The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Location:
    Dearborn, MI
    I'm in the minority today as I don't think these songs are all that great.

    "Set Me Free" - I've always found this song awkward. It starts off with two bars of a riff that almost seems to change as soon as the drums kick in. Upon closer listening, it doesn't change, it's just the first strum is almost half cut off and then the guitar waits as the drums come in slightly late. Once the vocal begins, the riff now changes for real, which makes you wonder what the previous riff was for. It's basically a two chorus song, the catchy "set me free little girl" chorus and the "I don't want no one" second chorus. The second one seems real sloppy like some of the partial bridges he's been writing thus far. Why management thought this would make a better single than "Something Better Beginning" I don't know.

    "I Need You" - My problem with this song are the very amateur trite lyrics. They are a better fit for a ballad instead of a rocker. Both songs on this single mention "little girl." On the bright side, we finally have a guitar solo here. It seems like it's been awhile. Of course the pause before it is identical to the pause in "All Day and All of the Night." The "more than anybody else has needed anyone before" part is the most memorable aspect of the song.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  2. FJFP

    FJFP Host for the 'Mixology' Mix Differences Podcast

    Set Me Free has always been... fine... to me. It's clearly a re-write of TOWFY, and while it does a lot of things well, it's also quite sloppy, and betrays Ray's lack of passion in the track.

    I Need You however, was a favourite when I first heard it. It's not got the catchy hooks of YRGM and ADAAOTN, but it does have raw, B-Side energy. That opening is fantastic for 1965, and I'm pretty sure this track is mainly driven by the lead Tambourine, it's mixed so highly! More amazing as an exercise in Garage Rock than songwriting, but that to me is exactly what B-Sides were for at this stage! As a bonus, I used it to open my most recent episode of Back to Mono, found here.
     
  3. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Poetry, man. Moreso coming in such a raunchy sounding song. <3

    I'll admit that "Set Me Free" bugs me a little. The opening section is perfect. The arrangement is good; the band feel is excellent; the use of that hard, simple riff in a ballad is effective. The riff, offset against that drum pattern, is captivating.

    But the jolt into a new minor key at "I don't want noone" feels forced. I give props to Ray for messing around with bold, weird chromatic shifts, but it's a little graceless. The shift from the third "Set Me Free, Set Me Free" section back into the A section IS effective.

    It's a pretty decent song that deserved to be a single. MUCH better than the prior single. Ray was simply going to get less awkward and more consistent very soon.

    By the way. The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" was released April 9. "Set Me Free" was recorded April 13-14. Think the former might have influenced the drum pattern in the latter, just maybe? It doesn't bug me -- in fact I think they repurposed and changed it just enough.

    "I Need You" breaks no new stylistic ground, but it's a great variation on the first two hits. It's a refinement of those moments, or an anti-refinement, since it's even wilder. Truly one of the great Kinks songs; certainly among the most perfect of this early period. Ray's vocal is flat-out sleazy, too--there's effectiveness in this restrained vocal mode in a hard rock song. I prefer it to the growl he started doing on most of the louder songs, starting around the time of the "Lola" album. (I guess "House in the Country" has the growl, but he didn't abuse it there.)

    It think it will be sobering to see that month-by-month timeline of the Kinks' single and album releases. They were releasing a new single, what? every 6 to 10 weeks? Who DOES that now? Nobody. Everything was disposable. Your reign as a pop star was expected to be months... if you were lucky. The Kinks at this point had already released two UK albums and an additional 14 non-album single tracks, in roughly a year. 42 tracks! Of course some of those singles were going to be weaker. They were grinding stuff out, almost desperately. It's remarkable that the overall quality was as high as it was.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  4. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    The Kinks version of ‘SBB’ had already been available on LP for a few months by the time ‘Set Me Free’ came out so with the way things operated in the mid 60s it just wouldn’t have been a contender. Also Kinda Kinks sold pretty well so a lot of fans would already have owned it. The next single really had to be new product if they were to keep pace in the market.

    I also think that after the relative failure of the differently styled ‘Everybody’s’ that another single that deviated from the formula would have been a big risk. It had to be something that re-established their harder edged riffy brand. ‘Set Me Free’ was the pragmatic but arguably necessary answer, and it worked.
     
  5. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Location:
    Dearborn, MI
    No, you misunderstand me. I'm not saying "Something Better Beginning" should have been a single at the time "Set Me Free" was released. I realize it was "old." The band, or at least Ray, wanted "Something Better Beginning" to be a single when it was new but management said no. My point was if SBB was objectionable, why wasn't this? I think SBB is better. Then they ended up coming out with "Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy."

    But no, I didn't suggest they go back to an album cut for their new single.
     
    Steve E., CheshireCat, Zeki and 2 others like this.
  6. Williamson

    Williamson Forum Resident

    Set Me Free, almost a top-tier Kinks song. Yes, it's a cousin to TOWFY but it has its own charms. I never skip this one, the atmosphere they create works for me.
    I Need You just rocks. They were obviously milking everything they could get from the bar-chord approach, and they hadn't finished with it yet, I can think of at least a couple more of these to come. I actually prefer this to both You Really Got Me and All Day and All Of The Night, formulaic maybe, but the formula was still being perfected. It doesn't bother me that they repeated themselves a little. Lou Reed made an entire career out of repeating himself.

    I didn't realise these were two sides of a single, an impressive A and B side, mind you, they had to try and keep up with The Beatles !!
     
  7. BZync

    BZync Senior Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Really solid analysis! I was just going to say "good one".

    I suppose Set Me Free is a "return to form" in a way, as it focuses more on songwriting and structure than the previous single. It's a good track but, for me, the real fireworks begin with the next single.
     
  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Yep, the safety net starts to be removed
     
  9. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "Set Me Free"- Many years ago I would have named this as one of my favorite Kinks songs. It still brings me a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it's slightly less exciting than it once was. Perhaps, it has been played too often or it is a bit repetitive to have long lasting power? I still think it's a good song and a great choice for a single. It sort of reminds me of early Zombies material, which I also love.

    "I Need You"- I never thought much of this one. Seems like a retread of "All Day and All Of The Night". It sounds like the safe single that Ray was forced to write. Like someone was pleading with him to write another catchy power riff song. It lacks the energy and enthusiasm of the previous riff tunes. Now if this was released before the others, I may have a different take on it. It has a great freak out lead guitar and Ray's bored sounding vocal also works. I enjoyed listening to it several times this morning, but it still feels like treading water to me. Call me crazy, but I think the last single was much more exciting and original all the way around.
     
    The MEZ, Fortuleo and Zeki like this.
  10. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Thanks for explaining. Sorry I misunderstood you: I didn’t know Ray wanted SBB as a single, which I guess was the crux of my misinterpretation of your post. Thanks for your patience!
     
    mark winstanley and FJFP like this.
  11. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Thought this would be relevant to add here as it happened about this point in the timeline. An early on camera interview with Mick Avory where he discusses/covers up for the Cardiff incident in May 1965 where he attacked Dave with his drum pedal and briefly thought he’d killed him!

     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  12. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    “Cymbal “ according to this clip. Avory says Dave “pretends” to throw his guitar out at the audience and that he, Avory, does, too, with the cymbal. I presume, then, that he’s saying the cymbal slipped? (Otherwise it wouldn’t be “pretend”!)
     
  13. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    It was all a somewhat spurious cover story for the facts of the incident which was that Dave insulted Avory (‘The drums would sound better if you played them with your c*ck!’ I believe was the exact quote) and in doing so provoked the usually stolid drummer to the point of physical violence. More details here:

    Nearly over before they began? The Kinks and the impact of their 1965 gig in Cardiff
     
  14. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Thanks! I had an image of a cymbal being used as a flying saucer, soaring through the air to slice Dave’s head. But I guess it was: “ I picked the hi-hat up and whacked him with the pedal end, but it was a rubber pedal, an old Premier thing. But it hurt him and that was the end of the show and the tour actually”
     
  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Ah that’s right, I meant hi hat pedal, not drum pedal.
     
    mark winstanley and Zeki like this.
  16. Purple Jim

    Purple Jim Senior Member

    Location:
    Bretagne
    Set Me Free
    Awesome Kink Ray masterpiece.

    I Need You
    Off the scale fabulous. I love this as much as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night.
     
  17. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    :kilroy: The name of this program is "Shivaree." Just about everybody who was anybody appeared on it during it's one & a half seasons (which paralleled Hullabaloo's), 1965-1966. The blonde dancer in the background is Teri Garr.
     
  18. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    'Set Me Free', a good, but not great single. A step up from the previous release, this is more 'singalongable'. I'd never leave it off a best of compilation. Back on track with the singles, but as has been mentioned earlier, it would seem that The Kinks would not be joining the 'top two' bands of Beatles and Stones at the top of the charts.
    'I Need You' benefits from its lesser familiarity, a great rocking tune, possibly the better side, depending on mood! The start of a very strong run of 'B' Sides. The Kinks could quite reasonably released at least half a dozen of their singles as 'double-'A'-Sides'.
     
  19. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    :kilroy: The main thing to remember when listening to this is that minor key songs with chromatically descending bass lines were not nearly as commonplace as they would later become. "Michelle" wouldn't come out until the end of the year, "Summer Rain" was still a couple of years away, and needless to say, "Stairway To Heaven" was way in the distant future. There was that section in the bridge of Neil Sedaka's "Let's Go Steady Again" and "Chim Chim Cheree," but that's all I can think of off-hand.

    I think a better lyric would've been:

    You Can Do It If You Try
    Turn Your Back On Me And Say Goodbye!


    That way, it would've rhymed.
    :kilroy: There were a grand total of five Kinks tracks that prominently featured Dave's "fart-box" torn amplifier, and this is a good one (the next one wouldn't be so good, in my opinion). What I really like is how at the beginning of each verse, Dave plays that G G F G chorded riff low on the neck, but when the title is repeated at the end of each verse, he's obviously playing the same chords higher up on the neck, and squeezing all sorts of great upper harmonies out of his guitar.

    My only problem with this song is the first line, "I need you more than birds in the sky."

    Why does he need birds in the sky?

    It would make a lot more sense if he were singing: "I need you more than birds need the sky."

    My guess is that's it's just supposed to be a spoonerism of "I need you more than words can describe."

    Recorded right around the same time The Beatles were recording a song with the same name.
     
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    I always thought that was the lyric!
     
    MoonPool, Adam9, vanhooserd and 2 others like this.
  21. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I have to say, this is the first time I've seen someone mishear a lyric and then suggest the correct lyric as an improvement. He does say "I need you more than birds need the sky."
     
  22. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    It's commonplace for an artist to create a soundalike rewrite of a previous hit, but what sets Ray apart is that his soundalike rewrites are quite good in their own right. In one instance, he even managed to better the original via rewriting (All Day and All of the Night > You Really Got Me). This time around we get two rewrites, and while neither of them are better than their antecedents, they are still really good songs. A big step up from the weak previous single.
    They aren't great, but Ray had not yet reached the point where he was composing consistently great lyrics. A lot of what he'd written to this point was trite, cliched, or banal in the lyrics department. But nothing in I Need You is as dopey as "Ev'rybody's gonna be happy (which means you and me my love)."
     
  23. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Location:
    Maplewood, NJ
    Someone previously mentioned "Don't **** with the formula." Well, by this point, the Kinks had multiple formulas.

    "Set Me Free" - when I first got into the Kinks (and all I knew was some songs up through Something Else), this was right up there along with "Tired of Waiting for You" as near the top of my list. Yes, it's similar, but many bands create songs that are similar. I love backing "ooh" vocals and the atmosphere that creates and the space it fills. I love the added heavy tom toms (?) during the last "Oh set me free little girl" starting around 1:40. It reminds me of some of the drumming we will hear in the future on Lola vs Moneygoround.

    "I Need You" - another one I have always loved. Again, formulaic but it works. It's different enough. It's distorted, it's bouncy, and it shifts around. "More than anybody else has needed anyone before" could be it's own chorus to this song. But maybe I'm a sucker for songs with this title, because I also love George's "I Need You" on Help! This one is more primal though.
     
  24. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    SET ME FREE

    "See, don't ever set me free. I always want to be by your side" - You Really Got Me.

    Ray's right back on track with this marvellous song. In a delicious plot twist, Ray is now pleading with the girl he loves to set him free.

    He's made it plain he's losing sleep over her, that he wants to spend every night with her, and he's asked her (politely!) to make her mind up.

    But now he's given up. He knows it's a lost cause. So he's starting to gently make fun of her with the derisive "You know you can do it if you try".

    Musically, from the first guitar note to the last drum beat, I'm mesmerised.


    I NEED YOU

    Great simple but effective lyrics here. The girl can lift his soul up to see the sky and "lift" his tears up and away. But she can also send him to "break down" into the depths of despair.

    An excuse of course for fantastic guitar from Dave - the distorted intro, the relentless riff, and the deranged solo.

    A special mention for Rasa on backing vocals.

    An excellent single.
     
    MoonPool, Steve E., Jon H. and 10 others like this.
  25. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Set Me Free
    Haven't listened to this song since this thread project started. Was thinking this song wouldn't do much for me for some reason, but man, it's a good one. And Dave's guitar sounds down and depressed.
    I wouldn't include it in my top 25 Kinks songs at this point in my life, but if this was the only song I ever wrote, I'd be pretty damned pleased.The Kinks suffer from an embarrassment of riches. That's the problem about in talking about some of the classic songs and this is one.

    I Need You
    I don't care if this is a rip-off of their other 2 previous stellar records, it works. I've long known this song and enjoy it. But when I go to reach for a song I need to hear by this band, this is not one of them. The depth of their catalog causes me heartache on songs like this, as it's a really freakin' good song in and of itself.
    The one critical thing is that, at least on the mix that Mark posted, the tambourine is VERY annoying...it's almost as loud as the vocals. In my headphones, it was not a good sound.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021

Share This Page

molar-endocrine