The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Location:
    Molde, Norway
    Don't know why but "Alcohol" reminds me of Richard (and Linda) Thompson. Specifically the albums from Henry the Human Fly to Hokey Pokey. A very peculiar 'rock played by a Salvation Army Band' sub-genre few artists have explored (thankfully) more than New Orleans-y thingie, IMO. The lyrics warning us about the dangers of getting groged up fits that vibe as well.

    Deffo 5/5 so far. Even if it is just one crappy novelty song after another at this point :D
     
  2. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    [​IMG]

    "Alcohol" has one of the funniest lines on any rock n roll record as far as I am concerned - "sad memories I can't recall". It's not "ha ha" funny because it slides up on you. We all know what a sad memory is but if you can't recall it, surely it is not a memory.

    There is a lot of detail in the story told (which literally is a Soap Opera) but I also like the way Ray puts together a list of alcoholic beverages where it becomes about the way these words sound when put them together. Bob Dylan did a similar thing in "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" ("I look for you in old Honolulu, San Francisco or Ashtabula" where it is about arranging words or names in a way that sounds interesting when heard out loud). And there is also Lou Reed's "The Last Shot" ("Whiskey, bourbon, vodka, Scotch, I don't care what it is you got"). I like "Alcohol" particularly Ray's vocal performance - in the first verse, he just spits those words out so quickly when telling the backstory of the poor drunk. I also like how the song switches from third person to first person where Ray tells the story in the third person but switches to first person for that chorus.

    Obviously the song took on a life of its own in a live setting and I recall seeing the above photo in a book by Nicholas Schaffner about the British Invasion and it just communicated to me how fun a Kinks show must be!
     
  3. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Alcohol is one of the best songs the Kinks ever did and one of the four stand-outs tunes on this LP for me (20th Century Man was the first, the other two are on the flip side). Just the guitar (+ resonator ?) intro gives me goosebumps. Music and lyrics are stellar. I think the twist is, despite being in the position of the narrator/ring leader, Ray doesn’t really endorse the “reasons” (excuses) why the guy started drinking, be it bad luck or women in general. I’d rather think he just tells the stories this guy tells himself. That’d explain why the verses are told in this distant matter of fact fatalistic voice, like he’s just giving us the weather, and making light fun of it ("it's such a sha-ame"). Then the chorus comes in, and it’s so pathetic, so devastating, it’s almost not rock music anymore, but something completely different, Brechtian tragic street opera, something Tom Waits might’ve lent an ear to. And yet, the song’s still funny in a way. I think we fans enjoy funny Ray but we tend to be wary of his mocking tendencies, we generally prefer his empathy impulses to his occasional judgmental side. It’s his humanity that makes him the peerless songwriter he is. He sees human beings in all their flaws and loves them not in spite but because of them, in an almost religious kind of way. "The grocer boy and now he owns a grocery". Is it funny ? Is it sad ? It’s both or neither, what counts is that it's affectionate, full of human truth and experience. He often writes and sings like an observer and a moralist but (almost) never like a moralizing self-righteous person. And Alcohol is one of the best examples of that talent at adopting the right distance. We hear the tales of this poor bloke, the tales he tells himself, and then, as @stewedandkeefed's just pointed, the narrator hands the microphone to him for this wonderful chorus, this heart wrenching drunken plea that plays like an hymn to the booze just as much as a curse put on it. But what elevates the song to almost mythical status for me is the band performance (and I mean studio performance), shambolic once more, spontaneous, full of feeling, swing, joy and playfulness, with Gosling making a more than welcome return after being sidetracked on the previous song (not coincidently the least convincing on the whole record). Playlisters, don’t miss this one, this is Side 1’s centerpiece, probably the best they ever got in their “trad jazz vaudeville” vein and as such a new landmark in their ongoing ever-growing creative quest.
     
  4. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Well I have been doing most of these the day before to be honest.... because I was struggling to collect my thoughts at 4am, and running out of time to get them down
     
  5. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    If this is one of the best songs the Kinks ever did, then I'm living on another planet.

    Maybe even in a different universe.

    Just sayin'.
     
  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Not really, just living in a different body, with a different opinion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2021
  7. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    I'm able to play that "Alcohol" video, which I knew of, but didn't realize was on the Sonny & Cher Show. Maybe YouTube doesn't think that New England isn't part of the US.

    Anyway, the song itself is another of my favorites from the album & really comes the life in concert. My favorite version is from the 1977 Christmas concert. I especially like the Ray pronounces the line "Rum, Scotch, Vodka on the Rocks!!!
     
  8. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    But 50/50 is 1 day Mark!
    I declare a test, have you been enjoying alcohol tonight?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2021
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  9. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Alcohol
    I like it. And that's all the ambiguity you'll get from me today.
    This is an exemplar of what Ray was aiming for on stage in the early-seventies. The rest of the Kinks have no greater status than the horn section in Ray's supporting cast. He must have written this song with an eye to how he would perform it live: hamming up the introduction and getting the crowd to join in and hold their drinks aloft during the chorus. I'm as guilty as anyone of singing along to this one with a smile - even though it's supposedly a cautionary tale. The band could have taken better heed of the lyrics - there were tales of drunkenness before and after performances over the next couple of years. So, yes I like it but I can also understand those people who say this doesn't sound like The Kinks.
     
  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yea I just liked the assortment of 5's there.

    I have been enjoying the song Alcohol.
    I think about three weeks ago I had a glass of absinthe ... I haven't really had much spare time over the last month.... I'm hoping for a slow down soon.
    Life is soooooo, complicated ;)

    Oh and it's just turned 6:30 am.... it has been many years since I had a drink at that time lol
     
  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It's interesting..... I guess because I came backwards from 1980, the whole doesn't sound like the Kinks thing doesn't really register with me.
     
  12. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    I'm not suggesting you run a poll, but I suspect the theatrical years would have been a lot more challenging for fans only used to their sixties songs than it was for those who discovered the band in the late seventies and eighties.
     
  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I have no doubt
     
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  14. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    This is great! Thanks. End credits says “sung by W. Carpenter.”
     
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  15. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Really? It played for me (in Washington State).
     
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  16. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Glad you enjoyed! Unfortunately a singer called Carpenter is hard to Google.. only getting results for Karen and Richard on a cursory check..

    Apologies for going off topic, but I'm also very fond of the Jim Croce cartoon from the series. Apparently John Wilson the animator later compiled all his cartoons from the show onto a VHS in the early 80s, possibly in the wake of MTV popularizing music video: The Fantastic All-Electric Music Movie - Wikipedia

     
  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    ‘Alcohol’: and we’re five-for-five with this mesmerizing, brilliantly crafted, story song. Highlights: the “it’s such a shame” line and the mariachi horns after the ‘tequila.’ Ray makes this storytelling business seem so effortless…but it’s not. And then on top of it all he adds this brilliant piece of music that conveys drunken seediness.
     
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  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Well in some totally weird twist...
    When it first was posted it said "video unavailable", and something about privacy settings...... and so now I go back and it's there...... someone's f'ing with my head lol I got acute schizophreena.....
     
  19. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Great. It’s well worth watching. And the bonus is the extra verse.
     
  20. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Interesting.
    I wonder who wrote the extra verse.
    It comes across a little like some of the drink driving ads back in the day...
    I think they do a good job of the song, but I also think it emphasises how important Ray is to the vocal personality of his songs.
     
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  21. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Cool & good to work out your localregular posting time as we are 15 hours ahead so it can be hard keeping up with expert expats exploits!
     
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  22. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Alcohol

    I find an interesting contrast between this song and the one before. Both are presented as negative manifestations of the modern world and both have musical underpinnings that lend themselves to a sort of comedic presentation, the former as a sort of rockabilly and the latter as vaudeville. But interestingly, while as I noted yesterday's coming across like a novelty song, today's seems far more serious. To the degree of comedy the Vaudevillian approach brings, it's a rather dark comedy and therefore carries more weight. It's not a topic I fancy, but damn, it is effectively presented!
     
  23. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Link should have read Kink.
    Argh darn spellchecker!
     
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  24. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Alcohol

    First time for me now listening to this low key studio version.
    Something about the music's meter/feel up to the chorus has me thinking of Greek music?
    I also see how Mark gets the New Orleans slow funeral march idea which i seem to recall is utilised in a scene from the James Bond film " Live And Let Die"
    Of course Ray went to town on this live and it is a great number for the theatricality of a musical with all the drama, story recall & self pity!
     
  25. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Tell them you're a teetotaller now Mark!
     
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