The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    I agree. The Bolan boogie is back on this song. Sadly, 1977 was the last year that Marc Bolan and T.Rex would release an album. It's amazing that he was only 29 years old! He went out on a decent note with Dandy In the Underworld. I'd like to think he was on the verge of making a comeback, even though he never went away. He was starting to follow the punk crowd. He was a known fan of The Ramones and even toured with The Damned in 1977. A tragic loss to rock n roll. I like all of his albums in the 70s, but many unfortunately considered him washed up.
     
  2. pablo fanques

    pablo fanques Somebody's Bad Handwroter

    Location:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Glenn Kotche was a guest at a wedding I DJed some years back. He had the first iPhone I'd ever seen. I charged it for him haha. Very down to Earth dude. Enjoy the shows!
     
  3. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Artificial Light

    This thread has shown much great fandom, wide appreciation and elongated fanciful stretches interpretating Ray's work both cryptic and otherwise......

    A promising nightclub meeting is somewhat artificial so you must Act Nice And Gentle (eg: 0:48-0:52) as one can rush and have a sudden Wonderboy even if they Don't Even Know Their Names!
    This Mindless Child Of Motherhood may hasten seperation resulting in Father (Christmas) calls to Memphis Tennessee in order to Chuckle Merry with Some Mother's Son!
    Eventually a Full Moon, Sleepwalker is reduced to an Art Lover which may be his Destroyer!
     
  4. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    What did Ray say on film circa 1965; "Right now as you look at me i might just playing a part and I don't know what I am doing!"
    What was the exact text?
     
  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Prince Of The Punks.

    stereo mix, recorded 12-16 Jul, 1976 with possible overdubs Oct 1977 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    A well known groover, rock 'n' roll user,
    Wanted to be a star.
    But he failed the blues, and he's back to loser,
    Playing folk in a country bar.

    Reggae music didn't seem to satisfy his needs.
    He couldn't handle modern jazz,
    'Cause they play it in difficult keys.
    But now he's found a music he can call his own,
    Some people call it junk, but he don't care,
    He's found a home.

    He's the prince of the punks and he's finally made it,
    Thinks he looks cool but his act is dated.
    He acts working class but it's all bologna,
    He's really middle class and he's just a phony.
    He acts tough but it's just a front,
    He's the prince of the punks.

    He's the prince of the punks and he's finally made it,
    Thinks he looks cool but his act is dated.

    He tried to be gay, but it didn't pay,
    So he bought a motorbike instead.
    He failed at funk, so he became a punk,
    'Cause he thought he'd make a little more bread.

    He's been through all of the changes,
    From rock opera to Mantovani.
    Now he wears a swastika band
    And leather boots up past his knees.

    He's much too old for twenty-eight,
    But he thinks he's seventeen,
    He thinks he's a stud,
    But I think he looks more like a queen.

    He's the prince of the punks and he's finally made it,
    Thinks he looks cool but his act is dated.
    He talks like a Cockney but it's all bologna,
    He's really middle class and he's just a phony.
    He acts tough but it's just a front.

    He's the prince of the punks and he's finally made it,
    Thinks he looks cool but his act is dated.
    He acts working class but it's all bologna,
    He's really middle class and he's just a phony.
    He acts tough but it's just a front,

    He's the prince of the punks and he's finally made it,
    Thinks he looks cool but his act is dated.
    He acts working class but it's all bologna,
    He's really middle class and he's just a phony.
    He acts tough but it's just a front,
    He's the prince of the punks.

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

    The first thing I'll say about this track is that I think it failed to make the album because I think Ray had yet to finalise the arrangement. When we get to One For The Road the arrangement is fully realised and I think that arrangement would have been a dead set cert to be on the Sleepwalker album.

    This track ended up being the b-side of Father Christmas at the end of 1977.

    We touched on this back when we looked at Mr Big Man, where perhaps I incorrectly associated that song with Tom Robinson (2468 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay, War Baby)
    This song is quite famously about Tom.... and as previously stated Ray saw Tom playing in Cafe Society and apparently they became friends, Ray went on to produce Cafe Society's debut album, Tom left formed the Tom Robinson Band.... and somewhere in there, there was obviously an issue. Tom struck back at Ray with Don't Take No For An Answer.

    Ray sets up the narrative by running through a series of genre's that apparently Tom tried, and Ray says he failed at ... and then Ray somewhat sets it up in a way to suggest that Tom found a music he can call his own, essentially looking at the punk scene, and the subtle inference is that it is very basic simple music that suits Tom down to the ground.
    Look, the first I heard of Tom was the song War Baby, linked above, and it's ok, but he never really grabbed my attention. Aside from Glad To Be Gay, which Robinson played at the Secret Policeman's Ball, I had never heard the other tracks, and a quick listen suggests I'm not missing much.

    In reality this is just a straight put down song, and as we spoke about earlier, something must have happened beyond what we know, because it's really quite savage. I'm not sure it's as embarrassing as How Do You Sleep?, but really it is somewhat below Ray to have gone so vicious about it.
    I actually love the song on One For The Road, it is just a rip roaring rock song that's a lot of fun, but the subject matter is possibly just a bit too vitriolic to be taken too seriously.... as far as I can tell.

    Musically we open with a nice dirty guitar chunking along and a clean guitar stabbing the chords out.
    The sound is quite raw, and it has a somewhat live in the studio kind of sound.

    Before the vocal we get what I assume is a synth playing the melody line that is sung as backing vocals in the live version, and the backing vocals version works much better.

    The chord structure is great, and Ray really seems to have been inspired when he put this together.
    We have the chordal riff, but we also get a stack of chord changes that flow beautifully, we get modulations in key that resolve back to the original key.

    We also get Ray using just about all his character voices in this. We have some straight singing, some semi-talking, some accentuated Cockney, some cutesy affected vocals, some shouty Ray, and I get the impression that some folks that like Ray in character mode will likely enjoy this vocal ...... and to be honest, aside from the fact that we have a person to pin this song on, I think Ray was just doing another of his over the top character studies.

    The song bangs along at a good clip, and the bass here is quite a highlight of the song.

    There's an awful lot going on in this song, and I reckon a transcription would probably take quite a while, particularly with me being so out of practice.

    Anyway, I reckon this is a really great song, but I'm not sure that the lyric has aged really well in someways.

     
  6. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    How can you accommodate the 1966-'71 period in 1 hour?
     
  7. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Lyrically this song is pretty embarrassing, it's mean-spirited and quite unpleasant. Musically I really hope Ray didn't think this is what punk rock sounds like because that would be doubly embarrassing!
     
  8. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "Prince Of The Punks" is a curiosity in the Kinks Kanon if you ask me. On the one hand, it is a very timely song that comments on the then current music scene in England through a character - the Prince of the Punks. But it also seems rather reactionary. It is not like Ray doesn't have a point here - plenty of musicians adopted the new style because it was the new trend and they also adopted the persona and came off as poseurs (certainly in Ray's eyes). Punk revved everyone up - Elvis Costello was no punk but a Costello/Attractions show in 1977 was made up of a fast-paced main set (15 songs played one after the other at breakneck speed) and was delivered with plenty of attitude. Even the Stones absorbed punk ("When The Whip Comes Down", "Lies" and "Respectable" - a single in England rather than "Beast Of Burden" - were all faster paced than the typical Stones rockers earlier in the decade). Tom Robinson was no punk. "1-2-3-4 Motorway" is a pretty poppy single and would not disturb anyone. Tom Robinson was born middle class in the beautiful old town of Cambridge so he certainly was not working class. If Tom is the basis of the title character, then there is some truth to the portrait drawn. However, Ray comes across as being just a little cranky about the new musical trend. (Funny story - I guess Ray was interested in Tom Robinson as a potential protege and there was talk of Ray producing him but this fizzled and to show his dismay, Robinson sang "Tired Of Waiting For You" when Ray showed up at a Robinson gig).
     
  9. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    There's one band you missed out there who 'punked up' their act in response to punk/new wave - the Kinks.
     
  10. Ex-Fed

    Ex-Fed Not Fed Ex

    Location:
    New York State
    I've always liked liked the Tom Robinson Band's Power in the Darkness, though it never inspired me to listen to anything else by them. The album displays unmistakable Kinks influence, particularly in its theme of class struggle, though TRB rocks harder and is more strident lyrically.

    For me, the "Father Christmas" / "Prince of the Punks" single was an unalloyed triumph. The Kinks were back in business.
     
  11. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    I've fallen behind, and I may or may not catch up. But I'm just popping in to mention that the "Prince of the Punks" chorus reminded me of Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music" with Beach Boys-type vocals. The Beach Boys' single of said song was released in May 1976 (and made the US Top 10), and this was recorded in July. It makes me wonder if it could have been an influence...

    EDIT: Perhaps Ray reverted to 50s/60s pastiche to drive home how the "act is dated."
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2022
  12. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    The return of the horns!! On a punk song?? Well, it’s not a punk song, that’s why. Not remotely so. I kinda enjoy the lyrics. Yes, they're nasty and unpleasant if you pinpoint who they're addressed to, but quite funny when you go beyond that pettiness (but not Tom Pettyness this time !). I never heard of Tom Robinson before Mr Big Man was discussed here, so I always heard this song as a general put down of all "phonies" and fake rebels. And I could relate to that, as I’ve always found authenticity was the real dividing line between posture/imposture and genuine pop, whatever the style or genre. From what I've just youtubed, the track is indeed quite close to the Tom Robinson post-glam stuff it supposedly takes the piss out of. And, no, that is not a musical compliment! But I hear some amusing Townshend nods in the decorative riffs, a convincing one-bar Brian May impersonation by Dave after the word “queen”, and some fabulous Ray Davies delivery treats (indeed, @Mark!), making the lyrics sound better than they read on paper. But my favorite thing is the Beach Boys/Chuck Berry chorus, also foreshadowing Plastic Bertrand’s annoyingly ubiquitous 1978 single Ça Plane pour moi. On this chorus, Ray comes back to his Idiot Dunce Mike Love voice (this BB connection will be made more apparent on the live cut). Whenever Ray chooses to do that, it's always on mean spirited songs and always hilarious. It's as he already knew Mike Love would go down as the villain in later Beach Boys History books!
    (edit : @Smiler, ah!)
     
  13. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    I've always thought with Prince Of The Punks that the lady doth protest a bit too much (If I'm mangling that Shakespearean allusion correctly)... at least half the lines could refer to Ray himself, especially in a year or two hence when he fully embraced a newave style and stage persona in his mid 30s: I wonder if the lyrics just as much reflected his own insecurity as he considered whether to go all in with the wave of the future or not circa 1976/7. The song is so otherwise so ludicrously over the top in it's take down of such an innocuous figure (I don't know that much about Tom Robinson so correct me if this thumbnail sketch is lacking anything, but my impression his he's a fairly well liked and easy going right on figure who ultimately ended up as an disarmingly avuncular radio personality) that it's hard to take seriously as a cathartic attack and seems to say more about the guy who wrote it than the subject.
     
  14. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Prince of the Punks"

    OK, so this is the first time I've ever heard this. First impression, with the horns back, this sounds like it belongs on one of the RCA albums as a parody/pastiche track. I'd also say that I don't think the whole lyric is aimed at Tom Robinson - just a couple of suitably-placed barbs. Really, it's just "Session Man" in reverse. Vocally, it's a signpost of some of the voices we'll hear from Ray from 1979 onwards.

    Ultimately, I think it's not very good - I don't think I'll be going out of my way to seek out the single, but maybe further listens will reveal a bit more.
     
  15. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Well, yes, no-one ever considered Tom Robinson a punk, the idea is ludicrous. He didn't look like a punk and he didn't sound like a punk. That just adds to the stupidity of the lyrics.
     
  16. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    In X-Ray, there's an interesting moment where Ray describes Mike Love walking up to him as if to say hello backstage at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965 and then backing out at the last moment. I wouldn't read that much into this incidental mention of awkward inter group relations, but I also think it's interesting he remembered it.
     
  17. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    It's here:

     
  18. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    I should mention (as I didn't know this when I originally posted it here way back when) that that earliest known Ray interview from A Whole Scene Going cuts out midway through because the original edition is missing, and only an excerpt as included on the arts show Late Night Line Up exists. You can see it in that context here, where Ray's peers Paul Jones and Spencer Davis comment on the clip, with Jones calling Ray's interview 'banal'! Jones also kinda says he outranks Davis as an authority on Ray because he'd toured with him! Very interesting really:

     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2022
  19. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Out of the blocks i hear the Faces and Thin Lizzy (Rosalie) as the band rocks along until the lyrical dressing down where it descends to sounds very popish.
    Later on we get a Beach Boys feel with harmonized backing vocals and we are left in no doubt that Ray loathes Tom and that this won't be an album cut!
     
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Whoever did the original transscript of those lyrics must’ve been unaware of the slang term ‘baloney’.
     
  21. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    ‘Tried to be gay but it didn’t pay’ is a particular crassly unfair line given Robinson’s heartfelt gay rights activism at the time, and especially jarring coming from the man who in the very same batch of outtakes would quote Robinson’s ‘Gay To Be Gay’ in one of the most gentle empathetic coming out songs ever written… but right there are the contradictory natures of Mr R.D.Davies.
     
  22. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Or liked Pasta or Italian cities!
     
  23. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Prince of the Punks: The best thing about this song is the title. At least it’s intriguing. Beyond that it’s okay until the chorus…which I don’t like at all.
     
  24. fspringer

    fspringer Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Prince of the Punks: glad it was a b-side! It doesn't sound bad, but the last thing Ray needed to do in 1977 was take a shot at punk rock. Granted, he lands numerous, accurate blows, particularly regarding middle class origins and feigned toughness. Knowing it was directed at a particular person, man, this was nasty. The one thing I liked about the song: the Beach Boys vocals towards the end! The first time I heard this was on the live album as I didn't get the "Father Christmas" single.

    Tom Robinson had a minor hit in the U.S. with "2-4-6-8 Motorway" that I remember clearly. I recall positive write-ups in Creem and actually hearing the song on AM radio. This was that strange time when people like Tom Petty were sometimes referred to as punk rock! It sounded new in some sense, it rocked, it's being presented as a "new" answer to old rock acts. Folks like the Lowe/Edmunds/Rockpile crowd, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, The Police - all fed off punk's energy, without being punks, simply because they were too old to be punks. And too talented. (My favorite punks would grow their talent in wonderful ways, like The Clash and The Jam, but sometimes the reality was certain key band members, like Mick Jones or Paul Weller, had plenty of musical talent to begin with and played it down at the start.) I love this era for that strange "is this punk/new wave/just rock" confusion a lot of us felt at the time with certain bands.

    I guess this song is a sort of continuation of the theme from "A Well Respected Man" with its target in the opposite direction. But that song was so much better.
     
  25. Martyj

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

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    That Tom Robinson inspired this number has been well-chronicled, but I see that more as a launching point in its composition rather than being the subject of where the song actually wound up. As pointed out, Robinson was sincere and open in his homosexuality, and was no punk nor did he ever claim as much (although a fair argument can be made that in a broader marketing sweep he was lumped together with punks as a reactionary against the old guard.)

    I find an interesting comparison in how Ray and Pete Townsend—two rockers born from similar cradles—addressed the subject of their ‘old guard’ being confronted with a new kind of music. Lyrically, Townsend turned introspective, questioned himself, and came up with an all time classic. Ray put up his dukes, ready to hit back with a dismissive put down. "Prince of the Punks" is an indictment-as-character-study minus the affection and wit of a Well Respected/ Dedicated/Dandy . Musically, “Who Are You” is a “Good Vibrations”—like masterpiece that fully embraced the band’s patented Wagnerian-esque approach with no apologies, almost in defiance. This Kinks b-side sounds almost like a demo, it’s sparse, half-baked production almost wanting to be part of the movement it is mocking. I agree with Mark that the live version has more meat on it. Score: Who 1, Kinks 0.
     

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