The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    What’s this reference to graft mean? Payola? Something else?
     
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  2. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Graft as in work very hard.
     
  3. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Thanks. I’ve never heard it used that way before.
    Edit. Thank you for taking the time to write out these passages, by the way. Much appreciated.
     
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  4. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    No problem. I didn't realise "graft" used to describe very hard work wasn't common in the US.
     
  5. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    This is interesting. And since it's Sunday today ...

    In the UK graft means work and in the US it means dishonest practice.

    I can imagine cross-Atlantic business negociations becoming unstuck by one country demanding more graft and another demanding less graft.

    And ... especially for Mark ... "hard graft" meaning hard work, apparently came from Australia and New Zealand (aka the colonies!):

    "The evidence strongly suggests that it was in Australia and New Zealand that it came to mean heavy labour and where the phrase hard graft first appeared. John Rochfort, writing in 1853 in Adventures of a Surveyor in New Zealand, said, “I could make more money by ‘hard graft’, as they call labour in the colonies.” An Australian work of 1873, Christmas on Carringa, includes, “My name is Jim the Cadger. I’m a downy cove, you see. ‘Hard graft’, it ain’t my fancy.”"
     
  6. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Graft
    A perfect example of "two nations separated by a common language."

    Not long ago, I was streaming a British series (in general, I find British TV far superior to American), and they kept using that word and I was confused as hell.
     
  7. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D Before today, I would have assumed hard graft as big time money in envelopes exchanging hands (or being slipped under the table).
     
  8. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Something I only just realised about the studio songs on EISB: ironically, considering the subject matter of the album and how several on this thread have mentioned how some of these songs seem like they were designed for the live arena, only the first and last songs on the LP (HCYAD and CH) went on to become live regulars. Some of the others were played live but none really endured. Apart from that, the Muswell songs still tended to dominate live (along with earlier material) until the Preservation shows came in.
     
  9. Zack

    Zack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Easton, MD
    Oh, to imagine the singalong possibilities of Hot Potatoes. :)
     
  10. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    We discussed this upthread. I guess manager’s don’t always just laugh this off in the interest of greed. Good. That’s normal.
     
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  11. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Today in Kinks history:

    The Kinks return to New York on this day in 1971 to play a triumphant show to over 3000 people at Carnegie Hall. Returning to the stage for 3 encores!
     
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Well it's a funny thing, but I thought Hot Potatoes had left everyone with not much to say, and then I just find I wasn't getting any notifications, and three pages magically appeared:)
     
  13. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Slow-cooked potatoes.
     
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Half baked?
     
  15. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Nice one!
     
  16. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Po - tay - toe, Po - tah - toe
     
  17. Allthingsmusic

    Allthingsmusic Forum Resident

    EISB: This was my last stop onThe Kinks Train. Anxiously waiting to see everyone's comments going forward on this continuing thread. Some personal observations; I absolutely adore Celluloid Heroes. I know we won't discuss it for a while but I just had to say I use to sing this and dance around my bedroom acting it out! Good Times! Thanks for the memories Ray!
     
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Sitting In My Hotel.

    stereo mix (3:24), recorded May-Jun 1972 at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London
    If my friends could see me now, driving round just like a film star,
    In a chauffeur driven jam jar, they would laugh.
    They would all be saying that it's not really me,
    They would all be asking who I'm trying to be.
    If my friends could see me now,
    Looking out my hotel window,
    Dressed in satin strides and two-tone daisy roots,
    If my friends could see me now I know they would smile.

    Sitting in my hotel, hiding from the dramas of this great big world,
    Seven stories high, looking at the world go by-y.
    Sitting in my hotel room, thinking about the countryside and sunny days in June.
    Trying to hide the gloom, sitting in my hotel room.

    If my friends could see me now, dressing up in my bow-tie,
    Prancing round the room like some outrageous poove,
    They would tell me that I'm just being used
    They would ask me what I'm trying to prove.
    They would see me in my hotel,
    Watching late shows till the morning,
    Writing songs for old time vaudeville revues.
    All my friends would ask me what it's all leading to.

    Sitting in my hotel, looking through the window at the people in the street,
    Seven stories high looking at the world go by,
    Sitting in my hotel, looking at the world outside.

    If my friends could see me now they would try to understand me,
    They would ask me what on earth I'm trying to prove.
    All my friends would ask me what it's all leading to.

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

    We open with a gentle Ray vocal, accompanied by Gosling on the piano.

    The opening verse seems to be a referencing the fact that friends from before one is famous aren't as likely to get caught up in the hype surrounding your stardom. They can be great at re-grounding you, if your head is getting a little too big for your shoulders.

    Also though we get Ray making a bit of fun of himself as well here, in his chauffeur driven jam jar, in his satin strides and two tone daisy roots (rhyming slang again - boots) ... this lines make it clear that you can take the boy out of the working class, but you can't take the working class out of the boy, and the way it's phrased suggests that he still remembers who he is.

    I like the ambiguity of the last line "if my friends could see me now, I know that they would smile". This could easily be taken several ways - at the absurdity of it all - happy for his success - in amusement at the whole scenario.

    I think the chorus keeps this song from being an "oh poor me" rockstar type song. It comes across to me as somewhat matter of fact. He is in his hotel room out of personal necessity. Hiding from all the drama in the world around him, thinking about sunny days in June, the countryside, trying to hide the fact that he is a bit gloomy and homesick from those that may meet him..... this actually seems like a down the track version of Waterloo Sunset..... He is the same guy, doing the same things, but the scenario surrounding him is different. He is still gazing out of the window at the world going by, but circumstances make it less likely for him to go out. It could be an intensification of the mild agoraphobia hinted at in Waterloo Sunset... but either way, they become somewhat sister songs in a sense ...

    Then we get to the more poignant second verse. Essentially the friends, you know, the real ones, not the facebook ones, or the workplace fakers that would drop you in it on the first opportunity, the real friends that would hang around after an embarrassing performance, or still love you after an embarrassing performance, ala All My Friends Were There.

    He acknowledges that he is acting somewhat like a buffoon, and that they would make fun of him for it... he is pretty much making fun of himself for it. He knows that they wouldn't understand why he is doing all this .... and this is a pertinent point. It is hard to explain to people why you feel the need to write music, to play it, and live inside this world of songs and daydreams, but it is something that you can't help but do. For example when I realised that my chances to "make it" were done, I told myself that I needed to stop, sell my stuff, and get on with it..... but it just wasn't something I could do. It was part of who I am, and stopping doing it was damaging to my physical and mental health, in a way that someone not drawn to do it, couldn't possibly understand. So I carried on regardless and made music for my own pleasure, and sanity... I don't get time anymore, so I live vicariously through threads like this lol.

    His friends would tell him he is being used, and ask why on earth he is living in this way, and understandably so... but again it goes back to that previous paragraph. Ray has made it though, and he still feels the same way. What you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts, and the tension between doing what you love doing and dealing with so many negative aspects of it is just how things go.... and I do feel a certain sympathy, perhaps in a certain way empathy also.... I also understand why many folks hate hearing the whiny rock star, as they hear it. It's so glamourous, and you're so rich etc etc .... but at the core is still another human, in another situation that still has the uncomfortable side effects of life. No matter what any of us do for a living, and no matter how happy we may be at any given moment, the inconvenience of life is always there.... and we know that people in other places doing other things have it much worse than us, so the internal guilt about that just compounds our feelings even more. Sometimes it just pays to be content, knowing full well that the world isn't our personal playground, and good and bad things will happen, no matter who or where we are......

    We also get a glimpse into the fact that this isn't really a character song... perhaps it is dressed up to be so, but it isn't, this is Ray, through and through this is Ray, trying to explain how he feels, and even telling us he is working on the next album while he is touring, and giving everyone a hint that they may not like it too lol .. "Writing songs for old time vaudeville revues."

    This is a fantastic lyric, and it somewhat peels back the layers for us to look a little more closely on the inside of a guy who is often seen as being difficult, and a little touched in the head to others.... living inside a person you struggle to understand is a very difficult task.

    We close out with a reflective outro ... his friends would try to understand him, ask him what is he trying to prove? ask him what this is all leading to?.... but to a degree our writer seems very likely to be asking himself the same questions... In all honesty, looking through this, and several of the themes leading up to this point, and then Rasa leaving him ... it is easy to see why Ray took too many pills just under twelve months later. I don't care what lifestyle someone is living... whether a rockstar trying to balance music, business and family, working class trying to balance bills, work and family, third world person trying to balance food, water and family, life is a huge challenge that can sometimes be overwhelming. When we are overwhelmed we often isolate, when we isolate we are in a very dangerous place.... if you are reading this and isolating right now, go and talk to somebody, because I can guarantee somebody wants to listen, and they certainly don't want to see the, too often, next chapter unfold.

    Anyway, another emotional song, causing me to drift into all kinds of things that this song brings to mind when looking at it closely .... apologies if it is annoying, that's just where the song took me.

    Anyhow ...

    Musically, as I say, we open with Ray and John Gosling playing more beautiful piano. We have a measured feel and as that organ rips into the mix the song opens right up. The melody is beautiful, and has that descending chord feel that seems so directly tied to so many of the Kinks best songs. The chord sequence here is beautiful and the rise and fall of the melody fits in beautifully with the picture Ray is painting lyrically.

    We get the high trumpet, that has a slight resemblance in feel to the Penny Lane trumpet, but I think it stands on its own here.

    This is a musically and lyrically emotional ride, and it gets a very passionate vocal and musical backing. It almost feels like the couple of tongue in cheek songs leading up to this song were necessary to lighten the emotional load that this song unburdens on us as listeners.

    I think this is another exceptional song, and the deeper I dug into it, the more exceptional it became. I liked it anyway, but as with so many songs on this thread, taking a closer look into it led me on a path I really wasn't expecting and brought out, for me at least, an extremely deep, moving listen. Ray has a way, sometimes, when he feels like it, of bearing his naked soul in his songs, and one can either appreciate it, or turn away. I appreciate it, because it makes me feel less alone within my own mind.

     
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  19. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    An album highlight for sure, and one of the best songs of the RCA era.
     
  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Sitting In My Hotel:
    A tender, pensive, exposed, exquisite gem of a song. I’m on record as not being very sympathetic to these tunes about the rough life of a rock star on the road…but I do like this one a lot. Maybe because of the intimacy, the way Ray pokes fun at himself in this piano-heavy ballad:

    “If my friends could see me now,
    Looking out my hotel window,
    Dressed in satin strides and two-tone daisy roots,
    If my friends could see me now I know they would smile.”

    And, again:

    “If my friends could see me now, dressing up in my bow-tie,
    Prancing round the room like some outrageous poove,
    They would tell me that I'm just being used
    They would ask me what I'm trying to prove.
    They would see me in my hotel,
    Watching late shows till the morning,
    Writing songs for old time vaudeville revues.
    All my friends would ask me what it's all leading to.”

    This reminds me a lot of The Guess Who song, ‘Glamour Boy’ where the narrator has last minute misgivings but knows there’s an audience waiting (and that fame is fleeting) and keeps upping the ante, beginning at “For twenty-five thousand dollars you can look like a woman tonight,” then “For thirty-seven thousand dollars you can look like your sistertonight” on up to $49,000 as he achieves greater success. But it’s all show-biz, not who he really is, just as Ray is pensively contemplating as he looks out his 7th story hotel window.

    Horn count: it does include a brassy section (“looking at the world go by…” horn flourish) so 4 out of 5 songs (so far) have used horns on the album.
     
  21. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I actually should point out that this track was the b-side for Sweet Lady Genevieve in September 1973
     
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  22. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    This is s great line. Another reference to food!

    I didn’t catch this. Thanks. I was thinking two-tone hair!

    Ah! Great observation. I missed this, too.
     
  23. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    He doesn’t need to specify which “friends” he’s referring to. We understand right away he’s not speaking of the likes of Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page or any other London clubs alumni. He’s referring to the friends he left behind, all the friends that were “there” before the fame, the real ones, the ones who know the “real him”. This song is brilliant in every way. It’s lucid, clever, beautiful, touching, cruel, personal, universal. It’s about Ray himself, of course, but it’s also about all the other rock stars, and more specifically the ones bigger than himself. And I think it’s also about his ambivalence on this very subject, his own unresolved aspiration/reluctance to be a bigger star than he ever got to be. It has many layers because it’s clearly born out of experience but also out of this "contender" fantasy. So in a way, it works as a confession just as much as a kind of beware what you wish for” cautionary tale, a reminder to try not to lose his last grip on sanity. From “seven stories high”, he looks outside at “the world go by-y”, like his This Time Tomorrow predecessor did from the plane (seven miles high, lest we forget), or as a reverse shot of the Unreal Reality guy. Very cleverly done, these internal rhymes within his own songs and records, I must say… I enjoy all the British slang (that I never knew but still can understand), because that’s where the protagonist speaks in his “native” vernacular, as the friends of old would, wherever they’d be, in whichever “old café” they’d be hanging out, having a drink and laughing about his diva extravaganzas. I really love this song immensely, for its sadness and its humor, and because he knows they all would “laugh” or “smile” (not mock or resent), and still would try to “understand” (not reject or judge) him. The sentiment he’s projecting from his old friends is still affectionate and tender, just as much as it is regretful.

    Then of course, musically, this is pure magic. The first big piano ballad in the Kinks repertoire, it’s also the best they’ll ever do in that style as far as I’m concerned (which I know will prove to be quite a divisive statement, as soon as next Saturday…). It has the prettiest melody, the best arrangement (fantastic chorus, with the majestic valley of the “sitting in my hotel” line, before the hair-raising “seven stories high” chord change and the “looking at the world go by” sky-high Elton falsetto climax). It does have one of the greatest “Brian meets Elton” harmonic structure and some of the highest boldest melodic acrobatics in any Ray song, complete with a beautiful Mike Cotton’s Beatles trumpet. Will @donstemple forgive me if I get ahead of him and mention that the melody starts exactly like the sublime miniature Meant for You by the Beach Boys, coincidently (?) the opening song of their exquisite 68 LP called… Friends (of course Elton John also had a song called Friends, in addition to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the next year, in which Taupin also ponders his relationship to fame versus authenticity).
    So anyway, this is a very precious Ray Davies (non-)classic, very unusual in style (almost a summer ballad you could dance to in discotheques) but perfectly in line in substance with previous Davies efforts about dandies, being a long way from home or having left the village green.
     
  24. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    One of his best songs, for sure. Rises way above being mere poor me rockstar whingeing by being so thoughtful, intelligent and self-critical. Musically it's gorgeous though the Penny Lane trumpet seems a bit out of character!
     
  25. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    I'm lucky enough to have that piece o plastic. Honestly, that pairing is up there with no qualification with the best of their 1960s 'unofficial double A side' singles.
     

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