Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
To clarify my position on my use of this term earlier in this thread, I should mention that I've been using it to mean 'Adult orientated rock' not 'Album orientated rock'. On checking Wikipedia, I does look like 'Album' is the more commonly associated term with this acronym though. I appreciate that it could be argued that 'Adult orientated rock' is just as meaningless a term as 'Album orientated rock' but I've been using the former I guess to mean something close to 70s 'soft rock' which to me is what Sleepwalker and Misfits veer towards before the newave injection of 'Low Budget'.
Adult-oriented rock - Wikipedia
I certainly wasn't criticising anyone's use of the term ... I'm just not really a genre guy, and could probably word my dismissal of pretty much any genre tag, for good bands at least
Thanks @Mark for that excellent introduction to this next period of the Kinks. I'm just listening to my 2008 Velvel vinyl reissue of Sleepwalker. It's quite different in sound and style to any of the RCA albums yet still unmistakably the Kinks. It should be fun discussing this one.
Impressions. I got into Sleepwalker about the same time the live album One for the Road came out. The songs are more guitar-oriented than any Kinks album since Lola and there are plenty of hooks that would go over well in a live setting. I can see why they toured successfully on Sleepwalker. As I mentioned in a previous post I find it a polished album - there are few, if any, of the rough edges we've grown accustomed to. Maybe this was the result of Ray's wish to run a tighter ship. I think it worked. This is a great sounding collection of well-performed songs.
Sleepwalker Album Preliminary Thoughts:
Yet another lp that I didn’t own or hear in real-time but I did hear two tracks on FM radio: Sleepwalker and Juke Box Music; both of these back in my prime, partying-carousing days. So I have a good feeling about what’s to come.
Not that I dislike ‘Schoolboys In Disgrace,’ which I didn’t. I just wasn’t all that excited about it.
I will say that I am glad to have the theater concept type albums in the rearview mirror. “Schoolboys” forced me to accept that the Original and Village Kinks, my favorite permutations, of The Kinks are groups of the past so hopefully that will put me in the right frame of mind to enjoy, while analyzing, this album and those to follow. And I know by now that just because ‘Sleepwalker’ sounds a certain way doesn’t mean the remaining albums in the catalog will keep the same style.
I will say that my preliminary listens have already undergone a bit of tweaking. Initially, I had five songs under scrutiny but already have cut two of those from my playlist consideration. That doesn’t mean I dislike the tracks, it just means they weren’t up to the high standards that The Committee expects as representative of The Kinks brand! We shall see what the end result is after our couple of weeks of discussion.
As I've previously mentioned, after not liking the RCA albums when I sampled them at university, the next one I tried was Give The People What They Want, and that one was much more to my liking. I'm pretty sure I also borrowed Sleepwalker and Misfits from the same record library. I had it in my head that I was impressed enough by Give The People to have taped a copy of it, but I can't find any evidence of this (like, for example an actual tape!). Anyway, all of the Arista albums that I sampled during the 80s elicited a positive response, and I bought all of them on CD between 1991 and 1996.
While those albums would have got plenty of plays back in the 90s (when my collection was much smaller, therefore everything had a good chance of a regular play), they haven't been played so much over the last decade or so. Probably mostly because the increasing size of my collection has lessened their playing opportunities, but possibly also because their appeal has slipped a little over the years (whereas Think Visual has never gone out of rotation). I played Sleepwalker a couple of weeks ago for the first time in ages in preparation for this. I knew all the songs well enough, though, which suggests that it got played well back in the day.
Sleepwalker is a well-written, played and produced album - a supremely competent effort that would have no doubt pleased Arista and radio programmers. There are some elements of 1970 Kinks still in there - for example the very opening of the album - and the shouting/exaggerated Cockney/attempted punk thrashes of the later albums haven't arrived yet, but for the most part it's a solid contemporary rock album. There is nothing in here that I would place on any list of elite Kinks tracks, but then there is also nothing to be avoided. It's entertaining without being particularly exciting.
From @All Down The Line
Schoolboys in Disgrace:
I did not expect to like this album as much as I do And at the same time, I think it’s a displays a weakness not typically found in their earlier releases.
On the plus side, to me, the hard way, school days, headmaster, In disgrace and no more looking back are all top-tier Kinks. The sound quality is great, probably some of their best ever to date, the lyrics and Ray’s singing are both fantastic, and Dave is on fire again with great support from the rhythm section.… and even better, there’s very little in the way of outside musicians utilized, we just get to hear the kinks undiluted!
So what’s the problem? Some of the commenters on here have use the term “slight”, and that may be just the right word. The album feels slight because there are five really good songs, two that are OK and one (actually comprised of two songs) that unfortunately attempts to be an epic and fails miserably, at least in the eyes of most of the commenters on here. I think it’s safe to say that everybody participating in this thread has come to expect albums from the kinks to be loaded with classic after classic. Here you get 5 great tunes that in length equal about an album side.
Compare this to most of the earlier albums, especially if you go and you add in singles from the same time period that didn’t make the album, b-sides and even some of the outtakes released later, and you realize that at least for the schoolboys release, he just didn’t seem to have as many great songs available to him (or he erred on the side of trying to create a concept and he discarded or kept other songs for later project projects).
Overall, the highs are high on schoolboys, but there is not quite enough of them.
The Pressures of the Road
Does the Band That Fights Together Stay Together?
"I've seen so many losers and down and out boozers Who are tired of being bought and sold." - The Kinks, "Life On The Road"
The Kinks were hardly a verse into their third encore Tuesday night when the fight began. Lead guitarist Dave Davies walked over to drummer Mick Avory and began to poke at the cymbals. Avory glowered at Davies; Davies glowered back.
Singer Ray Davies, leader of the group that's one of the few survivors of rock's 1964 "British Invasion," came over and led his kid brother away from trouble, but a minute later Dave was at it again. At the end of his guitar solo, standing directly in front of the drummer, he launched a gob of spit that hit Avory right in the face. Avory spat back, and Davies retreated to the other side of the stage, where with the sweep of his arm he knocked over the microphone stand at Avory's side.
That did it. Avory stood up, threw his drumsticks at Dave Davies and stormed off the stage. The rest of the band hesitated, the beat lost, so Ray turned around noticing for the first time that Avory was gone. "I've had it with these boys," he calmly told the crowd.
Despite Ray Davies' desperate effort to carry on, the song fizzled to a halt, and everyone left the stage - except for Dave Davies, who mounted the platform where Avory's drum kit was sitting and assumed the stance of a football punter. With one swing of his leg he booted the entire drum kit off the platform; with another he devastated the remaining microphone stands.
Many in the crowd of 3,000 left Constitution Hall believing it was all planned, that it was just a simple bit of stage violence a la the Who; a disc jockey who wasn't there said as much on the air the next day. But what happened next, backstage, indicated that the Davies-Avory spat wasn't a manifestation of ordinary rock theatrics, but of something else: road fatigue.
"Avory, you're a stinking (deleted), " shouted Dave Davies, a member of the Kinks' road crew holding him by the arms to prevent him from breaking into the dressing room where Avory, 33, sat fuming. "You're a lousy drummer, and I'm not gonna put up with you anymore. I've got more talent in my (deleted) than you've got in your whole (deleted) body."
Nearby, keyboard player John Gosling leaned his head on a woman's shoulder and began to weep. Ray Davies walked by, looking grim; no, he didn't want to talk. Kinks tour manager Ken Jones, however, had a few words before departing for the hotel in one of the group's two rented limousines. "It's the pressures of the road," he said. "We've had a bad day. The equipment truck was three hours late in arriving from Pittsburg, and Dave had a little too much to drink. I wouldn't want you to think that this kind of thing happens all the time, because it doesn't."
Still, sudden flare-ups of temper in concert or in the recording studio are one of rock's occupational hazards - and not just for the Kinks. One of the most vivid scenes in the Beatle's "Let It Be" film came when George Harrison got into a heated argument with Paul McCartney over how a particular song was to be arranged; John and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac attribute the break-up of their marriage to seven years of nearly constant touring.
But the Kinks' "Go 'Till You Drop" U.S. tour, which began in January and ends today in Tampa, Florida, is a particularly arresting example of the phenomenon known as road fatigue. Everyone from Elton John to Kiss has written songs about the subject, but the Davies brothers and Avory have been performing together for nearly 15 years, have perhaps the most experience trying to cope with the "27 shows, 27 days, 27 cities" routine.
"They've been doing this kind of crazy thing for years," says a Kinks press spokesman. "Their philosophy has always been 'The band that fights together, stays together.' I've seen them push each other around on stage before. It's nothing new."
The Kinks may have learned to kiss and make up - an observer of their Wednesday night show on Long Island reported that Avory and Davies were 'all smiles' with each other - but in some bands the hostility festers during a long tour and group members end up barely tolerating each other. Singer Marty Balin, for example, has on several occasions, both in print and on stage, expressed his dislike for Grace Slick, with whom he shares lead vocals in Jefferson Starship.
In other bands, especially those that aren't superstars and thus can't afford the luxurious, infrequent tours the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin favor, it's the daily grind that wears out the musicians. Savoy Brown, a British blues band that in the early '70's was on the road an average of 250 days a year, often in a supporting role, is probably the best example. In its decade of existence, the group has had more than 30 members.
In circumstances like that, the 'glamour' of the rock musicians life fades quickly, and playing music becomes just another way of making a living - especially for British rockers who come from working class backgrounds. As former Mott the Hoople singer and pianist Ian Hunter, whose book "Reflections of a Rock Star" is perhaps the best written account of the tediousness of life on the road, once said, "I'm just grateful that I don't have to work in a factory like a lot of my less fortunate friends."
With that attitude, which grows more common as rock takes on the trappings of an industry, goes the end of the youthful enthusiasm and naivet� that mark the beginning of a band - and the diminution of the emotional bonds that unite musicians. After a while, it doesn't matter whether a musician likes his colleagues; images and contracts have to be upheld, bills paid and mouths fed, so he swallows his pride and hopes that tomorrow night's gig will be better.
"When you formed a group back in the '60's," says former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, whose tiffs with singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ron Wood, now of the Rolling Stones, made the original Jeff Beck Group one of rock's legendary quarreling bands, "the thing was that everyone thought you were brothers and in love and would stick together until the end, and all that. I don't think you can do that sort of thing anymore."
Larry Rohter - Washington Post, 5/8/77
Oct 1963 - Nov 1966
Apr 1967 - Feb 1970
1965 Never Say Yes
1966 Trouble In Madrid
Dave reviewing singles of 67
Nov 1970 Lola Vs Powerman And The Moneygoround
Strangers - live 1970 - Dave live
Get Back In Line
Lola - TOTP - video - alt version
Top Of The Pops - video
Moneygoround - mono
This Time Tomorrow - 2020 mix
A Long Way From Home - live 70's - Ray live
Apeman - video - alt stereo - alt mono - ToTP - Calypso - live 94
Powerman - mono - 2020 mix - live 70's
Got To Be Free
The Good Life
1971 Golden Hour Of The Kinks
Feb 1971 Percy (movie) - trailer
Mar 1971 Percy (soundtrack)
The Way Love Used To Be - Ray live
Running Round Town
Moments - Ray live
Animals In The Zoo
God's Children Outro
1971 You Really Got Me - Mini Monster EP
Nov 1971 Muswell Hillbillies
20th Century Man - single - Alt Instr - Ray live
Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues - live 73 - John Peel
Holiday - live 73
Skin And Bone - live 70's - Ray live
Alcohol - live 75 - cartoon
Here Come The People In Grey - live 72
Have A Cuppa Tea - alt version - live 72
Oklahoma USA - Ray Live
Uncle Son - Alternate
Nobody's Fool - Cold Turkey(Kinks?)
Dec 1971 Muswell Hillbilly EP
1972 Muswell Hillbilly single (Jap)
Mar 1972 Kink Kronikles
Aug 1972 Everybody's In Showbiz
Here Comes Yet Another Day - live 74 - live 75
Sitting In My Hotel - 76 remix
You Don't Know My Name
Supersonic Rocket Ship - fan vid - BBC live - band video - live
Look A Little On The Sunny Side
Celluloid Heroes - live 82
Top Of The Pops
Brainwashed - Alt
Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues - Alt
Muswell Hillbilly - Alt
Alcohol - Alt
Banana Boat Song
Skin And Bone
Til The End Of The Day
You're Lookin' Fine
Get Back In Line
Have A Cuppa Tea
She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina
Long Tall Shorty
January 1973 The Great Lost Kinks Album
Apr 1973 One Of The Survivors/Scrapheap City (Ray Vocal)
One Of The Survivors (single version)
Ray's near death experience/suicide?
The Kinks Live AT The BBC 1973
Oct 1973 Golden Hour Of The Kinks Vol 2
1973 The Time Song
I'm Going Home
Nov 1973 Preservation Act 1
Morning Song/Daylight - live 74
Sweet Lady Genevieve - Ray live - live 70's
There's A Change In The Weather
Where Are They Now?
One Of The Survivors - Compile version - edit 1 - edit 2
Cricket - Cricket
Money And Corruption/ I Am Your Man - Alt/ext
Here Comes Flash
Sitting In The Midday Sun - video
Demolition - Peel sessions
Village Green (Overture)
Picture Book/People Take Pictures Of Each Other (live)
May 1974 Preservation Act 2
Introduction To Solution
When A Solution Comes
Money Talks - Peel Sessions - Live 74
Shepherds Of The Nation
Scum Of The Earth
Second Hand Car Spiv
He's Evil - Hippodrome 74
Mirror Of Love - Band Version - Hippodrome 74
Oh Where Oh Where Is Love
Flash's Dream (The Final Elbow)
Nothing Lasts Forever
Slum Kids - 1975
The Preservation concerts
Providence Nov 30th 1974
Preservation Live - More live footage - Home movie footage
Live - Midnight Special
World Radio History
May 1975 The Kinks Present A Soap Opera
Everybody's A Star - Alt version
Ordinary People - pt 2 live - live
Rush Hour Blues - live
Nine To Five
When Work Is Over
Have Another Drink
Underneath The Neon Sign - live
You Make It All Worthwhile - live
Ducks On The Wall
(A) Face In The Crowd
You Can't Stop The Music
Ordinary People pt 2 live
Starmaker Tv Play
Tv Play 6 of 7 parts
Soap Opera tour
Soap Opera Concert
Nov 1975 Schoolboys In Disgrace
Jack The Idiot Dunce
The First Time We Fall In Love
I'm In Disgrace
The Hard Way - live 77 - Ray live
The Last Assembly
No More Looking Back - supersonic 76
Schoolboys On Stage in 5 parts
Jun 1976 Kinks Greatest - Celluloid Heroes - alt track listing
Here Comes Yet Another Day live
The RCA Years
The Kinks Move To Arista Records
Feb 1977 Sleepwalker
The Pressures Of The Road
Ray On Wonderworld
2005 Thanksgiving Day Ray live on Conan Obrien
Oct 2018 Dave Davies - Decade - interview
If You Are Leaving (71)
Cradle To The Grace (73)
Midnight Sun (73)
Mystic Woman (73)
The Journey (73)
Web Of Time (75)
Mr Moon (75) - Why
Pete Quaife - interview - Kast Off Kinks - I Could See It In Your Eyes - Dead End Street
Rasa Didzpetris Davies
I once had this cool promo transclucent yellow 7" P/s which featured some forgettable artist on the B side.
Ahah, this I really love, because of the "and the like" thing, coming after listing three songs that are so vastly different from one another! That's the most amazing thing we've (re)discovered in the course of this thread : whatever preconception any of us (the labels for one!) may've had of what the Kinks' music sound like (or should sound like), the next single, the next song, the next LP would almost always defiantly contradict it… There was talk yesterday night about the biggest difference between the Kinks and the Who. My guess is that at some point, Townshend's solo career pushed him to mentally separate his band writing from his solo stuff, thus thinking along the lines of "I'm writing for the band here", which inevitably made the Who style and sound being constrained into some kind of (squeeze) box, whilst he would allow himself to stretch out a bit more in his solo music. On the other hand, all of Ray's stretching out was done within the framework of the band, leading to some really surprising stylistic detours at (almost) every turn.
Great write up about the Arista years and the fact Ray designed the change of gears himself. But there's one slightly misleading assessment there in my opinion: the return to "tightly written songs" and the sonic reinvention that informed the "heavy rock arena years" doesn't really start right away with the move to Arista. Sleepwalker displays mostly mellower and lengthier tunes. And Misfits's arguably the most "pop" of them all. The real change won't happen before Low Budget and then Give the People What They Want, the latter record setting the template for the last phase of the band's career in which they will, at long last, settle for a sound and formula and stick with it for their last ten or twelve years of activity. Or so I tend to think, prior to reexamining all of it here in months to come…
Yeah, the art work is a delight. Not that I find it particularly beautiful but like @Mark, I find it hilarious. Ray decides (or is instructed) to stop with the theater thing and come back to the rock band format. And so naturally, his next move is to wear make-up and act up like a mime or stage artist, and to be perfectly alone on the cover, front and back, like there's no rock band in sight. Always his own contradictory/contrarian self, our Ray!
US Circus Magazine April 14, 1977
1 of 5 Late 70's Circus magazines that were given to me in a Melbourne city record store on a return to my home city in January 1987.
N.b. If any of this cannot be read give me a shout and we will undoubtedly see when a solution comes!
I've learned and really liked a lot of the "theatrical" Kinks period. My middle brother was really into these records and I never really enjoyed it. But, after he got me onto Hillbillies, I was willing to give the "theme" records a go. This thread has been quite an education for me. Some fantastic songs that I never heard before!
I don't know Sleepwalker well, only the radio songs but I'm looking forward to seeing how the band evolves towards Low Budget which is where I really got into the Kinks as a teen.
Sleepwalker: haha, unless I'm able to seriously re-evaluate this one (and I hope to do a bit of that, but I'm not expecting miracles) I think it's likely I'm going to do a heel turn and join @Vangro at the critical boys table for the next wee while. This and to a lesser extent it's sequel are albums I've never really got on with: they just seem a little too slick, a little too 'driving my truck down an endless lonely highway in middle America at 3am sometime in the late 70s with my 8 track tape deck blasting and stale coffee stains and Twinkie crumbs on the dashboard' for me to stomach. There are some decent individual songs but that's the vibe that in particular Sleepwalker has always exuded to me. And I appreciate it was a necessary survival step, but I still don't enjoy it much.
I can't say Sleepwalker is my least favourite Kinks album, but it's definitely the most disappointing and impenetrable one to me given where it appears in the discography (ie still prime time imo). I hope to get it more one day. Maybe that day will be soon!
First up a tight shot of the Japanese LP insert featuring a "period" slogan & following it......
...my Japanese White Label Promo Sleepwalker LP's A Side Label.
So happy to read that, and from one of the wilcothreaders too!
So on to Sleepwaker, then.
First, they tell you « it’s the come-back album ». Right then, that turned me against it somehow. Something was either wrong with me (come-back ? from where?? my favorite Kinks period ???) or completely wrong with everyone writing in the rock press. Always root for the underdog against the bully. Sleepwalker was made the bully by a lot of rock critics. It wasn’t its fault, just the result of this falsified narrative of “they lost it for five years but here goes the wonderful return to form, their best since Lola”. Sleepwalker was used to deride the rest. I would defend the rest so it would put me in a defensive position against Sleepwalker. I had the same experience with the Stones regarding the same phase of their career: the “Some Girls is their best since Exile” myth always made me want to love Black and Blue more than any reasonable being should. And I do love it three times more, to this day. But I digress.
So Sleepwalker was not a favorite of mine. I thought the songs were a bit too long, four of them above the 5mn mark. I instantly adored the tender intro of Life on the Road but was less keen on the bombastic You Can’t Stop the Music meets Education style of the rest of the song. On most of the LP, I thought the guitars sounded a bit dated, on the Lukather side of things. Ray’s singing is good, very mellow – and I do love mellow Ray – but strangely “normal”. No voices, no accents, no acting out, no outrageous vaudeville. It’s good, he’s a sublime singer, but it’s like seeing him get back into a fold he was never a part of in the first place. He was never a normal singer, they were never a normal band, they never released normal records. This one screams normal. Well, he’s still otherworldly on Stormy Sky, I’ll give you that. Like @ajsmith, the slicker sound rubbed me the wrong way too. You learn to love a “shambolic” scruffy band of drunken Brit gypsies, but here, they are well groomed, almost too professional or proficient for their own good. Don’t get me wrong, AOR bordering on MOR is often my thing. My favorite 1977 record is CSN, the one with the boat on the cover. I kid you not! My favorite Wings era McCartney is London Town, the epitome of hip sixties luminaries turned mellow yacht rock weed smokers. But rock music is also a question of charm, and Sleepwalker never charmed me like the others. I found it too posed and balanced, almost too… clean? Whatever, I guess one record had to pay for all the **** thrown at the previous ones.
Over time, though, things have changed. I come back to it regularly and every new listen makes me discover details I never quite noticed before. A melodic line here, a groove there (a lot of them actually, be it on the slow side of groove), a vocal inflection, a lyric, a drum part, some fabulous bass playing etc. Every other year, I fall in love with a song I’d neglected up until then. I now am like @ARL, in an appreciative (but still not fully enamored) place. I think it may be the most consistent of all Kinks records: consistent in quality, consistent in mood, consistent in style, a bona fide pop album. Song by song, I now find it excellent, all good to great stuff, beautiful melodic pop music, done by supreme craftsmen.
I bet (and confidently hope) that some close listening and konversation with you all in the next couple of weeks will break my last defenses.
Well, this thread suddenly went downhill
Great to see tons of love and understanding heaped upon the formerly hated RCA stuff. That was for the most part well deserved and up for a re-evaluation.
And now, when we get to what was known to be the second greatest era of the band up until about last Saturday, people be like 'this is too polished, sounds like Toto (!), boring and too long'. Seriously, boys. Ya kill me. I mean, the Grinch and his dislike of safe, bland, corporate rawk I can understand and even respect up to some point.
But comparing the Kinks to Steve Lukather and the Forty Porcaros is, well, MINDBLOWING. No disrespect to Toto, their fans or people feeling this way about Sleepwalker. But c'mon! It doesn't sound like "Africa" or "Hold the Line", fer fox's sake!
I don't want to (again) be all 'my favourite band could (literally this time!) beat up your favourite band' but the contrast between the way that inter member resentments manifested themselves as relatively safe low key passive
aggressive stewing in the Beatles and the way they exploded onstage in The Kinks even as they passed through their 30s and 40s is pretty striking. I recently enjoyed (like so many people on this forum) the immersive Get Back long form doc but could you imagine a similar documentary on The Kinks? I think it would likely be a harrowing psychodrama that unlike The Beatles doc, would make casual fans come away thinking less of the participants. In Get Back, John and George are outraged/amused by the report that they came to blows, but in The Kinks physical conflict seems to have been an unremarkable occupational hazard.
For whatever reason, this 1977 tour (as also documented in Ray's book Americana), seems to have been a particularity low point in Dave and Mick's fractious relations. I'm a huge Dave booster, but I've never liked his resentment of Mick, which seems to stem from him never thinking he was the right drummer for The Kinks, and siding with Ray in arguments. Both of those opinions are as may be, but I'm sorry Dave in practice Mick will always remain the definitive Kinks drummer!
Sounds like your story is ending well so there would be no fool to cry.
I don’t know where you come up with these. Cracks me up.
Separate names with a comma.