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

    Well my, sort of, guesses were wrong in a couple of instances, but the two or three posts following mine soon put me straight lol
  2. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    Where Are They Now
    Another top draw offering, with our tramp character (Ray) reminiscing back to the 'swinging sixties', a decade barely cold. But don't look back in anger, Mr Osborne, this is a wistful look back, to a time of the movers and shakers who seemingly made the decade something special. A decade The Kinks were a notable part of.
  3. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    I looked it up and it sounds like you're correct. I LOVE that dress. Bowie looks unbelievable in that.
    Adam9, Steve62, CheshireCat and 4 others like this.
  4. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Where Are They Now?
    I didn't know a lot of the people featured in this song figuring it was very British-centric...and of course it is. :)

    I can feast on Ray's vocals in this song even if one doesn't know a soul. I particularly love the long "Yeahhhh...where are all the..." Kills me. The whole song makes me emotional. We can all relate to the passing of time and wondering where this or that person is, no matter if they're in the headlines or someone you used to work with. Ray is a master of looking backward, as we all know. So yes, I definitely feel Do You Remember Walter? here. Maybe when I have more time, I'll try to hear Johnny Thunder in this song. I'm not able to at the moment.

    Anyway, thumbs up to this one.
  5. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Where Are They Now? for me was always a bit of a lull in expectation of the exciting One Of The Survivors and the string of great songs right through to the finish line - until today, thanks all the informative posts! Before today the only thing I recognized in the song was "Teddy Boys" (did they use the drainpipes as weapons?), and I thought the names might be fictional (Charlie Bubbles and Mr. Chow sound made up lol, and I always heard Porterhouse not Waterhouse :laugh:). Nor did I ever notice the musical reference back to Johnny Thunder which is fantastic. Glad I stopped by today!
  6. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    LOL drainpipes are the trousers they wore - very tight-fitting on the legs, so they look like drainpipes.

    Charlie Bubbles is made up!

  7. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    So we went from that to bell bottoms?
    The pendulum swings hard and fast sometimes.
  8. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    When we come to 1983’s ‘Young Conservatives’
    we’ll hear it again...
  9. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    Me too. This stands out to me every time I listen to this great song. Love it.
  10. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: I know it's a cliche, but this song would have benefited greatly from some sort of a bridge. It's the main reason I don't rank it nearly as high as "Sweet Lady Genevieve" or "Sitting In The Midday Sun," both of which have magnificent bridges. Other than that, it's good for what it is.
    :kilroy: That part has always reminded me of a slowed down "Overture From Tommy" or "Green Tambourine." For some reason that set of chords suddenly became very popular during this period. There was also this Bosstown obscurity:

    The Camaeleon Church / Blueberry Pie

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    The Chamaelon Church that Avid Idleracer referred to in his post included Chevy Chase of early Saturday Night Live fame. It was one of the groups of the "Bosstown Sound" that MGM Records attempted to create a new San Francisco Sound in Boston, which failed miserably.
  12. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Evanston, IL
    Listen to the final 15 seconds of each song.
    Furthermore, consider how either of them would segue into Last of the Steam Powered Trains or One of the Survivors.
    Wondergirl, DISKOJOE, Zeki and 2 others like this.
  13. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    The D-A-G chord sequence in the verses is a direct quote from "Johnny Thunder".
  14. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Where Are They Now ?

    Such a great song, and so little time to talk about it. Fortunately a lot has been said already.

    This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and has been from the beginning. I remember playing this to myself, singing all these strange names that I appreciated for their sonic qualities rather than their meaning. I agree with @idleracer on the lack of a bridge, and I also regret the comparative musical simplicity of the "verse" part, with these repeated 3 chords and the melody trying hard to break their bond but failing. At the time I felt there had been a compositional laziness there, though I got used to it.

    That's how I interpreted the "Johnny Thunder" part too, laziness, or accidental repetition, but I realise now I might well have been wrong. This reminds me that I heard Showbiz and Preservation before VGPS. Whatever my brain tells me, I keep on hearing "Johnny Thunder" as an imitation of "Where are they now" and "Sitting by the riverside" as plagiarizing "Sunny side".

    Strangely, I never thought about the parenthood with Celluloid Heroes, probably because of the music. Celluloid Heroes has lots of chords, but arranged in a very predictable, even generic succession (to my ears). Where Are They Now has very few chords, but the way they are used in what I call the "chorus" (the opening part) is very singular to me, and thats the reason why it struck me the first time I listened to it. The song has a melancholy, almost minor feeling, while not a single minor chord is used. The song begins on the IV chord, if I'm correct, but the general key is not so obvious to me, even if D seems to impose itself quickly (verse). This descending D-C-B succession is peculiar, and would normally lead to a change for the key of E-flat, I guess, but the way it goes back to D (via the G chord) is something that no professional composer would do, I guess, and that is why rock'n'roll is so great ! I'm sorry I cannot put it in a clearer way (I know I'm not musician enough to make technical sense of it, and too much to explain myself clearly), but I think everybody can sense the way that, after "you might know" in the first line, the music would like to go up, and it starts again from the same point with a certain clumsiness that lends it force. Well, whatever, I'm not sure I'm making sense to myself.

    One more word on the music, though : the chord succession is very close to the one used in the chorus of Sitting In The Midday Sun's (though in different keys) :
    Where Are They Now : IV V I (VII) VI
    Sitting In The Midday Sun : ii V I VI
    ii being the relative to IV (I believe that's how it's said ?), the only difference is the insertion of the VII chord (C in Where are they now). And it makes all the difference in the world. With one more minor chord, Sitting In The Midday Sun sends happiness vibes 50 miles around, while Where Are They Now plunges us in nostalgia.

    About the words : I always thought the references were mostly to the 50s, maybe because of the following song, and because the only ones I had a clue about were the Angry Young Men. Actually, I think I must have heard of them in this song for the first time, and checked about them. But the even greater chronological closeness to the time of composition brings a few thoughts.

    First thing: we haven't considered the hypothesis that Preservation, being a distopy, might very well take place in the future. The character's nostalgia would make more sense.

    Still, the song is too strong to be a simple narrative device, it must reflect the writer's feeling in some way. As somebody said above, a song wondering about the fate of personnalities from the late 2000s and 2010s seems hardly possible today. I have 2 competing (but potentially complementary) explanations.

    - The 50s-60s were such an extraordinary succession of incredible changes that nostalgia spread like a virus among those who lived them as soon as they were over. You hear it in many songs from the very onset of the decade - John Lennon's God, We Won't Get Fooled Again, the Beach Boys' Do It Again... Sometimes the nostalgia sounds like a hongover after the promisses of the Summer of Love, sometimes it reaches back to the Rocking Fifties (as we will see in today's song, but there is also the contemporary Crocodile Rock). Where Are They Now seems to embrace them all. I don't see what names, what artistic global events, what cultural movements a songwriter would convey to write such a song today.

    - Which leads us to the 2nd explanation : maybe we're just old (with all due respect) ? I mean, when you're in your 20s, you have a very special relationship to nostalgia. You're just out of childhood, and the things you miss are very close in time, even if you don't always realize it. When you get older, the decades add up and your nostalgia gets a bit drowned in them. Nostalgia's more focussed when you're young, and it paints the past in such vivid colors. Afterwards it gets more pastel-colored. I'm certain today's youth have names and trends and events in the recent past that they look back on with a sad longing. I'll ask my elder son if I don't forget.

    Still, I was born in 1971, and therefore lived my youth in the 80s. I must say the 80s never inspired me any nostlagia : mine seems to have frozen around 1975. But others of my contemporary think back on the 1980 with much tenderness. And the 50s-60s and 70s still retain a lot of public affection, compared to other decades. So I guess both explanations ("those were extraordinary times" and "we're not that young anymore") have to be combined.

    I remember a French underground hit song from 1990 that took a look at what I realize now was a very close past, probably the late 1970s - early 1980s (the writer, François Hadji-Lazaro, was born in 1956). It's about a café in a street of Paris that eventually got gentrified, and the singer remembers the place as it was before, with all of its underground fauna, the kind of people that hang around the punk scene in the late 1970s, not always as destitute as they pretended to be, the kind of people also that tended to find their way at my parent's home among my elder sister's friends. I liked this song a lot, but I remember thinking, what's there to be so nostalgic about ? When I read the words now, I realise I probably had a heavy bourgeois bias, but still, I would have liked Hadji-Lazaro to wonder who, among the participants in this somehow caricatured scene of a poor area's social life, became real estate agents or accountants, while others were dragged further away in the suburbs with their unsolved problems and poverty.

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2021
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    One Of The Survivors.

    stereo mix (4:25), recorded Mar 1973 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    (Sung by Johnny Thunder and Chorus)

    See Johnny Thunder sitting on his motorbike
    Riding along the highway,
    Rock and Roll songs from the nineteen-fifties
    Buzzing around in his brain.
    Johnny Thunder he's one of the original bebop generation
    And he's got no time for complicated music or too much sophistication.

    He's one of the survivors,
    The motorbike riders.
    You ought to see Johnny Thunder riding down the highway
    One of the rock and roll survivors,
    Twelve bars flowing through his brain.
    He digs Jerry Lee Lewis, Dion and The Belmonts,
    And Johnny & The Hurricanes.

    He plays Hound Dog, Oh Boy, and Great Balls of Fire
    And Boppin' At The High School Hop.
    And he's got no time for phonies or posers
    'Cos they don't know how to reel and rock.
    and he plays Little Egypt and Ooh Poo Pah Doo,
    And he plays Poison Ivy and Blue Suede Shoes,
    The Hollywood Argyles, Danny & The Juniors,
    Dion & The Belmonts, Johnny & The Hurricanes.

    He's one of the survivors,
    The boppers and the jivers,
    Yeah and he rocks all day.
    Johnny & The Hurricanes, Johnny & The Hurricanes.

    Got my freedom riding along the freeway.
    I ride a hundred miles an hour but I don't mess up my D.A.
    Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock 'n' roll.
    You can't stop rock 'n' rollin' music play.
    (repeat last two lines)

    Feel those vibrations flow in my brain.
    Got my freedom riding down the highway,
    Keeps me sane, feel alive,
    I'm one of the survivors.

    Feel all right.
    First gear, second gear, third gear, fourth gear, all right.
    Old Johnny Thunder looks a little overweight,
    And his sideburns are turning grey.
    But he still likes to bebop, boogie and jive
    To his worn out seventy-eights.
    Johnny Thunder.
    He's alright.
    He's one of the survivors,
    Twelve bars flowing through his brain,
    Jerry Lee Lewis, Dion & The Belmonts,
    Johnny & The Hurricanes, Johnny & The Hurricanes.

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

    With the pulsing opening note, and the way the chords come in, the intro could almost be mistaken for a long lost Who sixties track, but we quickly move on from there and into the song that may perhaps have been the most logical choice for the first single. It fits the general feel of the early seventies rock/glam hits, and it is a good song with some nice reflections on early rock and roll bands, and with the sort of fifties revival that was/had been around, it fits the bill.

    Lyrically, this basically introduces the fact that Johnny Thunder hasn’t changed, he is still the rebel rocker. He has put on a bit more weight as the middle age spread sets in, and his hair is greying, but he is still rockin’ down the highway and singing the songs of his era and loving the artists that sang them.
    There is a slight mention of the prog era that we were in, and just starting to move out of at this point in time with the line “And he's got no time for complicated music or too much sophistication” …. And it could also possibly be seen as a dig at the old Kinks fans that had basically stopped buying the band’s material since they really started mixing it up.

    This is a fun song that rolls along at a good pace, but also has some nice changes. The whole band seems to be getting into this. We get Dave back on upfront vocals, with some backing vocals and a verse of lead vocals, and I think it works well on that level too.
    I think the horns here work well as accent points and keep the interest level in the song up as we move along.
    I also like the two or three rhythm changes.
    Ray pulls out all the punches in this song, with a touch of doo wop, some punching rock, some changes in feel and tempo, and also the boogie change at the end that comes to a dead stop.

    This may be the most straight forward track on the album in many ways. It seems surprising that it didn’t really seem to ever get played, to the best of my knowledge…. It seems it really fits with the American Graffiti and Happy Days vibe that was around at the time, but as seems to generally be the case, the Kinks were the outsiders.

    As mentioned earlier in the thread, there are several edits and mixes? of this track. This is the album version, and the single version was posted earlier. I think we also have a different mix on the Celluloid Heroes compile, and also a version on the sacd that was slightly different again, but I will leave it to the experts to go into that.

    For me this track rounds out a solid side one, that can stand alongside any of the Kinks albums easily.
    I still really don’t see this huge change in the band that is often talked about. I just see them exploring more areas and using various forms of embellishment to colour their songs on the albums. Personally, I still hear the same band ten years on from their debut.

  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Celluloid Heroes compile version

  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    One of the singles mixes/edits

  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    The other single version?

  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I think those are correct, but I know you'll sort me out if I messed it up :)
    Michael Streett and DISKOJOE like this.
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    A bit like 'Supersonic Rocket Ship' oddly this one didn't seem to get much live mileage at time of release, but it then got revived in 1977. Kinda kwirky choice 4 years on. In this Feb 1977 Winterland concert it's actually the opener, check it out!

    Interestingly The Kinks briefly added the original 'Johnny Thunder' into the live show in spring 1973: I'm guessing it's possible this may have led to the creation of this sequel song some soontime after?
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2021
  21. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    A couple of tracks ago we were warned of a "change in the weather"...and now Johnny Thunder comes along. Is there anything in that?

    This is perhaps the first case of The Kinks doing a track which is more of a pastiche of a rock/rock & roll song than an actual rock song - thus it sounds as though it is meant to be in a musical - and it sounds as though it should be at home in the 1973 world of ersatz rock & roll revivalists.

    However, it still rocks well enough and works on its own terms. Good to hear Dave's vocal prominent again. Perhaps goes on a bit longer than it needs to, but keeps its momentum up.

    Not quite sure where Johnny fits into the plot other than being another peripheral character around the village green, trying to preserve his way of life.

    Anyway, that brings to an end a very good album side.
  22. Ex-Fed

    Ex-Fed Not Fed Ex

    New York State
    Very exciting song. The Hollywood Argyles seemed, always, an odd choice to wax nostalgic about.
  23. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I suspect it's because The Kinks shared a bill with them at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965, as recounted in Ray's first autobiography. Similar for Danny And The Juniors who The Kinks played with in 1972ish. These mentions may be direct shout outs to first wave rock and roll acts they (briefly) worked with.

    A bit like the last song, it's interesting that Ray mentions/places emphasis on some obscurer figures of the era being discussed in this song rather that the big guns of Elvis/Berry/Holly/Little Richard etc (ok most of these are referred to in the song but they're not made a focus of like the second tier figures who are emphasized in the chorus).
  24. Ex-Fed

    Ex-Fed Not Fed Ex

    New York State
    Second-tier, in some of these cases, is a generous assessment on your part.
  25. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Where Are They Now?
    After three weeks of packing and unpacking while moving house it is me who’s left wondering where I am now :rolleyes: ….. I have missed this thread and fellow Kinks avids (a lot) so I’ll jump in here and gradually catch up with what I’ve missed.
    I really enjoy Where Are They Now? It has echoes of earlier Kinks songs, a good dose of nostalgia and Ray’s delivery is just perfect.
    This song reminds me a bit of the album as a whole: underrated. I think Preservation 1 gets caught up in negativity around its self-indulgent sequel. But as a stand-alone album, Preservation 1 is very very good. There are only a couple of songs which I find too theatrical - A Change in the Weather being one of them. But I can listen to this album on repeat.

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