The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    See, I guess I do think that every song has Ray in it. It doesn't matter the subject matter or who the characters may be. He writes about a character from his perspective. Given the same set of 'facts', you would express and write something entirely different based on your own background. What we're getting is Ray's world view through his songs, even if he's talking about the grocer down the street. There's no way you can separate the art from the artist. It's entwined. Having said that, it doesn't mean you get a COMPLETE portrait of the artist. No way. that would be too simplistic. But it does give you maybe a corner of a picture or a splash here and there on the canvas. I wouldn't presume to understand Ray (or any artist) entirely through their art. But it does give a hint of the person.
     
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I think I know what you're both saying there, and I reckon I sit a little in the middle... I think his character and personality are part of each song .... but... uuuurrrmm ... but I don't think each song is his personality and character ... hmmm ... I don't know if that makes sense, but it's the best way I can think to say it ....
     
  3. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I would say, yes, every artist has some of his or herself in their work.
    It may very well give a hint of the person. However I do think that Ray, along with other exceptional songwriters, can write from different points of view.
    As you say, it's over-simplistic to presume an understanding of an artist's personality solely through their art. Another non-Kinky example might be the song "Short People" by Randy Newman. I think one would be very mistaken to think that that might tell us something about Newman's world view.
    I guess I'm more about, "Trust the art, not the artist".
     
  4. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yea lol, what is he 6' 4" or something lol
     
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  5. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Yes, exactly!
     
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  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I remember someone telling me that Short People wasn't Offensive because Randy was actually a dwarf ... or something like that lol (because the conversation arose somewhere for some reason)....
    I think Short People isn't offensive because it is so obviously sarcastic in the tone of the song, and the refrain really brings the point home (a fool such as I)
    Bad information before the internet.... Who'd-a thunk it :)
     
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  7. Martyj

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

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    This may be true… to a degree.

    Sometimes what an artist’s art reveals about the artist is that they are not much of an artist at all. Sometimes one’s art reveals them to be competent in the art of craftsmanship, but beyond that they have no view point or voice. That’s not to disparage the value of a great, pure craftsmen—there are many worthy such talents in the annals of rock history—but I think it is separate from someone like Ray Davies as he has come to be known over the course of his career.

    But for discussion in relation to “Kinda Kinks,” in early 1965 what we are learning about the artist within Ray Davis is that he is deep in his learning-his-craft mode as a writer. In that regard he is no different than many other rock band members (Jagger/Richards and Townsend, as prime examples) who at the time were leaping feet first into songwriting under the model-for-rock-band-success that Lennon and McCartney had established, i.e. any self-respecting rock band moving forward needs an in-house auteur to come up with original material. Ray was able to pull it off because, like all great artist, he had something to say, and he did it well. Really, really well. In “Kinda Kinks” we see a few glimpses of the artist within ("Nothin' in this World...") Mostly, though, Ray is imitating the standard bearers (Goffin/King, Lennon-McCartney, various bluesman, Motown, etc) and there is no shame in that. But his great breakthrough is on the horizon.
     
  8. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    That is true of every writer though. Whatever or whoever a writer writes about, they examine it from their own perspective and what they say reflects their own worldview. The difference is that some writers write about themselves directly (or about characters that are veiled versions of themselves) while others write about other people. And some (like Ray Davies) do both. Which I guess can lead to us sometimes guessing he's writing about himself when he's not, or vice versa.
     
  9. bvb1123

    bvb1123 Rock and Roll Martian

    Location:
    Cincinnati Ohio
    "Don't Ever Change" is really good early Kinks. I love Ray's kinda sped up vocal (the way he seems to be singing fast, not that the tape was sped up). Musically interesting. It's everything you could ask for in an early Kinks song.

    "So Long" Lovely song and, I believe, one of the first Kinks's tracks that Ray sang in his longing/wistful voice that he would use to more success later on. Very fine song.
     
  10. Williamson

    Williamson Forum Resident

    It makes perfect sense, and that's how I see it. Any work of art says something about the artist in my book. Whether it's an inward looking piece, or an outward looking thing, it's got the creator's fingerprints on it.
     
  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    You Shouldn't Be Sad

    mono mix (1:59), recorded 16, 17 Feb, 1965 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    This song kinda starts off like it is possibly going to be just another beat group song of the day .... but.......
    When that first change comes in it hooks me.

    Can't you see (can't you see)
    Can't you see by the look in my eyes
    Can't you see (can't you see)
    Can't you see I'm in paradise

    I feel all right
    I feel okay
    'Cause I'm in love (I'm in love)
    And you shouldn't be sad

    People say (people say)
    That love can do funny things
    But I say (but I say)
    I'm gonna take what the future brings

    I feel all right
    I feel okay
    'Cause I'm in love (I'm in love)
    And you shouldn't be sad

    No, you can't be sad my darling
    If you say you love me too
    Well, it seems that all the good things I've done
    Done it all for you
    Done it all, done it all for you

    Can't you see (can't you see)
    Can't you see by the look in my eyes
    Can't you see (can't you see)
    Can't you see I'm in paradise

    I feel all right
    I feel okay
    'Cause I'm in love (I'm in love)
    And you shouldn't be sad

    I'm in love
    And I know, and I know,
    And I know, and I know
    That you shouldn't be sad

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Kassner Music Co. Ltd

    We open with a call and response verse and it comes across pretty well, but when we get the almost frantic chord run up and move into the "I Feel Alright" section I just really love that change, and when the backing vocals come in it just sounds excellent.
    We run through a couple of verses and choruses, and then we get a sort of off the cuff bridge, and again it works really well for me.

    This isn't a favourite, but it has some really nice little changes that sell it to me as a good, to very good album track.
    It is sort of slightly unusual in its arrangement, and that works for me too.

     
  12. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    This has a fairly unusual stop-start structure, and is a really interesting album track.
     
  13. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "You Shouldn't Be Sad"

    This is a good little romp - the bit that sells it is the wrenching key change which echoes the hit singles - E to B, then C to G, and going into the chorus on Bm is a nice touch, before returning to the main D chord. It's got stop/start bits, call-and-response vocals...what more do you want on a penultimate track throwaway??
     
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Something Better Beginning

    mono mix (2:23), recorded 22 Dec 1964 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London

    They said this was the last dance
    The lights went dim as I looked round the floor
    Then I saw you standing there
    Then I walked up to you and I asked for this dance

    The band had started to play
    I held you hand and I sighed
    Is this the start of another heart breaker
    Or something better beginning
    Something better beginning
    Something better beginning

    I never thought I'd love like this until I met you
    I found something I thought I'd never had
    The only time I feel all right is when I'm with you
    I wonder how long it will last

    I walked you home in the night
    The moon shone bright as we walked hand in hand
    I've known this joy once before
    But it came to an end just as it had began

    Each step that I took with you
    Brought one thing closer to my mind
    Is this the start of another heart breaker
    Or something better beginning
    Something better beginning
    Something better beginning

    Written by: Ray Davies
    Published by: Kassner Music Co. Ltd

    Now this is a really great way to close out the album.
    This song really does make me think of the Brill Building writers that folks have mentioned earlier. It has a sort of beautiful chordal phrasing and movement that makes it stand up taller than it perhaps should have.

    Lyrically we have a song that follows a fairly typical kind of boy meets girl at a dance love song, but the way it is musically written and arranged really lifts it up. It is such a beautifully written melody line and the feel is excellent.

    Even in the opening we get that gentle guitar and drum feel, and then as we move into the vocal section, we get these subtle little shifts. From the point where we get " I held you hand and I sighed" the melodic structure really starts to come out, and "Is this the start of another heart breaker" just sells it perfectly.

    Also the way the lyric opens up this idea of beautiful possibilities. Even at this part of the song I am sold, but Ray isn't done yet. He also throws in an early bridge, and it just has this one, two bang sort of effect for me.

    I am a sucker for a really well written melodic love song, and this really ticks the boxes for me.
    Also to finish off this album, that is really quite a bit better, and more sophisticated than the debut, with "Something Better Beginning" is just the icing on the cake.

    An excellent way to wrap it up.

     
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    So Kinda Kinks the album is a big step up from the debut for me. We see Ray really starting to show what he has got as a writer, and even though there is a lull somewhere around the middle, and it isn't that big of a lull for me, they bring this album home with a great series of tracks that leave me feeling like this was a solid album, and the little dips are virtually forgotten.

    For me the only real dip is Naggin Woman... Dancing In The Street isn't a favourite, but I don't hate it... it's just kind of there.

    The real highlights on this album for me are
    Nothin' In this World....
    So Long
    Something better Beginning
    I love Tired Of Waiting For You, but those three, perhaps even eclipse that track for me.... and it shows me that whimsical Ray, and his balladeer leanings are very appealing to me.
    The bonus is that the more rock style songs are also very solid, and the album on the whole works really well.... for me at least.

    So over the next few days we will be rolling through the associated singles, EP's and bonus tracks, but that is how the core album works for me. Good stuff
     
  16. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Finally at the last gasp the album gets really good. "You Shouldn't Be Sad" is a brilliantly catchy rocker but "Something Better Beginning" is honestly one of my favourite Kinks songs of all time. It's so beautiful and touching. The lyric captures so well and so simply the uncertainty and fear about starting a new relationship after being burnt before. And the music fits the lyric perfectly. I can't think of any other song it particularly sounds like, unlike a lot of Ray's early album tracks. And the title is so appropriate for the end of this disapponting album that precedes the near-masterpiece that is The Kink Kontroversy.
     
  17. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    You Shouldn’t Be Sad starts like the Beatles's Tell Me Why and features an early Zombies melody, a superb call and response gimmick, some irresistible energetic backing vocals and punkish staccato rhythm guitars (my favorite touch here). Now that’s what I call a cool “deep cut” !
    Well, you could want Stop Your Sobbing, couldn't you ? But you're right, it's almost as good. If only the likes of Blondie would’ve covered it in 1979!
     
  18. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    What I find strangely compelling about ‘You Shouldn’t Be Sad’ is how it balances the ‘Dancing In The Street’ style optimism of the mid 60s pop zeitgeist that the Kinks were caught up in with Ray’s already evident caution and nascent cynicism. The tension between the two moods is what gives the song it’s power for me: it’s almost like a self help pep talk Ray wrote for himself to embrace living in the moment as The Kinks were on the up, except he’s only half managing to convince himself.

    That Dave/Rasa backing vocal (male and female combining equally as one in a blend Ray himself noted as sounding striking and modish in his autobiography) as Ray sings ‘I feel alright, I feel ok’ unsteadily but gamely is like the aural representation of all the positive qualities of the 60s youthquake opening up for Ray as he tries to shake off his inherent worrying ways.

    In some ways I think The Kinks ban from the US later that year was a confirmation for Ray of his latent skepticism about the promise of the 60s and turned him into the warier old before his time Ray we’ve known ever since. ‘Kinda Kinks’ is fascinating in retrospect as it’s the most innocently positive LP the band ever made, one they could never make again after that moment.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
  19. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus

    "You Shouldn't Be Sad" does remind me a bit of "Tell ME Why" by the Beatles, and I like it about the same. It's ok, nothing to write home about, though.

    Drumming is great though and the song is interesting in that it seems chiefly Motown influenced (again) but, even though it's not as good a song as "Dancing In the Streets", songwriting-wise, it actually annoys me far less. It's a minor work, to be sure, but a likeable one.
     
  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus

    "Something Better Beginning" is definitely Brill-building influenced and it's stunning. Great drumming again -- why is Mick Avory not mentioned with the other mid-sixties drumming greats, and some fine guitar work. But the star is the song, the gorgeous melody and a lyric that shows maturity and uncertainty without sounding wimpy at all. Good tough vocal, too. Not topmost tier in my book, but a gorgeous little song.
     
  21. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Something Better Beginning is such a great title (and great sentiment) for an album closer. It does sound like a lost Shirelles single. It still has this pastiche/derivative flavor, like a lot of this LP does, but it also works wonders as a counterpart to Side 1’s closer Tired of Waiting for You, with some of the same two chords riffing (and some more Dave Davies staccato rhythm guitar which I love so much). This surely wraps thing up nicely, giving the LP an unexpected last minute cohesive quality, like a self appointed study in early 60's pop styles. Except for the two misplaced covers, I like to see Kinda Kinks as Ray's graduation album. With honors !
     
  22. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    The Kinks labelmates The Honeycombs cover of ‘Something Better Beginning’. They managed to get this one all the way up to #39 in the UK charts in May 1965:

     
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  23. Detroit Rock Citizen

    Detroit Rock Citizen RetroDawg Digital

    The likes of the Pretenders did, and they did so wonderfully.

     
  24. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Something Better Beginning"

    A terrific song to finish the album - lovely melody, and a proper ballad with lyrics to match. Dave's jangly guitar hangs somewhere in the distance, and the "ooo" backing vocals towards the end of the verse are a nice touch. I much prefer this minimalist treatment to the Honeycombs version, which I could only get through about 30 seconds of. When you think about what's coming next, the title seems very appropriate.
     
  25. Williamson

    Williamson Forum Resident

    Something Better Beginning, good song to close the album. You can hear Ray Davies straining towards his trademark songwriting style here, multiple influences beginning to really stir together to produce something very special. Whilst I really enjoy this song, I don't believe he was quite free of the shackles yet, the chord changes and melody are just on the right side of authentic, albeit it wouldn't be long before his songwriting style really asserted itself. The lyrics are no great shakes either, though the 'something better beginning' punchline of the chorus is perfect. The optimistic sentiment of the song makes it the perfect closer, leaving the listener satisfied.
     

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