As it’s been a little while since I did a music review, this week I’m giving you not one, but two Kinks CD reviews.
There are actually two reasons for this: first, the recent deluxe reissue of Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, came packaged with the follow-up, Percy, on the second disc. This was presumably related to my second reason: Percy was a bit rubbish, frankly.
So let’s get that one out of the way first: it was recorded as a soundtrack to a film about the recipient of the world’s first penis transplant. Yeah. The album was the Kinks’ last under contract with Pye, and I get the feeling they sort of phoned it in.
Anyway, it opens with the fairly cheesey God’s Children, which is followed by an instrumental blues jam version of Lola that, for me, is the too-early peak of the album. The rest is mainly a so-so mix of instrumentals and songs, and while there is the odd good moment – Dave’s slow blues guitar on Completely is the only one that springs to mind – it just plods along until John Dalton’s karaoke Elvis vocals on Willesden Green, which is notable mainly for novelty of not being a Davies brother on vocals.
Lola, on the other hand, is a proper Kinks album. The pseudo-country opening of Contenders quickly segues into a more rock and roll sound; Denmark Street is a bit rock n roll with a distinct Cockney sing-a-long vibe, while Get Back In Line has a much more melancholy feel, musically and lyrically.
And so it goes on, from the guitar driven rock of Top of the Pops and Powerman to the slower This Time Tomorrow and A Long Way From Home, to more pub sing-a-longs with The Moneygoround. All tell a darkly honest story of 60s pop stardom, the overall effect of which is to give the impression that Ray has become utterly disillusioned with the life of a pop star, and misses just banging out a tune on the ol’ Joanna in his Mum’s front room.
Well, disillusioned he may have been, but there are some great tracks on here, most with the distinct Davies magic (even Strangers, with its Dave Davies magic, is pretty decent, and he’s back to his loud and distorted best on Rats).
The icing on this particular cake is, of course, the title track. No, not Powerman, the other title track. No, not The Moneygoround etither, although they are both good. I mean Lola, of course, presented here in all its original banned-by-the-BBC glory (if you don’t know why it was banned, give it a listen, see if you can figure it out).
The bonus material for the latest release includes a couple of ‘new’ tracks, a couple of instrumental versions, and alternate takes of singles Apeman (with varying pronunciations of ‘foggin’) and Lola (the BBC approved version of which appears as a bonus track on the Percy disc).
Stand-out tracks: The various renditions of Lola; the longer, mostly acoustic version among the bonus material specifically, had a couple of nice surprises that made this long-time fan smile. This Time Tomorrow, though, has turned out to be a grower.