The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Endicott

    Endicott Forum Resident

    Clive Davis was right, just a bit ahead of this time. This kind of glossily-produced, melodically barren track would be a staple of top 40 radio in the mid- and late eighties.
  2. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    I was happy to read this post until you got to bash London Town. How could you ! :mad::p My favorite Wings album, and one of my top 5 (even 3) solo McCartney overall! But yeah, I hear you, it's a laid back, soft rock, yacht rock record. Personally, that's what I LOVE about it, smooth and easy, melodic and textured (except for the bland-ish faux rock of I've Had Enough), but I understand it not being to everyone's taste. Maybe that's what's (a little) off for me with Sleepwalker : it doesn't go all the way in this laid back late 70's direction. We're down to Ray's "accessible rather than middle of the road" distinction that @Luckless Pedestrian quoted yesterday. It's still a rock record, it was presented as such at the time (with a "back to basics" promotional campaign) and still is to this day, even in your post. But when they "rock out", that extra wild & scruffy spark is lacking. And the big ballads like today's one lack power and scope too, a bit like their "almost great but not quite" 1970 lost tune Anytime. This story of Clive Davis equating Brother with Bridge Over Troubled Water only underlines how far it is off that (land)mark. I still can enjoy most of the songs on the LP, but some of them are a bit hesitant in – and not 100% successful at – what they try to achieve, not abrasive enough for the heavier ones, not majestic and universal enough for the epic ballads, at least on Side 1 (unlike our leader, I think I prefer the smoother "yachter" Side 2, by the way, so stick around!!). Today's song is a case in point. 5'29'' of ultra mel(l)o(w)dic stuff with some "friends" in it (this for @Brian x's count) closing out the first side, but I think we can all agree that it's no Sitting in My Hotel.
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    At this stage, and even with tomorrow's song, the main thing I hear, in terms of negatives for the album, is generally poor mixing.

    I'm not overly sure if I prefer side 1 or 2 really.... I guess we'll/I'll find out over the next few days.
    Side one, I love the first three tracks, but I think their impact is lessened by poor mixing.
    Today's song is on the verge of being really beautiful, but oddly, It feels/sounds like Ray's heart isn't in the lyrics, they are ok, and he sings it fine, but it is missing his heart.
    I'm not really interested in commercial or not commercial, gentle or aggressive, I want to hear the artists heart, whether happy, sarcastic, angry or whatever...
    I think Brother has excellent music and melody, but based on what is coming out in today's posts, for me this is the first song on here that Ray seems to have felt obligated to do, rather than inspired to do....

    I hope that makes sense:)
  4. Rockford & Roll

    Rockford & Roll Forum Resident

    Midway, KY
    "Sleepwalker" is catchy as hell. I definitely heard this on our rock station. I really like the piano break, a great song. "Brother" starts off sounding like a John Lennon song to my ears. I dig the sort of misplaced Muscle Shoals guitar line. Not bad at all.
  5. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Glad you said that. I also get a strong Dark Side of the Moon vibe here.

    I too am confused by some specific lyrics although the overall intent is clear.

    Nice ballad, but another song I don't generally look forward to.
  6. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Indeed. I meant artistically. Bridge is a much superior song.
  7. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Cape May, NJ

    All right now get those lighters up in the air! Against all probability I freakin' love this song. It's MOR as heck, Ray pulls every 70's rock cliche out of the book (minus the female back-up vox). You could see anyone from Seger to the Carpenters doing this song but Ray takes it to places and sings in such a world weary yet hopeful voice (once again sounding a bit like Rick Danko at times-that vulnerability). I think it's up there with his best partly because he rolls up his sleeves yet probably doesn't break a sweat as he writes a universal anthem (of a type that U2 has spent decades trying to write-I think a young Paul Hewson had a copy of Sleepwalker because sonically this is the template of their anthemic big rock sound) and succeeds.

    But I digress, with Brother he smokes the competition in writing a big AOR meets MOR ballad. Of course, he never did this type of song again because he nailed it the first time.

    As for brother Dave he just flat out kicks a** on the solos at the end. Soaring yet tentative, as if he's mirroring his brothers world weariness and hope.

    Ol' Clive was right: this should've been the follow-up single to Sleepwalker. A clean shorter version fading on the solo for AM and the full album version for FM rock radio. But of course our Ray didn't agree and Brother never was released as a single.

    Side 1 closes strong and when the catchy hit single title track is the weakest link IMHO then you are off to a heckavu start to the Arista era.
  8. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Cape May, NJ
    London Town literally is yacht-rock! Paul way ahead of the curve there. I am too big of a fan of the Jimmy McCullough years though With A Little Luck is a gem and I like I've Had Enough.
  9. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Cape May, NJ
    That's interesting Mark, and most may disagree but I think he is very emotionally invested in this track. I hear a great vulnerability in his voice. He sings in a way that makes me believe the sincerity of his words.
  10. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ

    Can't say if it's the first power ballad, but the coda seems to have predicted the Prince - Purple Rain and Journey - Faithfully guitar-solo power ballad codas by several years. The coda here is excellent. And forgive me for bringing up the Beach Boys again, but I have comparison there but from a different angle than @Vangro here:

    The lushness, the synth(?) strings, the "ahhh" backing vocals, the brotherhood of love feeling, the atmosphere... musically, the soundscape here reminds me something that brother Dennis Wilson would produce in the 1972/1973 timeframe. I think soundscape is a good word for the production here. It is a wall of sound, to me. And thinking about it that way, I am also drawn to a comparison of some of the ballads that a band like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would come up with in the 2000s and 2010s. It's lush, multiple layers of sound, some deep bass chords driving things along....

    Lyrically and vocally, I think I will do a +1 to @Jasper Dailey's take here:

    That pretty much sums it up well. One thing I do really enjoy though, is how the opening verse comes back as a counter-melody to the chorus. The "relationships" and "sailing ships" is one of those lyrical hooks that I immediately glommed onto as one of the most memorable things about this song. It's so good, Ray used it thrice. I don't see this being a successful single... I think Ray made the right decision there over Powerman Clive.
  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I think he sings it beautifully, but it doesn't come across, to me, ......
    It sounds like he is singing it beautifully, and I have no doubt he believes in peace, unity and striving together for a better world and all that, but, and it could just be me, it feels..... performed, more than felt..... and I could certainly be wrong, but that's how it comes across to me.

    It may well just be the lyrics, because they don't work for me. They are unusually clumsy, unfocused and sort of vague.

    I'm finding it hard to explain, but hopefully that helps get how I feel across.
  12. Brian x

    Brian x half-animate bean

    Los Angeles
    Ugh I really wanted to comment on this song but the idea of a ground war in the wake of 5 million dead of Covid is giving me a case of the mean reds.

    Yes, *friends* are leaving. And they, like the "old world," seem so far away. Will put this in my *friends* database and analyze later.

    Used to skip, flip, and listen to the other side. Now like it more but it's hard to find an emotional in to a song about a relationship that apparently just began today. What should feel like a declaration of universal love & common humanity feels like a kind of "well everyone else is leaving and it's a sad world so I'll just latch onto the first person I meet."

    But it probably reads that way today because of this horrible war. Sometimes - rarely - but this is one of those times - music doesn't really help.
  13. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident


    All of the references to 80s power ballads isn’t helping, but that’s how I also feel about it. I’m not a fan of this song at all. I have listened to it many times over the last couple weeks, and thankfully, it hasn’t managed to worm its way into my brain yet. To compare it to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is absurd. This doesn’t have near the power of lyrics or melody. I suppose this is Ray’s worst ballad so far by a large margin. It sounds like cruise ship material. The Kinks could have opened for Stephen Bishop. Hey, at least it's better than the song "Sara" by Starship, which @DISKOJOE posted yesterday. The best part about the song is Ray singing it. In someone else's voice it would likely be much worse.

    On a positive note, I really enjoyed watching the clips of "Sleepwalker" last night.
  14. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Good point. I said I’d become hardened to it but, in all honesty, cannot remember a thing about it today. Not a note. (I’ve been writing my thoughts a day or two in advance of our discussion). This song doesn’t pass the Grey whistle test.

    OMG. Two days in a row. I’m reeling. :D
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    No time is a good time.... to think about that song :)
  16. pantofis

    pantofis Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany

    This starts a bit like The Fool On The Hill and it's quite nice, though not what I'd expect on a "rock comeback" album. I'm trying to like it and it bears similarity to similar slow-burners like "Some Mother's Son". But ultimately the unexpected chord change in "but we shouldn't feel afraid" is the only time my attention perks up.
    Also on the line "for them it's all over" it sounds like Dave.
    The voice-over like section with the soft voice also reminds me of the Arthur-era music. Actually, this isn't bad at all with the solo and chorus at the end. Little Michael Jackson would have nailed it.
  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I gotta say the deeper I go in the album the more nostalgic I get for Schoolboys In Disgrace. Not a good sign at all.
  18. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    FWIW, I never liked I’ve had Enough until I heard the live version.

    …and yes, With a Little Luck is a great one too, the only two I really remember liking off of that album.
  19. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Sorry @Fortuleo - I can’t believe I struck a nerve with my (admittedly brutal) dismissal of Wings’s next-to-last album :eek: But this is SHF after all - where there seems to be an immediate contrary view to every opinion :D. I liked With a Little Luck at the time but nothing else. In contrast I liked everything on the noisier last Wings album- Back to the Egg. Apart from some “post rock” (Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock is a good example) I prefer my rock music to be noisy. When I feel like pretending I’m on a yacht I’ll happily listen to classical music with my wife.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2022
  20. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    London Town does have “Name and Address” on it, which is a nice little slice of 50s rock n roll. I enjoy that one and wish Paul did more of that around this time.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2022
  21. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Stunning sounding song. In terms of how this song makes me feel, it sort of reminds me of Prince's "Purple Rain". A slow song that packs a punch and goes off on a long instrumental toward the end. I feel like I need to flick on my lighter and sway along. Brother sweeps you up in its majesty.

    But what exactly are the lyrics getting at...I'm not too sure. Yes, there's the basic brotherhood of mankind thing that @mark winstanley mentioned. But there's enough mentions of sailin off to sea and people leaving that it's not that generic. All I can think of is that's similar to Rosie Won't You Please Come Home...about people emigrating to another country to find a better life. And Ray is saying I'm going to stay where I am to ride things out. ?? Just a wild guess.

    So many awesome parts - the sound of the instruments coming in after lines like "Leavin' on sailin' ships for far and distant shores" is fantastic. The backing vocals are sublime. I feel like Rasa is back, almost. And of course Ray's vocals are perfect. No silly accents. Just pure feeling here. And the ending instrumental is crazy good. Go Dave go!

    This song gets better with every listen.
    I've only read Mark's take on this so far, as I didn't want my thoughts to be muddied by others. I do hope others are digging it. It's fab.
  22. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    To illustrate your point, I like everything on this album except with a little luck!
    DISKOJOE and mark winstanley like this.
  23. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Cape May, NJ
    Well stated!
  24. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Ray was the one who was sailing off to distant shores around this time, right?
  25. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Yes, Ray's fingers are crazy long. Dave's are not really similar. they appear to be "normal". I remember reading in one of the Kinks/Ray bio books that Ray's dad used to make fun of Ray's hands...that they're not manly man type hands or some crap like that and that Dave's hands were more masculine. Oh brother (see what I did there) ! Sounds like the dad had an old-fashioned way of looking at manliness which I hope most of us know by now is pretty shallow and stupid.

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