The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. LX200GPS

    LX200GPS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    I'm not going to enter this potential minefield but I just wanted to say, whilst this track is not on my Kinks Greatest playlist, I never make a point of skipping it and like the tune and the production values. Also like the remix that came out a few years back.
     
  2. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    Interesting analysis, even though I don't think these lyrics deserves so much attention. 2 things : 1) I don't think the initial disclaimer makes the song about Ray's views and excludes the character sketch angle. 2) I strongly disagree with the statement that "there's no way he doesn't understand the difference between individual racism and institutional racism". As a matter of fact, I think there's no way Ray had any notion of institutional racism at the time (and I wouldn't swear about his perception of it now). First, it was not a very common notion at the time (at least in Europe). Second, he's as individual-minded as any mind can be. Even when tackling social themes, he does it from the point of view of a singular character. He's no academical sociologist. Which means, when he's staging a "black Messiah" and the "only honky living in an all-black street", he's not making a sociological statement and he doesn't mean these situations to be considered as characteristic of a global picture. All he's interested in is human nature and condition, and that's what his statements are usually about.

    The general meaning of this song, to me, is clearly "black people can be bad too", since they're, you know, people. It's trivial, and it leaves out the whole sociological/historical picture, but then again Ray probably had no notion of it at the time. He mostly writes about human experience on the individual level. When he sees the people in grey coming, he doesn't think about the larger purpose of urban renovation; he only sees he's going to miss Rosie Rooke's bloodshot alcoholic eyes. When he talks about history, it's all about personal experiences, whether it be some son's mother's tragic loss or Anthony Eden's hat on some working guy's head. His "political" opera, Preservation, is all about characters as well.

    To reproach 1976 Ray his blindness to socio-historical forces is like criticizing a daltonian painter on his mastery of colours. He just doesn't have a clue. Not sure he does now.

    Yeah I know, I said the lyrics didn't deserve much attention and wrote a whole post about them...
     
  3. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Daltonian you say? (incidentally John D had a lucky escape not playing on the released version of this, given it had been floating about since 1976!).
    [​IMG]
     
  4. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    One question : where does this word "honky" come from ?
     
  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Love they Neighbour? Lol
     
  6. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    I'm out of my cultural/linguistic depth here...
     
  7. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Good question. Google dredges up all sorts of theories.
     
  8. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    Black Messiah

    Yeah, I'm gonna' go Thick as a Brick on this one:
    Really don't mind if I sit this one out...
     
  9. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    Google, of course !... Wikipedia has an entry about it. The thing is I never heard or read the term applied to white people, I only knew it in "honky tonk" context. So it's American. That's what I was wondering.
     
  10. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Yes, American. From mid-60s. And, per my quick googling, not honky tonk related.
     
  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    A somewhat strange English comedy, with the frumpy somewhat rascist white guy Eddie, and his somewhat smooth handsome black neighbour Bill, and their crazy relationship.
     
  12. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Ha, Mark you absolutely read my mind,
    this show sure kept it in the vernacular!
     
  13. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    The guy who played Eddie (Jack Smethurst) only passed away a couple of weeks ago, which shocked me - I had no idea he was still alive!
     
  14. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    First off, one of Ray's nieces was a product of a mixed race relationship at the time when such a thing was unheard of in mainstream society at the time of her birth. Despite this, Jackie (I think that's her name) was loved and cared for by the Davies family.

    I'm bringing this up because I don't think that Ray is a bigot. I think that Our Headmaster was right in his analysis of "Black Messiah", that the lyrics were by and by a plea for tolerance for everybody, but some of the lyrics were written rather awkwardly as to assume otherwise. The fact that the protagonist was the only white guy living on an all black street fits in with the rest of the songs on Misfits since he too is a misfit. It's too bad that "Black Messiah" is burdened with those problematic lyrics, because musically it's pretty good, especially w/the flourish of Dixieland in the middle. If only Ray had been a bit sharper in the lyrics.....
     
  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Yep, that's Jackie bottom right. Her mother Gwen (one of Ray and Dave's sisters, obv!) centre.

    Ray in typically pensive pose even as a youngster up top. Tiny Dave playing with his Meccano set bottom left!

    [​IMG]
     
  16. the real pope ondine

    the real pope ondine Forum Resident

    Location:
    usa
    The last 3 Songs:
    -Misfits (the title song). i love it from the soft opening notes, to the unabashed inspiring chorus, i see it as a song to some of the hardcore Kinks fans out, who don't really fit in. who are we really? I haven't heard it in years but it still works
    -Hay Fever. i could easily live not hearing this again, the definitive throwaway
    -Black Messiah. i like it! i don't exactly know what he's getting at (the lyrics could use another draft, seems unfinished), a story about a guy on his block giving him the evil eye then we should all get along.... the music is terrific and Ray's vocals are awesome
     
  17. Brian x

    Brian x half-animate bean

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Black Messiah

    "In man's evolution...."

    As an Asian/European half-breed (yes, Ray, I remember Education, but I forgave you that), I'd call myself semi-sensitive to the nuances of racism, and man....

    Okay, good stuff first. Lovely to hear the boozy horns again. Could be straight out of Showbiz. Very catchy, bouncy tune, not a *novelty* song (here's the distinction I've been working out: Hay Fever is pretty much only about Hay Fever, like Skin and Bones is pretty much only about dieting ['novelty' songs], but Jack the Idiot Dunce is about underestimating the underdog, and Ducks on the Wall is about the petty infuriating matters of taste that can wreck a relationship ["silly" songs]).... and I don't hear "cultural appropriation" (a messed-up concept anyway) in the underlying quasi-reggae influence... it ambles along and sticks in your head and has appropriate & surprising melodic shifts & nice rough harmonies and altogether it's quite a good song.

    & okay, I can handle the accent. It goes in and out anyway and he's done it before on Apeman & probably a couple of other songs. It isn't.... as funny as he seems to think it is, but it isn't offensive.

    Then there's what for some god-awful reason is the catchiest bit of the song, that I find myself singing (and stopping myself from singing) in public places -- yesterday, for instance, at the organic supermarket: "Everybody's talking 'bout racial equality/yeah, everybody's talking about equal rights/but white's white, black's black, and that's that."

    What? I mean, Ray, what? Okay, maybe you're playing a character, the one honky on an all-black street. But you're also clearly saying "hey, this is just my opinion, don't shoot me." So -- what's your opinion? Black is black, white is white, and never the twain shall meet? What about half-breeds (okay, that wasn't fair, I said I forgave you)? Everyone may talk about equal rights, BUT (very important word there) "black's black"????

    I mean, I like this song, and it's from a long time ago, and it is doubtlessly tongue-in-cheek, on some level -- obviously Ray isn't a racist -- but when the catchy bit is running around in my head it gives me a queasy feeling. I'm not going to shoot the guy for writing the thing, it's actually up there in the upper half of Kinks songs melodically, but man, Ray, I don't know. Strange choices, all the way around. Makes me wish the song wasn't so catchy or -- better yet, as suggested -- never got recorded in the first place.

    But "everybody's got to show a little give and take," so all right, moving on. But I'd be lying if I said that I'm not moving on with a slightly uneasy stomach.
     
  18. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    The results so far: (based on my interpretation which may be faulty):
    Like: 4
    No comment/waffling/hard to decipher: 8
    Dislike: 6
    Edit: can’t wait until tomorrow!
     
  19. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Location:
    Maplewood, NJ
    Black Messiah

    First listening to this in 2022, the lyrics are a bit cringeworthy. I don't think it came from a bad place though. Musically, I do enjoy it, particularly the inclusion of the Dixieland jazz. It's a unique sound with the reggae style...

    The only other thing I'll add here is that the intro reminded me of Mr. Black's entry halfway through Money and Corruption / I Am Your Man. Is this a conscious pull? So people of the nation unite?
     
  20. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape May, NJ

    Black Messiah goes back to the Sleepwalker sessions?
     
    mark winstanley and DISKOJOE like this.
  21. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape May, NJ
    Ray was a greaser! A rocker who became one of the icons of the Mods.

    Facially, Ray looks remarkably like his mum.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2022
  22. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape May, NJ
    But wouldn't that be the characters POV? Also wouldn't that therefore be the uncomfortable and ignomious crux of that character's view. The problem is the song contains contrasting POVs without differentiation of whose voice they are in. Ray is playing two roles with the same voice which adds to the confusion IMHO. I think Ray had to go there with those lines that a stuck in your head to show just how off-base this character is. The guy is supposed to be a complete Archie Bunker-type that Ray is portraying I believe.
     
  23. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Location:
    Florence, SC
    As noted this was released as an A-side in the UK but it was also a B-side in the US (B-side of "Live Life").
    Both of these singles contain an alternate reverb drenched mix that is interesting in the fact that these lines:

    "Everybody got to show a little give and take
    Everybody got to live with a little less hate
    Everybody gotta work it out, we gotta sort it out"

    are edited out and are not in this single mix.

    This single mix is not on YouTube but it's a bonus track on the Velvel CD. The shorter videos on YouTube are not this single mix but the edited album mix that appeared on the US album. (So "Live Life" and "Black Messiah" get swapped between the sides of the UK and US original albums and in both cases the US gets shorter edits.)
     
  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Anyone know what Ray has said about this song? Someone, somewhere, at some point, must have asked him about it.
     
  25. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Just to clarify, that's not Ray's Mum in the photo, but one of his 6 older sisters, Gwen (she is Jackie's Mum though!). There are a few photos of Ray and Dave's Mum I think in Dave's autobio, but AFAIR I think facially him Dave and his sisters took more after their Dad.
     

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