Review Summary: the song that lasts forever.
I will never, ever stop playing “Strangers.” Not in a million years. It could be a seventy verse song and my play-count for it would still exceed triple digits. I think, in fact, that I have been spending so much time listening to it because I want
to extend it to seventy verses. This thing could be that long and still feel as painfully lighting fast as it is in its three minutes and twenty seconds. It feels like a slow song trying to break a speed world record- no song burns as slowly as this in as short a time, a song that needs take only three verses when “Desolation Row” took upwards of ten. This may be Dave Davies' only writing credit on Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround
, but it proves one thing about him. He knew how to write about longing; if his sad feelings were going to last forever, he had a pop song to spill his guts onto, and here’s the result. It's a sad, eternal song, one which lasts three gorgeous verses, if you can even get through the second without damning the conclusion and starting from the top again.
I guess there’s no real point I’m trying to make about The Moneygoround
in total. But “Strangers” does say a lot of the concept album the Kinks made here. The Moneygoround
was intended only as part one of the story it was telling, but the second half simply didn’t come together. Listening to it, you can understand why: here, in all its glory, is the world’s best example of how not to make a concept album. It has climaxes, sure, but unrelated ones. It strings together concepts that no one would connect in a year. Even the commentary on the music industry feels entirely at conflict with itself, with “Top of the Pops” rocking away any ill feeling from the sarcastically twee “Denmark Street.” It doesn’t match the stature of any of their other records, which feel more ambitious in scope (Village Green Preservation Society
, for god’s sake) without having to hash a “to be continued!"” tag on top of themselves.
What does that say of The Moneygoround
, though" It probably says that this was exactly what the Kinks thought “ambition” was. This was The Kinks Koncept Album
. The grasp they had on the story they were telling was terrible, but the songs here have more ambition than anyone could ever know. Much of the album triumphs in the same way “Strangers” does, in pulling off so much of something
in such little time and space. “This Time Tomorrow” feels ambiguously bittersweet, but it’s just another three minute song “Denmark Street” tries to derail. One third title track, “The Moneygoround,” sounds like something out of Alice In (A Very Twee) Wonderland, but it sounds so weighted in the wee seconds the piano drops in and delves into something desperate. Blink, and you’ll miss The Moneygoround
. Listen to the whole thing, and you’ll be playing it forever, treading every contrasting moment regardless of theme and theatrics. So I guess, yeah, “Strangers” is a microcosm of the album it belongs to, because I never want the thing to end.
has its fair share of songs I could be as unhealthily distracted by as I am by “Strangers,” and I think that says a lot of how misunderstood it was upon release. This is supposed to be one big joke, a sarcastic thumbs up the music industry around the Kinks at the time of its conception. At least, that’s what Wikipedia will forever tell us. But there is no Kinks song as sincerely heart-broken as “Strangers,” and none as sadly insightful as “A Long Way From Home.” It’s a piano ballad that says a lot more than any vague parody album could. “You think you’re wiser because you’re older” is a line from a serious band. “I thought they were my friends,” said in the oh-so-silly title track, sounds less of a joke made at the expense of the industry and more a very real plea. The Kinks, on this album, will last forever because they weren’t just fu
Except for on “Lola.” I’m aware The Moneygoround
isn’t perfect, but that might make it all the sweeter for me: the bumps in the road are in the songs I’ve learned not to skip, the momentum-crushing “Top of the Pops” simply a place I know to stomp my foot, “The Moneygoround” now less the twee circus tune it once was and more an essential climax for an album filled with them. It helps, of course, that I’ve come to love twee, and that the Kinks highlight all the faults that can come with it. Their imperfectness might be what dazzles me about them so much; these guys could simply be a “singles” band and that would make perfect sense. Robert Christgau is perfectly justified in giving this album its dues as one of “an astounding single” and twelve other songs. “Lola” is what it will be remembered for. Even in their ‘proper’ classic, Village Green
, there’s no unifying the music into the classic we hold it to be. Rather, we celebrate the Kinks for their inconsistencies, their wild, unpredictable mood-swings, and for their knowledge that there is one song that can follow you forever. “Wherever you go.” It is “Strangers,” and I’m so glad The Moneygoround
gives it to me.