The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Martyj

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

    Maryland, USA

    At this point on the album I suppose it makes sense to slow things down pacing wise, I have several bootlegs from this era and Yo-Yo seems to be a set-list staple for this very reason. It more or less serves the same set-list function as Misfits did 1978-1980 for pacing purposes.

    But, man, do I find this song boring even with those Baba O’Riley-like chords in the middle, which I generally like. (The Late Man hears Sweet Jane. Same difference) But the song as a whole lacks focus. And it's too long. At this point GTPWTW, after a strong side one, shows signs of coming off the rails. It doesn’t quite happen, but the one-two of Destroyer and Yo-Yo is my least favorite--and least interesting--section of the album.
  2. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident


    Ah, yes, the vicissitudes of marriage. Ray has mentioned that this is another song inspired by his brother-in-law, who works for British Airways, though I suspect some of the blood on the track can be sourced from his ex, Yvonne. Ray’s getting more free miles than his in-law, who might want to consider drawing the shades. Written in 1979, this song shares a similar ‘people needing people’ sentiment as that on Catch Me Now I’m Falling. One mustn’t underestimate how very effective this song was in concert, with the extra guitar breaks. Much more direct than the studio version, which makes one wonder why such a dynamic song would be dropped from the set-list around 1984. I don’t believe it was ever trotted out again.
    Lyrically, it’s no Hearts And Bones meditation on relationships, Ray’s not in that league any longer, but there’s enough milk in the batter for me. We also get some meta insertions; people living ‘double lives’, and the ability to foresee Channel Four, who would commission Ray’s film.
    One thing that hasn’t fluctuated are my feelings for this song; thought it was above average as a tween, and the same now as a has-been.
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    For those interested... here is the Kinks US Festival set....
    I'm surprised I can't find any video. It seems like everyone else got filmed

  4. fspringer

    fspringer Forum Resident

    New York City
    Yo-Yo: What a terrible opening verse. I'm not "living a double life" because I act differently at work and home or feel wiped out after some workdays. A "double life" for most white-collar men would be slipping off to the S&M or gay bar then going home to the wife and kids. The song rebounds from that and for me feels like the song on this album that most hearkens back to that mid-60s period, of course with that harder 80s rock edge. I don't know - this works for me, one of the signature songs from the album that captures what Ray was trying to do in terms of an updated classic Kinks sound.
  5. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    In many ways you're right about this, and the double life normally translates to an affair or other insidious sideline, but I'm not completely the same person at home that I am at work.... through necessity, not choice.
  6. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Marital breakdown isn't a great topic for pop songs but if you don't listen closely to the lyrics it could easily be a song about yo-yos. And that's what I think the audience might be thinking as Ray encourages them to sing the chorus at Rockpalast. We can't complain too much about the lyrics: most of the songs on side 2 are about the negative side of relationships in one form or another. Musically, I'd like this song to do more than just chug along. I don't think it's bad, nor do I think it's especially good. Oh dear, now I'm yo-yo-ing :help:
  7. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    I cannot convey how much I love this song. I get that it may seem disjointed in some respects but I can forgive that because almost every part for me captures an aspect of life in a manner that makes me feel that RD 'gets' it. When someone is in a bad relationship, there is not necessarily cohesion in the way that their emotions come to the fore and I think the song conveys that incredibly well.

    It always amused me that people in the UK would associate "channel 4" with 'Channel 4' despite, as has been said, C4 not existing until late 1982; there again, I can imagine the "old man" zombie-like in front of the news at 7.00 o'clock, so maybe it's not so off target. Could be worse; in those days, 'Brookside' was on!

    Little things in the performance, intentional or otherwise, work for me, like the female vocals on the "yeah yeah yeah yeah" going out of tune and the (I assume deliberate) "...yi-yives" in the opening "lives/wives" couplet adding to the yo-yo theme. Also, the football terrace-like backing vocals of "Yo-yo!" at about 3.30 minutes in, loud but distant...

    The song goes back and forth (yes, like a yo-yo!), between exasperation/frustration and calmer, more reflective moods which again is just like it is in these situations. I mean, I envy anyone who has never been able to relate to these lines:

    "You needed me when you were crying
    But now that you're laughing I'm the last thing on your mind"


    "You thought you knew me real well
    But with people like me you never can tell"

    ...other views may of course vary but the basic truth of these two couplets, expressed so directly, makes them perfection for me.

    BUT! Then we get the about-turn:

    "Girl, you had me dangling like a yo-yo on a string
    But with you at the controls, I could accomplish anything..."

    ...this is the eternal truth! That person who empowers you, gives you the self-belief, makes you simultaneously immortal and utterly at their mercy, because you made yourself vulnerable.

    "First you love me, then you don't,
    I'm up and down, like a yo-yo..."

    Well, no wonder the song lurches from mood to a loss, 'where do I stand?', etc.

    I must add that the lead guitar parts are extremely empathetic, really accentuating the mood(s) of the lyrics at each stage.

    To sum it up, one of the key tracks on the album.
  8. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "Yo-Yo" - concert staple for quite a while so I always liked it as a change of pace in the show. The Kinks elevate a lot of songs when played live and this is one of them. Having said that, I never paid much attention to the lyrics so listening now, they seem a but convoluted. Certainly waiting by the phone doesn't seem like realistic yo-yo behaviour. But is that line a joke (pretty funny really)? "Art Lover" commands your attention and I always knew its lyrics but "Yo-Yo" does not have the same impact. I still like it and hearing it in concert recordings saves you from the sound of the studio recording others have noted.
  9. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Yo-Yo: I was prepared to dive right in and dismiss this song as boring…but listened again, just now as a refresher, and concede it’s a tad more interesting than my initial impression.

    I don’t like the drawn out “lives/wives” and, if I recall correctly, the “child” part.

    There is a hint of Mark Knophler/Dire Straits-type of guitar in the latter half of the song. That’s nice but I can get more of that by listening to Dire Straits!

    Lyrically, the most interesting part has already been pointed out by @Fortuleo (“with his brains not expected home for an hour or more”).

    I guess I’ll upgrade this from dislike to indifferent. So the album count: 5-1-1. Meaning that this second half is a considerable letdown in comparison to Side 1.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    "Yo Yo": If there's one lesson in life to be learned from this thread, it's that never marry a sister of Ray Davies. You may end up a subject of a whole concept album, like the poor slob who married one sister and took her to Australia or merely be the subject of one or two of his songs, like the British Airways mechanic who married another sister and is the subject of "Yo Yo". I've always put this song in the "life", erm "like" column ever since it came out. I've always thought of it being mostly about a long term relationship that has soured, one of those "familiarity breeds contempt" types of situation. I never really thought about the bipolar situation until now. This could be yet another song that could have been on Soap Opera, especially considering Norman's penchant for living a double fantasy life.
  11. Luckless Pedestrian

    Luckless Pedestrian Forum Resident

    New Hampshire, USA
    There's an expression I remember hearing once: "office angel, house devil". There was a kid in my town growing up whose father we were all terrified of. Always silent, brooding, never a hint of a smile, just a mean guy, no one ever wanted to go over to his house because of this. This poor kid also had a minor physical deformity and there were rumors that it was caused by his father, no idea if true. Anyway, about a decade later, out of college I get my first white-collar job in a large corporation, and by coincidence I'm in the same division as this kid's father. When we first cross paths, to my shock he greets me with this big smile and hearty hello - and from then on every time I see him in the office he's outgoing and cheerful, joking and talking with all his colleagues, etc; it was the strangest thing to witness this after fearing him as a kid all those years. So this guy was definitely the office angel-house devil personified!
  12. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Yo Yo

    Another plodder... that I love.
    The switch from observational to first person isn't good for thematic coherence, but I get the gist so it doesn't throw me too badly.
  13. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    Yo Yo
    Another one I didn't remember a whole lot about, but it came back to me pretty quickly as I started listening to it. This is one that smacks"album track/filler" all the way. It is a competent Ray Davies composition. Nothing that really stands out, but not bad either.
  14. donstemple

    donstemple Member of the Club

    Maplewood, NJ
    Like every other song on this album (save parts of Destroyer), I hadn't heard any of these songs prior to a couple weeks ago. Yo-Yo started off being rather forgettable on first listen or two... but going through the album several more times and I paid more attention to the lyrics and the dynamic shifts, and now it is one of my favorites on the album. I love it. It's the perfect "great album track". That live version linked is even better though, as Dave's lead guitar lines in the chorus (or is that the pre-chorus?) really take it to another level and you can just tell that Dave is "in the zone" on those lead licks.

    This reminds me of the kinds of character songs Ray wrote in the mid-60s. It's an updated Situation Vacant or Two Sisters or Waterloo Sunset type story-telling, getting pretty personal and close at times. It starts zoomed out with "there are many different people living double lives" (and I love how the melody lingers through "lii-ii-iives" (going up and down like... a yoyo... foreshadowing....)... It's something that is very common, like the millions of people swarming like flies..... but then, we zoom in on this one husband and wife. As has been stated, "his brain's not expected home for an hour or more" is a just a classic and wonderful line... As @DISKOJOE mentioned, this recalls "you won't believe it but it's true what a boring occupation can do... it can make a nervous wreck out of you... it can kill your spirit and destroy your mind." Then we have the wife (an updated Priscilla) sing to herself in the kitchen... the wife who "can't even laugh alone" after they "used to laugh together" (which is another great couplet). I think the "sitting by the telephone, like a yo-yo" means sorta tied to the telephone... wanting a human connection... attached to that string... because back then, there were no wireless telephones...

    The song has an odd structure and I don't know what is the pre-chorus or the chorus, but the build-up and release of the shouted " a Yoooo-Yo!" into Dave's guitar lead is magical to me. It's one of the best releases of tension on the album. It's like an explosion. Every single time, and it works just as well every single time for me.

    I don't mind if the song switches from third person to first person... Maybe Ray is channeling the husband or wife? I just don't think it would have worked the same way if Ray was shouting "He's up and down, like a Yoooo-Yoo!". It almost has to be first-person, with that amount of emotion in the delivery. So I will give a pass and assume he's channeling a character... The only line I don't think really fits is the "little child" line, but I think the "I was a little boy but when I grew into a man" just means from the start of their long relationship to their present day.

    In conclusion, I love the storytelling element... several really great lyrical couplets... great buildup and release... great live version... love it, and the 2nd half of this album is really rising in my opinion.

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Salem, MA
    This was when the Kinks p'od Bill Graham because they wanted to on at sunset for maximum effect and Bill wanted them on stage ASAP. Despite Graham's threats to overturn their manager's Mercedes, they did procrastinate long enough to go on when they wanted. Even at this late date, the Kinks still had the ability to p*** off the influential. Maybe Graham ordered no video to be made of their set in retaliation.
  16. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    Ray is the culprit here. He demanded the rights to the filming of the Kinks portion of the concert. Bill Graham declined and so we have no footage of this historic (and sloppy) Kinks performance.
  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I'm the opposite way around, out of necessity lol
  18. markelis

    markelis Forum Resident

    Miami Beach FL
    Yo Yo: FortuLeo and Zeki already picked out my favorite line in the song “…his brains not expected home for an hour or more”. Beyond that, I would say I didn’t listen to the song much when I bought the album back in the 80s, repeated lessons over the past six weeks have worn it into my brain in a way that makes it enjoyable. I will place it in the bottom third of the album, But it will squeak onto to my playlist. Our fearless leader has done a fine job of dissecting what are somewhat impenetrable lyrics, the only thing I can add is that it reminds me of Dylan‘s Tangled up in Blue, with the unclear switches from what appears to be one narrator to another, but I have no problem with that. I will call the song a better than average listening experience but for me, just barely better than average.
  19. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    “Yo Yo”

    Another song where I detect Dylan in Ray’s delivery. Like many of you, I am up and down on this tune. There are parts I like, but it also bores me. I usually want to skip it before it’s over. I think it would benefit from a stripped down acoustic version. Even at its best, it would still be lower to middle tier Ray.
  20. Brian x

    Brian x half-animate bean

    Los Angeles
    Yo Yo

    Of all the tracks on this LP, this is the one I most wish I'd had in my life when it was released. Yes, the lyric is a bit incoherent, but it conveys something beyond linear narrative (somewhat rare for RD) -- whether its a stale marriage or the First Time You Fall in Love or bitter heartbreak, whether it's an imaginary couple or the singer himself, it's the human condition, it's insanely variable, it's baffling and tender and enraged and wavering and absolutely self-assured, it's all the things you feel in the course of a relationship or a minute -- it's everything I felt through most of my late adolescence.

    Sometimes RD just plays around with his vocal range & various *tones,* but the shifts and variations of his voice in this song pair perfectly with its wild mood swings -- the draggy/Dylan/contemplative/"observer" voice in the first bit (complete with playfully sarcastic trills), the ramp up to shouty/barky, even the call-and-response -- and then the (as someone said above) perfectly emotionally appropriate-resonant lead guitar accenting all the pathos, anger, bafflement, and vulnerability of RD's words. I mean.

    To me, the key lyric is look at your ego/watch it go/up and down/like a yo-yo. It's like we/they/RD are being batted around by an impersonal, eternal force that not only tyrannizes over our feelings towards our crushes/loved ones but alternately devastates and wildly elevates our sense of ourselves, our worth, our right to walk the earth (I know that isn't quite in the song, but it's where the song takes me).

    This album has already gone from one I wouldn't touch to one I consider a late-period classic, but Yo-Yo might elevate it to a level where it starts competing with the classic LPs.
  21. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Totally agree.

    I thought this song would have been better received, because in spite of what appears to be a mixed up narrative, it conveys enough emotion, at the sadness and frustration of the world, to move me every time....
    Oddly enough the line everyone is struck by "his brain won't be home for an hour or more", is how I want to, but don't have time to feel lol
  22. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    I was gifted this last year amongst 40 other LP's from my kids godmother and I think it sounds better than it has any right to!
    Ex-Fed, Wondergirl, Steve62 and 8 others like this.
  23. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    Yes, some of those guitar lines do sound Knopfler-esque, but fortunately they reign it in just enough to avoid it distracting me! And I'm easily distracted...!
  24. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    Yo Yo
    I pretty much agree with @mark winstanley's great write-up on this one. A lot of engaging music in this one. I love Dave's guitar sound during the verses. Ray's voice is very effective. During the first half of the song, his singing drops down and almost fades away at the end of many lines. You can feel the exasperation and the loss of that lovin' feeling.

    But the lyrics are all over the place. Maybe this song makes sense in Ray's world, but I'm left scratching my head. It seems like he could have made a whole separate song with one of the halves. We got a 2 for one deal on this song. :laugh: ...if you're on a low budget.

    Haven't read others thoughts, but did anyone notice the woman's voice in one headphone during "He's not the man that married me, yeah, yeah, yeah". yeah." Is that Chrissie? if so, she really made her voice high for that bit.

    Anyway, I do like this song, but it's not a favorite. A solid B.
  25. TeddyB

    TeddyB Senior Member

    Without thinking too much about the lyrics, which aren’t exactly standout, I have always found Yo Yo to be a pretty catchy song, both verse and chorus. The Baba/Jane bridge is perfectly serviceable if generic. It’s also a little shoutier vocally in the chorus than I would prefer but overall it worked then and it works now. A strong album track.

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