The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
  2. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    Lavender Lane looks to me to be better than most of the songs on the album.

    The self-quoting musical reference to Waterloo Sunset doesn't bother me at all. In fact it's quite logical. This latter song was an ode to London Town. Lavender Lane is saying that London Town and its inhabitants are being displaced and destroyed.

    Recent posts are right to point out the importance of Ray's vocabulary in this song.

    Another important word is "estate". Housing estates are often viewed with suspicion in the UK. They're seen as soul-less rows of identical houses.

    The Cambridge dictionary says that in the US they're called "housing developments" or "subdivisions". Maybe someone can enlighten us on this.
     
  3. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Miami Beach FL
    For the record, I knew the song we were talking about, just referred to it by the wrong name. Actually, I think both of those songs are great. Clearly I like anything to do with lavender.
     
  4. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    That's how they're often viewed in Australia as well - on the edges of cities, often with limited public transport and other infrastructure. Recently experts have been referring to the ones in Perth (Western Australia) as 'dormitory suburbs' as they are deserted during weekdays as everyone is at work/school and only come home to sleep there.
     
  5. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Are you saying they only fork and spoon on their patch?
     
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  6. Northernlight

    Northernlight Forum Resident

    Wonderfully informative post, and a great song that makes you want to go back to the beginning of Muswell Hillbillies and play it all over again. Well, it does me anyway.
     
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Mountain Woman

    stereo mix (3:09), recorded 16 Oct, 1971 at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London

    They lived together in a dirty old shack
    At the edge of the black rocky mountain
    And they drank mountain dew and they lived on the food
    That they grew at the side of the mountain

    She's a mountain woman, he's her mountain man
    They lived all their lives by the valley
    She's a mountain woman, he's her mountain man
    Uneducated but they're happy

    Mountain woman couldn't read nor write
    But she knew good from evil, she knew wrong from right
    When the government tried to buy her water rights
    Her intuition was her only guide

    She's a mountain woman, he's her mountain man
    Lived all their lives by the valley
    She's a mountain woman, he's her mountain man
    Uneducated but they're happy
    Spend my life with my mountain woman
    We're uneducated but we're happy

    The civil servant used compulsory purchase
    To acquire the valley for the nation
    They'll dig up the land, they're gonna make a dam
    And build a hydroelectric power station

    And now she lives on the 33rd floor
    Of a man-made concrete mountain
    She got an elevator and refrigerator
    And an automobile to run around in

    Fast talkin' lawyers from the government
    Went and beat proud mountain woman down
    Hey mountain woman, take your mountain man
    They took your land and flood your valley

    Spend my life with my mountain woman
    They're uneducated by they're happy

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Davray Music Ltd.

    We open with a nice crunchy, crisp guitar, and Mick joins in and we get a cool groove going.

    This song sort of ties rural USA, to urban UK, and the scenario that seems to have inspired the album. Here instead of the civil servants coming to take the UK folks out of their houses to redevelop, we have the Mountain Woman and Man, being turfed out so the government can build a dam.
    There is more of a tie in than that though, because we also touch on Ray’s favourite theme, in people being forced into the future as the government sees it.
    This couple are happy, and living off the land, and then they are thrown into a concrete high-rise and put in the city.

    There is also a sort of commentary on the fact that this couple aren’t educated…. But they’re happy, and it is almost a perspective that they’re better off that way. They haven’t been molded and shaped into regular consumers, they were just a happy couple living their lives on the land with no interference from the world, until they were thrown out of their idyllic scenario and into the concrete jungle.

    There is one slightly awkward spot where we move from the third person to the first person, but I don’t think it is too problematic.
    On the whole I like the story and the way it is told. It is almost an environmental statement. We have the uneducated couple that know how things have to be and getting by perfectly well off the grid, but then the grid decides to take over and they are placed into the system with no real choice in the matter.

    Musically we have a pleasant, bouncy, sort of countrified rock song…. It almost has a Bo Diddley kind of feel, but with a country twist.
    The verses move along in the groove that is set by the guitar, bass and drums, with the organ off to the side giving us another almost gospel kind of feel.
    The chorus changes up nicely, as it moves into a reflective feel with the guitar moving into arpeggios, and the organ just laying a bed for that. It’s a nice change of feel.

    I like this, again though, it wouldn’t take the place of anything on the album for me. I haven’t heard this an awful lot, but I’m a little more familiar with it that yesterday’s song.

     
  8. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Mountain Woman"

    This is a terrific groove - Mick Avory in particular holds down a fantastic beat here. Would this have fit on Muswell Hillbillies? Probably not - it seems to be more of an America-centric version of the forced relocation theme (although maybe it's another of the North Londoners having an idealistic dream of the wide open spaces of the USA - which then suffers the same fate as their own life). Musically as well, I wouldn't say it has the same Americana feel as MH. Where it would have fit like a glove, though, is Sleepwalker (or even Misfits). It shows just how close The Kinks were to that US-conquering sound six years before they eventually embraced it.

    Strange to hear the words "civil servant" in a lyric ostensibly about America - is that a thing over there? One of the few songs to get "hydroelectric" into a lyric. Lyrics containing the term: hydroelectric

    Overall this feels like too good a track to have sat in the vaults for so long.
     
  9. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    So Ray moves on from "poor but happy", which is bad enough, to "ignorant but happy"? Patronizing or what? This is such an awkward lyric, it sounds like he's trying too hard to tie up the loose ends and how many songs about people being moved out of their homes do you need on one album? Musically it's OK, nothing special
     
  10. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Very interesting track. Some of the guitar riffs are typical post-Arthur Kinks jam fare, always a bit reminiscent of Victoria. Some lines are excellent (“her intuition was her only guide”, “she couldn’t read nor write / but (…) she knew wrong from right”, that’s our usual clever, affectionate yet semi-populist Ray). What @mark winstanley calls "awkward" is a gimmick I always enjoy, Ray alternating between being the narrator and being himself the “mountain man” of the title lady, sometimes in the same verse. I can see why @ARL mentions Sleepwalker/Misfits, but I still think this bouncy/groovy sound fits perfectly into the 1970-1972 era. None of it is quite fleshed out yet and it seems they abandoned the song before really finishing it. What strikes me is how many notions, both lyrical and musical, have found their way into the finished album (or the next one) in a more refined form. Musically, some of the verse melody would be developed into the excellent 1972 hit Supersonic Rocket Ship (at least, that’s what I hear). Lyrically, the sense of being displaced from home, forced into a different way of life, the images of the “concrete mountains”, the “uneducated but happy” simple people, the fast talkin’ lawyers etc., those are rough sketches of 20th Century Man, Uncle Son and – especially – Here Comes the People in Grey, but in a kind of embryonic and generic form. I agree the story seems to take place in the US, like Ray had yet to come up with the very concept of Muswell Hillbillies : deliberately “localized” British atmospheres balanced out with a more distant, fantasized American imagery. I can enjoy the track for what it is (a really nice unfinished outtake) but what keeps me interested is that it offers a rare glimpse of Ray as a hard-working craftsman, slowly honing his concept. He often seems so inspired that it’s possible to miss how finely tuned, rigorous and even labored (in the good sense of the word) a lot of his greatest work was. Here, it seems on his way to finding the Muswell Hillbillies formula, but not quite there yet. It makes Mountain Woman a fascinating document of Ray's creative process.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  11. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    I don't see it that way at all. Just like I don't think those country songs by Alison Krauss are patronising, for example, You're Just A Country Boy, or Simple Love to give two examples off the top of my head. I think lyrics like that help paint a picture and that's all there is to it.
     
  12. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    The two bonus tracks we have discussed so far are really good "bonus" tracks. I'm not sure either should have appeared on the album but both are in keeping with the album's theme - one for the UK audience and the other for US listeners. I guess both of them would have been included had the album been released in the cd era.
     
  13. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Mountain Woman
    This is pretty close lyrically to Lavender Lane in covering the album's theme of dislocation which I think would have been the main reason both songs were shelved. I notice Ray also touches on the Apeman theme: with a mountain woman Ray could go back to basics. A bit like living in the jungle, but at altitude. :D

    That's an interesting pick-up because I had the same thought about the guitar in Lavender Lane. Maybe Ray drew on elements in both of those shelved songs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  14. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Some great songs suffer & struggle for fame!
     
  15. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Location:
    Molde, Norway
    Such is life. Tough but at least it is unfair ;)
     
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  16. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    If Lavender is actually calming then the Davies boys never inhaled!
     
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  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Mountain Woman: a song that slots right into the country-rock era of the early 70s; Appalachian mountains, Whole Earth Catalog, Foxfire books, Mother Earth News, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

    I like the song, especially Ray’s vocal on “she’s a…he’s a” (and don’t know how to describe the way he sings those words. But I like it.) I would not stick this on the album as the theme might be the same as the original Muswell tracks but the setting/perspective is straight American. But I’m happy to hear it.
     
  18. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Lavender Lane

    Oh Lord Lavender Lane.......
    It's been well articulated why this was likely not included on the LP & whilst some suggested including it as it's more upbeat than the other songs (a very good idea in principle) i feel a Waterloo Sunset rewrite may well have put more people off than it turned on who could be forgiven for thinking the band were leaning on past glories and were perhaps short on ideas?

    N.b. I was wondering why Ray's quiet gentle warble didn't bother me and it's because it reminds me of the nonsense speak poet Stanley Unwin who appeared on the Small Faces 1968 release, Ogden's Nut Gone Flake.
     
  19. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    "Excellent!"
     
  20. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    I think you nailed it as far as song and (most of) Ray's rewrites go!
     
  21. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    You could also choose to mean they're 'dormant story suburbs.'
     
  22. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    Mountain Woman

    While I'm glad we got this one eventually, it's not one I feel needs to be on the album.

    I suppose it links the issues that the residents of Lavender Lane in the UK were dealing with, with their USA compatriots in the Black Mountains.

    The flooding of villages to provide water is still a very contentious issue in parts of Wales, supplying water for the nasty-neighbours in England... Tryweryn – The Welsh village flooded to supply an English city with water
     
  23. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    "Don't you know it!"
     
  24. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    A sad story indeed!
     
  25. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Mountain Woman

    An interesting song with interesting rhythm and vocal pauses and affectation.
    Love the guitar riffing, especially at the start of the track & Mick too is right on the ball.
    I agree that while the song is not fully fleshed out but it is thematically all there.

    N.b. Is it just me or does anyone else think some guitar parts sound like "Arthur" the final track from the 1969 album of the same name?
    Ray even vocalises the melody with the guitar as they ride out of the song into their high rise!
     
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