The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. WHMusical

    WHMusical Chameleon Comedian Corinthian & Caricature

    I LOVE Muswell Hillbillies!

    It is probably my favorite Kinks Long Player, though sometimes Lola is. Together they are the twin peaks of Kinkdom, for me. The last Pye (or Reprise) album and the first RCA album.

    I missed all the Lola discussion, but hope to chime in on these various Kinks Klassics as we come to them, as they make this record essential for me: "20th Century Man", "Holiday", "Alcohol", "Skin and Bones", "People in Grey", "Holloway Jail", "Uncle Sam", "Oklahoma USA", and the "title track". All SLAY me...

    A great, fun, rollicking record, a new Kinks sound and era for a new label and decade and, for me, their last essential album, coming at the very peak of Rock music's apex, November 1971.

    I have long proposed that 1971 was the peak of Rock music, and within it, that November 1971 was the top of the top, the rocky pinnacle at the tippy top of Mt. Everest. Besides the majestic Muswell Hillbillies, check out these other top-notch records that came out in November 1971, many each of these band's/artist's peaks--arguably, YMMV and all:

    Led Zeppelin IV
    Nilsson Schmillson
    Madman Across the Water
    A Space In Time
    Nursery Cryme
    Bless The Weather
    Bonnie Raitt
    The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

    missing it by 2 weeks,
    Dec. 71's Hunky Dory.

    What a year, what a month, and Muswell Hillbillies is one of the main reasons why!

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  2. batdude98

    batdude98 Forum Resident

    Dunstable, MA
    Not to wander into a rampaging thread, but are the Kinks Sanctuary deluxe releases worth getting still?

    I can grab most of them for around $100, I think.
    DISKOJOE and mark winstanley like this.
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I assume you mean 100 total?

    I think they're great.
  4. batdude98

    batdude98 Forum Resident

    Dunstable, MA
    I do.

    S/T through Something Else.

    I only have the Anthology 5 CD box at present, and I figure if I have the discographies of the golden era of the Beatles, Stones, Who, Floyd, why not the Kinks?
  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I think it's worth it.
    The albums and extra tracks made them very appealing to me, and I wasn't disappointed
    CheshireCat, sharedon and DISKOJOE like this.
  6. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Yeah, this should be on the final exam.
  7. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    The Archway Tavern

    Once upon a time my living arrangements hovered around Willesden. I lived in NW10 for a while but that would have been the Harlesden end rather than Willesden. I worked in Kilburn just down from Willesden Lane and lived in Maida Vale. Biddy Mulligans (one of London's most notorious Irish pubs) is in Willesden Lane. Harlesden, Willesden and Cricklewood had large Irish immigrant populations and I suppose those areas now contain many second-generation Irish.

    When we were discussing the Lola album's Get Back In Line I forgot to say I used to see groups of men hanging around street corners early in the morning in Kilburn. Being an immigrant myself I had never seen this before and one day I asked a work colleague about it. He explained they were Irish workers waiting for the van to pull up and select the lucky few who would be given a days work for cash. It was called working on the Lump.

    They were known as McAlpines fusiliers. Sir Robert McAlpine had a massive construction company back then and there are at least two songs about those Irish workers - Navigator by The Pogues and McAlpines Fusiliers by ... loads of other Iriah traditional bands.

    Further east, other areas which attracted the Irish were Camden, Holloway and Archway. At the top of Holloway Road there is a massive roundabout and in the middle of that roundabout is an island where we find the Archway Tavern. It too boasted an Irish clientele. I used to drink there in the early 1980's when my friend lived in Highgate. Leaned up against that bar putting the world to rights on many occasions I can tell you. Later on we both moved to different parts of Muswell Hill but, for some reason, we stopped going to the Arch. It eventually closed but I think it is open again now.

    Something I always find amusing about the photo of the band members on the album is that three of them, Dave, John and Mick are dressed like Irish construction workers (navvies). Compare this to the way they were dressed for the photoshoot to promote the Lola album a year earlier. Lastly, I bet the worker in Retcar Street is Irish. Wonder if he was a Kinks fan? Wonder if he was Uncle Son?

    A view from Retcar Street in Highgate, looking across into Lulot Street. These streets were demolished to make way for the modern flats in Lulot Gardens, Retcar Place and Sandstone Place in the 1970s. (AA096071) Archive Item - John Gay Collection | Historic England
  8. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    As @Steve62 said most eloquently : it may be the more "British" of all Kinks records. It's just that it's not in the mythical past of Britishness, but 100% "in the moment" in 1971 Britain. As such, it's a direct follow up to Village Green and Arthur : History has set its course and we're in the here and now, the American culture diffusing its influence and "dreams" on the post-War / post-decline Great-Britain.
    I'm with the other thread members on this as well : this is my favorite of all Kinks covers and one of my favorites album covers, period. I think it sets the mood perfectly, just one look at the cover gives you a taste of its music's spirit. It's at the same time grim and amicable, the guys both blending in and standing out, one foot in the pub crowd, one foot in rock stardom, still unclear about where they'd fit the best. For us non-British, it's hard to understand how you can get from swinging London Sgt Pepper fireworks to 1977 pre-thathcherian punk in just ten years. This art work is the perfect missing link.[/QUOTE]
    This one beats me…
    Ahah, you clearly weren't there for the sublime Wilco thread a few months ago ! As for myself, I think I've mentioned it in every thread I've ever been part of on this forum, Kinks related or not!!
    I guess you're right about this. Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright failed the band in that regard. I think Oklahoma USA should be one of the most celebrated Kinks songs. Ray tried to revive it (and the title-track) as part of his Americana records, in 2017/2018. But to no avail, apparently.
    But that's a good sign, isn't it? Once you buy Muswell Hillbillies, you keep it. There's no way it'll end up in the used records shops. No way…
  9. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Dearborn, MI
    "Whip Lady" - I really can't seem to care about this one.. it's like 2 short unrelated instrumentals cut together. A jewelry box kind of opening and then a quick Who jam. Kinda glad it's short as outside of the movie it won't be of any interest.

    "Dreams" - This is another album highlight, though the production hurts it a bit to me. I don't love the first "Dream I'm far away" part, the second is better.. And some of the effects on his vocals can go. "When I look so far away / Please don't wake me from my daze / I'm just wondering who I could be / If I lived inside my dreams" That's good Ray stuff.
  10. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    The theme of the album is the enforced removal of working class people to new towns and tower blocks in an effort by local government to clear what they considered slum areas. And also areas suffering from bomb damage due to the war. The albums cover features Retcar street which disappeared under this program.
  11. WHMusical

    WHMusical Chameleon Comedian Corinthian & Caricature

    Loved this post, and its insider's insights into the sights and sounds of London Town (cue RT!). (As well as the Social and Cultural Geography!)

    I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in London in July of 1992, and so a few of your locale markers rang some bells.

    My English Mate had a flat in Camden Gardens, IIRC, just up Edgeware Road, diagonally (N.W.) from Marble Arch? I was wondering where in relation to Camden Gardens Muswell Hill was/is? And these other concentrations of Irish worker/immigrants? The Archway Tavern etc?

    In those three weeks we covered a lot of London Town Ground: Soho, Piccadilly, Hyde Park, St. John's Green, Chelsea, Mardi Vale, Portabello Road and Abbey Road.

    Sadly, I wasn't hip to, and thus never pilgrimaged to, Muswell Hill then...

    London was a fun town to explore then, but I hear it is quite congested and modernized now?

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Cheers mate
    DISKOJOE likes this.
  13. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    Thanks for your interesting post.

    Any idea on what kind of a shop CATS ON HOLIDAY was?
  14. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    You mean St John's Wood and Maida Vale. Maida Vale is posh but not as posh as St John's Wood. Apparently, McCartney had a flat there once. Not far from Abbey Road. Yet, St John's Wood contained one of the country's worst housing estates - Lisson Grove. Maida Vale is an extension of Edgware Road which leads down to Marble Arch/Oxford Street. In the other direction we come to Kilburn. Muswell Hill is much further north and not close to any of these places.
  15. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    I haven't a clue but I would guess maybe you could drop off your pet before going on holiday. I love that name.
  16. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    I think Ray's parents were moved from the area around Kings Cross so maybe that influenced him somewhat.
  17. WHMusical

    WHMusical Chameleon Comedian Corinthian & Caricature

    Thanks for the clarification and orientation!

    Yes, I mean't Wood, not Green, for St. John's. My mate took me by Macca's Old Flat, as well as were Donovan lived around there then.

    I didn't realize Muswell Hill was so far north of there!

  18. I do, and as someone born and raised in the tight quarters of city, I am drawn to the latter.
  19. I think that @ARL really nailed it with one adjective for the album: dreary. Nicely put. There are good songs on it, and wonderful moments, but the whole thing suffers from a dearth of joy, and does not entice. I have always felt the same way about Abbey Road: neither record is emotionally involving.
    ARL, mark winstanley and DISKOJOE like this.
  20. batdude98

    batdude98 Forum Resident

    Dunstable, MA
    Abbey Road...not emotionally involving...I don't know if I agree, provided you're talking about the Beatles record.
    Steve62, mark winstanley and Zeki like this.
  21. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Lyrically or musically? Or both? We’ll get into the song-by-song discussion momentarily but…I can’t relate at all to this sentiment in terms of the music. In fact, quite a bit of it is bouncy!
  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It's really a surprising take to me....
    but we'll see how it pans out I guess...
    DISKOJOE and Zeki like this.
  23. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    I agree. I also think it is a dreary album and not helped by the production but that was an artistic choice by Ray. I mentioned earlier in the thread that, although the album was recorded in the state-of-the-art Morgan Studios, Ray used old radio microphones dating from the early 1960's. According to Rogan "The PA system was then set up outside the studio with Davies using a seperate microphone for his vocal. This double-feed effect produced the distinctly dated sound that made the album so unusual".

    London back in 1971 wasn't quite Carnaby Street or Kings Road. It was dreary. Also, the theme of the album - the removal (often against their will, compulsory purchase etc.) of whole communities to the suburbs - is a very bleak subject.

    Dave said "They were pulling down all those lovely terraced Victorian cottages and rebuilding Holloway".

    Ray "There were all these people who've been taken out of the East End of London and put into these places where they don't really exist as they did before. The government think they are taking them into a wonderful new world but it's just destroying people. The album is a condensed version of all these ideas".

    One of the songs which encapsulates this very well - Lavender Lane - was left off the album.

    So, yes, a dreary album but still a classic.

    I don't think it has been mentioned yet but Muswell Hillbillies was the first Kinks album to feature The Mike Cotton Sound. I would have loved to have seen the faces of the suits at RCA when Ray delivered up this album. Here they were thinking they had signed the band that had offered up Lola and all those catchy hits only to discover the album had no obvious singles and sounded weird! Hilarious!
  24. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Forum Resident

    Count me in as another who just never really gelled with this record. Some good tracks, but overall just not up to the standard of the previous few. Well see if my opinion is swayed as we go through the tracks.
  25. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Somewhere Else
    Especially fat flabby Annie. :laugh:

Share This Page