The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Yes and a number of them are even Australian!
    DISKOJOE and mark winstanley like this.
  2. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Now that, may really be an Education!
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Jack The Idiot Dunce.

    stereo mix, recorded 2 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    Who's the fool with the cross-eyed stare,
    The turned up nose and moronic glare?
    Who's that simpleton standing over there?
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    Who's that dumb-looking freckle-faced runt?
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.
    He walks like his feet are on back to front,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    When he waddles down the street he looks kind of queer,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce,
    'Cos he's got two left feet and taxi-door ears,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    And when we laugh at the clothes he wears,
    Jack just smiles 'cos he don't care.
    He's a fool! He's a ninny!
    He's a twit! He's a chump!
    The Idiot Dunce, the Idiot Dunce.

    Who is always the bottom of the class?
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.
    Who's a fool? Who's a boob?
    Who's a kook and an ass?
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    When we take examinations he never gets a pass,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.
    And we all put him down 'cos he can't think fast,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.
    We ridicule him and punch him around,
    But Jack just laughs and stands his ground,
    The Idiot Dunce, the Idiot Dunce.

    Yeah, he's so uncoordinated.
    Whoa, and so disorientated,
    And when we have a High School Hop
    You ought to see that idiot bop
    And his arms and his legs
    Seem to have minds of their own,
    And you don't need brains
    To have educated muscles and bones.

    Yeah, you ought to see him dance
    He moves like he's in a trance,
    And when we have a High School Hop
    You ought to see that idiot rock,
    And he's finally proved
    That you don't need a high I.Q.
    To make your body move.
    Now he's created a dance that everybody's trying to do.
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    Do the Idiot Dunce.
    All right put your finger on your nose,
    Now cross those eyes.
    Put your hands on your hips,
    Now wriggle your backside.
    Yes, we got you dancing
    To the Idiot Jack
    From your head to the tips of your toes.

    Now the whole world's doing it and everybody knows,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.
    He's a real cool cat and a real gone groove,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    And the girls go crazy when he starts to move,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce
    Now Jack's a success he's got nothing to prove,
    Jack, Jack the Idiot Dunce.

    Even though Jack is dim
    His mother is so proud of him.
    Hey, who's that groovy looking dude
    Dancing with all the chicks?
    The Idiot Dunce, the Idiot Dunce.

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

    As most folks know, I would assume, the schoolyard is full of bullies and cool kids who by default end up being somewhat social bullies and it tends to be a sort of war on the soul.
    The thing is, the workplace isn't a whole lot better, it's just that the people manifest in slightly different ways..... the school experience is extremely important for building up a resistance to this kind of nonsense.

    Anyway, with this song, we get a sort of glimpse at that side of things, with Jack (any relation to Happy Jack?) seemingly being the brunt of the schoolyard hierarchy's jokes and scorn, and of course the folks that want to fit a certain scene would join in to send a message of solidarity, or more likely to try and get themselves in a position of deflection, so they don't wear the scorn or derision.

    In typical fashion though, Ray turns it around a little, when it appears that Jack's unique way of dancing becomes a thing, and people replicate it, giving Jack some form of celebrity, and the taunters are most perturbed that the "Idiot Dunce" is getting the girls.

    Lyrically it is an interesting look at the schoolyard dynamics, and how that can work itself out.... We could probably have a ten day discussion about how bullying can build character and create an adult that has a different view and focus and gains a lot of success due to not hanging out with the cool kids, who fail to reach their potential, because they think they rule the roost, before they really know the game of life.

    Musically we have a sort of re-write of Bony Maronie to some degree, with some nice little change ups added for fun.
    The band are really rocking out nicely, and that is probably one of the major draws to this track initially.
    I suppose this comes under the banner of rock and roll pastiche, but I don't really see it that way.... To me 10cc Donna is rock and roll pastiche, and this is just a song that uses a rock and roll format.

    For me, one of the major things about this track is Ray's vocal, because it seems to add a few dimensions to the lyrics.
    The first voice we hear is a sort of faux-posh accent, that sounds more like an adult than the other tracks.... I hear that as coming from one of two places in the context of the song. Either we have one of the teachers expressing the same kind of disdain for Jack, or we have one of the academically successful students speaking down on their less gifted classmate.
    Then Ray transitions into the school tuff, with a harsh type of vocal accent. Generally the school tuff isn't really the smartest kid in the school but manages to get his respect via fear and oppression, because he is no smarter than Jack, but nobody is game to tell him.

    When the bridge comes in we have another voice, which is perhaps one of the "also rans" who had sided with the bully for self preservation, but is now set aback by the fact that Jack has a certain celebrity for his dancing, and is getting the girls that he isn't.
    The bully comes back in with "Hey, who's that groovy looking dude dancing with all the chicks?"

    The rhythm section is tight as a drum, but the other standout for me here is Gosling who lays down some really nice fifties style piano banging that really sets things off nicely.

    It sounds again like the band is having a lot of fun here, just blasting along.
    This song is fairly straightforward, but there are some nice little bits and pieces that give the song its own personality, and add enough colour for this not to just be a dismissible straight rock and roll steal.

    Anyway, I like this song well enough. I think it adds the bit of punch that the album needed. With such a mellow opening to the album, it seems like a good rocker is the logical choice to follow it up.
    This wouldn't get into my top Kinks songs, but I think it serves its purpose here on the album, and is a bit of fun, and certainly pretty catchy.

  4. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Through the years, I've read a lot of very harsh comments about this song. Not as harsh as about Black Messiah, no, but still pretty bad. I never got the hate.

    To me Schooldays (as proclaimed a masterpiece by yours truly and a few others, yesterday) works like the present day start of a movie that will then operate in flash-back. The Schooldays singer sits back, thinks back, invites the listener to accompany him down memory lane, and blam!, we’re teleported in the past, Back to the Future/Peggy Sue Got Married style. In the following song, we’re right there, in situation, screaming with the lads. We’re cruel, vulgar, insulting, we’re bullies, we should be ashamed of ourselves because Ray makes us joyfully participate in the bullying, before turning things on their head. In my opinion, it works perfectly well. In many ways, it’s a similar ploy he used in David Watts: the lyrics tell us less about Jack than they do about the bullies – or anyone being tempted to laugh with them. Sure, Ray is still clearly enjoying himself with a few nasty and cruel lines in the first half of the song, but the "dancing" twist and the switch to the mother’s point of view really makes everything unpredictable and, dare I say, almost poignant. As a piece of music, it’s meant to be an unabashed foot stomper and ballroom dance number (what they called a “hop”, if I remember the Danny & the juniors song correctly). These things sound simple but they're extremely hard to pull off. You need hooks, movements, drive, mayhem, and this song has its share of it all, more so than most other Kinks forays in early rock’n’roll I can think of. It’s indeed one of the last times Ray will do his man of many voices trick, so we’d better enjoy it while it lasts. At some points, he sounds like a mean Mike Love, at others this could pass for a late 70's lost Stiff pub rock nugget. All in all, it’s what they like to call a “dumb rocker”, but a rather clever one.
  5. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    But with the dumbness turned up even further. "Bony Maronie" seems s-m-r-t I mean s-m-a-r-t in comparison. It also a much better song.

    That being said, I really like this one :D
  6. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    I don't think I have a single positive thing to say about this song: a tedious and prehistoric pastiche with stupid lyrics. You can do better than this, Ray.
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  7. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "Jack The Idiot Dunce"

    OK, I don't skip it, but I certainly wouldn't rate it as one of my favourites. It's basically reusing the same intro from "Rush Hour Blues" a bit faster, but I prefer the earlier song. This one is just a bit too much of a corny pastiche for me, too much like an excerpt from some kind of high school musical. The twist in the tale is entirely predictable, and ultimately it just feels decidedly uncool - especially for 1976. Which I suppose makes this song much like Jack itself - as I suspect a few of us will be piling on this ungainly uncool child.
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  8. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    I'm going to do my comments on this album two-by-two, like Noah's record reviews.
    High school was more of a battle for survival for me so I find it hard to warm to a song that looks back on schooldays as the happiest of our lives - whether or not Ray really believed they were. That's no fault of Ray's. He has written quite a beautiful song to tug on the heartstrings. What puzzles me is why it was placed as the first track when it would have made a perfect final song. Instead, the listener is almost lulled to sleep, which isn't a good way to start an album.

    Jack the Idiot Dunce
    The next song sounds more like how the album should start - an upbeat rocker. I also like the story of the bullied slow kid becoming cool through his dancing. This is around the time disco emerged so the sight of one person in white flares flailing on a dancefloor would very soon become cool. But I also question its placement. This strikes me as a novelty song so I would have preferred to see it late on side 1 (like Skin and Bone) or late on side 2 (like Ducks on the Wall).
  9. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I really enjoy this one: a tonne of fun. I don’t care a jot that it’s so shamelessly corny and fails every taste test. I always assumed that musically it was intended to be a full on Jerry Lee Lewis pastiche/tribute.
  10. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Jack the Idiot Dunce:
    In real-time I’d be ripping the needle off of this record if played within my domain. No, no, no, not my cuppa tea at all. ‘Grease’ in the Kinksian flesh, cringeworthy until the bridge, “yeah, he’s so uncoordinated ; oh, and so disoriented…now he’s created a dance that everybody’s trying to do,” (giving step-by-step-instructions; finger on nose, cross eyes, wriggle hips, etc) when the piano and Ray’s normal vocal is highlighted.

    Unfortunately, after an okay bridge, the song reverts to its 50s origins and I’m relieved when it is over.
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  11. pantofis

    pantofis Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany
    "Jack The Idiot Dunce" is an absolute winner and the highlight of the album for me. It never fails to make me smile.
    For the moment we have the full Soap Opera quirky mode which actually prompted me to go out and buy the CD after having just files in a folder. This could still be a fun album, I thought.

    One final time Ray reveals himself as the man of a thousand voices, and he does them all so convincingly and yet you can still tell it's all him. He could easily have been a voice actor in a cartoon, doing lots of characters. The high point, and this always makes me laugh is when towards the end where you usually expect a guitar solo, instead of that you get dance instructions from Jack himself in yet another voice. Didn't see that change of mood after the mournful "Schooldays".

    Reading the lyrics above I never noticed just how cruel they are towards Jack. I actually assumed it is kind of Ray's story or any pop star's story who was a goof in school, but made it as a pop star. I know Ray himself tells a story about a guy who made it as a "full-time dancer", but still I think it's about him.

    Musically, even though it initially seems to be Rush Hour Blues 2.0, it is even more relentless and a bit faster and so much better without the horns. The band sounds tighter than ever, almost metronomic. I find the final vocal choir outro finally reveals a little bit of musical ambition as it is somewhat unexpected.
  12. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Being far too young to experience Travolta as anything more than the heroin addicted hitman in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and the perceived horror that is Grease and the '70's as the '50's revival, I count myself very lucky to not being able to fully grasp your pain at this moment. But I hear ya :D

    Edit: I also hate musicals and concept albums. Usually. If the music isn't at least better than the conceptual crap. S0 Tommy bad, Quadrophenia good. Here the concept is so threadbare that I really don't notice it. Which is a good thing, when Jackie is such a feeble boy (and song).
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2022
  13. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I think this is part of the reason that this album appeals to me so much and is able to sell the songs more directly (to me at least): a lot of the clutter of the theatre troupe era has been removed and it just sounds like a clean, well produced, well playing rock and roll band having fun.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2022
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    The Grease comparisons are interesting... I'm not sure i hear them, except for the school theme here, and a rock and roll base, but that's ok.
    I will say i personally enjoyed Grease. A fun movie with some good songs... but that's just me i guess :)
  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I have sometimes wondered if the different voices on the ‘he’s a fool’ etc lines could be cameos by the other members.

    Also have to admit with apologies to @Zack some time ago in this thread who first posited this, I’m reconsidering whether the last word in that like could be ‘Jew’ :( , although I even think it could be a distorted ‘chump’ as in the lyric sheet. I’m hearing it differently every time.
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  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It sounded like it to me
  17. Martyj

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

    Maryland, USA
    A fun song. A fun performance.

    The part where the vocals go: “Jack, Jack, the Idiot Dunce” hits the mark with that Jan and Dean/Beach Boy homage much more accurately than the Beatles did on Back in the USSR, IMO.

    I have a collection of Scandinavian languages covers of Kinks stuff that leans heavy to the RCA era songs. Hot Potatoes, Holiday Romance, those kinds of tracks. I always like it when the lesser celebrated stuff gets recognition. They do Jack the Idiot Dunce, which translates nicely to a punk energy if one wants to take it there. FYI, “Jack, Jack” in Finish sounds like “Yaa Yaa”
  18. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Really? :biglaugh::biglaugh::biglaugh:

    What is the name of this record? I have to hear this for myself.

    P.S. Finnish is not an Scandinavian language. But they are well cray cray anyway.
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  19. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Jack the Idiot Dunce

    Remember when I said I shouldn't like the opener because it's a style I don't really cotton to? That goes double here. This sort of Jan and Dean meets Sha Na Na is a joke.... the song itself is such a pastiche delivered so over the top it's really a novelty song.... the sort of thing I expect to hear on Dr. Demento.

    And yet again, it works.

    A few clever lines in there too. That plus plenty of energy mame this a keeper.
  20. Martyj

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

    Maryland, USA
    It's stuff I've been downloading off the internet, but the Norwegian ones are from a group called (cut and pasted from my iTunes) De Musikalske Dvergene & Frode Alnæs. It's from a CD labeled Sanger Av Ray Davies Og the Kinks

    The Finnish one is by a band called Hulluna Huomiseen
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2022
  21. Jasper Dailey

    Jasper Dailey Forum Resident

    Southeast US
    Jack the Idiot Dunce: Another instant favorite for me. This may be a Jerry Lee tribute, but 100% filtered through Ray's brilliant sense of humor. The culmination of that I think is when Jerr...I mean Ray describes Jack's dance: I think of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" with that creepy/sultry invitation Jerry gives to the unnamed lady he's singing about. This is like the total opposite, you've got this goofy klutzy guy basically doing the "Hokey Pokey". Great fun! And I haven't even talked about the music ("down in Loo-siana, we call that Boogie Woogie"; hats off to John the Baptist!) or the great vocals; as said, this is one of two very nice Beach Boys pastiches on the album from that perspective. This album starts off very strong IMO, but is about to lose a little bit of steam...
  22. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "Jack The Idiot Dunce" - I like the execution of this song especially the vocal performances but it is a bit much as a song in my view (I get that Ray is exploring the school experience and bullying is part of the equation but I find it a bit over the top). However, it did raise the important question - what the hell are taxi door ears? Musically, I get the Beach Boys pastiche aspects of it but the Beach Boys are the biggest band I have largely ignored. If nothing else, Ray uses his voice in an interesting way to suggest multiple characters singing the song.
    Steve62, Zeki, DISKOJOE and 8 others like this.
  23. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Forum Resident

    I thought Jack might be polarizing. Put me in the like it camp, but I can see why others wouldn’t. I probably shouldn’t like it, but I do.
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  24. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Ears that stick out either side like open taxi doors, I always thought.
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  25. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Jack The Idiot Dunce

    Splish Splash, Rocky Horror, Grease, The Beach Boys, The Who's Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere and countless others are regurgitated and in one case anticipated.

    After 3 listens I am only now picking up on the lyric (thanks to Mark's guide) and do note all Ray's vocal guises but are on the fence (or should that be on the wall?) as to if that makes this track particularly better.

    Uncertain if folks hear the rocking and see this as likened to the Arista sound but (i find it hard to hear past another rock theatre or opera that has overtly bludgeoned me about the head) i largely hear a number a far lesser writer and perhaps even band could come up with and more than halfway pull off!

    On a more positive note I do appreciate the dynamically arranged vocals just prior to the ending but really I am optimistically hoping for a fair deal more as we move further into the album.

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