The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Rock’n’Roll Fantasy: Today’s writing, led off by Mark’s marvelous essay, is, and I’m really at a loss for words, a treat to read. This is a forum thread where members are making an effort to contribute. Absolutely wonderful.

    I do recall this song playing on the radio back in the late 70s, late at night, making me feel pensive, maybe bringing on a touch of sadness. Melancholy, I think that’s the mood it sets.

    I’ve said this a number of times but I’m a sucker for these music fan songs as I see myself in the lyrics. And so this was a no-brainer for my playlist…until it actually was cut…and then made a comeback. Why was it cut? Too, and I’ll use Ray’s term, accessible! Just a smidgen too formulaic, perhaps. But it’s back on (and this decision was made before being swayed by the majority of today’s posts. I will add that I don’t see it at the Celluloid Heroes level. Nope).

    A good song. 3 for 4 for me.
     
  2. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    This is such a cool candid video of the type that there aren't many of of The Kinks. Despite this being one of their more successful later singles, they never performed it on TV or made a video for it, and it was a surprisingly infrequent visitor to their set lists considering it's anthemic potential. But I like to think of this clip, which only seems to have surfaced online in the 2010s, as the de facto promo video. The whole atmosphere suits the song, the lo res hotel room camaraderie. Mick is absent but then again he's not on the record, but note Gordon Edwards joining Dave on harmonies and on an unprecedented 3rd guitar!
     
  3. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    That said, here's an in concert live version from Paris 1978:

     
  4. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    'Cheese'. I hated that word as it was often applied to pop music in especially circa the 90s, meant to signify that something was corny, overblown, pompous, lame whatever. Good for an ironic giggle but not real serious dark artistic expression with the correct aesthetics like, I dunno, Nine Inch Nails or The Matrix. I'm so glad that whole paradigm has been exploded into irrelevance over the last generation and it seems (from my 41 year old Gen X/Millenial cusp perspective) that young uns today (though they definitely have their own set of issues) are much more likely to take something at it's intended face value rather than belabour it with a bunch of ironic baggage and disclaimers like my stupid generation was wont to. I think life's too hard these days to have the privilege of indulging in that kind of stylised distance.

    That said, this song, and IN PARTICULAR that second chorus around the 3.30 mark with the synth and the heavenly backing vocals coming in, can't help but get my generationally built in 'cheese' (puke) sense a-tingling. it's so overblown, especially as it lands on the on-the-surface banal rhyme 'Dan is a Fan'. Didn't these guys used to send such moments up with tastefully irreverent bathos? (see: the end of 'Top Of The Pops').. are they.. completely playing this moment straight?? But do you know what? Even when I first heard this song in 1997 with all the baggage of that epoch, it still made it over the line. Because not only does this sport a fantastic, immediately engaging and then ever building melody, but it's an AOR anthem that's intrinsically about the nature of The Kinks and thus is pure Kinks and couldn't be anyone else: something I feel was missing from much of Sleepwalker.

    Final point I couldn't fit into that paragraph above: when Dave's vocals join in the bridge, it's a spine tingling magic moment, form and content coming together perfectly. Interesting that this song occurs pretty much slap bang in the middle of Ray and Dave's 35 year active creative partnership: they did indeed 'still have a way to go'!!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
  5. The late man

    The late man Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    Thanks a lot to our Headmaster for putting me back in the mood I was in when discovering this song. I had started to drift away from it and your write-up brought back the original emotion.

    I first heard this song around 1990, I must have been around 19 and I was "Dan the fan" all over. Spending hours in this weird alternate living room, or more accurately reception room, that we used to call the "garage" because such had been its function before my parents bought the house. There was this long and low white 70s wooden table that I was circling around while listening to music. If anyone was at home, I warned them that "now I'm going to circle in the garage". I looked every bit like the typical gentle, discrete, freaky boy that every neighbour is so surprised to discover he's today's front page terrorist.

    This song was kind of dedicated to me. I didn't have to go through the lyrics this morning when reading Mark's introduction, as I usually do : they're engraved in my mind. I have bellowed them many times on the piano or guitar, making sure that absolutely no-one could hear me. The fact that it seems to go through contradictory feelings is not a problem (Mark is efficiently reconciling these, but I don't even need this).

    It's weird because this song has very little to seduce me. The sound is late seventies, the chord progression is pretty simple and debatable (more on it later), and the story is a little over the top in self-referential Rock'n'roll mythology. In a way, this is a song that thrills me when I'm inside of it, but it seems a little ridiculous when watched from the outside, if this makes any sense. Think of John Lennon's "God" if you want to see what I mean.

    On the chords : actually the simple bits are those I prefer, musically. vi I vi I alternations work great on me. And the C Bb Dm of the chorus is very efficient too. The debatable part is the intermediate part, between verse and chorus, where the chords are simply going up the scale, from F to F (skipping E), with minor or major chords anchored on the roots. It's kind of a lazy device that doesn't give an impression of a solid construction. But in the end it works, thanks to the arrangement, as stressed by Mark.

    So I guess this is a case of a song I really want to love and end up effectively loving, in spite of all its imperfections. I think what gets me is the theme itself, the end of the seventies, the nostalgia, the "long live rock" mythology, together with the reminiscence of being thirty, when we see ourselves so old while we're actually so young, and we're bravely defying time and age with the guarantee of winning our bets for quite long years yet...

    This is, definitely, closer material. It should have ended the album.
     
  6. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Rock And Roll Fantasy

    For me this is more akin to a relationship than a song, a relationship with self though it also comes (if I peer across wide enough) with Ray Davies firmly ensconced in a sidecar.

    About 3 decades ago an old American friend 20 years my senior gave me 3 Arista Kinks Singles including this one.
    My first thought prior to playing it was that the combination of the title plus it being late 1970's was that it had to be a big considered commercial single that was very possibly either forced, shallow, embarrassing or all of the above!

    I was wrong, it was an emotive song but I was yet to grasp it's full majesty which came a several years later when I bought the Kinks 2CD The Singles Collection/ The Songs Of Ray Davies Waterloo Sunset, which contained a previously unreleased live version.

    To me this version is even more emotive and the brothers shine yet brighter still but of course their is plenty of magic in the studio version too.

    The brothers Davies sound fully committed, engaged and looking down the same telescope as when they recorded Lola!
    Last year Dave may have been accused by some of sounding somewhat sterile or like a session player at times but here everything he plays fits and sounds necessary for Ray's jigsaw.
    Dave plays plenty of slow individual notes that punctuate and colour the music that helps it build, curve and arc and nearer the end plays flash solo phrases and lines that perfectly enhance the song and only secondarily do you notice what great playing and what great lines they are.

    Until tonight I didn't really know the band were falling apart and Dave about to walk the plank and assumed near all the verses were largely about fans so it's no surprise the actual first 2 verses though resonant for me were not those that reverberated loudest!

    Slowly I allowed the truth to dawn on me that I not only had been but was Dan and the more I allowed myself to listen and admit to these realizations the more personally confronting it actually became!

    Timed loosely, from some time in my mid teens until near to fifty, rock "n" roll (and most explicitly the Rolling Stones) was my oh so good feeling unreal reality, my moral compass, way of life & escapism from a scary world where I could try to indefinitely put of facing others and more importantly myself!

    Music was constant day and night and studied to the nth degree as I listened and tried to place myself in the cultural time and headspace of the band given any recording session whereby it seemed only oxygen, shelter and food seemed more important as I kept people off of my cloud.

    But at some point you spot yourself in the mirror (thanks Ray) and realise you are not addressing pain and growth and clearly lacking some self belief and self worth and having fear to change the status quo.

    I still turn the stereo way up high, as ever keenly attuned to the music but with more awareness of other important parts of life and understanding and acceptance of self, as after all it's only a rock "n" roll fantasy!
     
  7. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Add on thoughts: the “hello” lyric brings to mind Todd Rundgren for obvious reasons. And the general flow of the song seems rather Carpenter-ish.
     
  8. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    What the world thought was not important, your journey was!
     
  9. Jasper Dailey

    Jasper Dailey Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southeast US
    I guess I should briefly talk about BM before today's song -- I think the discussion here was already aplenty for that one, but count me among the ones who find that to be a minor guilty pleasure. Yes, Ray does Randy without being Randy (though Randy would certainly appreciate the Dixieland horns!) and misses the mark in terms of the lyric... but sometimes Randy missed the mark too!

    It's assuredly a very slight observation, but I always try and listen for when Ray is harmonizing with Dave versus Ray harmonizing with himself. The Ray/Dave blend is almost universally beloved, so it's interesting to see the cases where it's not used. Sometimes it's on very personal/tender songs where Dave's voice wouldn't necessarily be a fit. Or sometimes it's probably because of who is in the studio at the time. Or maybe Dave made the choice to not sing on certain songs that didn't resonate with him? That's my guess for Black Messiah. Anyway, I'm glad it exists because I think it's an earworm, but it really shouldn't have been a single (even in the 70s).

    Now, to the more fun part, Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy! I love this one with almost no caveats. It was one of my first introductions into 70s Kinks, and I think it's got all the ingredients of a stone cold Kinks Klassic. I don't have a lot to add, just a couple things:

    None of us can find the link on YT but I actually prefer the single edit. The single edit omits the second verse IIRC ("Hello Me, Hello You..."). Yes, I like the twin structure of verse 1 and verse 2, but with that verse retained fully intact, the song just ever so slightly overstays its welcome, in my humble opinion. All the parts are good, there's just a little too much of a good thing, I think.

    My absolute favorite part of the song is the Beach Boys homage over "Dan is a fan" (I agree with the observation that that lyric is incredibly trite, but it doesn't spoil the majesty for me). Like Fortuleo mentioned, the Kinks do this more than you'd expect for a band with one great singer, one "characterful" singer (who became a great singer later in life but was not quite there here) and then a bunch of assorted folks who don't sing much at all. It's just doesn't feel intuitive for the Kinks to pull together such a rich, full vocal sound, but they do it and it works phenomenally well. Well spotted on the Waterloo Sunset reference with the chunking guitar, I never caught that!

    Finally, I have to highlight the last set of refrain (after the Beach Boys section) where Dave goes way over top of the whole vocal stack and hits that phenomenal D (...I think) on "don't wanna spend my life...". There is nothing more sublime to me than slightly changing up the backing vocal at the tail end of a song (...yes, I know that's very specific...), and Dave nails it here (at least, I assume it's Dave! I think Ray could hit that note but it sounds more like Dave). For another example, if you're not sure of what I mean, you may recall the Hollies song Carrie Anne, where Graham Nash does a similar sort of thing in the penultimate or ultimate (can't remember which) "Heyyyyyyy Carrie Anne" and sings a slightly different melodic phrase, spicing up an outro that could otherwise feel repetitive.
     
  10. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Seen it before magic stuff but who is the 3rd guitarist?
     
  11. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Gordon Edwards, who was The Kinks keyboardist from mid 1978 to mid 1979, but seen moonlighting on guitar here.
     
  12. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Location:
    Florence, SC
    No alternate single mix was ever issued, just an edit of the album mix. This is on the Velvel CD as a bonus track.

    It's interesting they bothered to remix both "Black Messiah" and "Live Life" (US only) for singles but not "A Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy".
     
  13. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks I had already posted prior to spotting you mention it up thread.
     
    mark winstanley and DISKOJOE like this.
  14. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Is the fantastic live version from The Songs Of Ray Davies Waterloo Sunset on YouTube so it can be posted?
     
  15. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Doesn't look like it as far as I can see :(
     
  16. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Miami Beach FL
    Greeting from SoCal my fellow Avids. Its early here, but never too early to discuss the kinks!

    Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy:

    This one is right up there with Misfits as a beautiful piece of art in my mind. I have always been a big fan of songs about fans of music, because I am one. I hear myself in this song, just like I do when I listen to Misfits.

    “when he feels down, he puts some rock n roll on
    and it makes it makes him feel alright,
    and when he feels the world is closing in
    he turns the stereo way up high”

    That’s me! ...and clearly thats all of us here on this thread.

    Great melodies throughout. I love the way the organ eases you in and then the bass, with just the touch of guitar. It builds nicely, with the second verse letting Dave throw some licks in and what a great chorus. Nice solo too, short and to the point with some new (to the song) riffing from Dave coming in from behind.

    In our pregame talk about the album, it seemed like my fellow Avids were throwing shade at this one. I thought, well, that’s just serving up some serious haterade, which I didn’t understand. To me, I hear nothing but Classic Kinks. I am glad that upon reviewing others entries thus far this a.m., its been largely love and appreciation.

    As others have noted, this was, for me, and probably for many of us that came of (teen)age in the late 70s, and thus probably born in the mid 60s, the song that lead us into the Kinks. As a fan of the kinks big songs from the 60s already (thanks again, Granny), and further, as a fan who had heard none of the RCA era (thus making them conspicuous by their absence from the radio, where at that time most music was discovered), suddenly here was a new song by the Kinks being played on the radio. A Kinks song I could call my own, of my generation, one that my parents didn't know. It was the gateway back in and I loved it for that reason too. ...but mainly I just loved it because it was a great song!
     
  17. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    First off, I salute my fellow Avids on our discussion of the previous song, which I hope is mercifully ended. It wasn't as bad as I (& others) feared as it would end up being. It was a generally frank & honest discussion, which was great.

    After that, now back to the music and what a song to come back to, "Rock and Roll Fantasy", a mediation on the death of Elvis, the possible death of the Kinks and the nature of Rock and Roll fandom. It did well enough on the US single charts for Casey Kasem to welcome the Kinks back to American Top 40 after a nearly eight year absence, which was a bit of a miracle since 1978 was the year of the Brothers Gibb, Disco and Grease.

    "Rock and Roll Fantasy" is a lovely ballad partially about the death of Elvis, one of the first major media coverage of a death of a celebrity. It was the first inklings of the fact that the world that the Baby Boomers made was finite, something that has been repeated w/depressing regularity to this day. It's also about the possible demise of the Kinks, who had been shedding long term members Dalton & Gosling and whose long term drummer Mick Avory didn't participate in the recording of Misfits. What was probably disconcerting for Ray was all this was happening just as the Kinks were on the verge of commercial success at least here in the States. Finally, it's about all the "Dan the Fans", all of us, from those who first saw the Kinks on Shindig or Saturday Night Live, or on YouTube, whose first Kinks record was in 1964 or who just downloaded something last week and those who first saw them in 1969, 1975, 1981, or 1993 and those who dearly wish that they could have seen them. The thing that binds all of us together is the fact that the artistry of Ray Davies and the Kinks is an entertaining and understanding balm to turn to in a world that seems cruel and absurd. "Rock and Roll Fantasy" is about all of that and is one of their best 70s songs.
     
  18. kw21925

    kw21925 Lieutenant-Corporal; Gazpacho Police

    Rock And Roll Fantasy
    I have three favorite Kinks songs - Waterloo Sunset, Victoria, and this one. Strangely, I don't own a copy of it, and had conveniently forgotten the song altogether. I say conveniently because it hits so close to home. I was another "Dan The Fan" type in my younger years. This thread brought this song back to me, and it still hits close to home, but hearing it now, with so many years behind me, it brings a smile to my face.

    Everything about the song is outstanding; the arrangement, the production, the music, the vocals, it's perfect.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
  19. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    Avid Markelis, last week you were enduring the wet NYC weather, now you're in Southern California. Are you participating in some sort of Amazing Race reality telly thingie?
     
  20. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    “Rock n Roll Fantasy”

    I figured I would be out on my own today. I know it’s generally regarded as a Kinks classic, but I have never been smitten by it. It’s back in the soft rock mode of many of the Sleepwalker tunes I didn’t care for. Something about it reminds me of REO Speedwagon or at least I think it would appeal to the same fans.

    I like the lyric and the little tribute to Elvis, but the music fails to excite me. I may have more to say once I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and have a cuppa tea. I will read back through some of the excellent posts and give it another spin.

    As of now, it has no chance in making any playlist. There is only one song on the album that I like less. I will even take yesterday’s “Black Messiah” over today’s “Rock n Roll Fantasy”.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
  21. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    What an emotional rollercoaster a journey with the Kinks is.
     
  22. ThereOnceWasANote

    ThereOnceWasANote Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape May, NJ
    Something is not adding up here. The Kinks recently sign a deal with Arista and are coming off their most successful album and single in years yet everyone wants to jump ship? Was it because Ray was such a hard taskmaster or maybe didn't want to pay the bandmembers their worth? Perhaps they felt Ray had sold out the artistic vision of the band on Sleepwalker?

    A rock n roll road dog like Dave Davies ( Mr. Rock N Roll Cities himself) wanting to quit touring?

    Anyone have insight into what was really going on in Kink-land aside from Ray's lamentation and romanticization of the time (come on let's keep this going, think of the fans!) in a mawkish and sentimental way on Rock N Roll Fantasy and to a lesser extent in Misfits?

    Speaking of the title track according to Ray both Mick and Gosling were present for that. So what happened to sour the milk after that?

    Were those Christmas '77 shows supposed to farewell ones too?

    You would think the group and its members would be riding high after this renewed success. Even if they weren't thrilled with Sleepwalker they could always remedy that with the next record. Fear of success perhaps playing a role here?

    There is some puzzle pieces missing here that both Rock N Roll Fantasy and Misfits does not address.

    My thoughts would be the problems revolved around money, song credits, and the Mick/Dave dynamic. Maybe Mick gave Ray a him or me ultimatum and Ray of course chose his brother.

    From Quaife's departure in 1969 through 1976 as the bands sales and recognition (fairly or unfairly) dwindled no band members left. Yet it became a turnstile of band members from Sleepwalker sessions through Misfits tour.

    They finally have a label that will promote and believe in the band yet band members are quitting and they almost break up.

    What was really going on?
     
  23. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Miami Beach FL
    I wish, that would be a lot more exciting than my life. I run my own law firm with a primary focus on working with public companies or taking companies public through IPO or other processes. I have a bunch of technically proficient lawyers that get the work done and I am the rainmaker, bringing in the business via a lot of boozing and schmoozing. New York was a lot of one on one meetings with investment banks with an eye towards capturing their business or getting referrals from them.

    Right now I’m at a conference held every year in Dana Point at the Ritz Carlton looking out over the ocean, put on by an investment bank called Roth Capital. Generally it’s about 10,000 people over the course of three days , although the turn-out is smaller this year since it’s the first one since the pandemic started and I suspect a lot of people don’t want to attend due to Covid. Truthfully, pretty mind numbing stuff. I hope I didn’t just put you all to sleep!

    That said, this conference is pretty fun because the guy who runs Roth, Byron Roth, is a big fan of rock, as well as rap and country. He traditionally has one or two musical acts at night which are either artists that are up-and-coming (he’s done extremely well catching new acts right before they blow up) or much beloved rock bands that are just slightly past their prime. Over the past 15 years, I have seen The Cult, Cheap Trick, Billy Idol , Ludacris, 50 Cent, Florida Georgia Line, Blink-182, among others. This year they had All American Rejects, who I was not too familiar with, but my daughter and my fiancé both like them a lot. It turned out they were pretty darn good with a very charismatic lead singer.

    I gotta tell ya, seeing 10,000 investment bankers, auditors and lawyers in suits and their (more often than not) young, second wives in cocktail dresses, all two+ drinks in, pogoing up and down to the likes of Billy Idol (with a rebel yell, she cried more, more more), Luda or Blink-182 really is a sight to see!

    PS yes i always wiggle my way upfront. high fives with Billy Idol, Steve Stevens and 50cent were key. ..and i seldom wear a suit. i am known as the lawyer that wears jeans (wasn't there a curb your enthusiasm about that?).
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    All that has been in the back of my mind since going through this song last Thursday.... it is really weird.
     
  25. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    You’re not completely on your own as I felt similar before waffling one more time towards the positive. Playlist-wise, in my process, the song gets thrown onto The List and then has to stand up to shuffle mode. Does it still make the grade when matched against the cream of the crop? We’ll see. (I recently listened to my Drive-by Truckers playlist and promptly whittled two tracks. Threw them aside. The ruthlessness of a Dan the Fan! :D )
     

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