The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    This is the best rocker on the album and one of my favorites overall, along with the title track and Rock And Roll Fantasy. I really like the lyrics, Ray's vocals, and Dave's great guitar. It is nice to see the group rocking out like they had a dozen years earlier!
  2. Marry a Carrot

    Marry a Carrot Interesting blues gets a convincing reading.

    Los Angeles
    Is "A Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy" the one on The Singles Collection/The Songs of Ray Davies' Waterloo Sunset?
  3. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    Live Life

    Where to begin but the beginning. My history with Live Life is one of diminishing fortunes. Seventeen year old me loved the slashing riffs and pumped up volume. The fatuous lyrics that get on my tits now didn’t bother me then, I probably thought it was timely. Through the years, on my personal Billboard chart, this song is sinking like a gospel record in Sodom. Shouty Ray returns, you know, the guy with a wild hair growing you know where. Now I don’t mind shouty Ray (do I owe royalties to anyone for this usage?) in concert, but on record it depends on the lyric; if he’s taking the piss in a self-deprecating way like on Low Budget or State of Confusion it’s fine with me. But on screeds like this not so much. He’d be better off going down Hyde Park and setting up shop at Speaker’s Corner. Why write a song full of headline grabs and follow it with fortune cookie advice? Well, it was a seven album deal. I do recall as Brit Pop imploded Ray taking Damon Albarn to task, calling his acolyte a visitor on some of his lyrics whereas Ray and band lived them. Well, here Ray is the tourist. Ray has often said his songs offer no solutions. And as already pointed out the Kinks did not go completely unscathed by the punks. A young lad from a council estate in Pooles Park named John Lydon can attest to that. Dave can play as loud as Ray let’s him but it’s v. average playing. As Columbo would say, ‘One more thing’: I can almost never take Ray seriously when he’s worked up like that. It’s the same as when Jerry Seinfeld tries to be mad (or Larry David for that matter) and he can’t not be funny. The way they look, speak, comport themselves, it just ain’t happening.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2022
  4. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    No. That version is a mid 1990s live recording but the exact date and location are unknown. Surprisingly that remains the only officially released live recording of this song.
  5. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    They could do the time period for the first two albums together to create a bigger SDE!
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  6. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Live Life

    I'm a pretty political person, but I'm not so sure I'm into the lyrics on this one. I haven't read everyone's take on this one, but I believe someone said something along the lines that Ray is kinda throwing everything/everyone into the pot on this one. It's a big messy soup and I'm not sure where the lyrics are going. When a solution comes (LOL)...someone wake me up.

    But I do like the music a lot so I can totally overlook the little matter of lyrics. :D Dave is unleashed and is a guitar monster. Fun stuff. "oh life's a mother" followed by Dave using his guitar to mimic those words. cool.

    I'd call this a winner. I do think you gotta live life for yourself though(to a certain extent)...just all the other stuff I'm not too sure about.
  7. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
  8. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    You make a good point I had not overly considered though I like my idea for this late 70's moment in time.
    Your comment has made me think of the vocal approach throughout Street Fighting Man as Mick changes only by degree to sing the following line and even during the last 3 words sounds like he had in the agitated by design verses.
    "What can a poor boy do, 'cept to sing in a rock-roll band cos in sleepy London Town there just ain't no place for a street fighting man!"
  9. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    In early-ish 1979 we would also have solo albums from Ron Wood & Mick Taylor.
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  10. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Forum Resident

    Live Life is a corker. Yeah the lyrics are a bit trite, but I can overlook that here. Hey, I don’t claim to be consistent.
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  11. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    I don't hear shouty Ray on this song. I think it's an excellent vocal. Shouty Ray for me is when he sings with the gravel throat like he does on a song like "Attitude". He maybe makes a minor and brief appearance at the end of this song, but far from where he would take it.

    I also think the lyrics are Ray being fed up with everything that you really don't have much control over. All you can do is live your life the best that you can. Sometimes I think we all feel like the world is hopeless. It may be a silly lyric, but I don't mind it. Ray's lyrics on this album feel rushed on several songs, but maybe sometimes it's good as an artist not to over think things.

    I listened to One For The Road tonight while I was on the road. The road was rough with a lot of bumps and potholes.
  12. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Florence, SC
    Not sure if we are agreeing on this or not but we’ll get to it directly. Despite the praise One For The Road generally gets, I too experience some potholes and forks in the road that cause some road rage. Some of my comments when we get there will be on the instrumental side of things, perhaps not surprisingly on the drumming on these tours. Perhaps importantly, One For The Road is not where I got introduced to The Kinks. It was just a bit later.
  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Out Of The Wardrobe

    stereo mix, recorded 24-28 Oct, 1977 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    Has anybody here seen a chick called Dick
    He looks real burly but he's really hip
    He's six feet tall and his arms are all brown and hairy

    He married Betty Lou back in '65 when you had to be butch to survive
    But lately he's been looking at his wife with mixed emotions
    You see, he's not a common place closet queen
    He shouldn't be hidden, he should be seen
    'Cos when he puts on that dress he looks like a princess

    Well, the day he came out of the wardrobe
    Betty Lou got quite a surprise
    She didn't know whether she should get angry or not bat an eye
    She really couldn't call up her mama
    Mama would positively die
    Should she go or stay, or should she try to get a trial separation

    You see, he's not a ****** as you might suppose
    He just feels restricted in conventional clothes
    'Cos when he puts on that dress he feels like a princess

    He's not a dandy, he's only living out a fantasy
    He's not a pansy, he's only being what he wants to be
    Now his life is rearranged and he's grateful for the change
    He's out of the wardrobe and now he's got no regrets

    Betty Lou didn't know what to do at first
    But she's learning to cope at last
    She got the best of both worlds
    And she's really in a state of elation
    She says it helped their relationship
    She says a change is as good as a rest
    And their friends are finally coming 'round to their way of thinking
    She wears the trousers and smokes a pipe
    And he washes up
    She helps him wipe
    'Cos when he puts on that dress he looks like a princess

    He's out of the wardrobe and he's feeling alright
    He's out of the wardrobe and he's feeling satisfied
    Now it's farewell to the past
    The secret's out at last
    He's out of the wardrobe and now he's got no regrets

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

    From my perspective this is a really interesting song, because although it is written in a somewhat tongue in cheek manner, it is also written with great sensitivity. It somewhat straddles the line between gently poking fun, and completely understanding, or compassion or something like that... it's actually a really sweet song.

    The opening lines introduce us to the main character Richard (Dick), and he is six feet tall, quite burly, and somewhat hairy, but before we find out these things we hear that he is referred to as a chick.

    Then we go back to his history.
    He married Betty-Lou back in 65, and here is a really interesting bit to me at least, "when you had to be butch to survive" ... I remember my dad giving me a bit of a lecture as a young fellow after he overheard me hacking on some guy with a typical derogatory comment, like the one I wrote earlier, and he gave me a talk about how most of the folks that were gay when he was growing up were rather tough because they had to be, in a society that wasn't very accepting. In Liverpool back in those days, that seems a fairly reasonable assumption, because from all the info I have, it was a pretty tough part of the world anyway. I'll always appreciate my dad's level headed calm talks, I'm not sure I have ever met anyone like him, and I would love to have his temperament ...

    Then we move into the meat of the song...
    "But lately he's been looking at his wife with mixed emotions"
    Her isn't a closet queen, he wants to be seen, and then one of the main lines that probably ends up being the main hook, "'cause when he puts on that dress he looks like a princess" and to me it is sung with total sincerity, and I personally can't trace any hint of snark or snide, or even sarcasm. It comes across as a personal and sincere observation about how the guy felt when he was dressing up.

    The next section deals with Betty-Lou being taken somewhat by surprise, and being uncertain of how to react to this. Also the fact that she didn't really have anyone to talk to about it, because it is just seen as too far from the norm to be openly discussed.
    The next line may contain a word that upsets some people, but it is not used in a spiteful or aggressive way, it is a matter of fact delivery of a common term of the day, and whether that is acceptable now or not, I have no idea, but what Ray is getting at, is this guy isn't homosexual, he just likes putting on a frock and feels more comfortable in it.

    Then we get to a bridge, and we get a reference to a Klassic Kinks track
    "He's not a dandy, he's only living out a fantasy
    He's not a pansy, he's only being what he wants to be"
    Ray goes on to explain that now this has all come out into the open, Dick is living a more comfortable life .... and the fact of the matter is, whenever we are living lives that involve hiding something, as uncomfortable as it may be at first, getting rid of the hidden things actuall;y relieves a huge amount of stress.

    Then we go onto the resolution of it all, and Betty Lou is more happy with the new situation than she ever imagined, and she wears the trousers and smokes a pipe. Their friends have accepted the situation, and although it is a completely different situation to what is considered the norm, everybody has gotten used to it, and it's all cool..... and like any other type of situation, if your friends can't accept the situation, they probably weren't really your friends.

    This is a song that could well have come across as ... a bit off, but here Ray handles it with such good nature, and compassion that it barely even comes across as tongue in cheek. It essentially comes across as one of Ray's observational songs.... To me it is a beautiful piece of writing that tells its story really well, and it leaves everyone comfortable and happy and pushes all the right sympathy/empathy buttons.... obviously from my perspective.

    Musically this is wonderful too, and one of the things that make this song so well in its context, is the very human, and very unaffected vocal Ray delivers.

    We start with a slow and steady acoustic guitar with a walking bassline, and accented by a nice little piece of lead guitar.
    It comes across as almost a country/folk type track, and has a really nice circular chord progression ... I mean, there are six or seven different chords in that opening section, but it doesn't sound too much, or overwritten at all.

    We get this nice walking bass, that sort of switches up a little in the change ups... it works really well.
    The drums are steady, and just doing what they need to, managing to get some nice fills in, but not in a boisterous, attention seeking way.

    We get these really nice changes in flow, that don't spoil the song's flow overall.

    As per usual in a lot of the Kinks best songs, we have Dave adding some great backing vocals that add some really nice flavour...

    Again the mixing is great and the overall sound is one of the highlights of this album.... Is this one of the very best sounding Kinks albums? I reckon it might be.

    For me, the success of this song is in its gentle sincerity. I like the melody and the arrangement, and the lyrics, and it could have a comedic, tongue in cheek feel for many, but I just hear a pretty straight song, that tells a story that would generally be seen to be a little off the beaten path, in many ways.

    This is another great track that is 100% Kinks.

  14. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    For some reason this doesn't work for me - I wish Ray had used a word other than 'fagot', and the country guitar isn't my thing.
  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  16. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    Wow wow wow, Mark ! I was joking last Saturday. You're allowed to sleep…;)

    This is my favorite song on the album. I love (almost) everything about it. It’s one of the last returns to what could be referred to as the “Muswell sound”, a little bit countryish (and I certainly appreciate @croquetlawns consistency about that!), with a nice display of guitar tones and styles courtesy of Dave “d.o.t.c” Davies: acoustic licks, electric arpeggios, dobro flourishes etc. The acoustic tones are especially welcoming and to me, there’s always something wonderful, almost romantic, to any rock band sounding on record as they might sound at the back of the bus or in the hotel room, like on the fabulous hotel clip of Rock’n Roll Fantasy posted by @pyrrhicvictory the other day. Relaxed, spontaneous, almost like running through a just written song. It can be described as another one of Ray’s “Tom Petty” tunes. The phrasing and voice timbre of the opening verse is pretty close to Tom’s own later folkier songs, but the rhymes themselves and the almost improvised humor style is similar too, like an ancestor to a Traveling Wilburys tune. I always knew the song was funny but it never occurred to me that it could ever be thought at dismissive or even mocking. Of course, I can see how some words or turns of phrases would be seen as insensitive and distasteful nowadays, but if you put them in a 1978 state of mind, I think the song's meant as open and affectionate (myself, I've waited for the 21st century to stop absentmindedly using the french equivalent to fagot… I just didn't know better. Not proud of it, just telling it like it is :thumbsdow). Context (or dare I say kontext) is everything, isn’t it ? The “looks liiike a princeeess” hook is fantastic, and Dave’s harmony is especially beautiful. I always appreciate when he makes the effort to be more tasteful and delicate with his singing style, while still retaining his own touch to create the Davies bros. blend.. Someone (can't seem to find the post right now) said something about the difference between songs where Dave's doing the harmonies and songs in which Ray handles them himself. In this one, we get both : Ray's doing the "She didn't know whether she should get angry or not bat an eye" part, leaving the princess part to his kid brother and also the bridge, I think. By the way, this latin/cucaracha bridge is the reason I said I love “almost” everything about the song. I find this section a bit lame musically. But a bridge is two things : the bridge itself and the way it comes back to the main body of the song and about this, I have no complaints, it's very elegantly done. Also love the “aw-aw-aw” descending background vocals at the 2'45'' mark, very unusual, I don't think there's any equivalent to it in the Kinks oeuvre. At the very end of the song, while the acoustic guitar comes back to the intro, the piano seems tempted to launch into A Long Way from Home, which is probably coincidental, but always gets to me. I think the title (and song idea) is clever and nice. You get the idea right away and the story, while relying on gender cliches, is genuinely funny but also extremely tender. Just a wonderful little tune. She looks liiike a princeeeeess.
  17. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I first heard Sleepwalker and Misfits via the 1998/9 ish Velvel reissues with the bonus tracks which i bought at the same time and kinda heard both in one go, and thus I've always resented 'Out Of The Wardrobe' for being the (imo vastly inferior) song about coming out that DID get released at the time over 'On The Outside' which as I've already waxed lyrical about above as one of my favourite Ray songs ever. Maybe 'Wardrobe' wouldn't seem as wanting to me seen outwith that context, say if I'd first heard the song as released on Misfits in 1978 when no one outside the band even knew 'On The Outside' existed, but that's the way I heard it and as such the brilliance of 'Outside' casts a very unflattering light on 'Wardrobe' to me.

    Whereas 'Outside' expresses pure and genuine empathy and understanding, 'Wardrobe' tempers and qualifies it's nudges in that direction in a hesitant, bets hedging veil of smirking humour: I mean you could say 'Lola' did the same to an extent but it was wittier, and crucially, was a MUCH better pop song: 'Out Of The Wardrobe' to me sounds both musically and lyrically like a song that would be a part of a repertoire of a comedy country artist, delivered with raised eyebrows and a wide knowing grin, the emphasis on the lyrics with the music just a supporting accompaniment: which is fine as it goes, except we KNOW Ray can do much better than this with this subject matter. To me this is close to being equivalent to if The Kinks had put out 'Oobadiabboo' as their 3rd single and left 'You Really Got Me' in the can for the next 20 years until it came out as a bonus track! :hide:
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2022
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Gordon Edwards.

    Born: 26th December 1947, in Banks, Southport, Lancashire, England.
    Died: 28th February 2003, in Greenford, London, England. [suicide, aged 55]

    It seems Gordon Edwards is another tragic figure in the rock and roll world, and I won't pretend to know much about him, but here are a couple of articles that can fill in a couple of blanks for you guys at least.

    Former Kinks member is buried in an unmarked grave in the Valleys
    Gordon Edwards

    Edwards joined the Kinks after having been a member of The Electric Banana and The Pretty Things. He toured with the band on the Misfits tour, and appears on piano on the song Low Budget, from the album of the same name.
    He was sacked from the band when he failed to turn up for a flight to New York, where the band were due to record.

    Here is a list of recordings he is involved in, in various ways
    Gordon Edwards (2)

    Apparently Gordon was also in Jimmy Page's The Firm, but I assume as a touring member, as he doesn't appear to be on the recordings.

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2022
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  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I can understand this, as we often find ourselves having some odd connection to songs and albums that we hear first or what have you... I just see this as a completely different song. I actually don't really see it as being particularly tongue in cheek or poking fun.... to me it sounds pretty straight and sincere. I think in some ways the scenarios seem comedic, because we aren't generally thinking of someone's wife sitting smoking a pipe or what have you, but I think Ray keeps it all tucked in and resists the temptation of turning it into a mocking comedic thing
  20. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    When I first got into The Kinks in the mid 90s I was surprised to discover that ALL the ex members were alive at the time, as even then The Beatles, Stones, Who all had famously deceased personnel. Edwards death in 2003 always felt significant to me as being the first member of the group to pass. Sadly there have been several more since then. I didn't know it was suicide until I saw Mark's post just here. Most of what I know about Edwards comes from Dave's book where he describes him affectionately but also somewhat poignantly as a very rock and roll character who also felt he'd missed out on the excess of the 60s and was trying to compensate by living it up now he'd managed to join some name groups by the 70s. I have to say though there's almost no evidence of him recording with The Kinks, in the 78/9 live video clips Edwards is a very welcome addition to their group sound on keys, guitar and harmonies.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2022
  21. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident

    Out Of The Wardrobe

    I'm a bit confused by the message in this song.

    Ray seems to be saying that Dick isn't homosexual but likes to show a feminine side of his character. This leads him to reversing the roles with his wife which is good for her. He now participates more in household tasks and she can literally wear the trousers if she wants.

    Is this why he doesn't call his song 'Out Of The Closet' and instead invents a British equivalent which doesn't actually exist as an expression?

    Musically light with nice vocals but that's as far as it goes for me.
  22. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Ray writes an album that is, to some extent, about misfits. Writes a moving and sensitive title track. Even writes a song which attempts to present the views of a racist in an even-handed way. But when he writes a song about a cross dresser/ (possible) transsexual he can't help but pepper it with derogatory terms and lame jokes. A racist gets handled more respectfully. If Benny Hill or Ronnie Barker had written the opening lines I wouldn't have been surprised, though the rest of the song would have been funnier and they would have avoided the use of the word 'f*ggot'.

    Musically the only memorable part is the "Princess" hook. The rest of the song is just there to act as a backdrop to the shaggy dog story of the lyrics, a country music trope where the lyrics are often semi-spoken a la "Boy Named Sue".
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2022
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  23. Rockford & Roll

    Rockford & Roll Forum Resident

    Midway, KY
    Weighing in for a couple of thoughts for what it's worth. I'm really enjoying the sound of Misfits. It's punchy, rocks, is musically varied and I can hear some sounds that they will hone further on Low Budget. Lyrically, I'm not shot with a few tracks but I respect Ray for attempting some tough subjects and just having a laugh. Coincidentally, I received a nice essay this week on Black Madonnas and it came about the time of the Black Messiah discussion. I've been really impressed with the run of songs from Rock N' Roll Fantasy to Out of The Wardrobe. I had decided that I need to have a copy of Sleepwalker and now I'm adding Misfits to my list.
  24. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Using wardrobe for closet is obviously a joke, using a British term in a countryish song. Also, as it's about a cross dresser, the clothes that make him 'feel like a princess' are hidden away in a wardrobe. Also I would lay money that no-one in the UK has ever been called Betty Lou!
  25. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    The Two Ronnies beat him to it.


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