The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Car Spiv is one of the two songs, along with Shepherds, that originally endeared the album to me. Angular music with sharp-edged lyrics that match the subject matter perfectly - lively, weird and fun.

    "Make a sale/ring the bell/let the suckers go to hell" - This was the line that first hooked me, and the funny thing is, at the time (this was only a few years ago) I had no idea that this was a "thing" - for a car dealership to have a bell for a customer to ring when they buy a car. I had a big laugh when I was in a dealership one day and suddenly heard a loud bell ring along with people cheering out, and thanks to Car Spiv I realized what that meant - another sale, another sucker! Now I always keep these lines in mind when I walk into a car dealership :D.

    The lyrics are fantastic from start to finish. Someone already pointed out the great slant rhyme fodder/squalor; slave/lathe/day/brains is another great one.
  2. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "Second-Hand Car Spiv"

    Upon my recent dive into this splendid album, this song has become another of my favorites. I'm not sure how it passed me by all these years. Great commentary again by @Fortuleo and @mark winstanley so I will keep it brief. I'm always one of the last to chime in. This is some punk rock theater and I want a front row ticket! The music sounds like a deranged puppet show you might see at a Renaissance fair. Ray should have performed this song on The Muppet Show. It's already been mentioned, but how ahead of its time is this tune? Who else sounded like this in 1974? Maybe a hint of Sparks in the quirkiness of it? I was trying to think what this song reminded me of and I kept coming to the song "Roger" on the Sparks debut from 1971 when they went by Halfnelson. It has the same kind of quick little keyboard runs and odd feel to it. If The Kinks were ahead of their time in 1974 then Sparks were really ahead of their time in 1971! I'd imagine anyone that likes this era of Kinks would love many of those early Sparks albums.

    I can also see Devo posing some robot moves to this song. I'm not familiar enough with Madness, but have been enjoying The Rise & Fall since it was mentioned in the thread many moons ago.

    Here is Sparks "Roger"

  3. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Yes, Sparks is a good comparison. As discussed earlier in the thread their earliest incarnation included John Mendelson, Kinks compiler and sleevenote writer.
  4. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Second Hand Car Spiv
    Absolutely hear Madness in this song. But the difference between, say, this song and a Madness song is that this isn't as light-hearted as many of the early Madness songs. Madness, at their height in the UK, were LOVABLE. This song is just too in your face (as it's probably designed to be...and maybe I'd enjoy it more seeing it live, like other songs on this album). Maybe trying too hard to jam in everything. I can think of a dozen Madness songs with the level of quirkiness that I enjoy better. Today's song does not go directly to my heart.

    The almost fairground type of music is most fun. It sounds like how a rollercoaster feels at time. So that's an enjoyable part.

    as the 2nd half of the song tails off, you start to lose my interest.
    Does this song really move the story along is my question? I dunno.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Avid Luckless Pedestrian, your ringing bell story reminded me of this:

  6. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Side two is all songs about Flash and his gang and between them they hardly move the plot ahead at all! However it’s also the strongest side musically imo!
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It probably doesn't move it forward, but I think it fills out background, and answers a few questions..... mind you it raises a few questions too lol
  8. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    Not to thread cap, but wanted to answer this question!

    Here's links to three that came to mind immediately, but there are others. These are all pretty well known at least in the US.

    The Hasty Hare - right after the opening title card.

    Jumpin' Jupiter - at the 2:27 mark

    Jumpin' Jupiter - Porky Pig | SuperCartoons

    Baby Bottleneck - at the 3:09 mark

    Baby Bottleneck - Porky Pig | SuperCartoons
  9. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I will never consider old school classic cartoons a threadcrap.... a thread enhancer I tells ya!
  10. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    It raises a question for I care?? I'm simply not sure if I care about this background info. Maybe it goes on a bit too long.

    I think with this album I'm confused between whether I like a particular song on its own OR if I think this song helps this story along. Can you have both? I'm not sure. I don't think I care about this character Flash. Why should I? Am I invested? I'm wondering if I am. I'm thinking no
  11. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    All things come back to Looney Tunes. :love:
  12. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    I kind of agree - themed albums/rock opera's etc can be a fantastic (and pretty rare) achievement, but for me at least, the music is the most important aspect - if I don't like the songs then I won't listen to the album no matter how good the story may be.
  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It may sound odd, but that's where this album reminds me a lot of Zappa.... not that stylistically it is, but it comes from a place of not caring what anyone else thinks... I want to try this...
    So we have some odd music, one will either love, hate, or scratch their head. We have this story, that like a lot if Zappa, is based in reality, but with a touch of absurdity.

    That may be why I love it so much.... though it did take a few spins...
    I kind of dont care where it goes, ot entertains me
  14. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: Strangely, I was also thinking that "Second Hand Car Spiv" is the sort of thing one could easily imagine Russ Mael belting out with his trademark fake French accent. The song that immediately popped into my head however was this one, also from 1974. The meter and tempo are certainly similar:

    Sparks / Something For The Girl With Everything
  15. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    To which the most common response is, "I don't want to listen to this".
  16. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Don't know as can't open the last 2 but not number 1 for me.
    mark winstanley likes this.
  17. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    My 6 & 9 year old are in absolute hysterics and I am not far behind so I thank you.
    Not seen the Keystone boys for decades do we know the approx year of filming?
    Smiler, DISKOJOE and mark winstanley like this.
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    apparently between 1912 and 1917... which is kind of a head spin in itself
  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    He's Evil.

    stereo mix, recorded Jan-Mar 1974 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    Scene: A party political broadcast -- Mr. Black and his followers

    He comes on smooth, cool and kind,
    But he wants your body not your mind.
    He's got style, personality,
    But he's the devil in reality.
    He'll make you laugh, make you smile,
    And make you feel good for a while.
    Wicked smile, decadent grin,
    He likes school girls, nuns and virgins.

    His skin is soft but his mind is hard,
    He'll lead you on then he'll tear you apart.
    He'll treat you rough and he will make you cry,
    And you will kiss sweet innocence good-bye.
    And once you're in there'll be no getting out,
    So look out, look out, look out, look out.

    He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil.
    He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil.

    He's got wit he's got charm.
    But when he gets rough he'll break your arm.
    He's got taste, manners and grace,
    But when he gets tough he'll slit your face.
    He'll buy you jewels, expensive clothes,
    Then his mind'll go and he'll bust your nose.
    He's a joker and a clown
    But he'll pervert you and drag you down.

    He comes on smooth, cool and kind,
    But he wants your body not your mind,
    He is just the devil in disguise.
    He will drag you down and he will make you cry,
    And once you're in there will be no getting out.
    So look out, look out, look out.
    Look out, look out, look out.

    He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil.
    He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil. He's evil.

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

    For me, this is another great track.
    The opening kind of makes me think of Supertramp, to a degree. We get this descending line electric piano. Then Dave comes in with some nice lead, and some cool pinch harmonics thrown in for good measure.
    Mick gives us another drum fill that brings in the beat nicely. A sax comes in sort of following the lead licks and again, it just adds nice texture to the opening statement.
    Then we move into this really nice ensemble arrangement, based on what will be the chorus chord structure, and I am a big fan of the chorus chord structure in this song.

    This is sort of a long intro for a Kinks song, nearly a minute at fifty seconds, but I wouldn't hear it any other way. It sets the mood well, and it also kind of presents the personality of the song well, in my opinion.

    The opening verse sounds like modern politics... it may well have always been the case, but it seems more and more political parties speak more and more to what is wrong with the opposition, rather than what is right about them.
    Mr Black presents Flash as a charismatic fellow who will draw you in with charm, and then beat and rape you....
    Interestingly he ends the first verse by stating that Flash is a pedophile, and likely to rape Nuns and Virgins .....
    In context with what we have heard here so far, I'm not sure if we can accept that as a fact. It is clear that Flash has been corrupt in his business actions, but this statement seems to be somewhat slanderous, and placed in here in order to further his agenda of implementing his anti-corruption bill, which seems more about controlling people's sexual activity than stopping insider trading and financial shenanigans..... I know Mr Black gets less revealed, so to speak than Flash, but these kinds of songs, although speaking of Flash, reveal a lot of Mr Black's character.

    The change comes in and what I get from these lyrics in general is Mr Black painting Flash as just about the worst person in the world. It is a sort of extreme character assassination.....
    Now as I say, we know for a fact that Flash has been a shady business character, but in reality, 90% of politicians are, so that isn't really very surprising. We also know that he has some street thug types to keep folks in line.... but when we open the story on this album, there isn't a shadow of fear of being beaten into submission by good squads, we have everyone stretching and yawning and happily getting ready for another day in the village... though that seems to change after Mr Black starts his campaign..... so it seems like Mr Black is actually painting a picture of himself, and stating that it is Flash, a common practice that we have seen in real life frequently

    So taking into account that this is labeled a political party broadcast, all Mr Black has presented the general public is a list of somewhat slanderous allegations about how evil this Flash fellow is.... without ever giving us a strong idea of what he is going to do for the country, except replace Flash. We had the whole Shepherds Of The Nation speech about stopping everyone from ever having sex again, and making everyone wear chastity belts and sack cloth, but the issues put forth to us about Flash in the story so far have been about financial corruption, and decisions made purely for lining Flash's own pockets ... the whole sexual predator thing is possible I suppose, but at this stage, it hasn't really appeared to be mentioned in any way that makes it seem like a major problem. There was a hint of something in Here Comes Flash, but one would think if the prime Minister was raping all the schoolgirls and nuns, that there would be a bit more noise about it.... and again, at the start of the album, we are still presented with an idyllic morning where everyone wakes up happy and content to move on into their day.... so the whole premise of Mr Black's attacks seems a little dubious...... but media controls the minds of the masses and with his announcer feeding the info, the people will likely lap it up, like they do in real life.

    Musically I really like this. this is a somewhat more moderate blending of rock and show tune, that perhaps would be more palatable for the general music listener. It actually almost seems like a bit of a look ahead to the late seventies early eighties music scene in some ways, except for the lyrics.

    The chords in the verse sort of make me think of Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him, but I haven't had time to check that out.

    We move along at a good click.
    I really like the use of the backing singers on here too.
    The horns are really well arranged and don't get into the way of the song, they just add nice textures and fill out the sound nicely.

    Although the chorus is only two words, the arrangement works really well, and I find it to be excellent.

    Essentially we have an instrumental, verse, prechorus, chorus set up, that repeats. Then after the third instrumental section, which has Dave again getting to lay down some nice lead, we get a dynamic drop that has us concentrating on a chant of He's Evil, and the way the music moves underneath it works for me, and we also get a nice dynamic crescendo that takes us to the end of the song.

    I reckon this is an excellent song, with a solid musical construction and melody, and I think Ray gives more away about Mr Black's character than it may seem on a cursory reading.

  20. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "He's Evil"

    I love the electric piano at the start - it sounds very 70s and quite funky! A few things going on here - the verse sounds like Sleepwalker is just around the corner, and then we get - at last - the return of the chunky Kinks riff! A strange little pre-chorus and then a fantastic and instantly memorable hook for the chorus.

    This is one of those tracks where I don't particularly know or care which character is supposed to be singing it to/about which other character, or how it moves the plot along. It's just a great track and a great sound that exists in its own right. It works on its own and would fit onto several Kinks albums.
  21. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    The band performed this one live as it’s on the behemoth BBC box. On that particular version, Dave shreds the strings even more, in the same heavily distorted percussive but melodic tone than on the studio take, and it’s absolutely amazing. And like on Demolition from the same 1974 Hippodrome Theater source, Ray shares the vocal duties with what must be Maryann Price, who does quite a wonderful job at mimicking his phrasing from the record (whilst he’s reinventing his own parts, just for the fun of it). On the verses, the guitar chords attacks do sound like a rather perfect seventies update of the klassik sixties Kinks sound.

  22. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Now this is a good song! I've liked it since I first heard it, very accessible and instant and definitely one of the best tracks on the album. However...

    I was looking at the words earlier and thinking, wow, Ray's actually tried to introduce a bit of balance into the story by writing a kind of "Mack the Knife" type song which reminds you the main character, who you might have been in danger of having some sympathy for and empathy with, is actually a nasty piece of work - you know, introduce a bit of complexity into the characterization. That really would have worked... but then I find out the song is sung by Mr. Black and it's as if Ray has lost his nerve or else can't bring himself to be too critical of his now loveable rogue of a hero. It's back to Punch and Judy.
  23. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    After struggling with the last two tracks, I love He's Evil - before Ray sings a note I'm hooked by the intro. And Ray's vocal is superb, especially the wavery effort on 'cry', 'goodbye' and 'out' etc just before the chorus proper kicks in. Fantastic!
  24. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    That box set is a godsend and I'm happy that I (really) got into the band in time to get one.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2022
  25. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    I have known this for some time from the BBC 1974 broadcast and hearing it now, it sounds pretty epic to me. And it sounds like it came straight out of a musical (reminds me of seeing Jesus Christ Superstar in London circa 1975) with that chorus. I love Dave's guitar on this one - it brings some musical sting to the proceedings. And it deals with a pretty big theme - how evil presents itself in a seductive manner hiding the price one will ultimately pay.

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