Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
I've not seen it Steve but it sounds like quite a build up!
Ok so written by Robyn Hitchcock who was paid by Betty Box for Percy, rather novel that & all very comedic British fare for the time as has been pointed out.
No Virginia, there is a slander clause!
Trivia: Both the movie and the soundtrack were released at the same time as "Friends," the sappy teen romance that Elton John & Bernie Taupin provided five songs for, and both albums came in gaudy pink sleeves. I've never seen "Percy" but would certainly be willing to give it a watch. I couldn't get through more than a 3rd of "Friends." It's a real snoozer.
Don't scoffmam that could that be taken as vulva language?
Mark you could fill a thread with all those, haven't you had enough Kinks?
Glad to learn that the long titled 1974 Kinks Kompilation Kontains the best 5 Percy Kuts as i was gifted a copy 2 weeks ago and have never heard the soundtrack.
What a weird film this is. You’d expect a raunchy sex comedy, but the overall feeling is very down, depressing, like the sex revolution itself was a bummer and a burden to carry. First: this is not a real seventies film, but essentially a sixties film done in the seventies, and as such, it's hard to even see it as a vintage artefact. It's more an afterthought, some after the fact unimaginative exploitation.
Also, it’s a very moralizing flick (which may’ve been an attractive factor for Ray at the time). After the protagonist's “accident” and his operation, the film is more or less divided in two parts. First, Edwin (Hywell Bennett, who's pretty convincing) tries to figure out who was the “donor” of his transplanted organ. He gets the list of the deceased on the day he was transplanted and goes on to meet their widows and friends, determined to show them his “Percy” to see if they recognize it. A lot of scenes are embarrassing : one deceased guy was Jewish, so that can’t be him, since “Percy”’s not circumcised (if it was a sitcom, there would be laughs there) ; one guy is an antique's dealer who happens to be gay and he tries to hit on him (laughs) ; one widow is a black woman (laughs) and it's treated as a given that there’s no way, then, she could be the deceased’s wife, as “Percy” is white (like mixed marriage was not even remotely a possibility in 1971).
In the second part, after Edwin’s found the dead man’s wife (played by an excellent actress named Cyd Hayman) and learn the guy was a womanizer, he goes on to meet all his ex-mistresses, and it’s another catalogue of sociological and sexual clichés (the dominatrix, the nymphomaniac, rich girls waiting for sexual encounters in luxury apartments, poor girls almost prostituting themselves in dumps), you get the idea. The worst of them all is Edwyn’s own wife, who ran off with a tv producer but comes back to be in the limelight close to her husband, as “the transplant guy” has become a celebrity. And then, it all ends with another "percy" transplant, but to a woman this time… so all bases of the subject are covered (if not very imaginatively).
All in all, it’s a joyless movie, that gives a rather grim/glum view of 1971 London. I never knew Michael Palin had anything to do with this, and I wish I could get back to that state of ignorance ! The music’s great, of course, if underused and not very well spotted, especially melodic aching beauties like The Way Love Used to Be or Moments, sublime songs that would bring tears to the coldest hearts if there was any kind of emotion infused in the story or characters. Contrary to the Where Was Spring ? tunes or the Arthur/Lola (and seventies albums) songs, Ray hasn’t tried to connect his writing to the concept or the story at all. The five “real songs” (God’s Children, The Way Love Used To Be, Animals in the Zoo, Dreams, Moments) are all featured rather extensively in the film, but except when scenes are created to illustrate them quite literally (shots of animals in a zoo for Animals in the Zoo, this kind of things…), they’re just used as a film score, with very little relation to the story, if any.
I was waiting for someone to mention Percy's progress, even Vincent Price was involved!
Great write up by @Fortuleo above. It's kinda a shame the film isn't easily available online any more and we can't do a watchalong like we did with 'Long Distance Piano Player', although tbh since that one actually starred Ray throughout and is more of a serious production tonally, it's probably a bit more of a smoother ride for Kinks fans than Percy would be.
Apologies for re-cycling of material but these are my posts from last years Percy watch thread. As they were made after having just watched the film they're probably more pertinent than anything I could write up from memory 18 months later (also I'm lazy):
It’s not a very good film, but it is interesting for hard core Kinks fans; seeing how the songs actually fit into the storyline of the film. They’re all used at some point, with the exception of ‘Willesden Green’. The ‘Dreams’ sequence is probably the best use of one of the songs visually for my money.
The film is actually all over the place in tone: it has some very broad Carry On/Confessions style sequences, esp at the beginning and end, but the lead character is actually surprisingly rounded and sympathetic and some of the middle bits are a bit more kitchen sink drama. Surprisingly there is only one actual nude scene in the film, again near the beginning. Again, this isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but not a total waste of time for Kinks fanatics.
I can't emphasise enough that I don't think it's a great film at all, HOWEVER I've seen a lot of this UK subgenre of sex comedy (what can I say, I have some degree of interest in trash, kitsch and sexy, silly women) and I feel I can say with some authority that this is far from being the worst example of the genre, in fact it may be among the best (which again I must emphasise is NOT saying much!).. it's distinguished by the sensitive lead performance of Hywell Bennett, who unusually for the lead in this kind if film isn't playing some sex crazed jack the lad, but instead a thoughtful and somewhat maudlin soul who is fairly in tune with the tone of Ray's songs for the film. I also have to admit I was pleasantly surprised about how the film handled it's one gay chracter who appears about halfway through, again making him somewhat nuanced and sympathetic rather than the figure of fun you'd expect.
Hang on a woman gets a Percy transplant?
This unlikely and polite sexual male magnet makes me think of a link to Australia's Alvin Purple and that side of his demeanor.
N.b. Down Under people say the 60's didn't happen until the 70's! (Laughs)
Yep, that's the ending. She hooks up with the striptease nurse of the beginning.
I’ve tried to do a little break down of the songs in Percy.
- God’s Children (maybe in a different mix, I thought Dave’s harmonies were mixed lower) is used as the titles’ sequence song.
- Lola instrumental is heard rather complete for a long nurse striptease, who’s trying to prove “percy” is alive and well after the transplant.
- Animals in the Zoo is heard during a zoo sequence (with monkeys) that has nothing to do with the plot.
- Same thing for Dreams. Almost a music video, with images illustrating the lyrics (we see some George Best and Formula 1 footage, and some Mick Jagger moves from the Hyde Park 1969 concert), intercut with Bennett fantasizing about football, car racing and rock stardom. The whole scene clocks at around 1’40’’, so it’s half the song (the song itself being those 1’40’’ repeated twice back to back, if I’m not mistaken)
- Just Friends is used as presentation/background music for the scene between Bennett and the gay antique dealer.
- Same with Whip Lady, when Bennett meets the dominatrix.
- there are two Moments moments, one is just incidental transition instrumental music, the other is more emotional, when Bennett meets again with lovely Cyd Hayman in the parc at the end.
- We get three Way Love Used to Be versions. One is an incidental orchestral score, one is an upbeat barrel organ version during a merry go round scene, and the last one is the proper album song, used when Bennett meets one of the deceased lovers on the Piccadilly Square, with shots of the city streets etc. that more or less of illustrate the lyrics.
- the film ends with a short instrumental reprise of God’s Children.
I think @ajsmith is right about Willesden Green not being featured in the film, but I may’ve missed it.
The other tracks are heard here and there, as well as other little short instrumental pieces that are not on the LP.
I think it's likely The Kinks and Ray would have got this gig because 1) they were hot with 'Lola' at the time and 2) after 'Lola', the films producers were probably hoping/expecting Ray would furnish them was a set of similar racy double entendre rock songs. Maybe they didn't specify this in particular, but I bet their ideal outcome would have been a title track for 'Percy' similar in structure to the song 'Lola' except with the legs crossing 'nudge nudge wink wink' factor being switched to pen15 loss and substitution.
It's one of the many reasons that I love Ray that his muse responded to this brief by delivering perhaps the most innocently earnest collection of pop songs he ever wrote, not least the positively puritan main theme! This wasn't Ray's first rodeo: he'd already shown he could write fairly explicit sex comedy songs to order for the 'Where Was Spring' show: I think he knew exactly what he was doing here: whether consciously or subconsciously, as a film buff I suspect he bristled a little at the prospect that The Kinks first feature soundtrack looked like it was going to be a silly sex farce, (whereas The Beatles get Richard Lester and the Stones get Godard) so his response was to pour some pure beauty and class over that prospect whether it suited the project or not!
Thanks for the rundown on the movie guys. That saves me bothering with giving it a watch. I've seen a lot of those kinds of films back in the seventies, and I'm not sure I could bear another lol
The Golden Hour Of The Kinks
I am almost certain i owned this back in the day and surmise that i sold it due more to the sound quality than the song quality.
The Golden Hour Sequence
I had never come across these. When my friend, also a Kinks person, went on a school-sponsored trip to London in the Seventies, I asked him to look for Face to Face. Maybe it was still in print over there. He couldn't get it, but he did return with a copy of Lola, Percy and the Apeman... for me, which was terrific. I still have it, still play it, and the sequencing of side 3 can't be beat. The album had every song from Face to Face except "Fancy" and "Sunny Afternoon" (easily accessible on Kronikles) and "I'll Remember." I consulted the Kinks discography in Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia--which was the only place I knew of where such a thing could be found--and made plans to put my own faux version together, which I actually never did, not owning a tape deck. Years later, I bought one of those fake stereo Face to Faces with the picture of the cut-out hole. Still have it, still play it. I didn't know it was fake until this thread. I felt bad about it, but only for a couple of minutes.
Never Say Yes
As others have stated this could have fit in pretty seamlessly on the band's 1964/65 LP's and i too prefer it to the track Elvis sang.
Though both neither startlingly original i found it interesting to listen to the chordal work and groove both here and on the Stones 1964 cut Surprise, Surprise.
Here's the film trailer. Is it Oscar time already?:
EDIT, hmm looks like (due I guess to the inclusion of the topless nurse near the end) it's not available to embed. Here's the direct link:
Thanks for that - it could be all the Percy I need to see!
Strange that actors like Hywel Bennett and Denholm Elliott were doing this kind of thing back then. Also Sue Lloyd, later seen as Barbara Hunter in Crossroads (a long-running UK TV soap).
It's a very strange time in retrospect. A lot of otherwise respected British actors and actresses critically (and often literally) lost their shirts appearing in stuff like this that's often essentially only a few rungs up from soft porn. My guess is that it was to do with the waning UK film industry out of necessity pushing sex to the fore to compete with TV, except going about it in an incredibly UN sexy British seaside humour way. That said, I won't deny that there were a lot of beautiful women involved in this British rubbish (by jingo!)
Well it seems unanimous there's a lot of junk involved with Percy's production!
Aren't we getting very snobby and snooty about a movie that was never set up to be high art. It's about a pen!s transpant after all.
As a movie I believe it should be considered against the entertainment of the day rather than through our 2021 vision. And in Britain, rude comedies were very popular: Carry on Up the Khyber (1968), Carry On Camping (1969), Up Pompeii - TV series (1969-70) and movie (1971), yet more CArry On movies through the seventies. Australia jumped on the bandwagon with the Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) and Alvin Purple (1973) - movies that make Percy look like a Jane Austen adaptation. In Britain there were Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974) and Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976) - as sophisticated as their titles. Percy stands up pretty well in that company (pun intended) even though the plot and stereotypes haven't stood the test of time..
I honestly do enjoy this kind of stuff both for the sexy/humour content and for the historical/cultural interest. As you say Percy is actually one of the better quality films of this type, as it has one foot in a more realistic drama style and Bennett gives his 'part' more depth than you might expect. I guess any cheap shots I've been taking are more in the context of this being a Kinks project, where it's always sat very oddly from the start, esp with that jarringly 'too good' soundtrack.
I mean to name the obvious peers you just cannot imagine The Beatles, Stones or Who etc being involved in this sort of level of film: they all did much more high profile and/or artist driven film work. Even groups further down the 60s beat group food chain like Manfred Mann or The Spencer Davis Group did 'cooler' period film soundtracks with Up The Junction and Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush respectively (the latter of these being I'll admit one of my favourite films and a much hipper 'mod' precursor to Adventures Of A Taxi Driver you mentioned as it has a very similar cast!).
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