Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
It's still going on around here!
I did not know that.
Middlesbrough is the sort of place the word 'sh!thole' was invented to describe. It has absolutely nothing going for it. Not a thing.
It might be something that I alluded to yesterday - perhaps you need to be into certain other bands/other albums to fully appreciate this album, and some of us haven't been down those roads, hence it ends up sounding a bit alien for a Kinks album.
An all time klassic program Mark!
i love this thread. that is *such* a little detail that I never really noticed before. And yes, Mick’s fills in that section are amazing! He has another one of those off beat fills right after “the edge of insanity” line at the end of the song.
20th Century Man
this is a confusing song to me. In no way do I dislike it(or even feel neutral about it). This song chugs along nicely. But no real hooks to pull me in and bring me up. Instead, it's sort of a big bummer. yes, incredibly deep stuff to think about and I do a fair amount of existential thinking so I'm not opposed to the theme. And angry. I feel so much anger and frustration. It's really good songwriting. Wow. I've heard this song over the years, maybe from his solo shows and such. It embodies who he is so well. Or parts of him. But it's not a song I connect with. It's missing something for me to be one of their very top songs. Good song...if anyone else wrote it would be great song. But Ray has such a friggin' high bar on complete classics and this doesn't hit that level.
I feel like I should rave about it, and feel weirdly rotten that I can't do that.
What's wrong with me?
It could well be that.
I just don't hear it as particularly different, or unKinksy.. it sounds like a fairly natural progression to me...
I completely understand folks don't like it a lot, and there's nothing wrong with that, I just find it very surprising.
20th Century Man
Until today I had only heard the (unbeknownst to me) shorter 7" on my long ago traded 45.
I sure like Dave's little fills & the organs & note the inclusion of the bridge here adds a lot even if Ray's warble doesn't.
That said it may be because I am far more used to the Storyteller and (more) modern day solo Ray YouTube clip here that I by far prefer them to the original.
To early for me to truly say but perhaps for me this sounds like a Ray solo number without much kinkiness.
Great theme & lyric but i do miss Dave or Rasa's vocals which were a big and it must be said hugely appealing part of the Kinks musical identity to this time.
Perhaps I think it's mostly down to Ray's performance & feeling he really nailed a better arrangement & vocal delivery in a live setting?
There are some amazing songs coming up so maybe some will re-evaluate at the end of the album. This album may take some warming up to for some fans. I agree that I thought the opening song would at least get more love. If this is getting a rough start, I have a feeling it will be hard to convince people how great the upcoming albums are.
I'm listening now to the 1972 live versions from some of these songs. I love this period of the band.
Also, Stevie Wonder's "Where I'm Coming From."
See, that's the issue...I'm pretty excited about what follows this album. And some of that involves the live versions of many of these songs...and I'm thinking that there was an overall improvement to them. But I am going to look at this album methodically and let it sink in. Let it flow over me...man.
I find it a little odd that the first minute and a half of this is pretty much monophonic, with Ray's acoustic guitar, John's bass and Mick's drums all shoved together in the middle. They're all drowning out the vocals a bit. It probably could've benefited from putting separate microphones on the snare, toms, cymbals & kick and then spreading them out over the stereo spectrum. When Dave's resonator guitar finally chimes in at 1:35 in the right hand speaker, it's a welcome relief, but it isn't until the bridge at the three minute mark, that the track really becomes fully stereophonic, and that should've happened a lot earlier.
That's all we can hope for.
I have to say I have a completely different view on this.
Imagine taking a scenic train ride. At the end you not only want to have seen a beautiful vista, but want to feel like you’ve gone somewhere. The experience of going through a forested area or a tunnel then exiting from the area to see a brightly lit scene that expands to reveal mountainous panorama with flowing water and wild animal herds is a far more thrilling experience than starting out in the open to begin with.
So I have no problem with Ray taking us on both an emotional and sonic trip. Of course, I also usually prefer a romantic session to begin with gentle kisses rather than deep tongue action.
What'd wrong with you?
But then that's what's right about you too
The perfect Ting and Yang.
thus there taint nuttin' wrong with you!
Netherlands Feb. 1972 Picture Sleeve single from first RCA Lp, Muswell Hillbillies (Nov. 1971)
Maybe sum daze yule connect with this 20th Century Man's Killer Kinks Klassic!
I like Paranoia.
P. S. The Kinks brothers, Ray & Dave, pronounce their last name like Davis, not dave-ees.
I’ve said before that I think Ray sets these things up intentionally. Quiet start and beginning to a song and it gradually escalates with more instruments and gets louder to emphasize the lyrics. It’s an old trick going back decades with lots of artists and genres but is very effective in 20th Century Man.
The song is very sparse until about halfway through when Dave’s electric finally enters with a volume swell but not a crashing power chord as might be expected. From there things get louder and more cacophonous with Gosling’s organ added to the fray as the music and the singer give further example as to why he doesn’t fit it and doesn’t want to be here. Music, lyrics and performance are very effective in my opinion.
One thing I’ve heard over the years from friends I’ve introduced to this album is they’ve said it’s a hard listen and “bleak”. I don’t disagree with this assessment but say I love it and sometimes I need bleak albums to keep things in perspective. I’ve experienced some dark times in life where this album has proved to be an old friend who has been there and understands.
I think it’s a good opening track on an album I have mixed feelings about. But is it a great Kinks track? I dunno. I don’t dislike it but I don’t get the urge to play it repeatedly either. Dalton does some nice work on this.
"20th Century Man" is not a song I've ever cared much for. It's too long and while I can see it rocking in concert, the lyrics are too serious for that atmosphere. The album version is very bleak and muddy. I love me some epic Ray, songs like Australia and Shangri-La are great, but this never moved me. When I think of this song, I mainly go to the "I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy" bridge as my best memory. I enjoy much of this album but I don't feel it gets off to a great start.
Another smash hit here, Mark. Your write up, that is.
The song is perhaps even better. One of only a measly 107 songs on my Kinks top 5 list fer shure. The lyrics are dark and foreboding, yes. But also mocking and funny.
For those that are put off (!) by the mixing of serious issues with uptempo music... Listen to the way Ray sings 'em. Dripping with vitriol and sarcasm. As a few others have noticed: the song itself rocks like quite a few vintage Rod, Faces and the Stones songs. Mainly acoustic but also ramshackle, rambunctious and yet tight. "Every Picture Tells a Story" is an obvious kindred spirit in that department. Stewart's wonderful cover of Eddie Cochran's "Cut Across Shorty" is another one. Not that "20th Century Man" exactly sounds like it musically, but it has something of the same energetical delivery.
The drumming is exemplary. Mick Avory is becoming my favorite '60's drummer.
I'll give you Holloway Jail, and the bonus tracks Lavender Lane & (especially) Nobody's Fool.
Guess I'm a man without a country here. I don't love the album, or the change of direction (adore Lola Vs. Powerman & Percy).
But "20th Century Man" is in a three-way tie for my favorite Kinks song ever. Maybe that also feeds into my lukewarmity for the rest ~ nothing after it can hope to equal it (and nothing comes close, IMO). Just a perfect record, The Kinks firing on every cylinder from songcraft to performance to production.
Muswell is good, but it's never reeled my heart in.
Yule Give Me "Holloway Jail?"
As mentioned earlier, "Oklahoma U.S.A." has got to be one of the best sad Ray songs., ever, easy....
I mean~ewed half two be half dead or heartless not to feel a tug at the heart strings hearing him sing that so sadly.
Same with: "Alcohol", "Skin and Bones" and "Complicated Life" ~ are all quietly devastating in their matter of fact insights into what working in the Modern world wonce was and will never be again...
Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues.
stereo mix (3:29), recorded Aug-Sep 1971 at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London
I'm too terrified to walk out of my own front door,
They're demonstrating outside I think they're gonna start the third world war,
I've been to my local head shrinker,
To help classify my disease,
He said it's one of the cases of acute schizophrenia he sees.
Well the milkman's a spy, and the grocer keeps on following me,
And the woman next door's an undercover for the K.G.B.,
And the man from the Social Security
Keeps on invading my privacy,
Oh there ain't no cure for acute schizophrenia disease.
I've got acute schizophrenia, paranoia too,
I've got it, you've got it, we can't lose,
Acute schizophrenia blues.
I'm lost on the river, the river of no return,
I can't make decisions, I don't know which way I'm gonna turn,
Even my old dad, lost some of the best friends he ever had,
Apparently, his was a case of acute schizophrenia too.
I got acute schizophrenia, paranoia too,
I've got it, you've got it, we can't lose,
They're watching my house and they're tapping my telephone,
I don't trust nobody, but I'm much too scared to be on my own
And the income tax collector's got his beady eye on me,
No there ain't no cure for acute schizophrenia disease.
No there ain't no cure for
Written by: Ray Davies
Published by: Davray Music Ltd.
I love this track too.
When I was about 17, my mate from high school, Dave, called me up and asked if I was still playing guitar. I was, and he invited me to come and jam out in the sticks near Perth. So, as I had been jamming with records and writing my little songs on my own for about four years, I gladly said yes.
It was me, Dave and a guy named Phil.
Phil was probably in his late thirties I guess, and he played bass and piano, and had a knack for wiring up strange electronic devices.
This became my first band, and we jammed a lot, played gigs at a pub in Midland, Western Australia, and recorded an unusual batch of songs, that varied between rock songs, folk songs and strange electronic experiments with tape effects, and manipulated sounds via effects pedals from my guitar set up, with my obtuse poems vocalized on top, also suitably effected to go with the soundscapes….. It was an absolute blast, and I learned a lot.
Phil introduced me to all sorts of seventies music that I was unfamiliar with, Zappa, Fripp, Beefheart…. Tons and tons of music that I had never heard before.
Excuse my rambling here, but it is kind of relevant. We enjoyed lots of jams over a couple of years, and after our jams, we would sit down and have a few drinks or whatever and chat. Phil had some issues that I wasn’t too familiar with, and would often go on little rants about the people who were spying on him, and CIA, Mafia and all sorts of other things that were happening around us as we were jamming and hanging out……
To me at the time it was really unusual, and I had no idea what he was talking about, because aside from the old lady down the road who would come by and thank us for our beautiful music ( I assume she had hearing or psychological issues ) I never saw anybody. After a while I started to put it together. Phil was quite a brilliant guy, but he was a diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic, and that created some issues with how things went, and after a couple of years, it all became too much for everyone and the band dissolved. Dave and I ended up forming another band later and Phil had a heck of a time of it.
After building a wire laden bamboo aerial about twenty feet width and contacting aliens, he spent a short time at the local institution, where I did go and visit him, fearing they might not let me back out. Phil would happily sit and play piano for the other patients ….. and it was a very strange time in my life, and I assume his also…..but anyway, I say all of that to say, this is a real and serious condition, but I never felt threatened by Phil and his condition, I just found it particularly sad that this guy with so many abilities was hobbled by this irrational condition.
Not too long afterwards I actually met this guy who said he was the son of Satan and “when he got his powers” he was going to make everyone pay…. I was very stoned and made fun of the guy for about three hours … I guess I’m a bad person, but to be honest I thought he was just trying to freak me out because of my condition, but I have never been paranoid and so I just made a huge joke of the situation, and we were in pain from laughing so much … it was only later on I learned that he had the same condition, but it manifested in a different way. I guess he wasn’t the son of Satan though, because he never came to get me lol… but it is surprising how many folks around the place have conditions like this when you are in amongst it.
Later again I had to try and talk a guy down who was suffering from speed psychosis… which is not too dissimilar to schizophrenia…. It was hard to convince him that the lady walking the dog, was just walking her dog, and the people at the shopping centre weren’t following him, they were just shopping.
The first verse sounds more like agoraphobia, but it is a great intro to the song nonetheless.
In the second verse we get to the heart of the matter of the condition. That is exactly how this condition manifests. All these people just going about their business are seen as spies and government people collecting information on this very ordinary person, but this poor sod thinks they are spying and collecting information on him…. For whatever reason it would be useful?
These days it seems a lot more likely that people would have this condition, and it would be a lot harder to suggest this isn’t happening, because they are collecting all of our data…. For whatever purpose that might serve?
I think Ray handles the lyric of this very well and having been around quite a few people with this condition, he captures their mentality really well. Also, the somewhat drunken New Orleans jazz/blues of the music delivers the perfect backing for the song.
There ain’t no cure, is a somewhat accurate statement, because although there is a medication that can deal with this situation, when somebody has this condition it is terribly difficult to get them to take the medication, because of course, it seems to them that the fact that they are “being drugged” is confirmation of all the other paranoias.
As compassionate as I actually am, it is exhausting spending literally hours and hours … with Phil, often from 6 or 7pm until 3 or 4 in the morning …. trying to convince them that it is an illusion. It is also a landmine filled conversation.
“I don't trust nobody, but I'm much too scared to be on my own” is a particularly poignant line to me, because that’s how it works out really. Frequently I became the bad guy, due to the fact that obviously, because I was suggesting that these people weren’t here doing the things suggested, I must be one of them…… Yet, these conversations continued for two or three years, until life changed course for both of us, when the band broke up, and we stopped hanging out.
Sorry I can’t help but reminisce about Phil when thinking about this song. Great guy, huge influence on me musically, and a really sad story and example of what this song seems to be all about.
So for the most part lyrically we have a pretty straight forward look at a real and debilitating condition, but in the context of the album it feels like this is a direct result of the pressure of this modern world and all the ugliness it contains, that we see presented in 20th Century Man. I am certainly no kind of real psychologist or medical professional, but experientially that seems a very feasible way for all the stress and fear to manifest itself in some people. So for me this song ties in well to the opening track, as a symptom coming about as a direct result. The human mind and body can take a remarkable amount of punishment, but when it breaks, it breaks.
The other thing is, we have this line in the chorus that makes this a somewhat universal problem … I got it, you’ve got it, we can’t lose acute schizophrenia blues… So here Ray seems to be setting this up for the rest of the album content perhaps. The crazy environment and times that we live in, as stated in 20th Century Man is creating an army of people who are paranoid and scared…. And living somewhat schizophrenic lives ….. In many ways the mindset here reminds me of Dire Straits much later classic Industrial Disease.
Musically we open up with a sort of slowish bar band boogie, with the piano rolling out a nice little intro and then the guitars bending us into the track. It has a very barroom blues kind of feel about it, and that style is generally going to work well for me.
Initially it has a kind of loose delivery, but as we move into the second verse it sort of tightens up. At the end of the first verse we get some nice New Orleans jazz type horns and Mick kicks it into a solid bouncing beat.
Also all through here we get Dave dropping in some really nice bending and sliding leads licks that colour the proceedings nicely.
To some degree this track wouldn’t be very out of place on an early seventies Stones album … and with all the comments on the sound, which I actually like, it makes me wonder if this may have had some influence on The Stones and their famous Exile On Mainstreet sound.
This is a real gumbo of sounds and feels, that for me, that work together really well to deliver this semi-drunken blues/rock track.
Again, Ray’s vocal delivery is just great. He has a natural way of delivering his lyrics, which seem on reading to be rather difficult to phrase correctly.
I love the little breakdown when we move to just the piano. It just adds this little piece of information that works like a focus point.
The other thing is, this song really swings.
So again, for me, we have a fantastic second track that I find musically and lyrically engaging, and it seems to be working to keep a thematic flow coming in … and I guess if this was my first listen I would be wondering where Ray is going to take us next.
Another great write up, Marky Mark
Detailed and rather sad personal reminiscences fleshing out your review of another funny and rather sloppy song about a very serious topic. I love this album and after I'm finished listening to Preservation Act 2 on vintage black plastic, I will slap on the 2004 SACD of this one, the only Kinks album I do not yet own on vinyl.
Separate names with a comma.