The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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


    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    Avid Rockford & Roll, is this you driving around, perhaps?:

  2. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    National Health

    Where does one file a song such as this, under Camp Avant-garde? This ode to onanism. Now, everybody’s got the right to speak his mind, so don’t shoot me for saying mine. The Kinks funniest interpretation of a bodily function since Hay Fever’s pollinated sneeze (oh ooh oh-oh indeed). At least it’s sex with someone you love, as Woody Allen quipped. Yes, I hear you say, it’s all about calisthenics or a consentual act between two people. Yes, Freud recommended both, while also espousing m.b. But only one was rumored through school halls to turn you blind. Ray is such a sly devil it works any way you wish.
    Once upon a time it was remarked that the cure for any old ailment or disease was to have a cuppa tea. Not so in these low budget times. Today we’re meant to make due with trickle-down stop-gap measures, a band-aid for society. Ray could have done a real stitch-up on the NHS had he wanted to get his hands dirty, but he keeps it lighthearted and that works well (no need to shout about it). It could have been a dark comedy, maybe a skit some of his Monty Python mates could have fleshed out. Either way, the premise itself always brings a smile.
    I love so much of this song, but it was never one I would include on a mixer for the uninitiated, this one’s not for beginners. I just can’t get my head around how they concocted this. It’s such an odd bird (those bongos) you wonder what must have been going through new recruit Rodford’s head as he plugged in. Ray’s vocal is divine. Some of Ray’s mannered vocals through the years remind me of John Waters’ smug narration in Pink Flamingos. Dave’s guitar part sounds like something Reeves Gabrels might conjure up after a long night at the Cat & Fiddle. I’d love to have heard Blur have a go at this song, and Second Hand Car Spiv, while we’re at it. An excellent, if acquired taste, of a tune.

    So, here’s one for the road:

    Father: ‘Son, if you keep doing that you’ll go blind.’
    Son: ‘Dad, I’m over here.’
  3. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Some kind of fashion.
  4. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Y'now we have something for that!
  5. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Let's be thankful Ray chose that line instead of "Day-o-day-oh!"
  6. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    No Mick recites the hokey pokey on the remix.
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  7. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    And look where you are today, alive and well!
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  8. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Forum Resident

    Well, I haven’t weighed in on Low Budget’s individual tracks yet. Because if you can’t say something nice …

    Ok, I can probably say some nice things. Attitude is attacked with good vigour. Nice stuff from Dave, and Mick returns! And yet, I don’t really want to hear it again. Catch Me has a catchy chorus and appropriâtes a riff from a more successful British Invasion band. I do find it overlong. Pressure? Don’t love the shouty/Barky/cockney chorus. But it is energetic and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. National Health just gets a wtf from me. It’s actually ok in its weirdness.

    Actually, they’re all ok. None of them are bad per se. They’re just not Waterloo Sunset. Or Days. Or ShangriLa. Or …. Maybe I’m holding them to too high a standard and am not being realistic. Maybe so. But this was a band that was once capable of those heights. And I’m disappointed they don’t seem to be even trying to approach those levels. Again, maybe I’m misguided and should just enjoy the songs on their merits. And on that level, they’re ok to me. But not special really. I don’t think any of the first four songs on Low Budget would be a top track on any of their previous albums that don’t begin with a K. Other than perhaps Soap Opera.

    So that’s it really. I don’t hate the songs. I just find it a real challenge to love them. I don’t know that I can.
  9. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Houston TX
    National Health – Everyone has pretty much covered this one, including the similarity to “Shattered.” The man who wrote “Lola” proves he can still write a singalong hook. The way Ray sings “some people say it blows your mi-i-nd” is fun. I had not previously picked up on its perfect placement after "Pressure." Ultimately, the song is - ahem - pleasurable, but would be much improved if it were shorter.
  10. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
  11. pablo fanques

    pablo fanques Somebody's Bad Handwroter

    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Mark is very skilled in that regard, yes
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  12. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Ahh thanks I didn't get that recent release!
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  13. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Fantastic Mark, I had been seriously wondering just what @Rockford & Roll drives and how?

    N.b. James Garner was a highly skilled driver and if not committed to acting could have trained to become a professional racing driver.
    This was gleaned by real F1 professionals that worked with him in 1966 on the film Grand Prix.
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  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter


    "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman"
    Single by The Kinks
    from the album Low Budget
    "Low Budget"
    Released 26 January 1979 (UK)[1]
    12 March 1979 (US)[1]
    Recorded January 1979 - June 1979, Konk Studios
    Genre Rock, disco
    Length 3:36
    5:57 (12" extended)
    Label Arista
    Songwriter(s) Ray Davies
    Producer(s) Ray Davies

    stereo mix, newer mix with synthesizer overdubs, longer LP edit (6:01), recorded Jan 1979, additional synthesizer overdubs Feb 1979 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    Woke up this morning, started to sneeze
    I had a cigarette and a cup of tea
    I looked in the mirror what did I see
    A nine stone weakling with knobbly knees
    I did my knees bend press ups touch my toes
    I had another sneeze and I blew my nose
    I looked in the mirror at my pigeon chest
    I had to put on my clothes because it made me depressed
    Surely there must be a way
    For me to change the shape I'm in
    Dissatisfied is what I am
    I want to be a better man

    Superman Superman wish I could fly like Superman
    Superman Superman I want to be like Superman
    I want to be like Superman
    Superman Superman wish I could fly like Superman

    Woke up this morning, what did I see
    A big black cloud hanging over me
    I switched on the radio and nearly dropped dead
    The news was so bad that I fell out of bed
    There was a gas strike, oil strike, lorry strike, bread strike
    Got to be a Superman to survive
    Gas bills, rent bills, tax bills, phone bills
    I'm such a wreck but I'm staying alive

    [Look in the paper, what do I see,
    Robbery, violence, insanity.]

    Hey girl we've got to get out of this place
    There's got to be something better than this
    I need you, but I hate to see you this way
    If I were Superman then we'd fly away
    I'd really like to change the world
    And save it from the mess it's in
    I'm too weak, I'm so thin
    I'd like to fly but I can't even swim

    Superman Superman I want to fly like Superman
    Superman Superman wish I could fly like Superman
    Superman Superman wish I could fly like Superman
    Superman Superman I want to be like Superman
    Superman Superman I want to fly like Superman

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

    This song works as the perfect ironic(?) closer to side one ... Bad attitude - situational collapse - overwhelmed with pressure - trying to avoid a nervous breakdown ... I wish I could fly like Superman ....
    I have never really looked at this album this way before, but as I go through, side one seems almost like a more focused and coherent linking of songs and themes than many of the concept albums Ray was told/asked(?) not to make ... So.... do we still think Ray paid too much attention to anything Clive Davis said?.... It almost seems like Ray was now experimenting with ways to make a concept album that could be sold as NOT a concept album lol ... he's a real card that Ray Davies folks. No subtlety in the latter day Kinks :) .... no none at all lol

    This track was inspired by Ray watching the movie Superman, and those of us around at the time know exactly how huge that movie was at the time.
    The movie came out in 1978, and at the time it was this state of the art, high tech movie, and of course when we watch it these days, it isn't quite as convincing, but at the time the advertising slogan "you'll believe a man can fly" pretty much summed it up.

    I love this song on so many levels.... I'm sure the apparent disco thing is going to come up, but I have never heard this as being particularly a disco song... I would agree it has some elements from disco in it ... and there is a mix called the disco mix or something, and I'll have to give it a listen again, I rarely make it that far. The original album is all I need and the extras are nice, but frankly I would have preferred the 5 songs I am yet to hear, than odd little remixes, but onward and upward ....

    In the first verse Ray is addressing a very male problem in some sense.... that whole masculinity issue. The pressure from very early on in the schoolyard days, to be able to take on all comers. for the ladies it is very often dealing with unrealistic body image issues, but from a different perspective ... and both things are somewhat, but not totally subliminal media messages that can destroy our sense of self ... and they are total BS, we are who we are for a reason, and part of life is developing an ability to deal with all the horse crap that life throws at us.

    Ray wakes up and blows his nose, has a sneeze and a fag, and sees himself in the mirror..... and Charles Atlas he ain't ...
    This is another Ray lyric that is hilarious and serious all at the same time. The self deprecating look at this, is instantly appealing because it is so much more believable, and realistic. Like the schoolyard conversation we had about everybody having hang ups about who they were, most of us have hang ups about the way we look, or our health, or our strength, or our intelligence or whatever the case may be, and often folks spend their whole lives wasted, chasing a pipe dream, or trying to overcompensate for things, instead of just allowing themselves to be themselves .....

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I have always wanted to fly without a plane, it isn't going to happen, but it would still be cool. So the idea of wanting to fly like Superman is pretty appealing straight off the bat.

    Lyrically we even open up the dialogue of side two in the second verse of the last track on side one.
    We look at the other thing we noticed when we woke up, and it wasn't just that we aren't the physical specimen of a man we would like to be, there is also this black cloud of financial uncertainty.
    Turning the radio on, we got the news, specially designed to create depression and fear, and everyone is on strike, so there's no chance of going out to earn our wages. Particularly in the UK, there were a lot of strikes, and this would get worse in the eighties.
    In the meantime though the bills keep stacking up....

    We return to the idea that it would be nice to be able to fly away from all this.

    So after being made depressed by our failure to shape up physically. Then hearing the news on the radio and being left feeling that we don't shape up financially, now we decide to read the morning paper..... something people used to do in ancient times lol
    The newspaper is just telling us that the world is full of robbery, violence and insanity .... The chance to have emotional stability, and any kind of security is non-existent.... and for all that has changed, nothing has changed.
    At this point we turn to our partner and say "hey girl, we gotta get out of this place". We figure there must be something better somewhere. That male instinct in us to be the knight in shining armour wishes we could fly away with our girl, to escape all of this psychological oppression.

    Then we get Ray with his dark sense of humour coming to the fore again. I really would like to change the world and save it from the mess it's in, but I'm so weak and thin, I wanna fly...... but I can't even swim.

    This is a great lyric, and as the psychological war against the masses continues on relentlessly, dividing and conquering the masses while they remain tied up in knots about things they can't control, and we want to fly away, but we don't have the ability to do so, except of course for the week or two a year where we go somewhere and pretend none of this is actually happening .... ahh the human race is such a bizarre experience......

    Musically we open with this dry relentless drum pattern, with no hats, and that gives it a particular sound. Over the top we get a palm muted guitar, that I think has a bit of flanger on it.
    I'm pretty sure we are looking at 16th notes here, without having the music to refer to. .... and the thing is when I think about it now. The guitar part is actually substituting for the hats... and that's why it has this robotic feel.
    Then we get this fantastic chordal riff.
    The chordal riff is two guitars that are occasionally in unison and occasionally harmonised, and it's a fantastic guitar arrangement.

    The studio version initially seems a little slow, particularly if you are used to the live version off One For The Road, but when we take into account what the song is about, it is really just about what and where it needs to be for this version.

    Ray and the boys actually made this track the way they did as a joke response to Clive Davis' request for the boys to make a club friendly song.
    Ray Davies said of this: "It was kind of a joke, taking the piss out of Clive [Davis] wanting us to do a club-friendly record."
    Dave Davies also said of the song's release, "I think that one was, not the biggest mistake, but it could've been one of the biggest mistakes we made. I remember I had quite a difficult time with Ray while we were making the record, because I didn't like the direction it was going. It was a strange time for music in general, anyway. The fact that it's funny, that it was a humorous song, saved it. I don't feel bad about that song at all, but it could have been a big mistake."

    To me the disco side of things is an illusion, brought on by the way the drums are recorded, and that 16th note guitar.... the fact of the matter is, the rest of the song is more like a sort of robotic heavy metal relative of some sort. Dave may have not liked the idea of the song, but his contributions certainly take it to a very different place.

    As I say with the slower tempo, and the intentionally, virtually lifeless, robotic drums, with the heavy rock guitar layered over it, we end up with this song that is more of a sarcastic piss-take of disco, than any kind of serious attempt to get into the clubs. This all brings me back to the point that the band, up to this point at least, haven't really done anything that Clive Davis wanted. They have somewhat hinted towards some things that Clive wanted, but they have just been doing whatever they feel like. This track is a perfect example.
    The robotic feel, due to the drums not swinging, because the hats being absent prevent that, turns this into a mockery of disco in some ways.

    Anyway, that guitar riff is great, and it drives the song along in this relentless pounding faux-disco, faux-metal track, that is lyrically hilarious, and musically ambiguous that is more making fun of everything than it is making any particular political or musical statement.

    For me this is another case of the music and lyrics fitting together perfectly. The somewhat robotic feel is a direct reflection of the robotic life of the person in question. Wake up and follow this structured pattern that always brings us to the same place of depression, that we attempt to alleviate via fantasy.

    The bass is great here, and at times has an almost spy movie type of feel about it.
    Although Mick's drums are dry and hatless, for most of the song, we still get a few nice little fills that colour it just a little.

    The little guitar fills, particularly the ones with the little delay on them, are perfect and really colour this up nicely.
    This is actually one of the more layered tracks on the album, and one of the first recorded... and it is also one of the tracks recorded at Konk.
    The band went to New York to get a more raw, live, stripped back sound, and so we get a little bit of variety. the way Ray put this one together, it still sounds like a straight rock track, and in spite of many layers of colour adding to the track, the heart of the song is still a pretty raw, straight rock kind of song and sound.

    The backing vocals here are excellent also.... in fact the whole arrangement is great.... that descending change up riff is great....
    I don't know what else to say really.... I expect we will get lots of comments about the length and the style, but frankly this is a great song, and perhaps I just won't read any posts today .....

  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter


    The single mix. I think this is the single mix.... correct me if I'm wrong on these mixes guys please

    This is sort of the first half of the song, with a fade out.

  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Disco Purrfection Version

  17. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    The Kinks do disco! What could go wrong? Fortunately nothing!! Great toe-tapping music with very funny lyrics. This is the album highlight for me, and I also enjoy the 12" version.
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  20. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  21. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    This is basically just a straightahead rock/pop song tricked out with some disco elements - I like disco so that aspect doesn't bother me in the slightest - but was it the best idea for this song? Debatable. Nonetheless this is catchy enough that it should have been a hit (it wasn't, was it?) and it's definitely the best track on the album. Funny lyrics but was Ray intent on turning into some kind of rock and roll comedian in the late 70s?
  22. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident


    Back when we were covering "Complicated Life" I commented that many of the lyrics could be sung to the verse of "Superman", and wouldn't change the meaning very much. Now we have reached the other end of that transaction...

    I've never heard a long version of this - only the 3:35 version which is on my CD, and I'm quite happy with that. It belongs in my category "songs which fade out on the second chorus". I can't say that I instantly identified this as a disco track when I first heard it - it's only in subsequent years that I saw the disco connection mentioned. For me, it feels a bit too "stiff" to be much of a disco track.

    I can't say it's one of my favourites - I think more could have been made of the tune in the chorus, but it's fine for what it is. I like the lyrics, and the way they reference the concerns raised on either side of the album. Also the sneaky Bee Gees/Saturday Night Fever reference.
  23. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    What a great picture sleeve!
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  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    It is apparently the Japanese 12" single I believe
  25. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I think it charted in the forties.... 41 if I remember rightly.
    Sort of a hit, I guess.

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