Archive | April, 2017

Certain Songs #865: The Kinks – “Strangers”

Album: Lola Versus Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part One
Year: 1970

If I think that Lola Versus Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part One is the fourth straight utterly unassailable Kinks album — capping a run that puts them up there with any four-album run by any artist ever — that seems to be a slightly controversial position, as its critical reputation hasn’t held up as well as the four albums that preceded it, or the one that came after.

But that’s horseshit, because while Lola Versus Powerman and The Moneygoround doesn’t completely hang together as a concept album, per se, it’s an absolutely fantastic collection of folk-rock songs that often drift into rock-rock songs, free of the horns that fought for space in Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire) or the sometimes fussy arrangements from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society or Something Else By The Kinks.

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Certain Songs #864: The Kinks – “Lola”

Album: Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
Year: 1970

The Kinks recorded better songs. The Kinks recorded more popular songs. But The Kinks never recorded a more iconic song.

Not “You Really Got Me,” which got co-opted by Van Halen for better and worse. Not “Celluloid Heroes,” even if I sing it to myself every time I walk down Hollywood Blvd. Not even “Waterloo Sunset,” no matter how beautiful it was.

No, it’s “Lola.” “El-oh-el-Ay, Lola.” From the percussive riff that anchors it to the sing-along fade out, “Lola” was the song that — more than any other — would forever be associated with The Kinks. Its unexpected popularity — their first top ten hit in the U.S. in 5 years (and their last one for 13) — was credited by Dave Davies for saving the band.

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Certain Songs #863: The Kinks – “Mindless Child of Motherhood”

Album: The Kink Kronikles
Year: 1969

I know that I’m spending over a month writing about the amazing oeuvre of The Kinks, because the songwriting of Raymond Douglas Davies has spoken so clearly to me for most of my life, but the irony is that my favorite Kinks song might not be “Till The End of The Day” or “Shangri-La” or “Waterloo Sunset” but rather this b-side written by David Russell Gordon Davies.

And I swear that I’m not even being contrary: that’s how beautiful, how powerful and how wonderful I think “Mindless Child of Motherhood” is. It can stand with pop songs that are universally acclaimed as being among the greatest ones ever written.

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Certain Songs #862: The Kinks – “Arthur”

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Year: 1969

After a whole album that basically spanned the history of the U.K., the Kinks finish the album that they started off exhorting her majesty Queen Victoria with a paean to the titular character, about whom they’re worrying way more than the Queen.

Musically, “Arthur” is the simplest, least-cluttered song on the record — no keyboards, no horns, driven mostly a Dave Davies’ 12-string guitar riff that barely kept from tripping over itself.

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Certain Songs #861: The Kinks – “Shangri-La”

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire)
1969

“Shangri-La” is my favorite song on Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire), and is probably one of my top 5 Kinks songs overall.

As the first song after you flip the record over after “Australia,” it always felt like also kind of a compare and contrast piece to that song as well. While the former is all about celebrating the endless possibilities of uprooting your life and moving to the other side of the world, the latter is a slowly burning satire of putting down roots in your very own uniquely-named home.

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