The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Obviously is it subjective but
    Dylan - Blood on the tracks
    Zeppelin- Physical graffiti
    Young - Tonight's the night
    Zappa - One Size Fits All and Bongo fury
    Floyd - Wish you were here
    Springsteen - Born to run
    Queen - A night at the Opera
    Aerosmith- Toys in the attic
    Sabbath- Sabotage
    Cooper - Welcome to my nightmare
    Rush - Fly by night
    Waits - Nighthawks at the Diner
    Who - By numbers

    Dylan - Desire
    Bowie - Station to Station
    Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
    Rush - 2112
    Stones - Black and blue
    Priest - Sad Wings of destiny
    Steve Miller - Fly like an eagle
    Rainbow - Rising
    Zappa - Zoot Allures
    Acdc - Dirty Deeds

    Just a few of many great albums over 75/76
  2. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Oh no you won't. Even if you discard the "piano ballads turned arena" songs (which I understand, I've long felt that way about them too), you still get a wonderful Schooldays/The Hard Way/No More Looking Back triple-set to pick from this record. Those three should make your playlist. Trust me!
    (and if Schooldays doesn't, just know that you'll hurt my feelings)
    And it seems Ray Davies himself must've agreed, as he took it upon himself to start making punk happen in the very next song!
  3. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D What I’m probably going to do is close Second Chapter and begin a new playlist. Kinks III. And I already have 12 songs earmarked as possibilities (including 2 of the ones you referenced), (I had all three at one point but keep waffling. That’s why I’m a bit flummoxed by this new Kinks sound. Smooth and no quirkiness). I just don’t want to mix this sound with ‘History’ or ‘When A Solution Comes.’ Or ‘Celluloid Heroes.’
  4. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I have Floyd on my list, too. Missed it when I took a quick glance. (And Desire, naturally.)
  5. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Subjective indeed.
    DISKOJOE likes this.
  6. All Down The Line

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


    Nothing much to complain about but I get the comments about it possibly being a bit anonymous.
    I first read the lyrics in isolation which worried me but for the most part they worked in the song.
    Yes Dave plays some untypical smooth flash lines that might almost even fit on a fusion album!
    Again an improvement over side one and enjoying the backing vocals, piano intro and lead guitar however I don't think I would play it outside the scope of the album.
  7. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL

    Seeing as I am sitting in the rock camp known as “the Arista years“, the last song, this song, and the next one are all right in my wheelhouse. Everyone has already articulated my thoughts on this at length, so I will just bullet point my three main thoughts:

    * Great (and lengthy) solo by Dave. I appreciate him having the chance to stretch out a bit. I agree with Fortuleo that this solo is very Gilmore-like in structure and sound.

    * This is a great riff rocker with a modern (for the time) sound that would not have been out of place on the upcoming Sleepwalker album.

    * Overall, I really like this song and the way that it fits in with the two surrounding it.
  8. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    It's all a matter of taste, I think if you're into the Arista period of the Kinks then I think you're going to like this album a lot more than if you aren't!
  9. Endicott

    Endicott Forum Resident


    The middle song of the "discipline" trilogy on Schoolboys. I don't think it's quite as compelling as the two tracks that bookend it -- it's the most generic and stadium-y of the three -- but it does have enough to recommend it, particularly Ray's desperate vocal -- the vulnerability of the character is as raw and naked as it gets. (Though even that quality is exceeded in a song on this album we haven't covered yet.) Dave's guitar work is ace, as always, as is Gosling's piano.

    I wonder how this song would resonate today, given the explosion in the number of reports of the institutional abuse of minors in the last couple of decades or so, and their media visibility.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    I think that "Headmaster" is the emotional center of Schoolboys, more than "Education". The protagonist of the story gets caught doing a rather serious and naughty thing and he has to answer for it. One of the Avids suggested how Ray's vocal got over the awkwardness of the lyrics. I would say that the lyrics were awkward for a reason. If you were a boy caught in that same situation, you wouldn't be elequent in your defense unless you were a budding politician. This song, if not Schoolboys as a whole, reminds me of George Orwell's essay of his own schooldays, "Such, Such Were The Joys", which describes the punishments that the Headmaster gave out, mostly to the scholarship boys, while the wealthier boys were pampered.
  11. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ

    This does seem like a centerpiece type song, and with the trilogy we are in, certainly the centerpieces of the album. Dave again just really shines through on this -- with his multiple guitar parts and tones, heaving riffing, flangy solo, backing/harmonizing vocals. This song has grown to be a highlight of the album for me, and I really enjoy the acoustic strumming that starts building before the full band comes in for the the heavy riff/chorus. It's infectious, with that start/stop riff that has been mentioned. The soft/loud dynamic and how it is laid out in this song is almost Tommy Shaw/Styx-ish, and I do enjoy the epicness of some of those mid/late 70s Styx songs.

    I think it was on Hot Potatoes that I mentioned a similarly in sound (and sense of humor) to some songs by fellow English rock band the Darkness. Dave's guitar solo reminds me of this solo from the Darkness' Lay Down With Me Barbara (YouTube link is set to start at the solo). Now, Headmaster is new to me, so when I heard Dave's solo... this song is what it reminded me off. I always thought that solo was so cool sounding in that Darkness song. But now obviously, I would have to think that the Darkness was heavily influenced by this mid-late 70s era Kinks (and mid-70s Queen, for that matter). And it is almost enlightening now why I gravitated towards the Darkness in the 2000s when they started. They are more Kinkish than I realized!
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Ton Brown's Schooldays, or for a more sarcastic look at it, Ripping Yarns - Tompkinson's Schooldays :)
    All Down The Line and DISKOJOE like this.
  13. abzach

    abzach Forum Resident

    Schoolboys in Disgrace - I've sold this one as well.
  14. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Houston TX
    I’m going to Galveston on the Texas Gulf coast for a holiday to get the salt in my blisters and the sand in my hair, so before I leave, I’m just writing short takes (I will overcompensate for this on Thursday).

    “Headmaster” – In four minutes, this covers a lot of musical territory. The opening is quite moving, with Ray as the schoolboy pleading for mercy for his transgressions, to piano accompaniment in a minor key. Then Dave is unleashed and we are back into 70s rock again. The power chord sections remind me of David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars, and the jamming section sounds unlike what The Kinks have done before, bringing to mind Crosby, Stills, Nash. Ray’s delivery is harrowing at times, as if he’s begging to avoid the gas chamber. A keeper. Rating: 4/5
  15. Brian x

    Brian x the beautiful ones are not yet born

    Los Angeles

    Yes this feels like a transition point. & I do like it, but it's hard to say goodbye to side 1 and the last little remnants of "old Kinks." With say Jack the Idiot Dunce you could still reasonably say "oh the band that did Arthur and transitioned into Ducks on the Wall, I get it." But this feels like the beginning of something new that eventually becomes Trust Your Heart and ultimately Catch Me Now I'm Falling. For me, it's when you have to do a gut check and say "do I still like the Kinks?"

    And yes, of course. That Styx-ish energy, the "flange" or whatever on Dave's guitar, the sweeping power chord transitions, the whole pop-prog structure -- it was popular for a reason, it's emotionally seductive, it isn't something like Phenomenal Cat or Some Mother's Son that requires (and rewards) multiple deep listens, it grabs you right away with what you could either call "gimmicks" or a more mature appreciation of the surrounding contemporary musical landscape (all references to Steve Miller Band etc above feel accurate).

    The lyric is so abject in its contrition that it put me off as a schoolboy. I wanted Johnny Rotten to blow up the school, not Ray voicing some kid who dutifully groveled and begged the headmaster not to tell his friends that he'd been physically abused. And the unfortunate last line takes us back to the cartoon on the cover, making the whole thing feel like a somewhat tasteless joke. (BTW, broke out my LP copy from 1978, & saw I'd scrawled my initials across the cover character's butt).

    I'm sure the more musically sophisticated people posting on this thread can explain why I feel "seduced" by the power chords and the Gilmour-like lead. Like Trust Your Heart, it's dreamy and rousing and evocative, it's '70s rock you can play zooming around in a gas guzzler and that could segue seamlessly into something like REO Speedwagon.

    The Kinks stepped up and swallowed their medicine (took their punishment?) and started moving towards their arena-rock destiny. They did it with energy, panache, and incredible originality. The Arista years are amazing and brought them hundreds of thousands of new fans who'd been in diapers when You Really Got me was released. Still, it's hard to let go of everything that came before.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2022
  16. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Nicely put.

    Since they’ve been mentioned a couple of times today, I will say that Styx actually flitted into my mind, too. I’ve never owned a Styx album but in the late 70s they were all over FM radio. And I saw them, maybe 77 (possibly 78 but I think 77) opening for Robin Trower. And Styx played a helluva show.
  17. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    One could say that Ray not delivering on expectations in the lyrics (and with the album cover for that matter) is the kind of rebellious behavior that one would expect from a naughty schoolboy!

    I can imagine an exasperated @Vangro delivering this speech to Ray:

    Boys like you were born to waste (A whole album on this inane schoolboy storyline!)
    You never listen to a word I say
    And if you think you're here to mess around,
    You're making a big mistake
    'Cos you're gonna find out the hard way
  18. the real pope ondine

    the real pope ondine Forum Resident

    my favorite song on the album and one of Kinks best post Muswell songs. Love the guitar sounds and daves extended solo as the schoolboy first pleads with the headmaster not to beat him and then not to tell his friends, beautifully acted, Ray's delivery 'don't beat me, i beg you, i know that i've let you down' is fantastic, also the almost sarcastic 'i've committed a crime' shows he's just saying anything he can to stop this. I love it all till the last line which kinda ends the horror story with punchline, this is one i always turn up
  19. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Yes, I hear you, it's a hard thing to accept, except if you came to the Kinks by way of the Low Budget/One for the Road path (not my case). No More Looking Back, the man said, and for good reason…

    Agreed with all your comparisons except I've never heard Styx. But it's probably true Headmaster is the start of the road that will eventually lead them to Catch Me Now I'm Falling. Not saying it's a bad thing, just a stylistic fact. I'm always cautious when it comes to the labels theories, "Arista" versus "RCA" periods etc. I think it's both somewhat accurate and extremely misleading. For me the big changes are not that clearly drawn. VGPS is the end of something (Quaife leaves, Nicky Hopkins too, and even Rasa) but there's still three Pye records to go… Lola is huge shift, the first of a 9 albums run with the same Gosling/Dalton line up, released on three different labels. The RCA years are incredibly diverse in sound and styles. Each record has a life of its own, with very little overlapping (a few horns numbers, a few piano ballads + the Have Another Drink throwback to the Muswell sound, and that's about it). Just the huge musical differences between Act 1 and 2 of Preservation should stop us from too much generalization. Sleepwalker and Misfits are still far from the heavy "arena rock" idiom for the most part. They are good melodic pop/rock records, firmly anchored in the soft side of things, Misfits being especially mellow. So of course, Low Budget is the one big game changer because it dramatically altered the sound of the band and its level of success, especially in America. But it was already the third Arista LP, with only three more to go, and they didn't just replicate its formula, instead adding ballads, power pop and mid-tempo melodic tunes to their supposed heavy rock mix… As I said, their big career shifts are not that clearly drawn at all !
  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I’ve started to pencil in my various groupings (will post on our album re-cap day) but now will use your summary here as a review guide. One problem I’m having is coming up with clever names!
  21. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Hey, can you blame me for not wanting to be reminded of Styx when I listen to a Kinks album? Or should that be a Kynx album?
  22. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident


    I agree with most of what @Brian x had to say. This song starts off with some dramatic piano and Ray singing his heart out. It's a great beginning, but then it breaks down into some guitar effect I am not crazy about. There are parts that I like, but overall this veers too much into musical territory that does not get a passing grade. This is actually one of my least favorite songs so far. That may sound a bit harsh, but it's more about the direction I see them heading than this actual song. There is still something about it I like, but I'm just not into some of the production and guitar choices. There is a new Kinks on the horizon and I am already starting to miss the old days. All is not lost, because this is just a minor bump, for now. Tomorrow we get right back on track.
    Not me! I feel the complete opposite. He becomes more technical and flashy, but with that I feel he loses much of what I loved about his playing. He starts to sound like many other late 70s guitar jammers. Many of future Kinks songs are going to have my main critique be about Dave's playing. This is one of the first displays that sparks a certain guitar change. I know this will be controversial to some guitar players who happen to love the direction that Dave took.

    I realized last night that I may even sit out some of his solo albums because I will not be "Mr. Pleasant". My first AFL1-3603 listening party didn't go so well last night!
  23. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    That seems a more logical way of looking at it all to me.
    The band was in constant musical flux to my ear, and the Arista years are no different. Sleepwalker moves smoothly on from Schoolboys, and all up through Word Of Mouth there are variances that give each album it's own personality. I think that's why I find the whole "Arista Years" thing a bit of a furphy
  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Had to look up “furphy.” (And my phone spellcheck doesn’t recognize it.)
  25. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Furphy - A furphy is Australian slang for an erroneous or improbable story that is claimed to be factual.

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