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 The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    That may spliff opinion.
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  2. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Fantastic album cover. That picture says more about the state of confusion (heh) that the band was in at the time than a thousand mudslingin' books could ever do. And the nasty colours makes it even better.

    Poor strung out Charlie looking dapper compared to his compadres but staring shameful at the floor, Mick flaunting his dirty feet and trying to steal the spotlight, Keef shooting hateful lazerbeams into the camera and Ron n Bill being stuck in the background like the bit-players in this longest surviving of soap operas that they are/were. The album is also pretty great, if you get past the two horrible 'you really should save those for your solo record, Mick' tracks and Lillywhite's drum sound (which is great BTW. Also IMO). A bunch of mostly Riffhard-written gnarly, noisy, nasty rockers with lyrics dripping with venom but also a little bit o'love for the frontman, a guy that cared so little by this point that he actually sang them regardless.

    The title track and "Had it with You" in particular are very funny if you know this fact :D

    And Schoolboys in Disgrace's cover and the Kinky ones over the years? Past the '60's they are more often than not just as garish as the Dirty Work one. But perhaps not as loud. I see several of you single out State of Confusion as a particularily bad one. But is it any worse than UK Jive? Soap Opera? Or Arthur? It's a good thing the music is great...

  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter


    stereo mix, recorded 23 Sep, 1975 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    Headmaster, this is my confession.
    This time you won't be overjoyed,
    I have destroyed what little faith you had in me,
    I've been such a naughty boy.
    Headmaster I am at your mercy,
    I've been such a little fool.
    I've dishonored one who trusted me,
    I have broken all the rules.
    I've been with those naughty little girls again,
    Now those naughty little girls are going to put me to shame.

    I wish that I'd been born with a little more sense,
    This time it's a serious offense.
    I feel like an innocent victim,
    I feel that I just can't win.
    Headmaster please give me one chance,
    Please help me to act like a man.
    I've let down the school,
    I've broken all the rules,
    I've let down the side,
    I've committed a crime.

    Headmaster, this is my confession,
    I've been such a little fool.
    I've dishonored one who trusted me,
    I have broken all the rules.
    I've been such a little fool.
    Don't tell all my friends I bent over,
    Don't tell them you made me cry.
    Don't tell them I've been sacrificed,
    Don't tell all my friends or I'll die.
    Headmaster don't beat me I beg you,
    I know that I've let you down.
    Headmaster please spare me I beg you,
    Don't make me take my trousers down.

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

    To be honest I have never really noticed the lyrics before... This is one of those tracks where, for me, the vocals were merely another melodic instrument in the mix, and I just knew it was something to do with the boy being in trouble with the headmaster.

    So lyrically here we just have the boy in the headmasters office pleading with the headmaster for mercy. To some degree it doesn't seem like there is really that much to the lyrics, it's merely the boy asking for mercy from the headmaster for his crime.

    Musically we open with the piano alternating between minor chords, keeping the feel in the melancholy side of things. I really like the piano melody, and I think Ray's vocal fits in really well. It is delicate and remorseful and I think the melody is really engaging too.
    When we move into the first major chord it is a really nice change up and works really well.
    Then when we come to the end of first verse we get a really good rhythm flow in the vocals, and musically it sounds quite grand.

    This leads into what I assume is the second verse, but I guess it could be seen as the chorus, and it has changed from the minor piano ballad style into a punchy rock song, and for me it is really effective.
    After four lines of punchy rock, we get this almost psych type section, with Ray singing about his realisation of how this has played out.
    It is the same chord set up as the opening piano section, but it has a completely different feel.

    As these four lines play out, we have the introduction of a lead guitar playing a descending pattern in the left channel, and then another lead guitar comes in playing a lead break in the right channel....
    This is a very different sounding lead break from Dave, and it is really nice .... It's actually quite a long lead break section for a Kinks track up to this stage in the discography....
    It is sort of Santana-ish or something like that.... very different for Dave, but I really like it.

    Then we get another completely different section break in, and it is urgent and pleading and I really like the way the chords and melody completely turn around here. It is engaging and it actually sounds big ... I can't put my finger on it .... It has this grand almost prog rock sound to it. The "ahhh's" in the background really add a lot to this and to me it just sounds great.
    The run down at the end is beautifully arranged and it leads us back into the punchy chord section again to lead us out.
    The final "ahhhh's" section reminds me the style of another band, but it isn't coming to mind..... Not that it sounds like another song at all, just that the arrangement and styling makes me think of another band's style....

    The final verse or chorus section is doubled, and we finish on a dead stop.

    This is a four minute track, but it has so much packed into it, it is quite remarkable.
    For me this is among the best tracks on the album.... In fact the three songs in a row, of which this is in the middle, are my favourite section of the album.

    Not sure I have too much to say here, but I find this track really engaging and well written and arranged, and side two is saving the album for me, after a disappointing side one.

  4. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Well, it is your theme song after all :D
  5. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    You make a good case Gary. But I reckon the best thing about Dirty Work is that its dysfunction led to Talk is Cheap.
  6. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Yes, we’re essentially in the middle of a three songs suite that forms the heart [edit, thanks @croquetlawns !:cheers:] of the record. I’d never realized the way the LP’s divided between the four old jukebox rock'n roll inspired tunes (Schooldays, Idiot Dunce, First Time, Last Assembly) and the very contemporary semi prog piano & guitar epic sound of the five remaining tunes (Education, I’m in Disgrace/Headmaster/the Hard Way and No More Looking Back). There’s a tension there that defines the album and makes it both the most “out of time” and the most “of their time” the Kinks ever were.

    In Disgrace/Headmaster/Hard Way are the three tunes telling the story proper. Less a story than an anecdote: a guy (we know who, but as @Zeki said, it’s supposed to work without this knowledge – and as far as I’m concerned, I long ignored it) is found his trousers down with a female schoolmate. He’s summoned by the school’s headmaster, pleads his cause and ends up his trousers down once again, but not exactly in the same position… The tale is strong, the images make immediate impact, there’s a “moral” to the story and a real critique of the unjust obtuse educational system. I’m not so sure it’s convincing as an “origin story” for the Flash character (I’m pretty sure it’s not), at least if it’s supposed to explain why he became the bad guy he became. I’ve listened to the Schoolboys concert and the narration interludes certainly don’t make it more convincing in that regard. But Headmaster does establish the characterization of a guy who doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions (it’s the “naughty girl’s” fault). His plea reminds us of the Scum of the Earth/ Flash’s Confession ones, and you’ve got to give it to Ray that he stays close to his character’s flaws.

    Musically, it stays close to the I’m in Disgrace template, slow piano power ballad, followed by a guitar epic. For years, I’ve tended to be a little lukewarm towards this tune because I found it less distinctive in sound and melodic/chords ideas than what Ray usually writes. I was surprised he’d be willing to play the mid-70’s prog pop bombastic game, as if the Kinks were Barclay James Harvest, Supertramp or the Alan Parsons Project – three bands I LOVED in my teens but three bands that I’d grew out of at some point, thanks to discovering lots of greater artists like… the Kinks!!! Decades later, I’m probably less of a snob and the song power, its theater grandiosity and its rock heroics don’t bother me one bit anymore – on the contrary. The Floydian instrumental break (with Dave setting his inner Gilmour free) is excellent but the song really starts to fly with the chord change that ends his solo abruptly (is there an edit?) at the 2’46’’ mark, and we’re back to the opening “Headmaster this is my confession” verse, but with the rhythm section and backing vocals now firing on all cylinders (@Mark, could the "aah's" be a bit Dark Side floydian too ?), bringing the song to a stunning chorus climax. This is a real big song and another good occasion to tip our hats to our own headmaster, running this thread with gusto, humor and panache. Let’s pledge to behave and continue being good boys & girls, so that he’ll never have us take our trousers down. All hail Headmaster and our headmaster.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2022
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  7. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "Headmaster" is another interesting song - I, too, am finding side 2 to be a better experience than side 1. Reading the lyrics, I find that Ray's vocal delivery makes some lyrics I find awkward on the page work. When the full band and backing singers join the song, this one really comes alive for me. Dave is the secret weapon again on this song and the guitar section seems to reference some of the jazzier sounds popular in the mid 1970s. But it is really Ray's heartfelt vocal that makes this one work. I guess I find the final line "Please don't make me take my trousers down" a bit obvious but then "The Hard Way" is next
  8. ajsmith

    ajsmith Senior Member

    Many have mentioned how much Dave's guitar playing skillz went up a notch in the mid 70s: (this track being a prime exhibit of such): I wonder if this could be a result of his songwriting being rejected from Ray's grand thematics of the time so Dave knuckled down and sublimated his artistic focus onto improving his instrumental chops.. sometimes I think he was a saint in terms of how he took so much from Ray with little complaint and still did all he could to support his sibling's vision.

    The end of 'Headmaster' is fantastic, it's pure Kinks bathos but also pathos in one instant as you have this huge emotional wrought and passionately performed and sung epic ending on the line 'DON'T MAKE ME TAKE MY TROUSERS DOWN!' sung in powerful harmony.. now of course I appreciate that being caned WAS a hugely traumatic experience, (and in fact has been illegal in UK state schools since 1986) but still there's no way for that line not to sound faintly comical and it's a trademark moment of Kinks 'laugh or you'd cry' absurdity that I think was sorely missing during Preservation (as much as I love that era too): this track reminds me of 'Flash's Confession' in it's tortured proggy soul-bearing: but that track was played entirely straight so was a bit harder to take: also it ended a side and was followed by a languid ballad whereas 'Headmaster' into 'the Hard Way' has to be one of the most dramatically effective bits of son sequencing in the Kinks Katalogue!
  9. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Hopefully it's not too much of a chore! I'm presuming that this is a rare error in your beautifully written posts.
  10. GarySteel

    GarySteel Bastard of old

    Molde, Norway
    Talk is Cheap (and the follow up) is worth at least 34 times more than any Stones album after Dirty Work ;) If Charlie was the heart, there is no doubt who is the soul of that band. Hint: it is black as tar and with a voice like broken glass. But underneath the rude exterior beats a heart of gold.

    But I digress: "Mark's theme (Headmaster General)" is another pretty great little song. Mainly because it is funny and a bit sad in that patented 'sardonically yours, 4 ever' Raymondo way. Not a classic but then again: do they have to be to be enjoyable? The band is playing great too. Of course.
  11. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident


    One of the reasons I marked "Education" down a bit was because I think that "Headmaster" does a much better job of being the album's centrepiece arena-rock epic. I've been unaware all these years that it's not even four minutes long - it feels much longer (and not in a bad way). John Gosling's piano work is fantastic, the anthemic chorus really kicks it into gear, and I love how it takes a sidestep and settles down into the extended solo section. It all fits together really well - I think Ray delivers the lyrics with real sincerity. It's fantastic - up until that final line which I've always found a bit jarring. That line threatens to undercut the rock epic credentials of the whole thing, but it survives.

    Again this is a foretaste of the next album, but again I don't think there is anything on Sleepwalker which quite reaches these heights.
  12. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Wow, what a song! The rock sections sound like something from Misfits, but without the shouty lead vocal, while the backing vocals remind me of something from Bat Out of Hell - another over the top theatrical extravaganza.
  13. pantofis

    pantofis Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany
    "Headmaster" is when this album reveals itself to be a bit monochrome compared to the previous ones arrangement-wise. It's the third track that starts with a gentle piano intro and moves into a rocking main part.
    That said, it's a great riff during the chorus with those start-stop riffs. Again ahead of its time, it reminds me of some 90'es grunge music. Particularly of Tracy Bohnam's "Mother Mother". Actually also of Frank Zappa's "Why does it hurt when I pee?".
    The solo is quite nice. Forget what I said about the flanger, here it sounds timeless like a good Steve Miller Band record.
    I always try my best not to notice the lyrics, but it's really impossible to ignore the last line, which does the job of explaining the cover artwork.
  14. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Forum Resident

    Schoolboys In Disgrace
    I think I must have had something of a concept album burn-out after Soap Opera, so have got behind the game with the schoolboys. Anyway, back out from behind the bike sheds... I've missed reading most of the comments of the past week. First thoughts on the album, is the cover. The back image should have been on the front, and if the cartoon was needed, relegate it to the back of the cover.

    Looks back with a hint to the music of the era when the Davies boys were at (or excluded) from school. A nostalgic look back. 'Happiest days of your life'. Maybe, but I do know you tend to remember the good times and forget the boring lessons, rubbish teachers, school bullies...
    Jack The Idiot Dunce
    Again, that same hint of music of the past. Rock and Roll pastiche here though. All the rage (I believe) in the mid '70s. Children can be really nasty at times, making fun of the 'different' kid in class. This one was a bit dim it seems, so perfect for bullying. Hopefully people grow up and out of that, but this is clearly written from the point of view of still being children at school, so a reasonable observation. I still don't believe he'd get the girls following his description here though.
    The album's epic centrepiece. It's OK, but is it worth over seven minutes and a re-cap at the end? I'd rather a shorter track and a re-worked 'History' school trip visit added. Some nice riffage from young Dave.
    The First Time We Fall In Love
    Back to the '50s doo-wop pastiche. I get a feel of 'Lonely This Christmas' Ah, first love! I particularly like the second half of the song, where we get the mix between the doo-wop and a harder edged vocal when falling out of love. A good memorable melody.
    I'm In Disgrace
    A nice piano introduction, which rams abruptly into a riff filled rocker. Nice.
    Who else would be writing a song ending with the line 'please don't make me take my trousers down'. Corporal punishment was still allowed at the time I was at school, but to my knowledge at my primary school never used - although I was shown the cane on one occasion as a warning - that was enough for my liking. Another track starting with a piano led ballad, and a nice vocal from Raymond. Then Dave arrives and rocks the piece up rather nicely. Riff's and guitar solos. Would have been nice if he could have sung the second half vocal too. A favourite on the album.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2022
  15. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    "Headmaster". I keep hearing an Alice Cooper song in there somewhere, but I don't know which one. Again, this song is OK, it's not terrible, it just doesn't do it for me. This is well played, well crafted, anonymous 70s rock of a type that, by 1975/76, was beginning to sound kind of rote - there's a Top 15 Punk albums thread going on and, I hate to say it, but this is the sort of thing that illustrates why punk happened. Everybody seemed to be going off the boil at the same time and just putting out product that was OK but nothing more, including bands/artists that had been putting out vital, exciting stuff a few years before. Well, that's my opinion anyway. Also, by now, I'm bored with this inane schoolboy storyline, Ray wasting an entire album on this seems like pure hubris to me.
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    My feeling is similar, though I tend to put it in the 1976-1979 period. Because I look at my own top 100 album list for 1975 and see:

    Tonight’s The Night; Blood On The Tracks; Born To Run; The Hissing Of Summer Lawns; Zuma. ‘75 was still non-rote.

    But I think you’ve articulated what’s been going through my mind as I consider these songs. And, because I do the playlist thing, I’m having a tough time on this record. Am thinking of even closing my second chapter list with ‘Ducks On The Wall.’
  17. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    I'm sure there were good rock albums released in 75/76 but the graph was heading downwards - rapidly.
  18. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    And eventually Main Offender which iam spinning now!
  19. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    You are making me nervous with that headmaster & trousers talk knowing our headmaster can be quite literal and has a good knowledge of Rodney Rude skits about Head Waiters! ; )
  20. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    Fair call unless your surname was say Beck, and you delivered both Blow By Blow & Wired!
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  21. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Wasn't he doing jazz fusion stuff by then?
  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I kind of hope everyone will remain fully dressed..... or at least refrain from delivering us proof of the opposite :)
  23. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    Yeah definitions vary but still rock albums on the rock charts!
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  24. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line The Under Asst East Coast White Label Promo Man

    There you go, a man in authority deflecting the attention from himself!
    As Rodney would say after the Head Waiter comes over; "I hate that, i hate that, i hate that!" (Laughs)
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  25. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    As noted above, I don’t agree at all re:1975. What I do agree with you on is your description of ‘Headmaster’ as well played, well crafted and anonymous…if it came out just a bit later in time. Come to think of it, by being released in ‘75, it’s the pre-cursor to what’s to come! (But for me, as I’m listening to this album for the first time as part of this discussion, yeah, it sounds just as you describe it.)

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