The Kinks. Oh how have they gotten lost in the list of classic British invasion bands? Not only were they able to resist psychedelic stylings in their music, they also produced several concept albums in the late '60s, which were unfairly dismissed by the mainstream audiences who were then infatuated with everything psychedelic. 1968's The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
and 1969's Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
are both top quality albums that pleased critics then and now. However, it was this album, Lola Vs. Powerman and the moneygoround
that helped the Kinks regain their lost ground in the mainstream. Released in 1970, the album was a commercial success for The Kinks, largely due to a certain hit single. It is a concept album, dealing with various aspects of the musical industry, however it does not strictly follow this concept.
Opening the album is the Introduction
, which is nothing more than a 40-second acoustic introduction to the album. It features themes that will pop up again in the albums closing song, Got To Be Free
. It leads right into The Contenders
, the first proper song on the album. Right from the start, The Kinks let the world know that they're alive and kicking with some driving hard rock guitarring. The song clocks in at around 2 minutes, featuring no chorus, only two separate verses delivered wonderfully by Ray Davies
The first of Dave Davies' lyrical contributions to the album, Strangers
, is a beautiful piece based upon acoustic guitar backed with piano. This song is a prime example of the lyrical quality this album achieves:
Originally Posted by Strangers
So you've been where i've just come
From the land that brings losers on
So we will share this road we walk
And mind our mouths and beware our talk
'till peace we find tell you what i'll do
All the things i own i will share with you
If i feel tomorrow like i feel today
We'll take what we want and give the rest away
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
Maybe it's the lyrics or maybe it's the delivery of the lyrics, either way I find this song touching and a strong point of the album.
is a momentary lapse in quality, however not a terrible song in any way. The vocal is delivered in a seemingly comical style, the lyrics about trying to get a song played, but people telling you that they don't like it, however they'll take you because "they'd hate to be wrong". It seems to me that The Kinks placed the next song, Get Back In Line
right after Denmark Street
to compensate for its dip in quality. Leading in with a powerful and yet gentle riff, the band continues in a very tight fashion while Davies sings of a union man who's got "such a hold over me". The singing is beautiful and the band plays likewise.
And then it hits you. The big one. Lola
became a successful single for The Kinks, and it's no wonder why. The backing vocals on Lola
shine wonderfully as well as Dave Davies' guitar work. The song is about a "woman" named Lola whom he falls in love with. One of the final lines is "I'm glad I'm a man, and so is Lola", and then we are left to decide whether Lola is glad he's a man, or if Lola is in fact a man. The music blends acoustic work with harder rocking sections, resulting in a true classic and one of my personal favorite songs.
Top of the Pops
is a comical look at how an artist's life changes as his hit single advances up the charts. It is a hard rocking song featuring an immense riff and a sneering vocal. The Moneygoround
is a satirical look at managers and people after the money. Musically, it sounds like something you'd hear at a carnival, which adds to its playful edge.
Another spectacular portion of the album (you'd think there were too many excellent songs for one album) arrives on the heels of The Moneygoround
and continues all the way to the end. This Time Tomorrow
has Ray wondering where he will be "this time tomorrow". He dreams of flying over the world and looking down at it and forgetting about all the problems down there. A Long Way from Home
is a gentle piano ballad written to someone who thinks that because they're older, they don't need anybody's help, and reminding them that they are still a long way from home. Rats
is Dave Davies' second songwriting credit on the album, and though I feel it is inferior to the wonderful Strangers
, it is a different style, much harder and featuring amazing guitar work again from Davies. As far as the songwriting goes, basically Dave is showing his contempt for the masses of "rats" who trample on his feet and are inconsiderate. Apeman
made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. Ray Davies wrote this one, and apparently he has a deep yearning desire to break away from society and live like an Apeman. Most of the song is quiet with Ray singing his quirky lyrics in a funny voice. The song has undeniable pop appeal and it really is enjoyable, and very good for a laugh, like many Kinks songs.
is yet another wonderful song that features a monster guitar riff. It's another one of the "rockers" on the album, about a man who has the power of money, and how he is comparable to some of the greatest military leaders in history because of his money. Got To Be Free
starts out almost country-tinged before developing into a great rock anthem for independence (personal, not national mind you). It features the lyrical themes from the introduction of needing to get out of the life he's in, and needing to be free. Overall, it's a great closer.
Lola Vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround
is a superb album. The songs feature great lyrical quality, but still feature a certain pop aspect that make them easy to digest, remniscient of The Beatles later style. People tend to only know The Kinks hit singles, but in reality they were an albums band, and there is no better album to show The Kinks true talent and no better argument as to why they belong beside The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and even The Who in (post)British Invasion superstardom than Lola Vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround