The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    @Pawnmower and @Zeki
    Whinge (winj) is used a lot in Aus as well...
    It is pretty much the same as whine I guess.
    I'm not sure if it originates in the UK or Aus, but it is a very common word
     
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  2. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Yes, 1972 is one of the worst affected years of TOTP. The BBC only kept 2 of The Kinks many 60s and 70s appearances on TOTP, although an additional 4 exist outside their archive. Mind you, that’s still a much better survival rate than many of their peers…
     
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    They wiped all the early Goodies and Dr Who too, didn't they?
     
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  4. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Famously lot of Dr Who yes, although much has been discovered since. Actually they junked very little of the Goodies, I think the original version of Kitten Kong (which they later remade anyway) is the only missing episode.

    I don’t want to necessarily get at the BBC alone on this though: they get the most stick for it but nearly all commercial TV companies were also as guilty. It is understandable to an extent in the short term as contracts meant most of this stuff was legally unrepeatable but it was very short sighted in the long term.
     
  5. Ex-Fed

    Ex-Fed Not Fed Ex

    Location:
    New York State
    When I was a lad in Brooklyn my mother would sometimes accuse me of being a "whinge-pot."
    I don't know how common a usage that is.

    "Look a Little on the Sunny Side"--for many years, this had the distinction, in my mind, of being the single worst Kinks song. No question. The absolute bottom benchmark.

    Then others came along.

    I think Ray himself knew it was a stinker, sandwiching it between two strong songs.
     
  6. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "Look A Little on The Sunnyside"

    This may have become my favorite song on the album over the past few weeks. I love everything about it. It sounds like a classic tune from the 30s. I never thought of Shirley Temple, but it does conjure up images of old films playing in my head. I can see Groucho doing his dance while Chico shoots the piano keys and Harpo marches along with a tuba. Maybe you have to be familiar with and love old time movies to fully appreciate this song? We are also coming to the end of Kinks songs with this old time feel. There may be a couple more that could fit this category on the Preservation albums, but after that he seems to quit going so far back for his inspiration. Even the lyrics sound like they could have been written in the 30s. I love Ray in this role. Hi vocal is also done perfectly over the top to make it sound even more like an old record.

    This song lets in a little sunshine every time I hear it.

    I hope this thread doesn't turn into certain participants just dumping on every song. I don't understand someone taking part of a thread and they don't like any of the music. I'm not saying someone has to like everything and can't have any critique. It's just when it's every single song. We are entering a period of albums that may not be to everyone's taste, but I think the point of a thread like this is to "Look A Little On The Sunnyside".
     
  7. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    I couldn't disagree more. I think it's the type of song that Ray would favor. He even makes it clear that "It's very hard to please the people every single time".
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
  8. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    "Look A Little on the Sunny Side", as many Avids have pointed out already, is the type of song that you would hear in a 1930s Broadway or Hollywood musical, albeit
    with lyrics that basically say you can't please everyone all the time. I can imagine the video for this song. It would have been a Busby Berkley tour de force, with the Camp factor turned up to 11. Anyway, a light and jolly (at least on the surface) interlude before the final studio song.
     
  9. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    That's true. Here in the US, all of the networks disposed of much of their old shows. Much of the output of the old Dumont network is gone, as well as the early output of the Tonight Show.
     
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  10. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    I must say that I am with @Vangro on "Look A Little On The Sunny Side" in that I don't have a clue what Ray is doing with this song. I don't know about whinging but I think Ray sounds like he was winging it though the heavily arranged musical backing tells me he was not. It is not a song I particularly enjoy but the Kinks have a wide musical palette and I always appreciate that. Besides, I know what's coming next.
     
  11. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
  12. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    “Look a Little on the Sunny Side” – I had no idea that this little ditty with the upbeat title would inspire all this verbiage, but here goes. (I will say, I totally get the Shirley Temple connection).

    Is this just another warmed-over fast-food slice of rock star self-pity with a cold side order of lightly sugared bitterness, washed down with a tepid cup of pep talk to buck up, hold the rejection and self-doubt at bay, and just keep rolling down the motorway to the next stage? All served up, as predictably as cold French fries, in Ray’s usual homestyle music hall dressing? Let’s see.

    I enjoy the music and the brass a lot, but initially found the goofy Jerry Lewis-like vocal affectation to be over the top and off-putting. But I slowly realized that the forced gaiety tells the story. This song is the companion piece to “Sitting in My Hotel”-- this is figuratively the new revue bit that he was writing in the few quiet moments he was able to grab in yet another hotel room in yet another city on the vaudeville circuit. He’s trying to be silly – I can see the clown makeup and costume as he half-runs, half-hobbles out onto a worn stage yet again, smiling through gritted teeth, to gamely do more pratfalls and give them a happy tune – or dat rhythm and blues – or…what is it you want??? - in an attempt to gin up some laughs and goodwill from yet another set of paying, nameless faces in the crowd. The act is accompanied by the oom-pah band in the orchestra pit, accenting every tumble and soft-shoe routine.

    I may be too influenced by knowing that Ray had a nervous breakdown the following year, but combined with his depiction of life on the road, I feel we are actually witnessing him starting to crack under the strain of the showbiz profession he was called to. On the surface, he is attempting to good-naturedly spray seltzer water into his own face that is whining about his poor treatment by the fickle public and critics. But underneath, there is something painful and unsettling going on: The real hurt that comes from rejection and callous criticism after daring to be vulnerable enough to publicly express one’s thoughts and feelings through art - especially doing so under demanding and exhausting conditions - and the emotional, physical, and personal toll that it all takes on an artist. And the self-doubt that comes with it (that he previously hinted at in “Sitting in My Hotel”). And the resentment and bitterness that comes with it too. And a reminder for us that he’s not just a clown frolicking in the footlights, but a real human being with real feelings, and a rather sensitive one at that.

    While Ray is certainly drawing on his own specific experiences and feelings here, more broadly the song is probably a pretty accurate interior portrait of many far less celebrated artists/performers who are “on the circuit,” as it were. It speaks to the artist’s basic ongoing, wearying challenge of fulfilling the passion - or sometimes emotional need - that drives them while also having to give the people enough of what they want so they can make a living, all while simultaneously dealing with the slings and arrows and emotional roller coaster that come with the territory.

    Interestingly, what this song brought to mind was Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘Em Laugh” song and dance in the film Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly (Full disclosure: I’ve never seen the entire film, just clips). It’s supposed to be a fun and funny number about an entertainer doing whatever it takes to get the audience rolling in the aisles, and it is an impressive display of solo dancing, slapstick, and physical skill. But the number is so frenetic that to me it’s not fun, it becomes disturbing. It unintentionally exposes the desperate need - beyond creative passion - to please, to be loved, that (some) clowns/performers have, driven by some deep insecurity, that ultimately feels a little pathetic and sad to me. I hear a bit of that desperation come across in the goofy voice Ray uses (O’Connor uses a similar affectation near the end of the scene). As an aside, I was a huge Laurel and Hardy/Three Stooges/Marx Brothers fan in my younger years, but don’t have this reaction when watching them clown.

    I didn’t expect this post to turn into a psychology dissertation, and perhaps I’m reading too much into a song that Ray may have written merely to cheer himself up in a bit of comic relief. But this song has brought up some compassion for all those sensitive souls in who dare to creatively express and share themselves, for those who devote their lives to entertaining us, for the cost they pay, whatever their individual motivations. All of them human, with feelings. (Headmaster @Mark Winstanley also spoke to this in our “Sitting in My Hotel” discussion).

    So this song has surprisingly gone much deeper for me than a mere pity party by a spoiled rock star. And it sets up the final track: Ray’s elegant, compassionate tribute to all those who did the pratfalls, who worked and struggled and suffered for fame...and his acknowledgment of the pain.


    Absolutely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Interesting article.
    I think either political side trying to get a handle on Ray is ludicrous, because both political sides are all about business and money, and feign interest in people to meet their objectives...
    Ray looks at the human side of things, which dismisses both sets of vampires.

    I was hoping it was going to tell us there was the SDE on the way lol
     
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  14. Zack

    Zack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Easton, MD
    By the time Sunny Side comes on, I have already had enough tuba for one album, thank you very much.
     
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  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Great post mate.... it makes me want to post tomorrows song now. I think it is the full stop at the end of the sentence literally, and ties into what you have stated here perfectly.... in my mind at least.
     
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  16. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    Thanks. I was surprised how much I got out of this song, and how well it ties to the next one.
     
  17. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    "You gotta be shrewd, you gotta be strong
    You've gotta convince yourself that you are not wrong"

    This always gets my attention in "Look A Little On The Sunny Side". The artist is giving himself a pep talk here, he must have the courage to follow his muse despite how difficult this can be. Anyone who has made any attempt to create art of lasting value can certainly relate to how difficult it is to believe that what you are doing is not foolish, embarrassing and a complete waste of time. Correspondingly this is a nicely composed couplet with the extra musical beat in the second verse adding emphasis to the statement, along with strong inner assonance (shrewd/you) and stressed end rhymes (be strong/not wrong) almost pounding a fist the table to reinforce the idea that the artist must have resolve in the face of considerable adversity.

    However, what's the musical arrangement Ray pairs with this powerful and poetic statement in defense of the artist's integrity? A comical tuba-driven oom-pah-pah descending down a scale, as if the artist has tripped on his own, clown feet and is now tumbling down the stairs in a slapstick, sad-sack fashion!
     
  18. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Look a Little on the Sunny Side
    I think this a fun little song. Here's Ray trying to tell himself to not abide by his critics. The lyrics and the music together make it feel a bit silly - silly to care that maybe the critiques do hurt "a little" and that here he is a pretty successful musician - what does he have to complain about? This song sounds a bit circus-like to my ears. like the horn that toots sounds similar to a horn a clown may have in his act.

    the pronunciation of "little" as "litt-el" reminds me of some people I grew up with who had this affectation...like they'd say "bott-el" for "bottle". Drove me a bit mad. The people I knew that did this were of Irish extraction but maybe that was a coincidence. Not sure if it was a Northeast US thing or what? But it wasn't popular.

    So as I said, it's a fun "litt-el" song, but it's not top tier stuff. But I'm amused.
     
  19. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    @Smiler - I hadn't read your comments on this song before doing my write up so the clown comparison is a coincidence. Great minds...?! :D
     
  20. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    Apparently! We and @Luckless Pedestrian are just having fun tumbling around under the big top!:)
     
  21. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    Look A Little On The Sunny Side
    A pleasant but unremarkable palate cleanser between two far superior songs. Clearly (to me) just Ray's thoughts of where his place was at that time in the music industry, when the hits stop coming. Something to get used to!

    It seems most 'pop stars' have a finite shelf life (unless you're Cliff Richard in the UK) and Ray was thinking that he had come to that hitmaking conclusion. Something of a downer in that respect - and as we know, not too long after this album was the infamous White City Stadium concert. 'Can't do right for doing wrong'. At least he extolls the value of looking for the little positives in life. Good advice for all of us.
     
  22. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    I may be wrong, but I think that today, we've passed peak horniness with The Kinks.
     
  23. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Yes, a great touch!
     
  24. Ex-Fed

    Ex-Fed Not Fed Ex

    Location:
    New York State
    Only a band we love so passionately can inspire such furious disappointment. We have seen how good Ray can be, and we can't help mourning when he is not.
     
  25. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Surely it hasn’t reached a mourning point yet? Has it? That seems a tad extreme.
     
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