The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "You Can't Stop The Music"

    In all honesty, Soap Opera has already come to its conclusion with the previous three tracks, so this one seems little more than a tacked-on coda, the closing credits music for the TV play. And as such, it works well. It's certainly not a Kinks Klassic, it's not exploring any new avenues musically or lyrically, but it's looking back down the one they have just travelled down. It's an enjoyable listen and ends the album on a note that could be either optimistic or pessimistic - i.e. Ray is either going to carry on no matter what, or he's had enough and is going to chuck it all in now and leave this one as a tribute/farewell.

    "Soap Opera"

    Listening to it now it's hard to see why I disliked it so much on one listen back in the 80s, but then again I wasn't very forgiving of what I considered to be crusty old 70s music back then. It's not an album that you would want to hold up as a recommendation for someone in an early stage of their Kinks journey. In my case, having lived with both the 60s stuff and the 80s stuff for a long time, hearing the 70s stuff now is like finding the missing link between those two eras - which of course it is. Perhaps it's easier to accept and enjoy the RCA albums once you know what they led to. Anyway, now I think it's a great album and a funny album. All the qualities that we love about The Kinks and Ray Davies are here in one way or another - you might have to look a bit harder, but it's worth looking.

    The good thing about this and the previous three albums is that they are all effectively new discoveries for me now, and I can expect to enjoy them for many years.
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    That's a beautiful thing
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    For the record, as per our previously posted schedule, we will be heading back to school on Monday morning, with Schoolboys In Disgrace.
  4. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    You Can't Stop the Music
    A defiant closer from Ray with fine playing by the extended band. I really like Dave's guitar breaks - sensing the smile that he might have made when given permission to rock again. And I like the sentiment of the lyrics though I think Ray did the tribute thing better with Where Are They Now (Prez 1). This is more personal and rocks harder than that song but the chorus is a bit cliched for my liking, even for 1975. I guess it made more sense as a rousing closer to the stage show, where it should have gone down a treat.
    I don't know whether there's a Van Morrison influence here but something occurred to me when I was reading those comments by Peter Quaife: I don't think Ray was studying his contemporaries much at all if the Kinks albums are any guide. None of them from Village Green onwards sound like they are part of a scene or trend. The only sign that Ray was paying attention is that the Kinks were so off trend over most of the 10 years from 1968-77 that he could have been deliberately aiming to avoid musical comparisons with other sixties survivors. Soap Opera might be an album out of time but I think it rewards patience. If you buy into Ray's premise, the album is an enjoyable ride with a few laugh out loud moments as a bonus. It may not be a classic album, but it's not bad at all. I'll certainly be playing it again.
  5. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    (A) Face In The Crowd
    One of Ray's lovely piano ballads. He certainly knows how to do them. After the rollicking fun of the previous track, its perfectly situated to bring us back to Norman's little life and his realisation that he'll never be a star. He doesn't stand out. One of the many faceless people swarming around like flies on the London underground. My favourite track on the album. I think it stands out, it's not a face in the crowd.
  6. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    You Can’t Stop The Music:
    This is the obvious single (with a couple tweaks of the lyrics) as it has a catchy over-and-over chorus. And everyone likes to get misty-eyed thinking of bands from yesteryear. A touch of the Stones-ish (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction beginning with “I’ve been half a million places…”

    I had this tagged as a play-lister, then decided it was too by-the-numbers formulaic…but ultimately decided I’m starting to be too hard on Ray and, conceding that there’s actually a rock band playing here, have placed this on The List.

    The second half of this album is much stronger than (to me) the boring first half.
  7. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Soap Opera Final Thoughts:

    Without a doubt, my least liked album (chronologically) released under the Kinks name to date. I remain unwavering in thinking this should have been released as a Ray-the-musical-theater-guy-Davies record with the other members listed as guest musicians. There’s a couple of exceptions and those could be credited to The Kinks.

    In the meantime, to keep The Kinks name out in the wild, RCA could have released a couple songs as singles…and (wishful thinking) maybe actually tried to promote it.

    Naturally, I am glad of the deep dive and look forward to the next one in this stellar discography.
  8. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    As someone else said, "You Can't Stop the Music" might not be a slam dunk classic album closer but it works as a roll-the-credits end-of-the-show number, it's nice that Dave gets to sing it in the TV version. Again, I'm not sure it has that much to do with the storyline and "Celluloid Heroes"/"Where Are They Now" are better songs in a similar (lyrical) vein but it's a good song. Dave's electric guitar coming in after Ray's acoustic intro is purest Kinks, it could almost be the 60s again.

    As for the album in general, I could never say it was one of my favourite Kinks albums but I've always thought it was unfairly maligned. It's a bit lightweight and undemanding perhaps but I suspect that was deliberate, or maybe inevitable, after the sturm und drang of "Preservation Act 2". I find it much easier to listen to than either PA2 or "Schoolboys in Disgrace". There's some interesting ideas and good lyrics, even if Ray loses his way at times. The tone is uncertain as there's some dark subject matter subtly handled but, in contrast, the humour is mostly heavy-handed and unsubtle (I note that June Ritchie's film career didn't last long beyond 1964 and "after marrying and starting a family, she cut back on her acting roles").
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  9. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Another of my UK Record Collector 7" updates.
    This time for Ducks On The Wall.

    Ex-Fed, CheshireCat, Steve62 and 7 others like this.
  10. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    I only posted it so you could get some rest!
  11. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    “regular duck noises…” :D
    CheshireCat, Zack, DISKOJOE and 2 others like this.
  12. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    This is the aspect which kills me emotionally, on a level I would never have expected. I don't WANT Norman to be normal and give up on his dreams/fantasy, as annoying as the Starmaker may have been!

    A random comparison which just occurred to me is the ending of 'Brazil', where the victory is revealed to be just an illusion (to borrow a phrase from Leee John). I mean, noooo...! Don't do this to me, you buggers!
    Wondergirl, markelis, Steve62 and 4 others like this.
  13. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    Umpteenth ... how many is that exactly? :D
  14. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    The funny thing is that the initial duck noises sound to me like a duck that is irregular!
  15. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "Can't Stop The Music" is not truly epic but it serves its purpose as a conclusion to this album. I do see it as a sister song (so to speak) to "Celluloid Heroes". I think the incorporation of such a familiar song as Them's "Gloria" is a stroke of genius! It is, in many ways, an early version of a song like AC-DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top" but not as iconic because it is buried on the much-maligned Soap Opera album. But my impression of this album was raised a bit during this thread. One thing from the live shows that I found interesting is that the Soap Opera segment had a part where Ray presents himself as a fictionalized version of himself (long before Seinfeld!) and explains he has his group The Kinks right with him and they run through three shortened versions of Kinks 60's klassics ("Well Respected Man", "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion" and "Sunny Afternoon") to prove he is a genuine rock star. I found the live show for this album to be an interesting one.
  16. Jasper Dailey

    Jasper Dailey Forum Resident

    Southeast US
    I guess I'll start with a quick preamble on You Can't Stop The Music: I really am not feeling this one at all. Maybe it's because the rest of the album is so (unexpectedly to me!) good, this one has just let me down the 4 or 5 times I've spun the album in recent days. Maybe that's the issue; as others have said, this song is able to stand alone and I should approach it that way. It's not bad, it's just kind of pedestrian to me.

    But the reason I quoted Mark's post was to sing the praises of that live version of Underneath the Neon Sign!! I was one of those who described it as a bit yacht rock-ish, and I wasn't being derogatory by saying that, it just felt so mid-70s. This live version extracts it from that context with the beautiful piano + Ray intro. I think starting the song that way adds so much to the sound of the track as a whole, and while I love the studio version, this live version narrowly beats it out for me.

    A last word on the album as a whole -- I (and obviously many others) really underrated this one in the past. I'm thankful for this thread making me listen and take it in in a new light. I'm glad we still have so much music to cherish/re-evaluate in front of us!
  17. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident


    Definitely: I think from 1966 on Ray took himself completely out of paying very much attention to his peers and went down his own path, regarding them from a cool distance at best (see his 'Revolver' review etc). There's a very telling story in Hinman's mega book that I've never seen mentioned anywhere else but I think is very telling: at the end of 1968, The Kinks press agent casually remarked to Ray that a chord change in Donovan's 'Atlantis' reminded him of a Kinks song (which one is not specified: be interesting if anyone could speculate!).. anyway Ray was so irritated by this innocent throwaway comparison that he sacked the agent on the spot! I think that speaks volumes about Ray's attitude to being considered part of the whole 60s pop scene.

    I found Pete's comments in general very interesting and somewhat poignant because of how much untapped musical potential and knowledge he had that simply wasn't utilised in The Kinks: no one would argue that he could have been as much of a force in the band as Ray, but from his description of the breadth of his musical interests and ambitions there was clearly a lot of talent and artistry there that simply wasn't being utilised: I'd honestly say the way he was sidelined in The Kinks would be comparable to if The Beatles had just had George Harrison playing rhythm guitar with no vocals, leads or songwriting throughout their career.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  18. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Considering the number of times I’ve said “this reminds me of…” Ray wouldn’t have let me in the arena much less as part of the entourage! :D

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    "You Can't Stop The Music", while not the real ending for Soap Opera, works as an encore. In the live show on YouTube, pictures of 50s rock stars such as Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry among others, were projected on the screen in the same reverent manner that Oasis did later on in projecting pictures of John Lennon in their concerts. Perhaps Ray put himself and the Kinks in the same category as those rockers, many of whom were still alive and performing and even getting hit singles as recently as a few years before Soap Opera came out.

    As for Soap Opera the album, I did enjoy it when it first heard it back in the late 70s, when I was listening to it, VGPS and Sleepwalker all at once. The concept was less weighty than Preservation, but was pretty clever on its own terms. Like Preservation, it worked better as a live performance. It's too bad that their isn't a nice video copy of a live performance.

    Anyway, it's on to Schoolboys In Disgrace, which I feel is a bit better and comes closer to the Kinks' commercial rebirth of the late 70s.
  20. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    You Can't Stop The Music.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with this song. It's a fine song, really. But I just can't get into it much. Not a skip, but nothing to look forward to, either.

    Put me in the camp that finds it a rather superfluous add on to an album already concluded. Kind of like one of those bonus tracks of previously unreleased material added on to early CD reissues. Sometimes good songs, but they usually felt a little out of place.

    And for having such a defiant title, the whole thing sounds a little lackluster to me. Even as it picks up speed and we bring in some swinging horns, it just never sounds like they're really putting any heart or energy into it (with the exception of Dave's dirty distortion guitar, which is definitely a standout here).

    Upon listening to this song this morning, I started to think it points a little bit toward the coming Arista years.
  21. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I’m being talked out of keeping it on my playlist. Succumbing to peer pressure :D . Off it goes!
  22. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Oh, and one other distraction.
    The opening chord progression... and strumming pattern.... is a direct lift of Pure Prairie League's Aime, released a few years prior. A tough adjustment for me to make.
  23. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    My point of view over the end of Brazil has changed with time. I used to find it depressing too, but now I realise that Sam Lowry's victory may be an illusion, he still manages to escape - even if it's in his mind. They don't get him like they get Winston Smith. And, in a way, like they get Norman.
  24. Paul Mazz

    Paul Mazz Forum Resident

    It's really funny you should say this @mark winstanley

    When I saw the show live, I had that same distinct impression. Not sure if my thinking was totally unaltered at the time, but I distinctly remember thinking "oh nooooo, Ray and the Kinks are going to call it quits." I'm less sure of this, but I think there may have been some audible gasps from the audience as well. I struggled through the whole YouTube posting of this show, due to the sound quality, but I can't really say I hear any groans of upset fans. :)

    I agree that "You Can't Stop The Music" feels like exit music after the show - not that anyone left before the Kinks left the stage for the night.
  25. Jasper Dailey

    Jasper Dailey Forum Resident

    Southeast US
    Woof, I'm starting to think this Ray guy might be a little tough to work with, maybe that Pete and John and John and Mick and Dave guy had a point!

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