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

    I don't even remember that lol
    All Down The Line, DISKOJOE and Zeki like this.
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I don't really dislike it, but oddly for me, it seems too Mungo for me to fully embrace it as the Kinks..... even more oddly, I think the vocal doesn't grab me.

    This song is one of those tracks for me that sometimes I hear it and like it, and sometimes I don't.

    Even moreso, on first hearing the album, I liked it, but whereas Spiv, Shepherds, Scum, Scrapheap etc all grew on me a lot, this one slid away....
    Not totally sure why
  3. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    This is very similar to my experience, and I'd add that I first heard the song on the Picture Book box set and it was actually a standout track for me on that disc (disc 4). But I had yet to discover there were so many songs from the "Preservation" project that I would like even more.
  4. Mirror of Love: I love this song. It has a great, winding, memorable melody. It's a bit cliched lyrically, of course, all that floozie with the heart of gold stuff, and some of the rhymes are a tad uninspired (bad/had) and I've never actually understood how one looks through the mirror of love, unless one is peering into a police interrogation room. All that said, it's still superb.

    Mungo Jerry: John Mendelsohn made this connection in his book, and referred to that band's singer, Ray Dorset, as "the other Ray D."

    When I saw Preservation live, Ray sang this song. I'm sure he considered it too good to give to the singer playing Belle. He held a mirror, and reflected the light from the stage lamps onto the audience.
  5. Adam9

    Adam9 Русский военный корабль, иди на хуй.

    Toronto, Canada
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  6. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Exact same thing here. Every single time I'm reminded of the band version, I go back to it with great enthusiasm, hoping to embrace it wholeheartedly but it ends up in the exact same spot as the LP version, despite the important differences. I like it. Quite a bit. I whistle it. Quite often. For no other reason that it's so damn catchy. But in no version does the song establish itself as a firm favorite of mine, even if I circumscribe the question to Act 2.
    Thirty years ago, when I first got those Preservation records, I instinctively preferred the songs where the Kinks sounded the most "like themselves", as we've said many times. But in the long run, I've found myself more drawn to some of those records departures, namely There's a Change in the Weather and Demolition on Act 1, and When A Solution Comes/Scum of the Earth/Flash's Confession/Oh Where oh Where is Love/Nothing Lasts Forever on Act 2. I still don't follow our Headmaster all the way on the "Spivs of the Nation" route, but I could end up meeting him there at some point, who knows… I like those two records (and the next) to be like an alternate universe Kinks, a very different band (from themselves and from anybody else), a very different experience (same), an era only a few of us fans are delusional and biased enough to cherish and advocate for passionately despite its obvious flaws and undefendable shortcomings. I did enjoy yesterday's comments about Preservation(s) being better than Tommy, and it's because I feel that way too while knowing all too well that it's an absurd and untenable position. If it was an objectivity game, that is. Which it's most definitely not!

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Writing this on the first snowy morning in New England (which is always lovely the first time around, but gets tedious by the time February rolls around), I'm in agreement w/Avids Vangro & Ajsmith in thinking that "Mirror of Love" is one of the highlights of Act 2. To me, it's the one song that pops out in the album. I enjoy Ray's campy voice, especially on the line, "you were the best man I ever had." I also think that this song proves Ray's songwriting talent in that he could have written it in 1928. It has that vibe to me. I always thought that there should have been a promo issue of this song done as an actual 78, with a black Victor label, showing that you can dance the foxtrot to it.

    As for the 3rd Announcement, wasn't this album supposed to be set in a village green? It has morphed into something much larger than was probably originally intended, especially the next song or so, which is a potted history of English domestic struggles.
  8. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    From the get-go, in Announcement 1, it is clear that this isn’t a village green. Flash leads “the present government” and Commander Black has formed a People’s Army in an attempt to overthrow it (the present government).
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  9. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Oops, is there a Cavaliers v. Roundheads theme going on here? Mr. Black definitely has elements of Cromwell, but you could hardly claim Charles I was much of a slum kid.
  10. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Mirror of Love

    Add me to the list of lukewarm recipients of this song. Just too extreme an example of what it is for me to really appreciate and an example of where I find Ray's overwrought wail to be as much a distraction from as an enhancement to that style.

    As for hummable, there's no doubt. But rather than fun hummable, it's that kind of annoying earworm that wish you could get rid of hummable. I might hit skip.... I might not, but I know the latter choice carries some risk!
  11. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    Mirror of Love

    The Mungo Jerry In the Summertime is strong with this one, as noted by many of you so far. I didn't even know there was an alternate version for the US single. First time hearing that today. I definitely prefer the vocal of the demo on the album cut. I think I might like the musical background of the alternate single, but I prefer the reverb of the demo piano and Ray's vocals just blow the single away. About that piano sound, it's hard to explain, but I will try... I think it almost sounds like glass - a la how Annie Lennox used the piano on Walking on Broken Glass. Perhaps because of the circular melody? It sort of comes back around on itself as if it's looking into a mirror, and the reverb adds almost like you are hearing a reflection of the of the initial piano notes. As I mentioned, I do love Ray's campy vocals here. I love the tuba bass. But, I think it does go on a bit too long (it feels longer than 3:26), and I think it's a bit too repetitive (like when you are standing between two mirrors?). I also get some sort of carnival or merry-go-round vibes from the sound here. Again, perhaps because of the circular melody and imagery of mirrors/glass that are typically in the middle of carousels.

    We are a bit more than halfway through the discography now, right? Has Ray ever made this rhyme of "glamour" and "squalor"? If not, why not? It's perfect for him. Instead, we get "fodder" with "squalor" in Second Hand Car Spiv, which I noted that I loved, but oh man, glamour would have been much better, with that "l" sound placed differently.

    I think I am in this boat. Mirror of Love was very quickly identified as a more "traditional" or accessible Kinks song (in fact, to my ears, this sounds like like it could have been recorded/released in 1967 or 1968, in addition to 1928!), but those other showtunes have really grown on me!
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  12. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Mirror of Love

    Never been a big fan of this song. I can stand Ray's warbling voice if I like the tune, but when I think the songwriting's weak, as I think it is here, it works as an aggravating circumstance. I like the way the song starts with the chorus, though, as if we caught it in the middle. And like Avid @Fortuleo, I enjoy the minor change at the beginning of what I suppose is the verse. It's a song I would appreciate more if it was not surrounded by much better material. Record 1 has only 2 weak songs in my opinion, and they were both chosen as singles.

    To me, the mirror metaphore means that this is the kind of passionate love where you actually love yourself in the eyes of the other. Belle (Rasa ?) has low self-esteem, and being loved by a famous and powerful man (Flash/Ray) improves her opinion of herself. She doesn't resent the violence because she's under the unconscious delusion that she deserves it. This vicious circles feeds her alienation.

    When I write it down, it looks a bit far-fetched, but that's how I instinctively interpreted the words. I'd be very disappointed if Ray actually meant only that Belle is a "floozie with a heart of gold" (in Avid @Ex-Fed 's words) that enjoys her ride of rough love. We were accustomed to less cliché lyrics.


    I never was bothered by the fact the civil war was taking place backstage. Ray chose to avoid narrative songs to focus on characters and relationships, and that's a wise choice. Who listens to recitatives in Bach cantatas or in operas ? They're for the stage, and they almost always sound artificial and boring. Wagner put everybody to sleep when he designed his later operas as endless recitatives with next to no refrains, though at the time he must have thought it was a great idea.

    I triple-like this comment ! As a French lover of light-hearted paradox I would love to feel the same, but I like Tommy too much.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  13. One fragmentary memory I forgot to mention earlier. Just before the band started "Money Talks" in the Preservation show, Ray tossed a pile of "cash" in the air for the floozies to grab at. As they did so, Ray assured them, "Don't worry, girls. It's only The New York Times."

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    The guy who played Mr. Flash in the Bozton Rock Opera version of Preservation did the same thing, but w/specially printed "dollars" w/his face on them. I still have one of those dollars
  15. Martyj

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

    Maryland, USA
    Color me surprised as well. A bit like when there was less than universal enthusiasm for “Wonderboy” a few months back. I have to admit, though, I’m pleasantly surprised that my beloved RCA-era so far has largely been positively assessed; I was anticipating a lot more pushback. Then I catch myself with a reminder that our discussions here are mostly preaching to the already converted.

    Indeed. Of all tracks on Preservation 2, this is the one that most calls back the Kinks we already know; the New Orlean’s dixieland of “Showbiz,” the old-timely piano of Nicky Hopkins on “Mr. Pleasant.” Actually, this track calls up “Till’ Death Do Us Part” if one is scouring the back catalog for its closest cousin.

    Exactly. Especially on the full band version I’m picking up a sort of Cotton Club vibe. I half expect the trumpeter to cup a bowler hat over the bell. The whole sound matches that underworld setting of gambling, flashy riches, dames, etc. that is Flashes’s backdrop.

    A legitimate criticism, I suppose, is that the rest of the LP mostly pushes heretofore unexplored boundaries. “Mirror of Love” plays it safe. If one is grading the album by it’s musical daring, I can understand someone giving this track lower mark compared to something like “Shepards” or “Spiv.” But for me, whether looking backward or forwards, the Kinks at this point in their career are still hitting all the right notes.

    That's my interpretation as well. All though I admit it took me several years to arrive at it, and only after studying human behavior enough to understand the dynamics of low-self esteem. The song is very fitting for a character who has wound up in life as a bimbo.
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    (I realized I haven’t been putting in the ground work on the next record just over the horizon. Played it this a.m. and, yep, my wife’s, “what is that?!” as a particular track begins.)
  17. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    I think I have a notion of which track that is.
  18. joejo

    joejo Well-Known Member

    No worries, Wonderboy is just as good as Autumn Almanac. I have a feeling when I get caught up this could very well happen, as Muswell Hillbillies has been a revelation for me. I never thought it was the equal of the 5 albums which came before it.
  19. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Mirror of Love is a little harsh to my ears (something about that keyboard+echo sound makes me flinch a bit), but Ray's remarkable vocal performance gets and holds my attention throughout the song, and is enough for me to give this one a thumbs up. He's teetering on the edge of his range, I'm kind of fascinated with his choice. I mean, he could choose to sing any key he wants, or use one of the female singers in his employ, but instead elects to give this emotional, theatrical, pained and strained vocal performance that seems unique in his oeuvre (Unreal Reality is the best I can come up with for a comp).
  20. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    This version is actually the UK single version. Full band with an instrumental opening before the first verse "You're such a cool..." Notice too, the only drums at the start of this UK mix are cymbal crashes but no snare backbeat/groove. This appears as a bonus track on the Velvel CD.

    The US single mix is actually totally different in that Ray's lead vocals and the female backing vocals come right in at the start (similar to Ray's demo from the album "Why I love you so..") along with the full band with Mick providing a snare backbeat from the get go. It then goes into the aforementioned "You're..." verse. Instruments mixed a little differently too. This mix has never turned up on any other official releases and is not on CD.
    I could not find it on YouTube.
  21. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "Mirror Of Love"

    Count me in the camp that always thought this was a highlight. As mentioned already, it's at least more of a familiar sounding Kinks. I thought there would be unanimous praise for it. This along with "When A Solution Comes" are the two songs that have gotten by far the most plays in all these years. Although lately there are a few other songs creeping up behind them. This has that old time burlesque and barroom flavor that Ray does so well. The Cotton Club is a perfect description of the types of images that come to mind upon hearing this. I prefer the album version, but the single is an interesting record and gives it more of that New Orleans swing. I never knew that the album version was more of a demo with Ray playing so many instruments. Ray is at his campy best with the vocal. I would have loved to see this performed live! I love this song.

    I never noticed the Mungo Jerry similarities and I would like to keep it like that!
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  22. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    As an atheist, this means nothing to me. LOL
  23. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Mirror of Love
    I love this one! This is an earworm for me. In the past I've had it in my head for days. :D
    The piano either reminds me of the type of song you'd play to accompany a silent film...or find playing in a Western film in a saloon. And then you have Ray hitting those high notes with that trill (Bolanesque) and it sounds similar to a record it's an old recording.
    It's not a top favorite Kinks song, but it is one of my top faves on this album.
    The US single is so different. For one, I can't believe they even wasted their time releasing this. it's NOT a single in any country or at any time...yesterday today or tomorrow.
    Secondly, when Raymond hits the part on the single:
    'Cos even though you treat me bad,
    You were the best man I ever had

    he sings it in his deep "manly" voice rather than the high vocal he'd been employing throughout. Do we think Ray is trying to stir up some controversy here? Kind of like with Lola, where you're not quite sure what he's trying to get at here? I think Ray is trying to make a few ripples with that.
  24. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Cape May, NJ
    I like the UK version over the US. It's boozy, bluesy and woozy. Must have been a standout live. On the upper range notes Ray hits Tiny Tim territory. It's an odd duck of a song but that's part of its appeal or maybe I'm a sucker for tack piano in a tune.
  25. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    Mirror Of Love

    Brecht, barrooms, broads & booze this seems thick with imagery, innuendo & inglorious idolatry!
    Not entirely certain which version is best though most likely I prefer elements from each.
    In the former Ray sounds like the love child of Tiny Tim and Marc Bolan and Dave is great on Mandolin whilst Ray boogie's with Stu!
    I do like the band version and it's bottom end also and see it as a far safer bet for the US market.
    Speaking of which I was slow to catch on to the title potentially referring to self love but if not Flash dishes out some cruel acts to Belle that she may deplore but can't do without.....ooh it's a fine line as the Divinyls sang!

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