Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rating The Competition-1966

McCartney digs the liner notes of AFTER-MATH
There's no question that 1966 was a high-water mark for pop/rock music, here are just some of the highlights; Blonde on Blonde, Revolver, AFTER-MATH, Pet Sounds, Face to Face, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, The Standells first two albums, A Quick One, Love, 5D, The Buffalo Springfield, The Monkees, The Sonics Boom, Midnight Ride, From Nowhere...The Troggs, The Fugs' second album, Daydream & Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful, The Seeds & Web of Sound, The Small Faces, Roger the Engineer, Sunshine Superman and many many more. It boggles the mind, even more so when you factor in the concurrent lounge, country, jazz and soul/r&b releases and stray singles of every genre. As Cyril Jordan is fond of saying "incredible"!  Not only did everyone seem to peaking sound wise, but sartorially too!

Growing up as a comic book kid I slid into music at the age of 10 via the Beatles and the whole British Invasion and the larger than life images and output of these bands filled the same sort of mythic fantasy landscape that super heroes had at an earlier age. I still love listening to these records in batches based on the year of release, it's such a thrill to hear the obvious ramifications of the cross pollination of what was still a relatively small group of peers that made up the music scene- with so many influences flying back and forth between the leading lights, especially in England, a small country-for comparison the state of Texas is bigger. It's a gas to read and think about the interactions, rivalries and socializing of these bands, like one of those awesome Marvel Comic match ups.

All of which leads me to the reason for this post, which is a review I came across from a 1966 Disc and Music Echo of Revolver by Ray Davies. It's an even handed review, far from fawning but with an obvious respect for the songwriting and performing talent of the band. I was pleased to see that Ray's favorite track on the album was John's "I'm Only Sleeping", as it's mine too. I've included it after the review. I remember riding around on my bike as a little kid singing that one.

It's probably worthwhile to point out that Ray Davies did not hang out on the scene or socialize like The Beatles, the Stones and the Who did, and that in Davies' autobiography he mentions being snubbed by Lennon at a show early in the Kink's career. But there's an obvious though perhaps begrudging respect as he also in the same book proudly relates the story of Lennon being seen in a club making the DJ play the Kinks 1968 single "Wonderboy" over and over again. It's easy to see how the song's "life is only what you conjure" theme would appeal to John.

As another important POP/psych moment of the year 1966 I've included the British TV version of Alice in Wonderland which featured a soundtrack by Ravi Shankar and starred a ton of amazing Brits; Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Leo McKern, Michael Redgrave, Alan Bennett and many more. I've seen the DVD popping up a lot at a great price ( I think I paid six dollar for it) and its well worth picking up- definitely my favorite version of Alice and the DVD includes some enjoyable extras.

I've also included the 1966 appearance of John Lennon on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's show Not Only.. But Also. The beginning of the clip has Cook and Moore's psychedelic parody the L.S. Bumble Bee, which segues into the lavatory bit with John, not sure why this wasn't included on the The Best of What's Left of Not Only But Also DVD. I've also added more fab pics, and finally The Stones affectionately goofing on some Beatles songs from the film Charlie Is My Darling which is yet another most own film.
Ray and a tree in 1966
Disc and Music Echo decided to turn over the task of reviewing the "Revolver" album to Ray - and the Kink certainly spoke his mind.

Here's the album, track by track, with Ray's inter-round summaries:

Side One: "Taxman" (by George)--lead voice, George: "It sounds like a cross between the Who and Batman. It's a bit limited, but the Beatles get over this by the sexy double-tracking. It's surprising how sexy double-tracking makes a voice sound."

"Eleanor Rigby" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "I bought a Haydn LP the other day and this sounds just like it. It's all sort of quartet stuff and it sounds like they're out to please music teachers in primary schools. I can imagine John saying: 'I'm going to write this for my old schoolmistress'. Still it's very commercial."

"I'm Only Sleeping" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "It's a most beautiful song, much prettier than 'Eleanor Rigby'. A jolly old thing, really, and definitely the best track on the album.

"Love You Too" (by George)--lead George: "George wrote this--he must have quite a big influence on the group now. This sort of song I was doing two years ago--now I'm doing what the Beatles were doing two years ago. It's not a bad song--it's well performed which is always true of a Beatles track."

"Here There and Everywhere" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "This proves that the Beatles have got good memories, because there are a lot of busy chords in it. It's nice--like one instrument with the voice and guitar merging. Third best track on the album."

"Yellow Submarine" (by John and Paul)--lead Ringo: "This is a load of rubbish, really. I take the mickey out of myself on the piano and play stuff like this. I think they know it's not that good."

"She Said She Said" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "This song is in to restore confidence in the old Beatles sound. That's all."

"Good Day Sunshine" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "This'll be a giant. It doesn't force itself on you, but it stands out like 'I'm Only Sleeping'. This is back to the real old Beatles. I just don't think the fans like the newer electronic stuff. The Beatles are supposed to be like the boy next door only better."

"And Your Bird Can Sing" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "Don't like this. The song's too predictable. It's not a Beatles song at all."

"For No One" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "This will get covered, but it won't be a hit. It's really better than 'Eleanor Rigby' and the French horn is a nice effect."

"Dr. Robert" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "It's good--there's a 12-bar beat and bits in it that are clever. Not my sort of thing, though."

"I Want To Tell You" (by George)--lead George: "This helps the LP through. It's not up to the Beatles standard."

"Got To Get You Into My Life" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "Jazz backing--and it just goes to prove that Britain's jazz musicians can't swing. Paul's singing better jazz than the musicians are playing which makes nonsense of people saying jazz and pop are very different. Paul sounds like Little Richard. Really, it's the most vintage Beatles track on the LP."

"Tomorrow Never Knows" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "Listen to all those crazy sounds! It'll be popular in discotheques. I can imagine they had George Martin tied to a totem pole when they did this!"

So, after listening to each track three or four times, the Ray Davies verdict: "This is the first Beatles LP I've really listened to in it's entirety but I must say there are better songs on 'Rubber Soul'. Still, 'I'm Only Sleeping' is a standout, 'Good Day Sunshine is second best and I also like 'Here, There and Everywhere.' But I don't want to be harsh about the others. The balance and recording technique are as good as ever."

Disc and Music Echo Magazine August, 1966

Lennon's favorite by the Kinks "Wonderboy"

Lennon looking too hip, you're what's happening baby!

The Kolourful Kinks circa 1966

Having a larf!
Studio stoned.

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