The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

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

  1. Michael Streett

    Michael Streett Senior Member

    Location:
    Florence, SC
    Yo Yo

    This song stood out to me the first time I heard the album 30 some years ago and still holds up today. I like the change of pace between the more aggressive songs and this in between. I like how the bass guitar does not come in until the second verse. Recall they used this trick on the studio version of Lola.
    Also, I always love having an acoustic rhythm guitar bed underneath a mostly electric track. I personally find this very effective and it stays audible throughout the track. The drums may be a touch too loud, but that's the way Ray wanted this album.

    So Yo Yo is a winner for me.

    The female childlike voice we hear in the left channel that one time is Sarah Murray Lockwood, Konk Studio employee. Probably got not session money and certainly got no credit as we discussed a few days ago.

    The version on the Picture Book box set is the same mix as the album. This is one where I would welcome an alternate mix or remix with the drums down just a bit and a little drier in the mix.
     
  2. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    While we are still discussing "Yo Yo", I can't help myself from recommending this brilliant film by Pierre Etaix from 1965.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Back To Front.

    stereo mix, recorded May-Jun 1981 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London

    Just come back where I came from,
    Looks the same as something's wrong.
    And all my friends that used to be,
    Have gone and turned their backs on me.
    Everyone's got different views,
    Now I'm all shook up and all confused.

    East is West, left is right,
    Up is down, and black is white,
    Inside-out, wrong is right,
    It's back to front and I'm all uptight.

    I've just come back from fantasy,
    Right back to reality.
    Stayed away too long but now I've found,
    My world is turning upside-down.
    I don't fit in but I don't stand out,
    I should stay cool but want to shout.

    East is West, left is right,
    Up is down, and black is white,
    Inside-out, wrong is right,
    It's back to front and I'm all uptight.

    No one knows where I come from,
    "Who are you and what do you want?"
    You've thrown away all that we had,
    It's down the drain, it's all gone mad.
    The word is out, I've seen the sign,
    So you go your way, I go mine.

    East is West, left is right,
    Up is down, and black is white,
    Inside-out, wrong is right,
    It's back to front and I'm all uptight.

    East is West, left is right,
    Up is down, and black is white,
    Inside-out, wrong is right,
    It's back to front and I'm all uptight (alright).
    It's back to front and I'm all uptight (alright, alright, alright, alright).

    Are you listening?
    (NO!)
    Well then, I'll have to do it all over again!

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

    Here we have an uptempo, slamming hard rock kind of track.

    Lyrically this seems essentially to be about not gelling with the people around you. He's been away, and things have changed and it doesn't make sense.
    In the second verse we get "Just Got Back From Fantasy, Right Back To Reality"... I don't know if the implication is that he has been either lost in an opium den or something for a while, or he has been on a flight of fancy, or perhaps in a mental facility...

    This is a sort of more obscure Ray lyric... perhaps he had been reading some of Dave's lyrics?

    I guess on the surface without diving in too deep, it seems to be that feeling of not fitting in, and just being generally uncomfortable .... that fish out of water feeling when you are somewhere that you don't fit in, but you don't have an option to be somewhere else....

    I reckon I'll leave this lyric to you guys, because although I don't dislike it, it seems a little too vague to really nail down.
    It seems like it definitely had a perspective behind it, but it doesn't translate without the context, as a lyric.

    Again we open with the drums, we have the bass sitting in there also, and after a couple of bars, we get the guitar come in with some, kind of, loose chords, announcing that this is going to be a rough and ready affair.

    Then we get this walk up riff that creates a nice grind with the pounding drums.

    Ray comes in on the vocal and it is a straight kind of hard rock vocal.

    The drums are great, we get some really neat guitar, and I like Ray's direct vocal. We have some sort of angry mob backing vocals, and it all fits together nicely, but I don't know what it all means. In the middle of the song we get a sort of fluttery synth in the background, and it works quite well adding another texture.

    I actually really like this song, but there isn't much I can put my finger on to pump it up.... it's just a pounding bit of rock that comes over well.
    The song ends with some lighthearted silliness, and leaves you wondering if the band was just having a bit of fun here.

     
  4. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

  5. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    I remember quite a lot of music sounding like this in the early 80s... I preferred the New Romantics!
     
  6. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    That drum sound again. The verse sounds like some other song. I don't have much else to say about this track.
     
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  7. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    It’s such a basic, obvious riff I really doubt The Kinks originated it, but the chorus of this one sounds a lot like Rocket From The Crypts 90s hit ‘On A Rope’:

     
  8. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    "Back To Front" is another song I know well because it was a concert staple circa 1981-1982 and I always enjoyed it because in concert it was always a great revved-up guitar rave-up. The wordplay of the song is also a lot of fun and certainly is not meant to be taken very seriously or considered a major song in the Kinks kanon. It was probably written to be an in concert highlight. Interesting to hear the early Eighties sound so present in the Kinks music as I never associated them with doing that but maybe it is because there is no Eighties Kinks fiasco (Bob's Empire Burlesque, Lou's Mistrial and Neil's Landing On Water come to mind). Edit - but the drum sound is annoying!
     
  9. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    I have to say the sound here is pretty great, much better than I thought it was. The band’s on fire. Dave's playing in our face, like a real guitar hero, a bona fide guitar monster. And around him, the band gives its all. Rodford’s playing is fast & furious but to me, Mick's the true star, here. This time around, it’s not just that the drums are recorded differently, Mick does perform off this new sound, inspired to play differently, franticly, his approach seemingly born out of this slap back gigantic noise. (I hope our own thread drummer will back me on this, as I don't know the slightest thing about playing or recording drums :p). So yeah, Mick owns this song. His parts are just as urgent as they are frenetic, gloriously stumbling and perfectly executed. Adrenalin ! Ray’s lyrics seem to follow up with his own yo-yo metaphor : everything’s upside down, nothing’s what it was anymore, everything goes both ways, don’t even try to make sense of anything, least of all this song… But it has one classic Ray line that all but defines a lot of his characters and his own inner battle between narcissism and the judgement he passes on all narcissists that aren't him… "I don't fit in but I don't stand out". It's all about having ambitions and loathing ambition, obsessing about success but loathing this very obsession, being eternally full of oneself and full of regrets at the same time. All of his friends aren’t there anymore (this one’s for you, @Brian x , another “friend” song) so I guess he's trying to figure out who's to blame about that too… Them or him ? With all that in the back oh his mind, I think Ray’s doing a beautiful job to channel his shouty self into one of his best and most effortless vocal performances on the album. Musically, I find it better than the similar minded Wings track Spin it on, but that's not saying a lot, I'm afraid… Yet performance wise, this has to be one of the great highlights on the album.
     
  10. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "Back To Front"

    It's a thuggish battering ram of a song, no subtlety of any kind, not even a bridge section. Ray's "comedy cockney" is in full flight here. It works because they sound like they're having fun with a song that was never intended to be taken too seriously. I like the call-and-response between the vocals and guitar in the verse - the extra release note added to the riff almost drives the next line off beat. There's not much originality about the chorus - or any part of the song really, but overall it's harmless and enjoyable.
     
  11. pyrrhicvictory

    pyrrhicvictory Forum Resident

    Location:
    Manhattan
    Back To Front

    If there were such a thing as a Least Wanted List, this would be on it. Written in 1977, this is almost certainly the track East/West dating from that period. It’s much too easy to abuse this unfortunate entity, and in these enlightened times, where everything gets an ‘A’ for effort, perhaps a bit misanthropic. I’ll admit though, that I’ve been biding my time, itching to lead this lamb to slaughter. But a funny thing happened on the way to the abattoir. I locked eyes with this lazy oaf, I searched down to it’s very soul for beauty. I hacked through weeds of aphorism and set upon the line, ‘I don’t fit in but I don’t stand out.’ The epitaph of an authentic Mr. Misfit. Empathy visited me, and pity for this simpleton, this embarrassment amid the riches. The executioner in me got cold feet and yearned to find a home for this wretch. Somewhere distant, where it can’t bother or be bothered. Where it can live out it’s days in solitude, never more to fear the slings and arrows, hear the vicious slurs. So in the eleventh hour, a pardon, a stay of execution is granted. No longer shall I carry hatred in my heart. Long live Back To Front.
     
  12. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks for the linked review/s of essentially 3 Kinks albums @donstemple
    For those that have not read them I just had to include this summation of Wicked Anabella!

    “Wicked Annabella” comes across as a song Ozzy Osborne and Tony Iommi might have written when they were twelve.
     
  13. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    Back to Front
    The base of the song is a really dumb riff (or "obvious" as the more polite @ajsmith puts it) but I won't hold that against it. I really like the guitar-oriented release of tension in this song, which I find far more satisfying than the constant rhythm of Yo-Yo. Lyrically, I see it about a relationship. The singer has had some experience - possibly traumatic - that has changed him. Most of the lyrics concern confusion but there is an element that suggests a relationship breakdown:
    EDIT: Though @Martyj's interpretation is very interesting - Ray's relationship with the band's fans. It may well be that.
    Like many noisy songs, this one works even better live in front of an enthusiastic audience. And I really love the break into Get Back in the Rockpalast clip. Nicely done.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2022
  14. Martyj

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

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Dam ye, my real world workload. I’ve got maybe 10 minutes to spare this morning, but much to write about this number. For Back to Front is the heart of this albums central theme. Much as Lola is the hit single at the center of “Lola vs. Powerman’s” story abou chasing music business success, Back to Font is the band ‘giving the people what they want.’ Back to Front is American arena rock/heartland rock radio formula, circa late 70’s early 80’s.

    Exactly. Which, I believe, is why Ray felt this lowest possible common denominator of a riff was a perfect match for lyrics to offer a meta look at what happens when an artist ‘gives the people what they want.’ I don’t have time to pick it apart, but go back and re-read the lyrics in context of Kinks history—a band’s journey starting out playing covers and formula rock until they hit on a truly original approach (YRGM) and embarked on 10 years or so of pushing the boundries to increasingly commercial indifference, until they reach the point of survival meaning to revert to formula music, i.e. ‘giving people what they want.’ These lyrics address all that. The state of Rays mind. An internal conversation with his fans and critics. I’m giving you what you want? What else do you want from me? Even the cover—Ray’s running away from the whole idea.

    Dam. I’m out of time. Maybe I'll say more this weekend. Basically, though, I like this song. The band has really gelled on it.
     
  15. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    bahahaha! Funny, but way off the mark. For a start, Geezer Butler wrote nearly all the lyrics on the early Sabbath albums. Ozzy was a late bloomer with words. And even though it's just a funny comparison, Ozzy and Tony apparently hated each other at school. Points though for making me laugh.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2022
  16. Zerox

    Zerox Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I just listened to the track for the first time in ages (and not in the car, for once) before I read your post and noticed that synth part (possibly the usual listening environment of the car cancelled it out all those years ago...old car, bad stereo...maybe). The first thing that arpeggiated synth riff made me think of was 'Sleeping Bag' by ZZ Top, which of course came four or five years later...ah, The Kinks...ahead of the game!

    (Maybe there's an alternative universe in which Kinks videos featured a hot-rodded Austin A40, animation, a bit of sequenced choreography from Mick, Dave and Jim, gratuitous deployment of young women and some stick-on beards. Well, hopefully not. That said, while I'm digressing, as much as I've tried to pacify the purist buried deep in my soul, the only ZZ Top songs I like are from the uber-commercial, drum machine/sequencer/synth/4-on-the-floor period. I know, I know...and I probably cannot tell water from champagne, either.)

    Back to 'Back To Front', as it were...in isolation, I quite like it but it's not a stand-out for me. However, in the context of the album, it's like a palate-cleanser between 'Yo-Yo' and 'Art Lover'. In fact, the segueing from 'Back To Front' into the drum break intro of 'Art Lover' is probably what boosts 'BTF' for me; the contrast between Sgt Major Ray and the gentility of 'Art Lover' only enhances the latter's charms. But I'm getting ahead of schedule...I do apologise!
     
  17. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Ray kind of reminds me of Sting here with not only his movements but also some of his enounciation.
     
  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    I did, and I can actually see that.
    Not sure if that's the picture he's painting, but it certainly could be
     
  19. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Back To Front: a dime a dozen, a completely nondescript song that could be pretty much anyone. Side 2 has become a disaster.

    The Count: 5-2-1
     
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  20. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Yo Yo

    Just heard it now so am finding it hard to get a firm grip on a viewpoint.
    In some ways the lyrics read better without the music plus at this honeymoon stage I am not sure which of the 4 versions performances posted preference i prefer.
    Anyhow yes the opening two verses dovetail and make linear sense but as for most of the rest i just take it that as communication is (long) lost misunderstandings abound and both parties also make assumptions about their partners thoughts about them and think as fact their own about their beau.
    I readily admit that trying to follow my logic here might leave you feeling like a yo-yo no?
     
  21. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Ozzy knows........words?
     
  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    He knows them, it's the enunciation that trips him up
     
  23. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Don't, like most of us you're simply a meta rt lover!
     
  24. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    At least he hasn't posted actual excrement unlike Sharon!
     
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  25. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Location:
    Australia
    Back To Front

    A bit of generic fun, heck change a few words and just get Iggy and Peaches to sing a duet it'll fit!
     
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