The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Celluloid Heroes:
    “Everybody’s in show-biz,” the line used to title the album is tucked into the latter part of this brilliant mid-tempo, piano heavy, number.

    I see this paired with ‘Oklahoma USA’ in that Ray lyrically focuses on cinematic characters..(though in the former it’s about dreaming of a fantasy world while the latter addresses fame) and, musically, the mood, which evokes a sort of sadness (at least it does for me) when I hear the two songs.

    Who else would visit Hollywood Boulevard, watch the movement of the crowd as they walk, stop to have their photograph taken, nonchalantly drop trash, flick cigarette ash and then shuffle on down the street…and turn that into such a profound observation of all of us?

    Certainly, an out-of-the-park home run of a song, this track seems a perfect fit for 1972.

    Horn Use: none. Final tally 6/10.
     
  2. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    It's really interesting that Elton would cut the Marylin reference from the song in his later live versions. Do you think it might be down to the fact Elton John’s Candle in the Wind became the one big official Marylin pop tribute? Maybe Ray, proud as he was, just didn’t want to be perceived as running behind something he did first.

    More generally, I don't think we've addressed it yet, but some of our recent discussions made me realize just how much Elton and the Kinks were on parallel paths and mind sets in the early seventies. In many ways, Elton’s Tumbleweed Connection might’ve been a precursor to Muswell Hillbillies as a fantasized country-rock / Americana record done by Londoners (the Kinks’ LP being better in my opinion, because of its poetic distance and conceptual acknowledgement of its Britishness). Reversely, I’m slowly realizing how much Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is indebted to Everybody’s in Show-biz, in how it creates snapshots of the rock’n’ roll life, reflects on the artist’s quest for authenticity, the gap between aspiring to fame and experiencing it, the fascination for American culture in general and the Hollywood industry in particular, its eternal stars and its fading ones, and the toll that whole show-biz thing takes on anyone crazy enough to get involved in its alienating bubble. Even the two covert arts seem to converse with each other, the artist being inside the screen/poster or stepping into it, and the whole thing being a hand-drawn fantasy world anyway… Sitting in My Hotel and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are really mirrors to each other (Bernie Taupin lyrics are always more cryptic, Ray’s more bluntly direct and immediately decipherable, but the feeling is really similar) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Taupin’s lyrics for the likes of Candle in the Wind, Roy Rogers, Ballad of Danny Bailey and I’ve Seen That Movie (all fantastic songs) were all directly influenced by the evocative power and grace of Ray's Celluloid Heroes vision.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  3. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D I’ll be first at the barricades! (Or first to mount a vigorous attack on the barricades; whichever is appropriate).
     
  4. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Can’t wait! (I knew Muswell Hillbillies was/is brilliant so didn’t take any notice of anyone dismissing the entire RCA years. If anyone did. Like I say, I didn’t pay attention.)
     
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  5. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    They wrestled with it.
     
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  6. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    The same guy who would look upon a place like Waterloo Station and see paradise, that's who!
     
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  7. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Lest we overlook Joan Jett's faithful take on it. Ray is apparently a guest musician on this but I'm not sure I can pick him out.

     
  8. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Location:
    Maplewood, NJ
    Celluloid Heroes

    In my first deep dive into the Kinks, I downloaded various Kinks songs on Napster in college (I'm sorry, I was young). I had all their early hits, a few of the gems from 1966 and 1967, Lola, a couple of the hits from the early 80s, and I think (now looking back it at) perhaps oddly, I had Celluloid Heroes too. It wasn't a major hit, and I don't think anybody in my family mentioned it to me, but I think just as I was investigating and reading about the Kinks on wikipedia, Celluloid Heroes came often as an example of one of their greatest songs from the 1970s. So, where I had never heard of another song on this album until this month, I have known Celluloid Heroes for around 20 years.

    First, let me just say that for at least a few years (ok maybe several or more), I kept on getting "celluloid" and "cellulite" confused, and I thought it was a bit weird for such a beautiful song to be about collections of fat that push up against the thigh skin. But back then, I thought the meaning was, well even these stars have "cellulite" and are not perfect. So it still kinda worked. But then I grew up more and finally understood the actual word Celluloid and what it means.

    The layering and buildup of the song is immaculate. Mick's gently building grooves and hits, Gosling's little piano runs... and is that an accordion I hear too? And is that a baritone sax that honks that bass note around 5:21 and 5:29? There's so many little things in here. Ray's vocals are tender and straightforward. Dave's backing vocals are top notch again. And is that Dalton providing some additional background vocals? Sometimes it does sound like 3 voices.

    Although it may seem like an obvious thing, what I love about the idea of this song and the "stars" on "Hollywood Boulevard" is that it's not only used as a metaphor, but it is also pretty literal. There is literally a star on the sidewalk that represents Rudolph Valentino, Bette Davis, Mickey Rooney, etc. And Ray is saying that whether these stars are dead or still alive, their stars will always be there and people usually step all over them and leave garbage on them. But Ray's almost treating it like a tombstone, that they are actually there. "Don't step on Greta Garbo" is etiquette advice you'd hear at her gravesite, out of respect. But the sidewalk is really there for you to walk on. You can see all the stars... literally, the five-point stars, but also you should see all that those five-point stars represent. All the struggles. All the suffering. All the emotional issues of the people that those five-point stars represent. You are walking on all of that. It's not just names written in concrete. After all, we all have our emotional struggles. We can all suffer even when we achieve our goals, or suffer when those dreams often fade away in a bad, bad world. Everybody's in showbiz.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  9. Ex-Fed

    Ex-Fed Not Fed Ex

    Location:
    New York State
    Wonderful song.

    Rooney, Sanders, Valentino looking up the ladies' dresses--this is top tier stuff, quirky and thoughtful, and evocative of the era, when old movie stars were very much part of the culture. Posters of Bogart and Fields and any number of Marxes were on many a dorm room wall.

    Lovely, poignant music. That chorus is mighty powerful.

    And it's always an interesting idea, the complex meta-relationship between the audience and the art:

    "Everybody's in showbiz / it doesn't matter who you are."

    "And though she feels as if she's in a play / She is anyway."

    We are all the heroes of our own movie.
     
  10. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    "Celluloid Heroes" is the only song from the Kinks' RCA era that gets talked about in the same hushed tones as "Waterloo Sunset" & the VGPS. Our Headmaster & Fortuelo, not to mention the other Avids have waxed eloquently about this beautiful song & I don't know what to add about this song, except to say it is truly one of Ray's best songs & a perfect album closer.
     
  11. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Well worth watching the video. Shows all the stars being referenced (and others, as well).
    Edit: was Mickey Rooney’s star shown? Or a clip of him? Maybe not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
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  12. James H.

    James H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Runnemede, NJ
    I thought there is a tuba used on this track.
     
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  13. James H.

    James H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Runnemede, NJ
    Celluloid Heroes

    I was wondering when this track got covered that a question would be answered and hasn't yet.

    I understand if it had to be editeded for a single, but why don't they perform the song complete in concert. The 'Don't tread on dearest Marilyn' verse is my favorite part of the song.
     
  14. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    Celluloid Heroes

    OK, so someone needs to issue a little dissonance here. I think someone else (maybe Mrs Wonderful ?) is also preparing to do so. My dissonance, though, is only partial. The thing is, I love this song. With Sitting in my Hotel, it's one of 2 on the album that I used to sing my lungs out on the piano at my parents' when nobody was home, for hours on end. And the last lines can bring tears to my eyes too. (A few years ago I sang it at a thematic open mike and all I got was a polite version of "what the hell is this crap", so I guess I must not be very good at rendering it).

    So I love it, but it's a guilty pleasure. The thing is, I can't help thinking it is not very well written. The chord structure is too predictable, except for this VIIb6, or something like that, that is C6, on "and if you walk by Hollywood Boulevard", that is my favorite bit of the song - only marred by the clumsy resolution on next line. Some of the lines are too predictable too, or a bit heavy, like "Because hers was such a lonely life", or "But she was only made of flesh and blood" ruining the line before with excessive obviousness (I'm not sure I'm making myself understood, I do my best, sorry). The playing is a bit shaky, like they're not really sure of the beat, and the phrasing is awkward. BUT, for some reason, it works on me (and on many people), and I guess the reason is (since "all I wrote in this paragraph is rubbish" is obviously off the table), Ray's performance is so sincere that all these not-quite-fulfilled musical and lyrical intentions end up striking to the point. A bit like John Lennon's vocal performance in "Woman is the n****r of the World" (from the same year) uplifts a quickly composed, badly written, barely arranged and approximately performed song to near-sublime level.

    So yes, I know, my love can be complicated, but this is how I feel about this song. Another strong point of this tune is, Ray gives his whining a universal meaning. And as a great whiner myself, I can't help but be seduced.

    Great reviews by the Leader, Fortuleo and a number of others. This song speaks to a lot of souls. I didn't have the 5-pointed-star thing in mind, and I would like to complete the metaphor by reminding you all that catholic saints and bishops used to ask to be buried within churches' alleys, so that people would walk on their tombstones, as a token of humility and a way of reminding us the vanity of life and the vacuity of earthly remains.

    Great Elton John comparison by Fortuleo. I prefer Tumbleweed Connection to MH, for my part, though. One of my favorite Elton John albums. I guess Captain Fantastic could be compared to the last 4 RCA albums ?
     
  15. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I just treated my neighborhood to a complete rendition of Celluloid Heroes as I listened for the tuba. I think you’re right, beginning from the ‘La la la la’s.’
    So 7/10!
    Edit: and thank you for pointing it out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I didn’t know this. Very interesting.
     
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  17. donl

    donl Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    as great as celluloid heroes is , the NY rock stations overplayed the one for the road version at the time. i grew tired of it and hoped that at kinks/ray live shows gods children could have taken its place.
     
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  18. James H.

    James H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Runnemede, NJ
    I haven't listened to this album in a while. You don't hear that tuba as much on the original RCA pressing, but the tuba really comes alive in the Velvel remaster.
     
  19. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    Actually I've had that info in my head for decades, and it is almost self-evident to me, but the truth is I don't remember where I learnt it. Maybe it's complete BS, to be honest.
     
  20. sharedon

    sharedon Forum Zonophone

    Location:
    Boomerland
    I'm in the video montage on the One for the Road video, so I like that version, heh, but though it was good to hear them play it live, the original Celluloid Heroes is a true 70s classic - and to my mind there's nothing else like it.
     
  21. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Celluloid Heroes
    I specifically remember this song from my younger years back in the 70s. Again, Ray has a way of painting his songs, so in my mind I developed a 'video' or 'picture' of this song. And I'm certain it affected me deeply at the time as it does now. To sing all about these well known stars (though I don't know who George Sanders is) and then turn it around to say "I wish my life was..." is pretty brilliant. He could have kept on singing about all these stars having a human side...but he turns it towards his own feelings of pain and fear. That's the hook that ruins me.

    Ray's voice is so effective in this. Not quite "weak and fragile", but certainly vulnerable. It draws you in even further.

    Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but if I'm recalling rightly, at the end of a tour he stayed on in the Hollywood area for a few weeks while the rest of the band went home. But the thing is he stayed with a woman he was having an affair with (was she a stripper?? I don't have the time to look it up right now) when he started to write this song. And the kicker is, the following year, when Ray's wife left him on his b'day in June 1973, he called this same woman to come over and "take care of him". She was at the Whitehall show in July 1973 when he nearly killed himself. I believe that's the story, but please someone tell me if I have it wrong.

    Anyway, it's clearly a gorgeous, emotional and epic song. I do love it. But it's funny, I don't think it would be in my Top 25 Kinks Klassics. I can't explain why either. It should be, right? I'm less likely to adore a ballad/slow song than a rocker. But hey...it could be number 26 on my list which is not a too shabby. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  22. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    We're NOT doing the live songs of this album? Sorry if I missed that And if that's the truth, I'm sorry to hear that. :(
     
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  23. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Miami Beach FL
    As mentioned, I was a connecticutian (?) until my early 20s (when I escaped) and my friends always used to tease me for saying “jewel-er-ee”. I always figured that was my own verbal weirdness, but it does sound similar. Guess us New Englanders like to add a syllable or two when we see the opening!
     
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  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I’m with you. I guess this is the burden we must endure due to such a high caliber discography. (And it’s probably not my favorite on the album.)
     
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  25. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    We are. It’s a matter of whether it’s one a day…or the entire lp in a day (or variations thereof).
     

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