Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
One heck of a portmanteau there, my good man. I shall pillage and plunder.
Pull over, this is the Forum Police.
Well, well, well. Now, what have we got here, then? Another Beatle-related thread in the making I see. You four will have to come with me to the Hoff HQ and sort this out...
...on the other hand this is mainly about Macca and I actually like his stuff. RAM is really rather wonderful and I like the lo-fi aesthetics of his earliest solo albums a lot. To be dissed by Ringo for lacking tunes is almost a compliment. Backhanded like Jimmy Connors, of course. But still. I also enjoy his overproduced stuff, the electronica and most points inbetween. In fact Paul is a-okay in my book.
I'll let you off with a warning, then. This time.
As you were then, gang
You're very welcome to join in mate.
We're just some Kinks fans chatting about Kinks music. There are some knowledgeable folks on here, and it often helps to flesh things out.
Schoolboys in Disgrace
Studio album by
Released 17 November 1975
Recorded 13 August – 2 October 1975
Studio Konk Studios, London
5–6 October 1975, mastering at Sterling Sound, New York City
Genre Rock and roll
Producer Ray Davies
1. Schooldays - stereo mix, recorded 11 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
2. Jack The Idiot Dunce - stereo mix, recorded 2 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
3. Education - stereo mix, recorded 27 Aug, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
4. The First Time We Fall In Love - stereo mix, recorded 2 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
1. I'm In Disgrace - stereo mix, recorded 19 Aug, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
2. Headmaster - stereo mix, recorded 23 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
3. The Hard Way - stereo mix, recorded 22 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
4. The Last Assembly - stereo mix, recorded 13 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
5. No More Looking Back - stereo mix, recorded 16 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
6. Finale - stereo mix, recorded 24 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
Ray Davies – vocals, guitar, piano
Dave Davies – lead guitar, vocals
John Dalton – bass guitar
Mick Avory – drums
John Gosling – keyboards
Alan Holmes – saxophones
Nick Newell – tenor saxophone
John Beecham – trombone
Pamela Travis – background vocals
Debbie Doss – background vocals
Shirley Roden – background vocals
Written, arranged and produced by Raymond Douglas Davies
Roger Wake – engineer
Bob Ludwig – mastering
Mickey Finn – front cover illustration
Chris Hopper – photography
Pat Doyle – art direction
Back Cover Liner Notes
Once upon a time there was a naughty little schoolboy. He and his gang were always playing tricks on the teachers and bullying other children in the school. One day he got himself into very serious trouble with a naughty schoolgirl and he was sent to the Headmaster who decided to disgrace the naughty boy and his gang in front of the whole school.
After this punishent the boy turned into a hard and bitter character. Perhaps it was not the punishment that changed him but the fact that he realised people in authority would always be there to kick him down and the Establishment would always put him in his place. He knew that he could not change the past but he vowed that in the future he would always get what he wanted. The naughty little boy grew up... into Mr. Flash.
Inner Sleeve Liner Notes
Amongst those in disgrace are: Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Mick Avory, John Dalton, John Gosling (The Kinks), and others too naughty to mention including J. Beacham (trombone) and A. Holmes and N. Newell (saxophones).
Written, arranged and produced by Master Raymond Douglas Davies. Engineered by Roger Wake. Recorded at Konk Studios, London, during school holidays.
Copyright Davray Music Ltd. 1975 (PRS)
Front cover illustration: Mickey Finn
Photograph: Chris Hopper
Art Direction: Pat Doyle
Chart (1975–1976) Peak
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) 18
US Billboard 200 45
So, rather interestingly, this album works as a prequel to the Preservation albums.
After being roundly ignored, it shows a somewhat dogmatic need to follow his own muse on Ray's part here, perhaps even belligerence, to follow up a third time (fourth, if we include the also ignored Village Green Preservation Society album) the Preservation story.
Here we move back to Flash's Schooldays, and explore the roots of the man who would become somewhat of a tyrant in the Village Green.
Interestingly though, it doesn't seem, on a cursory look, to really do much to flesh out Flash's character much. I guess we'll see what the deep dive brings in that regard.
Also, what appears to be the main core of the album, seems more to be a modified version of the events surrounding Dave and his girlfriend. It isn't very specific, I don't think, but the four middle tracks seem to be based around the idea of the boy falling in love, perhaps getting the girl pregnant, and falling from grace, being split up from her and having to face the headmasters wrath.... certainly it has a slightly different angle to the reality, but it is a very close reflection of Dave's childhood tragedy of love ....
Again we have Ray exploring various styles of music, but possibly in a slightly more narrow zone, yet still more broad than many (most?) rock bands.
The band in many ways, and in spite of some broadway/music hall/etc crossover type songs along the way, has been edging slowly back towards a more rock band delivery of Ray's songs. Certainly they have been augmented by horns most of the seventies, at this stage, and there have certainly been some exporative works in each of the albums, but generalising the band has been slowly working its way back to being a rock band, and some of the things that attracted some folks to the Village Green and Arthur albums are slowly sliding away, as the band moves into new zones, for the own Preservation.
Many folks will say that the Arista Years are the start of the Kinks returning to be a straight rock band again, but that isn't really accurate. We saw a more rock band approach on Soap Opera, even if there were a couple of deviations, and by the time we get to Schoolboys, the band have seemingly left the music hall type stylings behind to explore a new phase of the band.
Some folks are perturbed by this, but really the guys had explored those stylings in a rock context more than any other band I can think of, and perhaps Ray had dried up his inspiration for those styles of songs, and wanted to go back and recalibrate ...
We saw a hint of that with You Can't Stop The Music, working almost like a nod to the bands past, and the album almost working like a psychological profile of Ray himself, caught in this schizophrenic nightmare of rock star and ordinary person....
and what we seem to have here, to some degree, because the Kinks will always be the Kinks, and there is no avoiding the particular quirks of the band, is a step closer again to the roots of the band.
It is somewhat like Ray wandered down this road that embraced all these different styles of music, in a self-searching quest to find out who he was in this guise of Ray the writer for the Kinks. Then when he came to a certain point in that journey, he backtracked to the core idea of who the band were before the deviations, and set out on another road, but from as close to the original starting point as was comfortably acceptable.
So the first decade has this quirky and unusual wandering through the pop/rock beginnings, the exploration of world music, folk stylings, old world style music in the form of music hall, olde English traditional style stuff, through the Americana stylings that opened up the seventies, the full broadway/theatre perspective, and then went back to the start, to some degree to see where he would end up this time.
To me, I think this album is the real starting point of that journey, but in true Ray style, he makes this album feel like it belongs on the end of the theatrical albums ... and I guess in many ways it does, but it also kind of doesn't....
Anyway, that may all be bollocks, but that's what it seems like at this stage, to me at least.
This is another solid Kinks album, and it is really interesting to see that up to this point in time .... late 1975 ... this is the third highest charting album for the band in the US
The Kinks - 1964 - #29
Lola Vs Powerman and the Moneygoround - 1970 - #35
Schoolboys In Disgrace - 1975 - #45
So Schoolboys can be seen as a very successful Kinks album....
There were two singles released from this album
I'm In Disgrace
No More Looking Back
and neither one charted .....
In November 21 1975, The Kinks started touring this album, and up to February 1976 the band was hitting the USA pretty hard.
The only other shows in the Schoolboys official tour seem to be
London at Drury Lane
Copenhagen at the Tivoli
Hamburg at the Congress Centre
and the band played the Schoolboys album in full
This seems like a fairly typical setlist
Everybody's a Star (Starmaker)
Rush Hour Blues
Dedicated Follower of Fashion
You Really Got Me
Schoolboys in Disgrace
Jack the Idiot Dunce
The First Time We Fall in Love
I'm in Disgrace
The Hard Way
The Last Assembly
No More Looking Back
Here is the only footage of the tour I can find
So it seems like the success of the album must be tied to the concerts from the 75/76 tour of the US .... and that is very much in line with how a pre-internet world worked. Band's toured their albums to get them in front of people, and if people liked the show, they would generally go out and buy the album, and in this instance, that appears to be what happened.... and I think to some degree that goes a long way to shaping the future of the band from this point..... but we'll get to that with the next album.
I am in a similar position to Soap Opera with this album, I am familiar, but not confident enough to make too many grand statements. I can say that I like this album, and there are at least a couple of songs on here that I already consider to be great songs.
So for me this is going to be another very interesting journey through a Kinks album ... to be honest there probably aren't going to be any that aren't interesting....
So rather than me waffling on any more, please give us your preliminary thoughts on Schoolboys In Disgrace.
When did you first hear it?
What did you think?
What do you reckon now?
and then at the end, we'll see what we all reckon then
Schoolboys in Disgrace.We loved Soap Opera when it came out, and then this came out, and we loved it just as much. We were primed: Rolling Stone had alerted us, in the Random Notes column, that this album was on the way, and had mentioned the song title “Education,” and so for weeks we went around singing “Education” to the tune of “Demolition.” I remember thinking, dimly, that I might enjoy hearing a new Kinks record without a concept behind it, but in those days, to put a fine point on Mick Jagger’s assertion, you hardly ever got what you wanted. I liked that this one rocked out more. Dave and his guitar had been unleashed. Overall, it was a classic slice of the Kinks. There are wonderful songs on it (“No More Looking Back,” “I’m in Disgrace,” “Schooldays”) beside stuff that is truly execrable (“Jack,” “First Time,” “Assembly”—I can’t even type the full titles). There’s lots of lazy lyric writing, and muddled thinking and structure, and a nice long enjoyable rocker that can’t tell me why it is. Good title. Amusing photo on the back. Lots of fun. We played it loud.
Interestingly it seems like nobody likes the cover to this album, and I suppose it could be seen as a little juvenile to some degree, but I see a kind of Dandy Book styling, which would be very in keeping with Ray's style.
The child, pants down, having just been caned is very much the way school used to be. I got caned for playing brandy in the quadrangle when I was a kid, but thankfully the headmaster didn't pants me first, and he cracked it across my hand not my butt.
Anyway, I don't have a problem with the cover, I'm neither here nor there about it, it is probably apt for the album content and name.
Dave’s guitar work on Headmaster and No More Looking Back really shows how good a player he is, some of his best work IMO.
I think the first thing to be said about "Schoolboys in Disgrace" is it sounds really good, it was probably the best sounding Kinks album, in the sense of being a well produced modern rock record, to date.
Beyond that, the concept is banal in the extreme and the attempt to link it to the Preservation saga strikes me as, to use language Ray would understand, a right load of pony. Pastiches of rock and roll and doowop? In 1976? With punk rock just around the corner? I've grown to appreciate some of the individual songs on the album but, frankly, Clive Davis was right - how about writing some stuff that people might be interested in buying, Ray?
Schoolboys In Disgrace
At last a different story for this one. There was no copy of this in the University record library, so I never had the chance to hate it in the 80s. In 2003 I was browsing through some cut-price CDs in a record store, and there was a copy of Schoolboys. I remembered from the Jon Savage book that Schoolboys was described as something of a return to form, a return to a more traditional Kinks rock sound. So I thought I'd give it a go.
That description was largely correct (although I don't see it as a return to form now, as I see now that they never really lost it). There are a couple of 50s-style pastiches (which I'm not so keen on), but on the plus side a couple of solid chunky-riff driven rockers, and a few piano-driven ballads that are very much heading towards Sleepwalker territory. I can imagine Clive Davis listening to some of this and seeing the dollar signs before his eyes. He could probably hardly wait to tell Ray "more of this please [pointing at "I'm In Disgrace" and "Headmaster"], and none of this [pointing at "Jack"]".
The best thing is that although it's technically a concept album, there is absolutely no need to pay any mind to the concept or story, and certainly not to the Flash angle. You can just see it as a collection of songs loosely themed around schooldays. I think it's another good album, perhaps a little thinner on material than the last few, but very much pointing the way forward towards a simpler and more easily-digestible Kinks sound - a more radio-friendly and arena-friendly sound. And it contains possibly the best track of the whole RCA era.
Schoolboys in Disgrace
When I first got into the Kinks a gazillion years ago (it seems), this was one of the ones I ignored. Perhaps unfairly, but with a competition like that... can you really blame me? Yes, it is dumb. Overwrought. Underwritten. I agree with all those accusations and even less Kind ones. But here's the rub: it is also fun and there's more than a fair share of really good 'uns here. Or perhaps, because this is the Kinks after all, the share isn't that fair. The fluff tries really hard to overshadow here and the gems twinkle a bit less brilliantly because of this on first or even fifth listen.
But in the end it won me over much more easily than either Acts and Opera(s). Hell, I even like @Ex-Fed 's bête noire "Jack Jack the so and so" quite a lot.
I really enjoy reading the background info in these reissues!
As for the album, I found it disappointing after Soap Opera, but I'm looking forward to listening again and maybe changing my mind.
As for it being a prequel to Preservation - OK Ray, it's time to let it go now...
A confession : as much as I love the "rejects", I wouldn't replace Baltimore Oriole by anything…
campy and Pythonesque, (like in Monty Pythons). A fine neologism (if I dare say so myself), fitting the record like a glove…
Now on to Schoolboys in Disgrace. It was fast. I was fast. I got into the Kinks a little more than 30 years ago. I got the “chore” 65-70 stuff first, fell in love, then sought out for the Muswell Hillbillies vinyl and fell in love even more. The very next one I came across was Schoolboys in Disgrace.
I didn’t choose it, it chose me, by being the first RCA era album I came across as a CD reissue. Je suis d'accord avec @The late man about the power of an LP sleeve, the way it “colors” the music it represents. But in this case, maybe because we’d just endured the 1980’s (a very powerful immunization treatment against bad visuals) or because of the miniature size of the CD, I didn’t pay too much attention to it and bought it on the spot (and I do like the back cover, though I don't remember it being on said CD). Anyway, I had yet to be exposed to any Kinks music that I didn’t like, so I was just buying whatever I could put my hands on.
I'd read some lukewarm to bad things about the album but didn’t know anything about the theater phase, nor did I pay any attention to the concept or story. I just heard it as a collection of rock songs. And as such, though it’s short and has only 9 of them proper, there was much to enjoy. In that “collection” sense, it’s brilliantly sequenced. It starts and (almost) ends with two should be klassiks, one firmly established in my top ten Ray Davies tunes ever (more about that tomorrow), and it has a good single + one should've been single thrown in along the way, so every time you start questioning the consistency of the material, there’s another lost nugget to appreciate. As it happened, the next album I got was Think Visual, which also has one of my top whatever favorite Ray tunes (How are You?). Apart from the titular irony (both records are hard to swallow, if you do think visual…), I feel very fortunate about the way I got to expand my Kinks collection at the time, scoring a much maligned 70”s record then the supposed “worst” eighties one and finding stuff to treasure in both of them. And so I threw away the books and articles that got me started and carried on with my quest, never looking back. Look where it got me thirty years later!
Schoolboys In Disgrace is pretty low on my radar in the Kinks kanon. However, I love "The Hard Way". It's an A list three chorder in my book. Will listen for the sound quality of this album - coincidentally Black And Blue, released in 1976, is widely regarded as the best sounding Stones album though few think it contains their best material.
Schoolboys In Disgrace
Though superficially this album contains many ingredients both Preservation Act 2 and Soap Opera, to me it sounds very different. Something has changed. Maybe it's my imagination, but Ray already sounds like a broken man here, like someone who is told he can't do the self-indulgent stuff any longer.
For one, the theatrics are considerably toned down. Only on "Jack The Idiot Dunce" we hear that silly acting one more time. Secondly, the playing is a lot sharper and band-like than... well, many albums ago. There was nothing wrong with the playing on Soap Opera, but compared to Scchoolboys it felt a lot like Ray Davies with John Gosling featuring a cooking rhythm section and Dave Davies soloing all over the place, but turned down to -12 dB. Sometimes I think Ray was almost in luck for providing a plot where every band member can get behind and relate to this time and they do deliver with gusto.
Nevertheless there is something cold and workmanlike about the delivery. A certain warmth that was all over Soap Opera is missing.
And although there are some excellent songs, and I always enjoy this when it's on, it's just not an album I go back to.
I think this is the reason why I've never had much of a negative reaction to the front cover - I don't think I've ever had much of a reaction either way to CD-size cover art. I'm sure it would be a different thing if I had the vinyl - it certainly wouldn't get placed at the front of my front-facing racks!
Schoolboys in Disgrace could have been close to the last back katalogue (sorry) albums I found in the early 80s but I never played it much and I feel unfamiliar with most of the songs. Maybe I didn't play it because I was one of those schoolboys in disgrace - I was caned so much (mostly hands) I'm surprised I didn't leave school with a permanent disability. Ah, but the mental scars: that's probably why I never warmed to the lyric of Schooldays and much preferred the sentiment of Steely Dan's My Old School. But I'm happy to approach this album with an open mind and I couldn't ask for better people to share the experience.
That comment is too funny to just let it pass. Bravo @ARL
I love it
I think a large part of the distaste for this album cover is that the boy looks so abjectly traumatised: though it’s a cartoon I’d argue it actually badly misses the mark of the knockabout naughty schoolboy juvenile/Dandy vibe that it was may have been aiming for and would have been far more appropriate. I first read about this album cover before I actually saw it, and I imagined a more cheeky defiant schoolboy mooning the audience and I remember being disappointed by how that design concept was actually realised. I know that several people (esp those who don’t know the context and cultural background of corporal punishment in UK schools) on seeing this image have assumed that the album was about something more sinister, esp with the shadowy figure in the background. I never did myself, but to me that’s the mark of a failed cover design if the art doesn’t convey the spirit of the album to the uninitiated.
Good luck to anyone attempting to justify the cover because, frankly, it's terrible.
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