Today’s Kool Album of the Day (#773 in the Series) is The Kinks, The Kinks Present a Soap Opera
Kronikling a Kool & Kollectable Kinks Klassic
“The Kinks Present A Soap Opera”
Emerging on the first tidal wave of the British Invasion, The Kinks quickly established themselves as one of the greatest bands to kome out of London. Rather than following the footsteps of Liverpool’s Finest, like so many other akts who kopied the Merseybeat and Liverpudlian sounds, The Kinks took about defining a sound that remains unique in Pop and Rock musik. Along with Amerikan producer Shel Talmy, The Kinks went on to kreate The POWERKHORD … even beating The Who-> to play the first POWERKHORD with 1964’s “YOU REALLY GOT ME!” Koincidently, Talmy was also producing The Who-> at the same time.
By 1966, radiowaves were already filled with early psykhedelia. One listen to The BeaTles’ REVOLVER will show that the USA’s psykhedelik movement had krossed the pond and infiltrated its way all the way to the topper most of the poppermost, aka: The BeaTles.
This was risky time for King Kink, Raymond Douglas Davies, to turn away from the very POWER-POP he’d kreated to a more English storytelling-style of pop-songwriting. In fakt, it is the opinion of this kronikler that The Kink’s “FACE TO FACE” is Pop Musik’s first koncept album, and if not, certainly Brit-Pop’s first thematic album. This was Raymond Douglas’ first foray into defining life in the England of his birth and youth via storytelling. It would be far from his last delve into that treasure-trove of imagery and kharacters, sites and scenes.
Though elements of “Face To Face” kontain Ray Davies’ well respekted and dedikated followers of fashion, dandies and fancies, this is the first we see of the emerging kharacter of “The Tramp” in Davies storytelling. The Tramp will remain a mainstay of Davies’ songwriting for dekades. It is here that the first seeds of Davies’ status as the Charles Dickens of British Pop are rooted. It is here that RDD begins to paint the musikal kanvas with scenarios of daily life in Muswell Hill, where he grew up, and where almost all the the kharacters in his songs & stories kome from, or are based upon. It is here that Ray begins to kronikle the dekline and fall of the Village Green, or, if you prefer, The British Empire.
So we enter “A SOAP OPERA” that finds King Kink kronikled by, who else, the KORPORATION! Enter Konk Studios, the kave with which King Kink hides in the dark from the kruel world that’s let him down, trodden him asunder, and just a face in the krowd. We enter mid konversation in the mind of Raymond Douglas Davies that kannot differentiate between who he was, and who he is, now….Ray finds that his inner thoughts are being spoken out loud, much to his surpise. Let’s listen in:
So, my kronikler tells me that, “You’re not a happy kamper.” which said kronikler says, after months of interviewing me in my dusty & dark kavern, kovered by kobwebs and strange.
“Why do it, then?” his kronikler asks. “Why put yourself through it all?”
I might reply in any of a number of ways. Today, I feel like telling the truth, so I reach under my resolute desk and bring out my double-barreled and uncensored attitude for not just the “Korporation,” but for all who kare to, or even kan, read a narrative this long without resorting to fast food, their iPod or smart-phone to okkupy themselves while an old bastard drivels on & on.
“I have no life, sonny,” I begin, “and so I while away the time of having no life, no friends, no fortune or fame, here in the dusty remnants of what once was the place of my greatest kreative achievements. I’m simply looking for old friends from my past who may remember me when I was strong, kapable, with endless energy and kreative drive. I keep hoping to find myself, my old self, in the eyes of someone I used to know. I’m searching to find value in living any longer. All I find are brainwashed people, ducks-on-the-wall who two-stroke their way through life. I don’t think I really like people!”
My terrified kronikler shugs his shoulders and reminds me that, “You alienate people, purposely. Not everyone kan live up to your high standards. In fact, I doubt if anyone ever has, or ever will.”
He seems to be straining to see the features on my face, hidden in the shadows where somebody’s mother is standing. I like it that way. I blow a huge drag from a ridiculously expensive cigar his direktion. The cigar is a symbolik remnant of my successful years that I keep hidden for okkasions like this. One must keep a veil around oneself to keep up the mystikue, y’know! Hoping this akt will prevent him from realising that he is absolutely korrect, I pause at length to break his stride and weaken his winning hand. Of kourse, I refuse to reply and immediately twist the subjekt, slightly.
“What does the internet do for you? Do you live someone else’s life in cybre-space? Do you play Starmaker?” I ask the bespektacled kronikler of my life story. “You’re what, 25 years old? I’ve got grandchildren older than you, and children younger than you. I know your type, mistra know it all. You’ve grown up with the internet at your fingertips part one, and, part two. You are a point and klick genius. Given ten minutes and you can tell me what the world’s akkumulated knowledge is on every subject. Even about me. Everybody knows me, of kourse, they read it on the internet! Everybody’s in showbiz. Everybody’s a STAR ….. on you-toob.”
Angry now, I kontinue to lay into my kronikler, “What do you know, sonny, about living? What kan you tell me about life & loss and tragedy? What kan you tell me about YOU? Kan you tell me anything that hasn’t to do with game playing, video games, supersonik electronik rocketships, iPhones & iPods, mods & rockers? What the bleedin’ hell have you done with your life, kid?”
“Also, what the ‘ell is your name? Or should I just kall you Charlie Milquetoast?” I rage at the kowering kronikler from the KORPORATION
“Or, better yet, let’s kall you Norman!”
Now, fully in stride like a mean headmaster, I hit hard, “Are you simply a product of ………. THE GRID?”
This must have hit my kronikler like a konk on the head. He sat upright, and demanded we end the day’s session. Without ceremony, he departed without skheduling our next interview. I had the little bastard right where I wanted him. He was fit to burst at the seams of his designer suit, bought somewhere in a slum-store off Karnaby Street that sells stolen goods, with the labels removed.
Knowing you’d gotten the best of someone is bittersweet victory, in the sense that, no spoils are had in this day and age. Fertile territory abounds and everyone is fair game. Even Norman, for that is my kronikler’s real name. Norman is not the only one who kan ‘surf’ the internet for information, and with a little investment of my funds that are buried in off-shore akkounts, I kan get all the background information on little nobodies like Norman for a paltry £20 note.
Norman arrived the next afternoon without calling. Very unlike him. Such a produkt of reasonable, well mannered, easily outraged society that he is. I’m sure that he drown his sorrow in a few pints after a supper of Shepard’s Pie, and his sleeping tablet.
Bursting into my kave’s solitude with the energy of a teenage boy during his first sexual encounter, Normal let me know just what a misfit he, and the world at large, thought I was. He, of kourse, did his sleuthing on Facebook and threw these recent komments that the dreary, and oh-so ordinary, people heaved upon me the previous day.
“You’re not well liked,” screamed Norman. “I’ve seen it, read it, interviewed those whom you chastise and talk down to, and they have this to say about you:
“that konversation sucked” … and … / “One-Upmanship rearing its ugly head” … and … /“That’s your opinion” … and … /“Hmm. This talk didn’t go too well, did it? We have an insulted fan and a skorned expert” … and …
“Let me first have a sniff of Ray Davies’ ‘bottled-farts’ !”
… and this is only a few examples. Most incidents are worse. You’re fucking impossible to deal with!!!!””
Kontemplating my next move, having put my kronikler though a rat’s maze of manipulation, and seeing the usual degradation of the “superficially high-minded” young upstart slip into a skreaming, raging, kursing lunatik who kan no longer artikulate his thoughts, I lean forward into the light. My face is war-torn, and weary-wrinkled, from life’s labours and many, many favours. The money-go-round has taken its toll on my once handsome kountenance.
Giving the poor boy my most sly, krooked grin, eyes meeting his, I softly speak, almost sing, these few words:
“Our Star doesn’t know who he is any more. / Is he the Starmaker, the image Maker /Looking for material or is he /
Just plain boring little Norman after all? / Perhaps he should akcept that he /Is a plain ordinary bloke and not try to
Be something he is not.”
I never saw or heard from Norman again.
His publisher inquired with me three days after Norman ran out of my kave, leaving his koat, briefkase and notes, and more importantly his tape rekorder. I told the old paper-pusher that Norman soiled himself and ran out in embarrassment.
The tapes and notes might be fodder for another of my pieces on human nature where the follies and fables of human nature run in circles of their own device.
The question I ask of you, my dear dedikated and appreciated audience of Kool Kinks Kroniklers, is this.
Are you Norman?
— Lew Campbell (Visit Vinyl Dreams, Lew’s Website)
~Copyright Lew Campbell 2012 /(except quoted song lyrics “Face In The Crowd” by Raymond Douglas Davies 1975)
All songs written and composed by Ray Davies.
- “Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker)” 2:57
- “Ordinary People” 3:49
- “Rush Hour Blues” 4:27
- “Nine to Five” 1:48
- “When Work Is Over” 2:06
- “Have Another Drink” 2:41
- “Underneath the Neon Sign” 3:53
- “Holiday Romance” 3:10
- “You Make It All Worthwhile” 3:49
- “Ducks on the Wall” 3:20
- “(A) Face in the Crowd” 2:17
- “You Can’t Stop the Music” 3:12
- Ray Davies – vocals, guitar
- Dave Davies – guitar, vocals
- John Dalton – bass
- John Gosling – keyboards
- Mick Avory – drums
- June Ritchie – vocals of “Andrea” (“Norman”‘s wife)