Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Kinks Lola versus Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part 1, 1970

The Kinks continued their string of top-notch work with Lola....

The riff-rock of The Contenders kicks things off in style, followed by Dave's sweet melancholia Strangers. Only the Kinks can make rock music as English as Denmark Street (tip of the hat to the publishers) and Get Back In Line, a lament of the stark choice between union card and dole. Then Lola rolls around, and although it's a tired old warhorse now, it still is a great guitar riff, and Dave's harmonies are spot on. And it's just the classic transvestite story, told with Ray Davies' perfect mix of bewilderment and sympathy. Top Of The Pops tells the tale of the first big hit, and does it with a perfectly derived You Really Got Me riff and more of recently-added keyboardist John Goslings' great organ fills. Side one ends with the music hall stylings of The Moneygoround, in which everyone gets their proverbial slice of the pie.

Side two falls off just a bit, but still has some juicy bits. This Time Tomorrow's great building rhythm and tale of the road are classic rock, and the sweet ballad A Long Way Home is a gentle reminder that we all have much to learn. Ape Man became the second hit, and it's a fun need-to-escape rocker with driving piano and guitar. Rats is a bit overstated by Dave, and Powerman and Got To Be Free are just not up to the quality of the rest of the record, but that's only three weak ones.

It's their I-hate-the-record-business record, and that's not usually the best news. The whining of rock stars gets old real fast. But Ray comes through with a bunch of great songs, and the recording gives them the fattest sound they've had on record yet. Mick Avory is a great drummer, and Gosling's organ and piano make sure you won't miss that other guy (Nicky Hopkins) too much.

At the time of its release, it was their best selling record (in the US) since their first, a big commercial comeback.  Retrospectively, coming between Arthur and Muswell Hillbillies makes it hard to be seen in a fair light. It is almost as good as those two. And that's a big deal.

The other Kinks album reviews:
Face To Face
Something Else By The Kinks
The Village Green Preservation Society


  1. Actually, I think it's every bit as good as Arthur and Muswell Hillbillies, possibly better. (Tastes differ, obviously.) I love Dave's songs (both of them) and prefer Kinks records where Dave's songs are included. They provide profound counterpoint to Ray's vision and are an essential part of the Kinks mix. Thanks for publishing such a nice review. Curtis Roberts

  2. Powerman a weak song???Only my favorite on the freakin lp.When Dave jumps in with "powerman don't need to fight,powerman don't need no guns,powerman got money on his side just kicked the song in another gear.Hell,I am still waiting for part2!! It's funny that I hated Muswell Hillbillies and was blindsided by the country rock record,but in retrospect,the Lola lp,Arthur,and even Percy,had country rock stylings.I guess I was waiting for Lola pt 2.Now Muswell Hillbillies is my second fave behind this gem.

  3. I have no problem with you disagreeing about Powerman. It's a taste issue, and if I went back to Lola in a few years I might disagree with myself. I'll bet we'd both agree that Lola, Arthur, and Muswell Hilbillies all beat the pants off, say, Low Budget.

  4. Yeh, even the so-called weak songs are pretty dang good. I do actually like Powerman and Rats quite a bit and don't consider them weak. I'd say Got To Be Free is rather weak by Kinks standards of that era though in a bit of irony, it was always my sister's favorite song. Just a little too plain vanilla for my tastes.