andy Partridge), without caring a whit about the music industry & press. Here's the video of his "Denmark Street" a great song that even Avid Vagabone can love:


     
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  13. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    “Queen Matilda and Captain Ray”! Very nice. Never heard any of this before.
     
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  14. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    By the way, "Captain Ray" is Captain Sensible (real name: Ray Burns) of the Damned, who Martin has written songs for.
     
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  15. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Denmark Street

    @Fortuleo @ARL & @ajsmith have together covered all angles very well for me.

    Great lyrics, vocal, performances & recording no doubt whatsoever as we follow the storyline but that said a fairly minor song though not without wit and whimsy.

    What I would give to be a fly on the wall in mid 60's Denmark Street or really any UK Music Management, Song publishers or A & R Label Executives office when confronted with these youthful, hopefuls & their strange rock guitars acts.

    Most were likely older gents from near bygone musical backgrounds like Eric Easton & less so the newer breed with better understanding of this new mania such as Andrew Loog Oldham.

    Yes consequently I am sure they often didn't know what they were looking at or how to evalue it but by gawd they knew or had been duly instructed that (some kind of) beat groups were the new thing kids wanted and they didn't want to be the next Dick Rowe that turned down the (potential new) Beatles!
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
  16. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Anyone else now imagining a TV special based on this album? Ostensibly it's following our band, who are by now seasoned campaigners, recording their new album. This is interspersed with flashbacks to how they got here.

    We open with "The Contenders" playing over a montage (you've gotta have a montage) of clips/photos of the band members growing up and meeting. Then we cut to the studio, present day, where the band are recording "Strangers". After which we flash back to the 60s, where Ray is chasing publishers (possibly in Benny Hill style) while "Denmark Street" plays.

    Not sure where the rest of it goes, but it's a work in progress at the moment...
     
  17. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Fair point as far as the music publishing industry goes but the lyric itself doesn't really make that point.
     
  18. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    He’s unaware at this juncture. That’s why he signs the contract. He’ll figure it out later in the song cycle.
     
  19. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    Like seeing Don Arden (Sharon's dad) hold a potential rival out the window by his feet? These people knew that money was to be made. The groups themselves just probably wanted the girls, clothes & other flash items. Nobody thought that it was going to last more than a year or so & or that song royalties would still be coming in to this day. As for Andrew Loog Oldham, even though he was actually younger than the Stones, he got off the wrong foot by having them dressed in suits like the Beatles, which didn't work. He then came up with the "bad boy" image which worked out too well. As for the Kinks, you had two upper class types who wanted to be Brian Epstein who had associated themselves w/Larry Page, a music biz survivor from the 50s, which was a recipe for legal & financial disaster, as the album we've been discussing shows.
     
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Isn’t Ray working on something very much like that at the moment with his ‘Moneygoround’ project? Although tbh I doubt it will end up looking as cool as your version sounds…
     
  21. StevenTounsand

    StevenTounsand Waxidermy Refugee

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Yeah - I’ve been meaning to chime in on that wonderful drum outro - that buzz he left in on the tom is so cool. It’s the kinda thing a OCD drummer would tighten up and get rid of but Avory goes for it! Reminds a bit of how Ringo uses his toms…
    Also Strangers chord structure reminds me of that Shins song from Garden State - maybe director was channeling a Wes Anderson style of music and film too.
     
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  22. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Aaah I see. I underestimated the importance of the overall story.
     
  23. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Part of the reason “Denmark Street” sounds like a bit of a throwback to The Kinks’ earlier musical hall inspired material was because the song was written in 1968-1969 (Quaife said he remembered playing the song during the early Arthur rehearsals).

    I like this song. The lyrics are clever…always loved the lines “You go to your publisher and play him your song/he says I hate your music and your hair is too long/but I’ll sign you up because I’d to be wrong” and the line about the music man saying “I hate your tune/I hate your words/I’ll tell you what I do/I’ll sign you up and take it down the street and see if it makes the grade.” Just really sarcastic, scathing lyrics about music as an industry and commodity.

    As for the band’s performance, I love the jangly, bouncy feel of this song. Ray sort of sounds like Jagger again on this one, singing in a sort of new, deep nasal twang we haven’t heard too much before this album. Great performance from John Gosling on this one. For some reason, I never made the connection there was banjo on this song. Was the banjo confirmed to have been played by Dave?

    In the context of the album, this song is about the protagonist/band trying to get their songs published and played. They’ve gone to the city and are now on Denmark Street trying to break into the business. There are indications that it is predatory but the band are too naive to realize it yet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
  24. jethrotoe

    jethrotoe Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I see this album as one of The Kinks’ most clear/linear song cycles.
     
  25. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Denmark Street
    This is a song I didn't really remember much about. It has a nice piano opening and a nice little ragtime bit partway through. It is (wisely) a pretty short song. A good album track.
     

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