The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. pantofis

    pantofis Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany
    There is some otherworldly quality to (A) Face In The Crowd, which is quite fitting, as if this is some out-of-body experience. Those rich atmospherics with the piano and the string (synths?) remind me very much of the early eighties fantasy/sci-fi soundtrack music. It's quite unique in the Kinks catalogue and I wish they had explored that style further.
    The lyrics do remind me of "Flash's Confession" where that character mourns his fame ("no one knew my name"). Maybe Ray had a lingering phobia about losing his fame status and that's why on later projects inclined to give the people what they want, or what the record company expected...
    As I mentioned earlier, this song along with a couple of others from Soap Opera was always in my street busking set and I bet that not many street musicians go to that song, but I strongly recommend it. Listening to the Kinks version even today I still get strangely emotional at the tragic way of Ray questioning himself whether he's "just an ordinary man". I want to reach out to him and say, no Ray, you're most definitely not!
  2. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    (A) Face in the Crowd. Best track on the album, Ray thankfully keeps the hamfisted dialogue and unsubtle comedy well away from this particular track. It is reminiscent of earlier Kinks piano ballads, but Ray is good at piano ballads. I agree that the title seems like a homage to the film, A Face in the Crowd.
  3. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    More scrumptiousness. Duck L'Orange :love::love::love: But I only got turkey in the freezer. Bugger!

    Well, they rarely put that much shepherd in it anyway...
  4. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Gots to have peas. But say no to corn!
  5. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Ducks On The Wall

    In my tender years I do recall such designs in the childhood 70's homes i visited especially some flying metal ducks on an outside front brickwall!

    These days I am in aged care so visit many elderly folks at homes and recently found a lady's home to be very proudly adorned of dozens of Chickens covering all manner of wall, floor or door!

    A fun romp but in reality and casting duck noises aside not so individualistic musically as i could picture anyone from T. Rex, Slade, Wings or Suzie Quattro tearing through this and sounding not dissimilar.

    First heard and dismissed on a French RCA vinyl compilation last year and now happily given context so can allow myself to enjoy with little guilt!
  6. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    And trying (and failing miserably)to keep to a diet of things somewhat Kink-related:

    Gary and Vangro agree on something-shocker. "(A) Face in the Crowd is the best song on the album by far and is IMO almost shockingly good. A distant cousin of "Days" in a way but of course much, much darker. The plaintive pianner reminds me of "Borrowed Tune" by Neil Young and is by that logic actually "Lady Jane" by the Stones twice removed and a little distorted. It is very short but that doesn't matter.
  7. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    (A) Face in the Crowd
    So here we have one of Ray's big piano ballads - if we can call a song that barely ticks over two minutes "big". And what a ballad it is, featuring Ray at his most fragile and vulnerable. It's also what I'd describe as an honest vocal in that I don't feel that he's playing either Ray the starmaker or Norman the office worker. This sounds like Ray Davies being Ray Davies. This could easily have fitted on several of their 70s albums e.g. Everybody's in Showbiz, Schoolboys in Disgrace, Misfits. It's one of my favourite slowies.
    Now I wish I'd said that, but the next best thing is highlighting it in my own post. That's a wonderful summation.
    I can't speak for you, but I think it's because this song doesn't sit very well on this record. When it comes on after Ducks I feel as if it's a new album starting.
  8. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident


    This is nothing to do with todays song, but while I was searching the KPS mailing list archives (a brilliant searchable resource filled with lots of off the beaten track Kinks content: The Kinks Mailing List ) for yesterday's Weird Al Yankovic quote, I found this really great interview answer from Pete Quaife (who was a member of the mailing list in the early 00s and would answer fan questions) whcih goes into great depth and detail about his musical influences and the direction he'd have liked to have seen The Kinks go in. I remember that's something we were speculating about when he covered his departure, so I found this very illuminating ad I think others will too...

    'In the last set of questions, from Lee, you indicated that that as time
    went on, as a member of the Kinks, you wanted to see the music go in a
    different direction. What direction did you want to see the music go in?

    PQ: Thank you, Randolph

    Hmmmmm...... Firstly, as we each progressed in the studio as musicians,
    it was natural that our creative thoughts drifted from one form of music
    to another - depending on the person. That meant that in the beginning
    both Dave and I tended to lean toward s the hard rock/blues format.
    Meanwhile Ray had already begun to formulate the string of "socially
    satirical songs" that made us famous. (Strangely, every now and then Ray
    would suddenly give vent to an outburst of Rock and Roll on stage - an
    occasion which I now believe was a outpouring of fury and anger. A type
    of safety valve I suppose.) However, even though I was satisfied with our
    first series of recordings (You Really Got Me - All Day and All of the
    Night etc.) I became quite unhappy with songs like "Set Me Free" "Plastic
    Man" "Wonder Boy" and so on. Unfortunately, it was, by this time,
    impossible to discuss anything with Ray - ideas, concepts and so on - and
    so I began to drift. I was, at this time, listening to a large and varied
    collection of rec ordings ranging from South American Indian music to
    jazzed up Bach. I was studying, very hard, things like the Beach Boy's Pet
    Sounds, The Beatle's Sergeant Pepper, Moody Blues Days of Future Passed,
    Hollies and Simon and Garfunkel. ....... and Bread ! Oh God! I could not
    believe what David Gates was coming out with! Another person was Denny
    Laine, former Moody's singer. (If you can, get a copy of "Say You Don't
    Mind" by Denny Laine and give a listen. Remember WHEN this record was
    released because it was WAAAAAAY before its time. I know that it showed
    the way for the Beatles.) I was listening to Jaques Loussier, Dave Brubeck
    and MJQ. I played "Jupiter" from the Planet Suite over and over,
    Beethoven's "Pastoral" suite, Hayden, Grieg, Albinez ........

    I gotta stop - before I have a stroke! Anyway Randolph, this is what I was
    listening to and, of course my imagination went in all of these
    directions. I wanted to put together HUGE productions on record, with lots
    of thought and ideas, crazy instruments and even crazier arrangements. I
    would have given my left testicle to have played on a Frank Zappa
    recording or sessioned with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. I really wanted to
    break out and give vent to all of my creative juices.Unfortunately
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2022
  9. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Great song, nothing to add. I hadn't even noticed it before this month.

    I get the feeling that this album, as a story, is in fact less consistent than Preservation. In the beginning, you understand that the Star and Norman are supposed to swap places. Which means a whole narrative arc should be devoted to Norman becoming a Star while the Star becomes Norman. None of this happens. In the end, everything is a dream. So we have to believe that the Starmaker story was Norman's scenario to justify the fact that he was a star ? OK, maybe. I'm not very good at all this.
  10. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    Naw...peas WITH the Shepherd's Pie, not in it!

    (And if you want an authentic recipe, it should be lamb, carrots and onions topped with potato. Definitely no garlic or corn, you Philistines!)

    Has anyone mentioned that Shepherd's Pie is on Keith Richards' rider? Maybe he could share his recipe....
  11. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    (A) Face in the Crowd: Short but (oh so) sweet.
  12. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "(A) Face In The Crowd" is a superior ballad in my view. Hearing it now, it seems like the most poignant moment to come out of Soap Opera. To some extent, though he uses characters for his songs during the "theatre" period, it strikes me as a direct comment from Ray Davies himself , regardless of the theatrical context. Ray Davies just never struck me as a typical "rock star" - though he is certainly a unique individual, Ray seems like someone who became famous almost by accident and never seemed comfortable with it. I think some of that creeps into this song which gives it even more emotional resonance.
  13. Jasper Dailey

    Jasper Dailey Forum Resident

    Southeast US
    A Face in the Crowd: This is an interesting one. I loved it when I first heard it because of that beautiful melody in the main part of the song, and Ray's plaintive (I know I subconsciously nicked that one from you, Headmaster :agree:) vocals in the mold of some of his most vulnerable, confessional songs. More of that is always a good thing. But, perhaps in light of re-evaluating the rest of the album in a more positive sense, this one starts to feel more... slight in comparison. I know it's the wrap-up so it certainly has significance on the album, but it just feels like Ray could have said more here. Again, it's his song though, his vulnerability; maybe he said all he could say/needed to say. In any case, for me, this is the first song on the album after a very strong middle section that feels like a bit of a decline. That decline will steepen tomorrow...

    All that said, this really is a wonderful little 2:18. A particular highlight for me is that descending piano riff that pops up every so often (first at 0:35 but repeats a couple more times in the song). I wonder if it was Gosling or Ray who wrote that? It doesn't feel like a typical ingredient in their music. I also like how the bass interplays with that as well; it's honestly almost a little too loud, but that's okay; as we reach the near end of the album, it's worth throwing another shout-out Dalton's way for his great work on this one and in this period.
  14. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    (A) Face In The Crowd: this song was a quick preliminary play-lister that, unfortunately, won’t make the cut (despite being a fine song).

    As already noted, traces of Gordon Lightfoot…”just like an old time movie” (If You Could Read My Mind).

    There’s that nice circus type/carousel bit after “I’ve got to stop acting like a clown” and overall it reminds me of a song that The Tramp might sing in Preservation.

    Most definitely a musical theater number with the singer alone on the stage, reflecting, in the spotlight.
  15. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    The highly anticipated telling off by English person for being totes wrong about Shepherd's pie :D Now I can finally get some sleep.

    A Yorkshireman actually tought me how to make it the first time round. He used peas mixed into the mince and tinned carrots. And garlic :laugh:

    As for Keef, I was a bit disappointed that the recipe wasn't included in his book, Life. "Don't bust the crust".

  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Add to above: there’s another song, too, that mirrors that just-like-an-old-time-movie sequence. A bit whinier…but I cannot for the life of me get it to come out. A head scratcher!

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    "(A) Face In The Crowd": Definitely the emotional climax of Soap Opera for me (the final song seems more like a rousing encore). A nice piano ballad in which the main character is no longer the Starmaker and admits that he is merely Norman. In Starmaker, this was visually symbolized by Norman and Andrea leaving the stage and sitting down with the rest of the audience. I also get the feeling from both Starmaker & the live Soap Opera that Norman may be ambelivant about accepting his reality and may fantasize about being someone else in the future. Anyway, "(A) Face In The Crowd" is a great way to end Soap Opera the concept, if not the album itself.
  18. Martyj

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

    Maryland, USA
    It was neither Ray nor Gosling. It is John Barry, the James Bond music composer. That descending melody is taken verbatim from the theme from "You Only Live Twice," keeping up Ray's track record of snatching bits of other composers works and incorporating it into his own. If someone pointed out a similar musical pattern appeared even earlier in a work by an 19th Century classical composer, I wouldn't argue.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    This is rather interesting to read, since I know that the Bonzos did have a bit of a problem getting a steady bass player. That would have been interesting if Pete had that gig. It's too bad that Pete didn't find other people other than Maple Oak to share his visions, since that was the era of the so -called "supergroups", famed musicians leaving other groups to create bigger groups, i.e., Blind Faith and CSNY. He was right about Denny Laine's "Say You Don't Mind", which was also done by Colin Blunstone.
  21. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Clearly, not just (A) Face in the Crowd! Meet Dani Rojas!

    PS: Sorry this took so long. I know I promised this like 100 pages ago! I consider my self pretty technically proficient, but uploading pictures on here was beyond my capabilities, so finally i broke down and asked my better half to help.
  22. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Doggie!!! :love:

    How cute is this furball? Too darn cute, that's what!
    mark winstanley and markelis like this.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Thank you very much, Avid markelis. What a nice doggie. My next door neighbor has one just like her. Congrats to you & yours
  24. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    Cool you posted the link to the archive of The Kinks Mailing List. I forgot it was on that website. I recall the Pete Q and A that we were able to do where we would send in the questions to Neil and he got those to Pete and then his answers would come back in another email several days/weeks later. The List emails were almost daily back in those days. Pete actually answered my two questions in the March 12, 2001 email and I did find that in the archive this morning. Hard to believe it's that long ago.

    (A) Face In The Crowd is one of my favorites and another shout out to Mr. Dalton's bass work here. Melodic and creative.
  25. Jasper Dailey

    Jasper Dailey Forum Resident

    Southeast US
    I don't think it's "verbatim", but it is very close. Ray's is D --- C# --- B --- A / C --- B --- A --- G on the top, YoLT is (I don't know the key, but we'll assume the same): D -- C# D C# -- B C# B -- A / C -- B C B -- A B A -- G ... no clue if my meaning comes across at all there! But the You Only Live Twice has extra/different ornamentation. Is it a "Blurred Lines" type scenario where, if Ray were challenged, he'd have to give Barry's estate some compensation? IDK, that's far beyond my paygrade. But I don't think they are the exact same.

    PS: You Only Live Twice is a hell of a song in its own right!!

Share This Page