Sunday, November 15, 2009

Four More Respected Gentlemen Part 2

Sunday is a day off for the official Kinks Chronological Album Listen. But I am so far into this thing now that I cannot let go, so let's take a look at an album that is not a part of the official canon. The Great Lost Kinks Album came out as a USA-only release in 1973 when Reprise decided to recover some of their investment after the Kinks bailed for RCA a few years earlier. It was a hodgepodge of unreleased tracks and singles B-sides mostly from 1968-69.

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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."
  12. 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.
  13. 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."
  14. 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."
I love this album dearly and cannot for the life of me choose only one song for your listening pleasure. So here are two - first Rosemary Rose:

And the tale of Anne Maria and her daughters in Misty Water:


tbrough said...

Been really enjoying these posts, even tho' I'm a middling Kinks fan. Great reads!

Mister Pleasant said...

Thanks Tim. Even middling Kinks' fans are welcome here :)

Holly A Hughes said...

There is no such thing as a middling Kinks fan. ;)

I recently discovered in my basement a box of old LPs that included The Great Lost Kinks album, the 1973 Reprise reissue of this album, which was itself withdrawn in 1975 -- I thought I had hallucinated owning this! I know Ray Davies has disowned this album but it has so many gems on it. Thanks for wirting about it!

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Tim, we will convert you yet -- though I agree with Holly that if you actually admit to being a middling Kinks fan you may be further gone than you know!

Mr. P., I once did capsule reviews of all the songs on a local band’s CD, & so I know for a fact that this was a labor of love for you – I'm here to say it’s a hell of a lot harder than one might think to say something real about a song you love in just a couple pithy sentences. That was playing with the tennis nets UP. So I say: Well done, young man! Well done!

One thing really struck me about both of your (superb) selections: they each contain just a subterranean hint of seriously dangerous “you really got me” garage rock just below the surface that gives the lilting melody a keen edge & nervous tension. In Rosemary Rose, I first hear it surfacing at :56 (when the video cooly cuts to the turntable). In Misty Water I first hear it at 2:09.

Btw & apropos of nuthin, I thought that home-made video for Rosemary Rose was really & I mean really well done ... Kinks fans always amaze me ...

Mister Pleasant said...

Indeed Who Am - garage rock with a harpsichord no less (on Rosemary Rose). And everything about Misty Water just screams a peculiar UK variety of garage rock.

Writing those little capsule reviews was a joy, for this album is full of little lost gems. Nice to have them collected together even if they do not constitute a true cohesive release.

Holly is right - to be a middling Kinks fan just won't cut it Tim. Come over to the dark side of Anglo-harpsichord-rock force.

Glad you found that LP Holly. A Kinks' fan as dedicated as you must own it!