The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    The microphone volume there is 70% Pete, 30% Ray and zero Dave. Pete's backing vocals would have blended in fine if Dave had been audible and Pete mixed much lower. Also, PA monitors in those days were so bad (as the Beatles told us) that the band members couldn't hear each other properly - so it's a surprise they sound that good.
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    That may well be correct...
    But the thing with backing vocals, is they are supposed to be mixed lower.

    Live mixing, particularly back in the day, was really tricky to get right, and can make or break a band's live sound.
    Pete's backing vocal isn't too bad there pitch wise, but it is mixed so high, that when he hits that high falsetto it sounds harsh, because it is overriding everything else, where volume wise it should be sitting underneath, and you'd barely notice it.
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Man, even gigging in the eighties and nineties foldback and PA audio was awful.
    The first time I played a gig that I could actually hear what I was singing it surprised me lol.... you spend most of your time guessing lol
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  4. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Regarding whether "Willesden Green" sounds like Muswell Hillbillies - it's not really that, it's more about the concept. A quote from Ray about the sound he wanted for Muswell Hillbilles: "I remember at that time the pub [the Archway Tavern] had the worst country and western band in the world. They were Irish, trying to play country music. I wanted us to mimic that"

    Muswell Hillbillies doesn't really sound like Ray's "high concept", but "Willesden Green" kind of does.
  5. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    I like this well enough. Has a sort of Mediterranean sound...maybe Greek, maybe Spanish. Who knows? Someone mentioned Ennio Morricone...and that sort of cropped into my brain when hearing it.

    Willesden Green
    I don't take this song very seriously and neither should anyone else. Sounds like it's genuinely album filler since it was never even used in the movie. But having said that, I do find it very amusing and has a nice loping feel. No, it's not going to make my first or second tier Kinks list, but it's fine. I can feel that Ray's tongue is firmly in cheek with this one.
  6. WHMusical

    WHMusical Chameleon Comedian Corinthian & Caricature

    "Alright Wilson... Pick IT!"

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
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  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    You Really Got Me EP 1971 – Also known as Mini Monster.


    Produced by: Shel Talmy
    Release date: 27 Aug, 1971
    Record label & catalog #: Pye PMM 100
    Country: UK
    Format: 7" vinyl EP, 33 1/3 RPM
    Release type: Compilation

    A side
    1. You Really Got Me mono mix (2:13), recorded mid-Jul 1964 at IBC Studios, London
    2. Set Me Free mono mix (2:10), recorded 14 Apr, 1965 at Pye Studios (No. 1), London

    B side
    1. Wonderboy mono mix (2:48), recorded Mar 1968 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
    2. Long Tall Shorty mono mix (2:48), recorded late Aug 1964 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    This is an interesting array of tracks, we get a couple of the early big singles on side one, and Wonderboy on side two. It seems strange to me that Long Tall Shorty gets another life on here.

    It is also very interesting that Pye released this just after the Kinks had started in the studio recording Muswell Hillbillies, and one can’t help but wonder if they were continuing their method of seeming to try and hamper Kinks albums releases with an alternative EP or album….
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  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Muswell Hillbillies.


    Produced by: Ray Davies
    Release date: 26 Nov, 1971
    Record label & catalog #: RCA Victor SF 8243
    Country: UK
    Format: 12" vinyl LP (album), 33 1/3 RPM
    Release type: Regular release

    Ray Davies – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, resonator guitar
    Dave Davies – lead guitar, slide guitar, banjo, backing vocals
    John Dalton – bass guitar, backing vocals
    Mick Avory – drums, percussion
    John Gosling – piano (acoustic and electric), Hammond organ, accordion

    Side one
    1. "20th Century Man" 5:57
    2. "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" 3:32
    3. "Holiday" 2:40
    4. "Skin and Bone" 3:39
    5. "Alcohol" 3:35
    6. "Complicated Life" 4:02

    Side two
    1. "Here Come the People in Grey" 3:46
    2. "Have a Cuppa Tea" 3:45
    3. "Holloway Jail" 3:29
    4. "Oklahoma U.S.A." 2:38
    5. "Uncle Son" 2:33
    6. "Muswell Hillbilly" 4:58

    2013 deluxe edition (CD 2, bonus tracks)
    1. "Lavender Lane" (stereo mix, recorded 20 Sep 1971) 3:48
    2. "Mountain Woman" (stereo mix, recorded 16 Oct 1971) 3:09
    3. "Have a Cuppa Tea" (stereo mix, alternate version, recorded 20 Sep 1971) 3:33
    4. "Muswell Hillbilly" (stereo mix, shortened edit, recorded Aug-Sep 1971) 3:48
    5. "Uncle Son" (stereo mix, alternate version, recorded 20 Sep 1971) 2:44
    6. "Kentucky Moon" (stereo mix, recorded 16 Oct 1971) 3:56
    7. "Nobody's Fool" (mono mix, demo version, recorded 6 Oct 1971) 2:28
    8. "20th Century Man" (stereo mix, alternate instrumental take, recorded 6 Oct 1971) 3:02
    9. "20th Century Man" (stereo mix, edit, recorded Aug-Sep 1971) 5:02
    10. "Queenie" (stereo mix, instrumental backing track, recorded Sep 1971) 3:43
    11. "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" (mono mix, BBC John Peel Sessions, recorded 16 May 1972) 3:48
    12. "Holiday" (mono mix, BBC John Peel Sessions, recorded 16 May 1972) 3:08
    13. "Skin and Bone" (mono mix, BBC John Peel Sessions, recorded 16 May 1972) 2:34

    Directly after the release of Percy, the band’s contract with Pye and Reprise expired. I assume a lot of things, not least of all Reprise’s refusal to release Percy in the US led to the guys allowing the contract to disappear and before the end of 1971 the band signed a five album deal with RCA, and they also received a million dollar advance, which helped them construct their own studio, Konk.

    Muswell Hillbillies is a favourite of mine, I really love this album, but having come from the later albums and back, initially I missed some of the harder rock edge on One For The Road. Given a few listens I started to appreciate the more subtle delivery and arrangements on here, and it ends up being among my favourite Kinks albums.
    Interestingly this album seems to sit on the edge of the more popular earlier material, and has some folks seeming to love it, and others feeling that it is a drop in quality. To me it is merely a slight change in direction.
    Also the album wasn’t quite as successful as some of the earlier albums,
    The album charted at 36 in Australia and 100 in the USA, and I don’t think that gives the album the credit it is due personally.

    The Kinks had created their own sound during the sixties, and as we have seen there was predominantly a sort of British flavour to the albums, and some people have never forgiven the band for moving on and trying something different. I think the band made the right decision to incorporate other elements into their style, it broadens their palette, and it gives Ray more elements to work with in his writing. Sure Ray could have continued knocking out vignettes to Britishness and stayed in one spot doing the same old thing, but I feel that would have shortened the band’s career, and as far as I’m concerned, the majority of what we are going to be going through from here on out is just as good as the earlier material, it is just a different flavour, and it isn’t the last time the band will change direction and try different things.
    Anyone that knows anything about being a writer, knows that inspiration is more important than stylistic repetition, and Ray wasn’t about to get stuck in that trap.

    We have all said that this album is somewhat like the Kinks country album, but for me, having closer listens, and really trying to get under the skin of this album, it is much more blues oriented than it is country. There are a few country elements, but it is far from a country album (so fear not @croquetlawns ) …. I can see how it may be seen as somewhat Americana, because it does have elements of traditional US music in there … but there is a great deal of Ray, and The Kinks in there too.
    We get a little seventies rock, in Kinks clothes, we get some folk, some blues, some variations on the music hall stuff and we also get a hint of country and bluegrass….. so I think anyone that has been fearing this whole the Kinks go country thing…. That isn’t really what we have here.

    Any good, or great, writer absorbs their surroundings and filters it through their heart to deliver us something a little different. After the Kinks ban was lifted, the guys were allowed to go to the USA again, and it was inevitable that Ray would soak up the US environment, physically and musically and filter what appeared to him through his British Kinks core…. And to me that is what we have here. The (almost) title track being a perfect example of that. The young Brit finally gets a chance to visit the New World and see what it is all about….

    I remember when I first came to the US, one of the first things I did was drive down the old Route 66 with the people I was staying with, from Phoenix Arizona to Birmingham Alabama, and oddly enough, the thing that stood out to me was all the names of all the towns I knew from songs. All sorts of songs. When you are a music nut, and a writer, that has an effect on you that a local, or a person only vaguely interested in music probably wouldn’t understand. So I can only assume that Ray had a similar sort of “Wow, this is where (insert famous blues or rock and roll name here) was singing about” or where they lived, or whatever…… Not saying that is a correct perspective, but that it what it felt like for me, and it is hard to believe that Ray would have been indifferent to these things.

    Obviously even in the title of the album we have that marriage of the UK and US, which is somewhat what the album sounds like also. Muswell as we have learned across the course of the thread, being the Davies lads home, and of course Hillbillies being a very US terminology.

    To me this album is a great musical journey, and we get every flavour one could imagine from the Kinks, and Ray really wrote some fantastic songs, that fit well together in this context….
    Now as for a theme or concept here…. I am not altogether sure yet, but I do see a few little things here and there that make it seem very interesting, but as we go along and study the lyrics and connections I’ll try and figure out what we have going on.
    I’m sure some of you who have been Kinks fans longer and deeper than I may already have some ideas on this kind of thing, so please feel free to share them with us.
    What I have noticed so far, is that several songs seem to be answers to question in the previous song in a sense. Rough example without getting too deeply into any songs yet …. Suffering paranoia, you need a holiday…. This kind of thing, but I am sure these things will expose themselves as we move along.

    Anyway, this, to me, is a magnificent album that stands tall in the catalog, and even though having studied the sixties output so deeply here has turned my thoughts about the Kinks on its head, it doesn’t affect my love for this album, because to be honest for a while there I was concerned that the later albums I love would be influenced by my new love of the sixties catalog…. Thankfully not, now I just have more great albums to enjoy.

    So please give us your thoughts about this album.
    What did you think when you first heard it?
    Has your opinion changed over the years?
    Any of those little questions that may help you share what this album means to you, or doesn’t, as the case may be.
  9. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    No idea why they included Long Tall Shorty!
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  10. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Looks like this E.P. was the first of the Pye Mini-Monster series. Inevitably The Searchers were next.

    Mini Monster

    It's difficult to see how "Wonderboy" would have ended up on here - but then again this is the only song which ended up on two Golden Hour compilations, so maybe it's charmed/cursed. The only thing it has in common with "Long Tall Shorty" is running time!
  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  15. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    I've struggled with this album, moreso than Percy, perhaps because I've always heard how great it is and I just can't get into it. I'll try it again as a whole, plus for the track-by-track!
  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

  18. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Muswell Hillbillies

    Going back to the mid-80s when I was discovering the Kinks catalogue via the University record library, this one wasn't in there, so I didn't get the chance to sample it. I don't remember ever seeing a copy (at least not until recently) in either a second hand record shop or a record fair. But even if I had found one, would I have wanted to buy it?

    My Kinks "bible" at the time was the Jon Savage biography, and that's where the quote about Ray wanting it to sound like a bad Country & Western band playing in the Archway Tavern came from. Now call me crazy, but that didn't sound too enticing to me (certainly not to me in my early 20s). Given this, and my negative reaction to the four RCA albums I did get to hear, for the next couple of decades I preferred to pretend that the RCA era didn't exist, being happy with the Pye albums and the Arista and beyond albums.

    In 2003 I came upon a CD of Schoolboys In Disgrace (and enjoyed it), at which point Muswell Hillbillies became the one and only Kinks album I'd never even heard. That continued until a couple or so years ago when I first came onto this forum. I noticed in various threads how people were praising this album, some saying it was not only one of their favourite Kinks albums, but one of their favourite albums period. So I thought maybe it was time to discover it. Given that I thought I'd be unlikely to find a decent vinyl copy for a reasonable price, and that HMV had a copy of the CD in the racks, that was the route I went down. So I took it home and listened and, well...underwhelmed. And I have been ever since (with the exception of the excellent opening track).

    What is the problem here? Had my window of being able to accept new Kinks material expired? That might have been the case back when I first bought it, but it's certainly not the case now. Is it the CD? I do feel a bit uncomfortable these days listening to 70s albums on CD - which is why when acquiring the next four albums recently, it was imperative that I got them on authentic 70s vinyl - but it's not a particularly bad sounding CD. Does it require you to like other bands that I'm not into - e.g. the Stones - to appreciate it fully?

    The thing is, if I read the sleeve notes on the CD, it sounds like a great idea. I get what Ray was aiming for - an album with no singles to distract from it, a certain kind of sound, stories and themes from his own family's experience - but I just don't like much how the end result turned out. I've read reviews which heap endless praise on it and again it sounds great on paper, but then I go and listen to it. Most of the songs sound kind of dreary to me, and I'm not keen on the vocal style that Ray employs on much of it. I miss the melodies and song structures of the albums before and after, and don't hear much in their place.

    However, I suspect that listening to each track a day at a time will come across better - the problem is when listening to all of it at once. Maybe reading other people's opinions will show me what I've been missing?

    What I will say is that many of the lyrics on this album set out Ray's stall for the 80s albums. The themes of frustration, aggravation and disillusionment with modern life, and an exaggerated sense of paranoia would all sound very much at home on Low Budget/Give The People What They Want/State Of Confusion.

    [That should be all the negative reviews out of the way!]
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  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Probably my only disappointment is that I was seriously hoping that we were going to get some kind of special edition of this this year..... before we started the album :)
    I really do hope that they release the surround mix that it appears was created for the sacd, listed on the sacd, but not included on the sacd
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  20. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    I’ve never bothered listening to the story arch of this record, because the music’s always been enough to bring the idea across. Well… the idea and the title – and the art work, this wonderful British western saloon. We all have a few “life changing” or “taste changing” records in our lives. Muswell Hillbillies definitely was one for me. I was deep in my Exile on Main Street period, and looking for more of that blues ’n’ country feel. And Muswell was so much more than that (I don’t mean “more” as in “better” but as in “more than I expected”). Blues ’n’ country there was, but also New Orleans swing, jug band sounds, Irish drinking singalongs, sea shanteys, and none of it sounded like pastiche, just inspiration, the two meanings of the term merging in the most beautiful way. There’s a great paradox at play here. So many years later, I still think of Muswell Hillbillies as the best “americana” album ever, better than Exile, The Band, late Dylan, Nebraska/Tom Joad Springsteen or any 1990’s Tupelo/Wilco/SonVolt/Jayhawks masterpiece and I think it’s because it never bothers to try being “authentic”. It is UK just as much as it is US. It’s about the dream, the fantasy, it is about the distance, both physical and metaphorical, between Europe and America, those 6200 kilometers of ocean and cultural divide, and how music itself makes us travel through them, in both directions.
  21. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Pretty much all this I agree with.

    Not so, I don't really like any of the songs I know from this record (I've heard the songs on the Picture Book box set much more than the rest). Maybe this thread will change my mind.
    Admittedly I am probably already considered a very unreliable source after my dislike of much of Lola, my lukewarm reception of Face to Face and ambivalence about certain tracks on VGPS.
  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Everyone has their own perspective... I don't think it makes your opinion unreliable, it's just your opinion. It's all good.
  23. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I have to agree with this....
    I probably think of it as more than just that....... but either way, this is going to be a really interesting discussion, because this certainly seems to be where many lose their point of contact with the band.
  24. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Muswell Hillbillies

    The first time i hear the LP is estimated to be the 2nd of January 2022, the date given for my vintage US copy (bought 2 months ago) to arrive by post.

    So what do I know of its contents then.........?

    I have owned Everybody's In Showbiz for many years so heard several tracks live & I also had what I imagined to be an uncommon Australian RCA 7" of 20th Century Man.

    I liked 20th Century ok but thought the B side Skin & Bone to be derivative, jarring and not at all what I expected from Ray Davies either stylistically or talent wise.

    That said I think I prefer 20th Century Man on Ray's Storyteller LP.

    I next heard a little more from the album via the 2CD of To The Bone which I didn't mind but nothing stood out for me.

    A few weeks ago I was fortuitously gifted a French 2 LP self titled Kinks set from 1977 that is entirely dedicated to the RCA period though as yet I have only played it once so far amongst 50 other recent LP additions.


    So thinking back on perhaps why else I had never purchased the LP in the years gone by.....

    *Heard it was Americana & Country
    *Possibly disliked the cover
    *Didn't understand why there was no single released in many countries from their first ever RCA long player?
    *Never seemed to hear it mentioned
    *No stand out track of popular recognition
    *Didn't see the LP around and later didn't see a budget priced Velvel/Shock release with bonus tracks to risk the gamble

    So I am a ripe candidate to experience the LP, have already bought/ordered it and want to really like it so my appetite has been whetted by y'all good o'l boys ya hear!
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  25. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Muswell Hillbillies general thoughts: A masterpiece. I’ve mentioned repeatedly how /when I first heard this (along with Village Green) so will keep mum on that now. Naturally, this is firmly entrenched in my top 100 albums list and needn’t worry about getting caught up in a purge.

    Mark has already mentioned what, by happenstance, was my own recent brainwave: that this is a blues album (ala Siegel-Schwall Blues Band). And shows the band as a very good blues band…something I wouldn’t have believed possible when we were dissecting The Kinks early albums. (Remember the critic on the film who commented that they could have been known as one of the worst blues bands if they hadn’t changed directions?)

    Of course, I have made my preliminary playlist selections and could easily have just placed everything onto it. But, in the interest of feigned restraint, I (grudgingly) kept a couple of tracks off. Whether they stay off will depend on our subsequent deep dive.

    The album cover: I like it. It’s not terrific, terrific but allows for repeated views to try and figure out who/where the band members are.

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