Listen: Lola / The Kinks KinksLola.mp3
If you live in America, well definitely New York, hearing ‘Lola’, (nowadays restricted to the oldies or dreaded classic rock formats) is as close as I imagine one can get to an oasis during a tsunami.
I was desperate a few weeks back, having left my iTouch at home during the morning school drop-off drive, all of ten minutes. Still it was one of those rare, aching to hear something decent moments, when suddenly ‘Lola’ appears as a result of my manic dashboard button pushing.
Let me tell you, I couldn’t believe once was a time I’d heard it on the radio so much, I thought I never needed to hear ‘Lola’ again. Do you remember those days? Well they are long gone. It never sounded better. And I finally got round to loading it onto my device tonight, an act I regret not having done before last weekend’s drive to and from Boston.
Hearing ‘Lola’ took me also to YouTube, where I was reminded it indeed was the song that, unbeknownst at the time, began signaling an end to that first classic era of The Kinks. Yes, there were several to follow, but as the seminal four piece lineup expanded to five, suddenly including John Gosling on keyboards, The Kinks immaculate 60′s visual perfection began to blemish.
Mind you, despite his un-English rough look, which was initially passable, the transformation was smooth. One could safely call it a soft landing as their sound remained pretty much unchanged, having always incorporated piano into their recordings, unually played by Nicky Hopkins or Ray himself.
Listen: Apeman / The Kinks KinksApeman.mp3
Other than lyrically, ‘Apeman’ could have easily fit onto ARTHUR or even THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY for that matter. The mix always bothered me. Had it been as powerful as ‘Lola’, my bet is ‘Apeman’ would have been a bigger hit. The struggle to hear Ray’s vocal annoys to this day, particularly during the intro. Having said that, it’s impossible to ruin such a great song.
Listen: God’s Children / The Kinks KinksGodChildren.mp3
Sticking close to the original Kinks sound was also the case with ‘God’s Children’, the last official UK Pye / US Reprise 7″. Technically, in England, as opposed to being an A side, it was the lead track off a 4 song EP pulled from the PERCY film soundtrack, the full album being rejected by Reprise and apparently destroying the band/label relationship.
Whereas, in the US, ‘God’s Children’ became an official and final Reprise single. A later US Reprise 7″ ‘King Kong’ / ‘Waterloo Sunset’ notwithstanding, as it came after the band had moved to RCA, and was released solely to promote THE KINK KRONIKLES double album compilation.
Back to YouTube, ‘Lola’ from TOP OF THE POPS lead me to watch ‘Apeman’, then ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Wonderboy’ and ultimately ‘Days’:
For those of you like myself, who waited agonizingly for The Kinks to be allowed back into the US after some musician’s union ban during ’66, our wishes became reality when in ’69, the band returned to promote ARTHUR. Apparently, many of the scheduled shows between the tour’s New York start and it’s conclusion in Los Angeles were cancelled. Lucky was I to see them at the very beginning, New York.
Not only does the above clip capture the absolutely perfect Kinks during the period, it too gives the viewer ultimate Ray Davies moments at exactly :24 – :29, again at 1:02 and then 1:20. Expressions and smirks that addicted many a weak soul to the heroin known as The Kinks in the 60′s.
The clip, in fact, must have been shot within weeks of that infamous US return, as both Dave and Ray are wearing the exact same clothes they had on here at The Fillmore East (October 17 & 18, ’69) and then also in Potsdam NY, at the State college gymnasium on Sunday October 19. I will never, ever, ever forget Ray’s shirt. We were at stage edge, literally speaking out requests to the band.
See said shirt for yourself in the clip above. When uncovered with a jacket, like at the live shows, who could forget it?