I bought the LP when it was released, as it came out soon after I became a Kinks fanatic. Little did I know that I have been sitting on one of the rarest Kinks' recordings around. Only recently has it come to my attention that it was pulled from distribution in 1975 as a result of a lawsuit filed by Ray Davies. The expanded CD releases include the B-sides as extra tracks but I don't know if the unreleased tracks are available elsewhere.
Maybe it is because I just cannot extricate myself from the Kinks "second" period music - Face to Face up through Lola - but the music on TGLKA seems so darned intimate and touching. Employing the classic four man Kinks sound, you will immediately feel at home here if you like The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society.
For a change of pace I am going to write just a little about each song. The first two rank fairly low on the Mister Pleasant-o-meter but the remaining dozen are charming and then some.
- Plastic Man - unfortunately this was released as a single A-side. Other than the cleverly Monkee-ish "ba-oom bah bah bah" section, this song is the one Kinks failure in their otherwise stellar 66-70 singles releases.
- Groovie Movies - ostensibly from Dave's never released first solo album. He wrote some great songs over the years but this is not one of them
- Pictures In The Sand - apparently an outtake from TVGPS, a slight country tune which points the way towards where the band would be heading in the 1970s.
- Lavender Hill - great drumming, bassoon!, one of the verses is instrumental with a wah wah guitar solo line, ethereal vocal harmonies, and a rare Beach Boys type vocal section at the end. Also a few hard-to-hear mellotron licks.
- The Way Love Used To Be - from the Percy soundtrack. As far as I can determine, Reprise included it on TGLKA because Percy was never released in the USA. A lovely contemplative song with acoustic guitar accompaniment. Ray sings as if his heart is in his throat. Touching.
- Mr. Songbird (yes another Kinks "Mr." song) - That rare truly happy Kinks song with a mellotron sounding like a duo of flutes and a very jazzy contrapuntal vocalized section sounding a bit like the Swingles Singers
- This Man He Weeps Tonight - Dave's best effort here. It opens with an awesome guitar riff doubled on bass. The guitar work throughout is gorgeous but way too much in the back of the mix. Mr. Avory gets in some really good hits.
- Till Death Us Do Part - Ray's great theme song for a 1969 film based on Britain's long running sitcom (and basis for the USA's All In The Family). Like Dead End Street, a trombone plays a major role here and its use is spot-on spectacular. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are a harbringer of that la-la-la-iest Kinks' tune - Wonderboy. This song is a little lost treasure.
- There Is No Life Without Love - credited to both Davies' brothers, a sweet little tune with simple accompaniment of mandolin bass and drums. I would guess that there are no more than twenty distinct words total in the lyrics, but you know it just doesn't matter when the melody is so wonderful and these two sometimes warring brothers are singing octave harmonies so peacefully.
- Misty Water - It starts with succinct piano chords beneath Ray's delicately delivered opening verse, but things really get rolling on the second verse when the guitar kicks in. But wait there is even more fun - the chorus transmogrifies this into a garage rock sing-a-long. There is even a cheesy 60's farfisa organ buried deep in the mix. Then a short ethereal vocalized section appears as if we suddenly dropped into Gogi Grant's The Wayward Wind only to be knocked off our feet with Dave's ferocious guitar chords to bring us back for another pass.
- When I Turn Off The Living Room Light - The opening line seems to get some people really angry but I think Ray is totally innocent of any sort of ethnic or racial slur. The lyrics may seem thoughtless at the beginning but by the final verse it is clear that the singer puts himself in the same boat as his less than lovely partner - "We don't feel so ugly, we don't feel so draggy, we don't feel so twisted up tight/and we don't feel as ugly as we really are, when we turn off the living room light."
- I'm Not Like Everybody Else - The B-side to Sunny Afternoon. It seems to me as if Ray is singing with his best Dave vocal immitation. Or maybe it is Dave - I am never sure. A true classic, this one bridges the gap between The Kinks and The Who, with a few dollops of garage rock thrown in for good measure. Dave's guitar is thunderous here.
- Where Did My Spring Go? - Opens with a piano and guitar intro, with Dave's guitar work sounding vaguely like something off of a Jefferson Airplane album. This contains some of Ray's most angry and bleak lyrics. "Remember all those sleepless nights, making love by candlelight, and every time you took my love, you were shortening my life."
- Rosemary Rose - Luckily Ray just cannot stop singing about his sister. Starting off like an early Del Shannon rocker with a mandolin standing in for the musitron, the song adds a harpsichord for the middle eight. And the priceless lyrics are scolding yet tender - "You look nothing like a child, yet you're such a little baby/Chewing on your liquorish gum, and cigarettes."
And the tale of Anne Maria and her daughters in Misty Water: