Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
He changed his tune soon enough on the next album.
Just finished listening to Side 1. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Hanging on every word and note.
Preservation Act II
My history with this album is that I have no real history with it. I missed it back in the 70s. My neighbors obviously either had the album and didn't play it(which may be more likely the case. LOL) or they just didn't own it. So it's only this year that it came in my purview. The general belief that this time in the Kinks' oeuvre was not worthy of exploring may have had an influence! I blame myself mostly for that. I don't generally follow "trends" but I guess I did in this case. Anyway, the Kinks had such a long and powerful catalog surrounding Preservation Act I & II, that I felt like I couldn't be missing much.
So here I am with my ears and heart wide open.
I listened to it at work today to get myself ready for the examination. There's one song that made me cry...at work. Ridiculous. And I found the use of MaryAnn Price to be a brilliant choice for Ray. First(and last?) woman doing lead vocals on a Kinks song (not just a cover), correct?
I don't find this to be a religious-centered album at all. this is about good vs evil, morality and power. But is it a bit heavy-handed? We'll see. As with Preservation Act I, I'm not sure how engaged I will be in the theme. I'm all about the music first. If that ain't there, then the story doesn't mean much to me.
So in listening today there were a few songs that stood out a little more than in other listenings. Will be fun (I hope) to examine closer.
The cover: it's ok, but just barely. I guess it communicates the general theme. The costumes the band had to wear are ridiculous and embarrassing. I would have quit the band if I'd been forced to wear them. LOL
from their Preservation tour later in 1974 when it hit Rhode Island.
Ray Davies, as Flash, is dressed as Max Miller, which gives you some indication of his attitude towards the character - i.e. he loves him really.
Max Miller (comedian) - Wikipedia
Nice early fan art! A very ‘glam’ looking
I couldn’t have said it better than Wondergirl. I have no experience with this album prior to three or four weeks ago when I started listening to it. I had pretty low expectations for EISB and Preservation Act 1, and in both cases I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I like both albums quite a bit. As such, just like Wondergirl, I’m here with my eyes, ears and heart wide-open, ready to receive some more gifts from Ray and the boys!
PS, preliminary reaction after a couple of weeks of listening, although admittedly not with a pair of headphones on and no distractions, probably the weakest album thus far from a consistency standpoint, but considering it’s a double album it looks like there will be at least a couple of handfuls of songs that I will quite like.
I think Ray uses words with a -tion suffix more than any other lyricist I can think of. Just a little passing thought.
"...His mother in law had too much ambition...."
"...But with the over-population
And the crazy politicians..."
And in "Introduction to Solution"....
He started using a lot of "-tion" words on Arthur, I think. I'm feeling lazy, not checking.
First track of The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society had:
Preservation, Appreciation, Persecution, Condemnation
I’m sure there may be a few others sprinkled earlier, but my guess is that song started it as a “thing”.
That can turn out to be a very long bender. So many albums and I have never heard a bad one.
ah! Yes! Of course!
(Off topic: indeed! I own or at least have heard approx 97.5% of the studio recordings he did from the '60's to the late '80's and can attest to this. A legend. The African James Davis. Or should that be Miles Brown? JK. He was something entirely his own and I'd recommend Zombie, Unknown Soldier, Coffin for Head of State and the live album with Ginger Baker to any music fan).
Relistened the unmentionable Acts as promised. Yes, I can understand why other people dislike these, even strongly. But there are many gems scattered around here and if one were to ignore these albums because of their reputation alone, you'd not only be missing out on these but also a lot of great playing and some mischievious fun as well.
Strangely (if memory serves), the biggest selling album of 1974 here in the U.S. was another double one, Chicago VII. This was due to it containing three hit singles and one popular album cut. Like their first three albums, every critic in the country agreed that it would've made a decent single LP, but that just about everything on it that wasn't a hit was pretty self indulgent and forgettable.
As for Preservation Act II, I can distinctly recall hearing "Salvation Road" on the radio exactly once. It was right around the time it was released as a single over here, several months after the album came out. The chorus was catchy enough to make an immediate impression on me. Very Mott The Hooplesque. I've often wondered why it didn't eventually wind up on the "Celluloid Heroes" compilation. I vaguely recall finding the album in a cut-out bin shortly thereafter and discovering that SR was by far the best track on the whole double album. This thread will refresh my memory about many of the other cuts, which I have completely forgotten.
Interesting wording here.
Tickets are "popularly" priced at etc, etc.
As I said before, I don't really make a difference between Act 1 and (the best songs from) Act 2.
I'm not a fan of the "single-LP-zation" of double albums. My alternate double white album is also a double, with singles and other tracks replacing the "bad" songs. My alternate Exile, as I once mentioned, is an EP. (Afterwards integrated in a single LP using Goat's Head Soup songs plus Short and Curlies). My alternate Lamb has a few boring stuff cut out, leaving it double. I love double albums. So for my defence, my decision to butcher Preservation 2 was not taken lightly, and it was with a heavy heart that I approached it with my scalpel. I did it only to create a new double album, with Act 1 as LP 1. I hope the family will forgive me.
stereo mix, recorded Jan-Mar 1974 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
"It has been rumored that a new People's Army has been formed by a certain
'Commander Black'. A few minor incidents have already been reported, and further
unconfirmed reports suggest that this is a definite attempt to overthrow the
present government which is led by Mr. Flash.
"We would like to stress that these are only unconfirmed rumors, but we will
of course bring you up-to-date news and information on these reports as they
come in. Meanwhile we do urge the population not to panic and to remain calm
during the crisis."
Please stay tuned to this station for further bulletins.
Written by: Ray Davies
The announcements seem to be a bone of contention for some, but in context with this album I like them well enough. They serve the purpose of moving the narrative forward, and come in the form of little radio announcements .... which somewhat makes it an extension of The Who Sell Out in that aspect, even though used in a completely different way ... and I love the Who Sell Out, one of my favourite Who albums.....
Interestingly, the little horn insert that opens the album, and in a few slightly different versions, introduces the announcer/narrator all through the album, is a melodic excerpt from the album's closing track, Salvation Road, which was also used to close Act 1.
Also interestingly, it is modified in such a way as to make it sound like a call to arms, or reveille, and used like a radio station signature marker.
Just this simple opening seems to speak a little to the idea of propaganda, and the way it is used to brainwash the masses. A repetitive little theme to catch the attention, like a Pavlov's dog type signal, followed by a well spoken, serious sounding fellow who gains, or attempts to gain the public's confidence with their serious, and supposedly sincere tone.
This first announcement is somewhat benign, in that it is merely reporting that it seems possible that there is a hint of revolution in the air. It is presented in a way that seems, or sounds unbiased, but we all know that the story has already told to us that the people are discontent with the current Flash administration, and we also know that radio and tv require listeners to attract advertisers, and therefor income..... and did the vocalisation of discontent get initiated from our radio stations reporting?
So although these announcements aren't musical high points in the album, keep an ear out for them, and see if you notice the way in which they work over the course of the album.... I think there is more to them than it first appears, and I also think they have more to do with the albums theme than just fleshing out a plotline.....
Introduction to Solution.
stereo mix, recorded Jan-Mar 1974 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
Sung by The Tramp:
While the rich get their kicks with their affluent antics
Mr. Black sits and ponders their fate.
He just sits in the gloom of his dimly-lit room
Waiting for them to swallow the bait.
While the rich run their rackets he sits in his attic
And casually clocks their defeat.
While the politicians cover up mistakes that they've made
And all the promises, the lies and deceits.
A military coup has been long overdue.
Now there's fighting and panic in the streets.
Amid the mass disillusion, disorder and confusion,
He will rise now his plan is complete.
But me, I'm only standing here
Watching it all go on and I'm watching it all go wrong
And it's painfully clear that the battle is near
And I wish I could just disappear.
While Flash and his men drink champagne in their den
And debase life with crude ostentation,
The poor cry for more, but they're reaching the point
Where the people can't stand any more.
But me, I'm only standing here
Watching it all go on, and I'm watching it all go wrong
And it's painfully clear that the battle is near
And I wish I could just disappear.
Written by: Ray Davies
Published by: Davray Music Ltd.
The Tramp brings us into the album here, and firstly one may question how the Tramp would know these things, but it has been made clear to us in Act 1, that the Tramp is observant.
To some degree, the Tramp is the most fleshed out character in the whole epic, but we need to pay attention.
In Sweet Lady Genevieve we learn that he loved her and lost her and would like her back, but we can also guess that he is someone who has lived a life and seen and done a lot, and although that doesn't necessarily translate to the University/College book smarts, it generally leads to a real perspective of the world for the aware and self-aware... and the Tramp is very self-aware.
Where Are They Now also gives us good insight into the Tramp, he is well aware of the history and the figures from around town, and with all those authors, one would have to assume he is fairly well read also.
Sitting In The Midday Sun gives us a little more insight again, and although I suppose someone could write the guy off as a drunk, and a loser, he is not unaware of himself, or his situation.... he is acutely aware of who he is, and has made a direct choice to live the way he does, because he has seen the other side of the coin, and it is ugly to him. One could make an argument that, of the three main characters, the Tramp would likely make the best Mayor/Governor or whatever position this is supposed to be, in charge of the Village Green.
The Tramp's character is not just some loser wino that can't participate in society, he is a person who has been in the trenches, made his mistakes, realised his weaknesses and strengths, and has found contentment in the simple things, the real things that matter, in what the wise see to be as a fleeting life.
It would seem logical to assume that "the rich" in the opening line is a direct reference to Flash and his cronies.
That being the case we, are clearly told that Mr Black has assessed their weaknesses and used manipulations to get them where he wants them. He has logged their transgressions like a jaded lover, to assemble a case against them, so that he can rile up the people.... and in the third section of lyrics there, we see that he clearly has riled them up, and his attempt at a coup has been a work in progress, and is now coming to fruition.
Then, in what seems to essentially present as a sort of chorus, we get the Tramp, possibly still in his same Sitting In the Midday Sun mode, stating that he is only standing here, watching the world go insane, in defense of indefensible men, and he wishes he was anywhere else, but in the midst of this insanity.
So again, to me, Flash is the most rational character here, and this song works as a great observer's narrative of how this situation is unfolding.
As a song..... This is fantastic..... This is a great opening track that comes punching in beautifully and manages to be engaging and entertaining, even if you completely ignore the lyrics.
We come in with a really sweet little drum track, with nice work on the hats, and the kick driving us into the momentum of the song.
The guitar and electric piano combine to almost sound like a D6 clavinet, and the riff is a beautiful rolling staccato that gets me into this straight away.
Ray again delivers the vocal, with this great bouncing mass of beautiful riffery, perfectly, and I am instantly into this album.
Mick's accents on the drums are perfect. He isn't really playing a standard beat, but rather the opening kick and hats rhythm continues, as he throws in fills and breaks that accent the music and vocals beautifully.
This is rhythmically wonderful to my ear, and the way all the instruments work together to create this gumbo of rhythm has me really loving the way this album opens up.
Somewhat slightly in the background, we get the wind instruments adding little bits and pieces that give the sound a sort of overture-ish kind of sound.... this almost has a bit of an 1812 overture about it to some degree.
Then we get another masterstroke, in my opinion, with the chorus/bridge .... whatever it actually is - "but meeeeeeeeeeee, I'm only standing here"
This for me is an incredible hook and I am sold before we are even halfway through the song.
Again we get some beautifully placed horns .... and where I suppose I can understand some folks not really liking the horns on some of the earlier albums, the wind instruments on this opening track are simply brilliant, and arranged and mixed beautifully.
The wonderful rhythm guitar breaks into a couple of licks and then morphs into a wonderfully rhythmic lead break proper.... and the song wrestles on forward with the engaging rhythmic pattern accented with counterpoint tacets and it all just works perfectly for me.
We ride out of the song, on Mick's drum beat, that after this assault on the senses, gives us a moment of respite before the next song comes in.
For me this is like some kind of fusion of Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture with a great rock band, playing some great funk, with some engaging lyrics telling a story that I can relate to, and completely understand .....
I'm not sure if it counts as prog or not, but it is rock, it has classical flourishes, technical proficiency, conceptual lyrics and a not standard rhythmic structure, so it's damn close...... and even better than any of that, it is a fantastic song .....
So for me the album opens up as well as anything the band has ever done. Lyrically interesting, musically engaging and aurally wonderful.
Without wanting to get too specifically political, I can’t enumerate the amount of times that the ‘meeeeeee I’m only standing here watching it all go on, watching it all go wrong and it’s painfully clear that a battle is near and I wish I could just disappear’ refrain has popped into my synapses when watching the latest news unfold over the last turbulent decade. I listen to this album and I find it’s lurid heart on sleeve political commentary a perfect reflection of the tone of recent politics. I wonder if it maybe this record seemed more dated in the 90s and 2010s when there was more a kind of ‘end of history’ neoliberal consensus in the Western world that made such populist sloganeering seem quaint. Well for better or worse, it’s come around again.
Hate the Announcements. Such a clunky and corny device to move the storyline along, preposterous as it may be. These would have been better left on the lyric sheet.
Introduction To Solution. This is like a lot of the better tracks on the album in that it's almost a good song but there's just something lacking about it. Being shackled to the aforementioned storyline doesn't help.
The Tramp isn't really a fleshed out character, in my opinion, "Sweet Lady Genevieve" is a song about Ray Davies' marriage, it has nothing to do with the plot of this album. Likewise "Where Are They Now?" is just a clever Ray Davies song about the actual 1960s in the actual United Kingdom. Etcetera. The Tramp seems to be a mouthpiece for Ray Davies to say, "One side's just as bad as each other", though the album ends up contradicting that statement. The Tramp also disappears pretty quickly, I think? But then so do most of the characters except for Flash
Exposition...and more exposition!
I hadn't noticed before that the fanfare in the announcements is the tune from Demolition/Salvation Road, so that's one thing. The announcements don't really bother me, but I don't take that much notice of them either.
"Introduction To Solution" doesn't really come across as a track that you would listen to outside the context of this album, but it is musically interesting with Mick's crisp drumming and the grinding guitar riffs. The lyrics just seem to be fleshing out the detail of what was implied in the Announcement. It's notable that The Tramp is "standing here" this time - perhaps he has a sore backside after all that sitting in various places. Not so keen on the "meeeeeeeee" bit (it's unnervingly reminiscent of that Adele song that is getting played on the radio constantly) but the payoff hook is good.
It's basically a clear signpost that we are not going to be presented with a simple set of pop/rock songs - we are going on a journey and this is where it begins.
You don’t have to be the biggest David Watts fan in the world to appreciate the fafafa introductory bang it provides for Something Else. Similarly, you don’t have to be the biggest Introduction to Solution fan in the world to be entranced by the syncopated power of the naked drums and the extraordinary guitar and electric piano blend that start this song, and the music on Act 2. You don’t have to, but I am! Man, I wholeheartedly agree with Mark, this sound is exciting, rocking and unsettling, it puts you on your toes. I think it’s one of the main reasons I was always well disposed towards this record: the first few bars of this opening song are damn irresistible. I understand now how they’re really taking things where the Demolition groove left them, especially as far as the dramatic cinematic tension building use of the drums is concerned. This is, lest we forget, a second act, a sequel, a move that is rare enough in rock to be saluted.
In the meantime, the Tramp has changed dramatically. He’s not sitting, it’s not midday, there’s no sun, he’s not thinking of days, people or lovers of the past anymore, but observing the here and now, like an embedded chronicler. He’s become this observer/narrator/prophet and he’s been all but contaminated by the theatrics of it all. Ray gives a manic performance, almost sounding like Jagger’s Devil. To my ears, the “mee-e-e-e-e-eee” section is a bit weird (because of the ultra-transgressive chord change and because it goes a bit against the groove, I guess), but weirdly effective in the way it sets off the “I’m only standing there / watching it all go on / I’m watching it all go wrong…” key line, in which Ray starts to sound like Ziggy’s Bowie (and a bit like his own “shambolic” brother). If I’m not mistaking, we then get the first Dave solo in quite some time, and what a great solo it is, particularly “Devilish” (or is it sympathetic?) as well. When all’s been said and done, only the opening drums groove remains, and it’s a fantastic theatrical gimmick: the Tramp came and went, giving his overview of the situation and then getting back in the wings, an observer just like us, but not without first inviting us in the play. Well, thank you, sir, don’t mind if we do!
That may well be true, but logically, if they are put here as being from a specific character, which they are, then the information in them is then a reflection of who that character is supposed to be.
So although I understand your perspective, it isn't logical.
As you say, the Tramp is somewhat set up as Ray's mouthpiece, so whether the history given to him is fact or fiction doesn't change the fact that these things are attributed to him in the context of the story.
"Announcement" - I forgot that Act II had this. In another rock n roll coincidence, The Who's Quadrophenia uses this device as well (far more skillfully) with a transition that captures a household with the radio on and the announcer reporting a story about violence between Mods and Rockers as a kettle boils. Here it is a bit heavy handed, almost satirical.
But "Introduction To Solution" is entirely entertaining. I have never had a clue what this song is about but it is an enjoyable listen for me. I like it musically particularly the way it starts and builds and for a song that is part of rock theatre, it has a pretty long guitar solo! The character Flash reminds me of the film Performance and Mick Jagger's Turner character who gets mixed up with gangsters (the "Memo From Turner" segment was particularly compelling). Of course, Mick Jagger is jumping jack Flash (actually Keith's gardener).
The song is OK - it moves the story forward a bit more, and it has a decent chorus. But I'm not sure that I'd listen to it outside of the album.
We’ll have to see the reshaped track listing first.
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