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The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    Everybody's a Star (Starmaker)

    I like it! It's such a fun song. The organ, the brass, the cowbell (woodblock?). Maybe I can do without the backing "gonna make you a star!" but then when it turns into "starmaker! gonna make you a star, starmaker!" I kinda love it.

    The vocal delivery and brass puts it back into Everybody's in Showbiz, but that compressed guitar riff screams mid/late 70s to me. Definitely hear the Do Ya in there, and I am only familiar with the ELO version. I can see how this thematically it almost seems like this is a sequel to that album, which seemed like it had it's origins as Lola Part 2. About the trials and tribulations of becoming a star...

    Dalton's bass breakdown is so funky and I love the claps and cowbell (woodblock?) there too. Dave's solo is ripping. What a different from the overall feel of the last album.

    As I've been going through this album more and more, I often find myself just shaking my head and laughing at some of these ideas, lines, and delivery. It's so campy and entertaining, like all guilty pleasures should be. It's not as bad as what the reviews suggest. Perhaps (definitely) the reviewers are just not bought in to where Ray is coming from, and take this stuff too seriously.
  2. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    I don't hate the cover art, but it lends a tepid and watery quality to the music that I never quite managed to shake off. I'm not a graphics guy, but I'm definitely a colour guy. The cover art's main tones influences me a lot and clings to the music inside. Weirdly, while I can easily recognize that the Schoolboys in Disgrace cover art has everything to be labelled hideous according to the laws of mankind, the plain green helps me finding a pleasant unity to the album. None of this is making any sense, of course, but I'm tired.

    Sillier still, I see a graphic parallel between Soap Opera and A Night At The Opera. Both show a round thing in the middle of a whitish cover, and both have "Opera" in the title. That's my level of graphic analysis.
  3. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Generally speaking, many Kinks' album covers look like I've made them myself. I can see it's not good, but I can't explain why and I couldn't make them good for the life of me.
  4. pantofis

    pantofis Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany
    From the get go it’s clear that while Ray will definitely take no prisoners in presenting another full-fledged concept album, this one will be a good time and not take itself too seriously. I perceive the backing vocals as ironic, they sound so unsophisticated yet determined, like in a school play. The bass break strikes me as a nod to Taxman. After the stingy solo Ray seems to sing-speak himself into oblivion, like only he can. Fascinating how down to earth and out there he sounds at the same time.
  5. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

  6. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    I love how they keep making it out that Ray said Revolver was "rubbish", when he ACTUALLY said Yellow Submarine was "rubbish"...which is fairly close to the truth.
  7. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I didn’t know that (re: Revolver/Submarine mix-up)
  8. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    I feel I need to apologise - maybe to Ray - in my review of Starnaker for saying the music broke no new ground. This album was released in mid-1975 when all the established rock stars/bands had seemingly run out of ideas. I have a lot of time for Blood on the Tracks and Horses but there really was a lot of rubbish around then. Rock had reached a dead end and needed a kick up the ars-e. In that context, I think Ray was doing pretty well.
  9. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Ahah, you got me! But I'll admit it's cheating : "pléonasme" is a french word first (coming from the greek lineage of our language). It reminds me of a trip in Ukraine almost thirty years ago. I'd try to speak the few Russian words I knew to order in a restaurant and the waitress was positively stunned I knew what "maître d'hôtel" (written in Cyrillic letters and pronounced with a heavy Russian accent) meant. Little did she know it was about the only word I could understand in the whole menu…
    Indeed. In some context (as in the Starmaker/Soap Opera shows), it may be interpreted as a way to set himself apart as the real star of the show, casting them as a kind of backing band entity. But I'd argue it's the other way around. Yeah, it's Ray's show, but then the Kinks are a specific/separate part of it, who deserves a special credit. They may contribute to Ray's follies but they're their own band. And by saying that, Ray acknowledges the fact that "The Kinks" are in many ways Dave's band.
  10. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    I am. Mr Ant can be blamed for getting me interested in music on more than a passing level. Maybe I'd have developed the obsession anyway but if you're going to do it you may as well do it in style and who better?!
  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Ordinary People.

    stereo mix, recorded Aug 1974, additional overdubs done Oct 1974 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London


    I am the image maker. I am the magic
    maker. I can turn the most ordinary
    man in the world into a star. To prove
    my point I am going to find the most
    mundane little man and turn him into
    celebrity. Hmm! This looks like a
    suitably uninteresting house. I wonder
    if there's anybody here with enough
    star quality?

    He presses the doorbell.

    Hello. What's your name?


    Oh, that's a nice name. What's your
    husband's name?


    His name's Norman. That sounds
    ordinary enough. I would like you to
    join in a unique experiment with me.
    I am going to take Norman's place for
    a few days. I 'm going to research his
    ordinary dull little existence.

    Oh you can't come in now! The place
    is in a terrible mess!

    That doesn't matter. I want you to act
    normally. I want you to treat me as if I
    were Norman. I am going to sacrifice
    my normal flamboyant life style and
    become ordinary, boring little Norman
    for a few days.

    Ordinary People

    It's like another world, being here with you,
    It's quite a trip for me, so this is reality.
    I'm studying every movement, I'm trying to learn the part,
    Now I want you to be natural, just relax and be as you are,
    'Cos it's all for art, I want to observe the ordinary people

    Tomorrow I shall become Norman,
    I shall go to his office,
    Mix with his workmates.
    And if they ask any questions
    I shall say I'm doing research for one of my songs.
    Norman and and I are changing places
    And I'm going to make him a star,
    So I'm throwing away my stage suit and I'm packing away my guitar,
    For the sake of art I'm gonna mix with the ordinary people.

    God these pyjamas are awful!

    Awful? Well all I can say is my Norman wears them every night.

    Alright, no sacrifice is too great for art!

    The things I've done for music,
    The things I've done for art.
    So I'll make these sacrifices and I'll take it like a star
    For the sake of art I will mix with the ordinary people.

    You'd better come to bed darling.

    Coming! You'll never get up for work in the morning.

    I'm making observations, and character simulations.
    I'll mix with his friends and relations,
    And he'll be a part of me.

    He's changing places with Norman,
    To get background for his songs.

    I'm immortalising his life
    And I'll even sleep with his wife,
    For the sake of art I'll go to bed like the ordinary people.

    Turn out the light.
    Turn out the light.


    The Star exchanges his silver stage
    suit for Norman's pin stripe suit,
    umbrella and briefcase. He forsakes
    his customary brandy and cigars and
    settles for a cup of hot chocolate before
    going to bed.

    Live version:
    Hey Norman, you're stayin' at home with your wife
    And you dream you're a rock-n-roll star
    But you've reached the point of no return
    And you don't know who you really are
    You're livin' in a fantasy world
    You don't know what's real
    How does it feel, all of your life
    In an enchanted lie[?] [could be "eternal lie"?]

    [Or possibly it's "Imitating lives of... the ordinary people"]

    The ordinary people
    The ordinary people
    The ordinary people

    Hey mister can you lend me a hand
    Can you tell me who I really am
    Am I just an ordinary guy
    Or do I play in a rock-n-roll band
    Are you all in my imagination
    Are they only in my mind
    'Cause I just don't know what to feel
    When everything seems real

    With the ordinary people
    The ordinary people
    The ordinary people

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

    This track is hilarious.... We have a a fifties doo wop sort of pastiche I guess, and again, I can't help but hear a certain Rocky Horror thing, with the campy over the top delivery and that pastiche, that was one of the things that made Rocky Horror such an appealing movie and soundtrack.

    In the lyrics above I have tried to separate the spoken from the unspoken, to give context as to what went unheard on the album version.

    The first thing I hear here is Ray making an awful lot of fun of the idea of being a star. He is essentially poking his tongue out at the whole idea.
    Where we had Celluloid Heroes reverentially humanising the stars, yet also tipping the hat at their hard work and sacrifice to attain that goal. Here we have Ray making fun of the self important star that tries to come across as some sort of martyr for their "Art".

    It opens with a spoken dialogue, and it starts as if he is a long way off, and we have these swirling winds, and the voice slowly comes closer as if Starmaker is flying in on the clouds or something lol
    Each line is accented by an instrumental punch, and then we get a nice musical run... There's also this little low mixed jam that disappears as quickly as it came in there.

    Personally I love Ray's over the top acting here, and I think it comes across a little more natural, or perhaps comfortable than the tv version.
    The Doorbell rings and we move into the staccato piano and sax line that instantly screams fifties.

    The opening spoken section we can certainly see a minor conflict with the "most ordinary, mundane little man" followed by the statement about "enough star quality", but for me that just emphasises that this isn't exactly altogether serious.

    The unspoken dialogue at the beginning is essentially just introducing Starmaker to Andrea, and doesn't really alter the perception of what is going on here to me.

    The opening verse sets the tone really well, with the hilariously pompous pop star stating that this is another world, and that this is a real trip, and it is topped off with the "so this is reality" which really gives me a chuckle, and really seems to be poking fun at the pop star facade.
    Try and be natural, seems like it is suggesting that poor starstruck Andrea might not be able to carry this off with such an amazing human being in the room lol
    The second verse there is really a narrative device to point out exactly what is going on here, in case anyone isn't up to snuff with where this storyline is going.

    We then move into the hilarious little back and forth on the pajamas.... Starmaker seemingly feeling that wearing these cloth pajamas is an amazing sacrifice for art.
    This is expounded on, and then the even more hilarious, "I'll even sleep with his wife" .... all for the sake of art of course lol

    Then we move again to an unspoken narrative. We have the scenario of Starmaker striping down to his rhinestone manties, and forsaking his brandy and cigar for a hot chocolate.

    In the kindakinks.net lyrics, we also have the addition of the live show narrative.

    Ray's vocal delivery is absolutely top class. He puts on the accent so well, and all the little ooh's and ahh's just set the tone perfectly.

    The bouncy fifties pastiche works perfectly in context with the narrative to my ears, and what initially, to me, sounded a little uninspired on a cursory listen, ends up becoming an essential part of the flavour of where this album is going.
    June Ritchie does a great job with Andrea's lines. I find the album version of the spoken sections to be a bit more natural and flowing than the tv special.

    As has been stated already, the music sounds really very good, and Ray did a very good job with the recording mix here.

    So essentially when I first heard this listening to the album, there was a certain amount of wtf going on..... but as I get more deeply into the story here, this is a first rate farce, and it really alters my perspective of the music. The personality projected through the vocal lifts this to the next level, and I end up finding this to be an excellent piece of work that is probably more entertaining than I had ever given it credit for.

    Already this album is taking on a different perspective for me, that makes it much more appealing than just having listened to it as an album. We certainly don't have Waterloo Sunset, or The Village Green Preservation Society, but what we do have is a beautiful piece of self deprecating humour that for me at this stage, really works well in this albums context.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    A live version.... the song is a bit different here, and Dave rips it up on the guitar

  13. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "Ordinary People"

    This is an absolute hoot. Ray's fantastic performance sells this one totally. Of course we have the hokey preamble to get through first, but that just makes it feel more like a genuine show than the other concept albums. It's impossible to sit through this without a huge smile on your face. The best bit might may be Ray's "Ohhhhh" after "no sacrifice is too great for art", but the bored "he's changing places with Norman/to get background for his songs" backing vocals are one of the actual LOL moments. Has anyone else ever thrown the words "character simulations" into a song? We also get the first interactions between Ray and June Ritchie - whose overacting threatens to sink things at times, but she's OK on this one. The whole thing is preposterous, but brilliant. The show is developing very nicely.

    I suppose this is another argument for those who think this should have been billed as a Ray Davies solo album. The band is just there to provide the bed for Ray to do his thing, and ultimately it's just a generic 50s pastiche that could have been played by anyone. But the end result is worth it.
  14. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Ok then, talk about kampy stuff… Old time Fats Domino waltz rock, with a bit of doo-wop sugar on top of it, we get sax riffs, pounding piano, ballroom 6/8 (I think) rhythm guitar, women singing, bits of goofy dialogue and the weirdest structure you can imagine, with the “starmaker” protagonist talking to us, to himself, to other characters, with cameos from Norman’s wife and the Greek chorus thrown in for good (?) measure. As part of the narrative, it’s hard to argue it's super efficient and damn funny. As a standalone tune, the lyrics and talking parts wouldn’t make sense at all, yet somehow it still clicks. It must be the familiar chords and harmonic patterns that keep us on track while Ray & June Ritchie do their comedy bits, or it could be the recurring female “ordinary people” main hook, or maybe it’s the sexy swaying rhythm that takes you along no matter what, helped by those sensational ringo-esque drums fills that move the song forward as the A minor chord turns to A major under Ray’s staccato one note singing (“throwing away my stage suit / and I'm packing away my guitar”), but the song manages never to lose its momentum. A good trick is how the (superb) verse melody makes a triumphant return near the end after having gone missing for the bulk of the song. Overall, this is a catchy tour de force: it shouldn’t hold together, it should feel patchy and unfocused but the band's in full control and the hooks drill their way into your brain. It doesn’t have the same purpose but it gives me the the same sense of joy Hot Potatoes did on Show-biz, made of catchiness, humor and a palpable sense of a band getting into the groove and enjoying themselves like crazy. My advice to my fellow playlisters: don't trust your initial "nah, just a part of the narrative, can't work on its own" reaction. Just cut the 35s intro and you'll see it more than holds its own in any playlist kontext.
    (myself, I just checked, I have it on one of my post-Preservation playlists, sequenced between the excellent Springsteen-like Summer's Gone – from Word of Mouth – and the sublime Chrissie Hynde tribute How Are You – from 1986 Think Visual – and it flows beautifully).
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
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  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I'd say the live version is more than a bit different, it's almost an entirely different song, with the only similarity to the LP version being in the chorus! The doo wop element is completely gone and we get a vocal cameo from Dave doing some expository bluesy vocalising over some freeformy guitar w*nkery: it kind of reminds me of the less tuneful bits of Zappa's Joe Garage, where Ike Willis is describing some ridiculous situation in speak singing while Frank twiddles away. It's definitely less appealing to me that the tuneful schmoom of the LP version, wonder why it was changed: a political concession to give Dave a moment in the spotlight after his bad experience on the TV version?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    A completely different song except the occasional “ordinary people” chorus.
  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yea, I am not sure. I wondered if this was an add on to the original song that was edited for youtube.... I don't know enough about it to be honest .... but those sections of Joe's Garage you mention are my favourites :)
    DISKOJOE and ajsmith like this.
  18. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    OK, let's get it out of the way first, I hate the spoken word parts of this record, as he proved on the last album, Ray can't act but June Ritchie (who went to RADA!) is even worse. I find the dialogue about as funny as toothache. I think there's a good song in there somewhere but I'm not a fan of 70s bands doing doowop and rock and roll pastiches, it always sounds like they're taking the p*ss - like, isn't this corny old music hilarious? I blame Frank Zappa, though Frank was a genuine doowop fan. Also 1975 seems kinda late to still be doing 50s pastiches? The live version is miles better.
    Ex-Fed, DISKOJOE, donstemple and 6 others like this.
  19. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    From the lyrics it looks like it might fit in later in the story, so it might have been a song (with a motif repeated from earlier) written for the show/album that was cut? And they later played it live à la Slum Kids so it wouldn't be wasted?
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident


    The studio version of 'Ordinary People' is fantastic: what it really really evokes to me is, after his intro song the Starmaker has rung the doorbell and walked through the threshold into PURE SEVENTIES SUBURBIA. He's arrived, and suddenly it's a whole different vista, a slower pace for this Man Who Fell To Dullness to adjust to. I think when I commented on the album sleeve being total seventies tack the other day it just looked like a sneer and I perhaps didn't manage to bring across how much I think that style completely suits this mood on this album: the gaudy yet also somewhat sterile, congealed atmosphere stereotypically associated with the home life of the aspirational British lower middle class in the 70s. Sitcoms, living rooms, Abigail's Party , (see above) cocktail sticks with pineapple and cheese.

    And cheesy 50s nostalgia was of course all over the 70s, in large part because it had been the music of teenage youth of the 30/40 somethings that now populated this landscape, and so an entirely unoriginal and inauthentic yet irresistible doowop melange is the perfect way to go to totally sell this, as sure as your initially offputtingly gregarious hostess in the low cut dress might seem come to seductive and charming once you've sunk into the sofa and had a few bottles of Blue Nun just before the bowl for the keys is bought out. Sorry on a major mood ramble here...
  21. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Showaddywaddy would beg to differ...
  22. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I always thought that the 50s revival (though it started as early as the late 60s, with Sha Na Na and At Last the 1958 Rock and Roll Show) kind of straddled the 70s and 80s, with the 70s version being more tacky (Grease/Happy Days etc) and the 80s version more 'authentic' (Stray Cats/Psychobilly).
  23. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    The difference is that Showaddywaddy (and Shakin' Stevens and Darts etc.) were not doing pastiches and parodies and using the music for comic effect which tended to happen a lot with rock bands. Ray's just showing his age here.
  24. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    American Graffiti too.
  25. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Ordinary People
    I agree with all of the above and possibly with all that's still to come. This song is fun and its funny. Ray would have had extra fun with the notion of a rock star prepared to make the sacrifice of sleeping with someone else's wife in the name of art. This song leaves me with a big smile.

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