THE KINKS-LOLA VERSUS POWERMAN AND THE MONEYGOROUND AND PERCY.

THE KINKS-LOLA VERSUS POWERMAN AND THE MONEYGOROUND AND PERCY.

By 1970, The Kinks had been through the ringer. Everything that could’ve gone wrong, had gone wrong. The Kinks had lost of bassist Pete Quaife in 1969. Pete left after The Kinks sixth album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. It was released in November 1968 and failed to chart in Britain and American. For The Kinks, this was a disaster. Never before had one of their albums failed to chart. When The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society failed to chart, this was a first. Surely this was a mere blip? After all, The Kinks were one Britain’s most popular musical exports.

Down, but not out, Ray Davies returned with Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). This was a concept album which was meant to be the soundtrack to a television play based around a story written by novelist Julian Mitchell. Between May and July 1969, The Kinks, with new bassist John Alton making his debut, recorded their seventh album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). This was a lavish album. Horns and strings adorned Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). It was as if The Kinks were determined to get their career back on track. What better way than providing the soundtrack to television play? After all, The Kinks’ music would be heard by a large part of the British population.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Arthur the television play was cancelled. This presented The Kinks with a problem. They’d just written the soundtrack to a play that would never be made, never mind seen. Despite this, The Kinks released Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) in October 1969. 

On its release, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) failed to chart in the UK and stalled at number 105 in the US Billboard 200 charts. For The Kinks, this was an improvement in their previous album. So were the two minor hit singles released from Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). 

Plastic Man was the lead single from Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). It reached number twenty-eight in Britain. Then neither Drivin’ nor Shangri-La failed to chart. The final single was Victoria, which reached number thirty in Britain and number sixty-two in the US Billboard 100. Maybe, just maybe, The Kinks luck was changing?

It wasn’t. 1970 proved to be one of the most turbulent years in The Kinks’ career. Drummer Mick Avoy’s illness meant The Kinks had to cancel all booking for ten weeks. This resulted in The Kinks American tour being cancelled. That wasn’t the end of The Kinks problems.

In the background, The Kinks were experiencing problems with their manager and bureaucrats. It would take time to free themselves of the contractual problems. The problems with bureaucrats really hampered The Kinks. Their eighth album Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, featured one of the biggest singles of The Kinks career, Lola. However, The Kinks had been banned from entering and touring America. They were unable to build on the early success they enjoyed. Since 1965, The Kinks hadn’t played live in America. Longterm, this cost The Kinks dearly. They never quite reached the heights they should’ve. 

Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, which was recently rereleased by Sony Music, along with the soundtrack to Percy, could’ve and should’ve transformed The Kinks career in America. They had the talent to be one of the biggest British bands in America. 

Belatedly, the band on The Kinks from playing in America had been lifted in 1969. For the first time in five years, The Kinks would play live in America. This was perfect timing. Sadly, illness prevented The Kinks from touring America. Their concert tour was cancelled and The Kinks lost the chance to make up for lost time. Unfortunately. lightning struck twice. 

A year later, and the lead single from Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround Lola, reached number nine in the US Billboard 200 charts. With The Kinks touring America, this should transform their fortunes. Unbelievably, that wasn’t to be. Lightning struck twice for The Kinks.

Members of The Kinks, including Mick Avoy fell ill. They had to cancel all booking for ten weeks. This resulted in The Kinks American tour being cancelled. For The Kinks, this was a disaster. After being banned from America for five years, their comeback was snatched away. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. With Lola reaching number nine in the US Billboard 200 charts, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, that should’ve been start of The Kinks conquering America. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.

Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround,

After the disappointment of 1968s The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and 1969s Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), The Kinks hoped that a new decade would bring about a change in fortune. For their eight album, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, Ray Davies decided to write another concept album. This was a concept album with a difference though, it was about the music industry.

For Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, Ray Davies wrote eleven of the thirteen tracks. Dave Davies penned Strangers and Rats. Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, is concept album. It’s best described as a  satirical, tongue-in-cheek concept examination of the various aspects of the music industry. During the thirteen tracks, The Kinks look at the various facets of the music industry. Everyone, from music publishers, the music press, accountants, managers and The Kinks’ bette noire, music unions. The American musician’s union had stopped The Kinks playing in America for five long years. Now was The Kinks opportunity for payback.

Recording of Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, took place took place between at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London. The sessions began in April and lasted until May 1970. The Kinks then took a break until August 1970. They then worked through to September 1970. By then, The Kinks Mk.II had completed Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround.

The lineup of The Kinks was a rhythm section of bassist and guitarist John Dalton, drummer and percussionist Mike Avory, plus Dave Davies on lead guitar, slide guitar and banjo. Dave also took charge of lead vocal on the two tracks he wrote, Rats and Strangers. John Gosling played piano and organ, while Ray Davies sang  lead vocals, played guitar, harmonica, keyboards and resonator guitar. After four months work, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround was complete.

Before the release of Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, two singles were released. The lead single was Lola, which reached number two in Britain and number nine in the US Billboard 100. Across the world, Lola was a hit. It reached number one in countries so far afield as Holland and New Zealand. Then Apeman was released as a single. Just like Lola, it was a worldwide hit. However, it didn’t replicate the success of Lola. Apeman reached number five in Britain and number forty-five in the US Billboard 100. With two hit singles, it looked as if Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, would revive The Kinks’ fortunes.

Released in November 1970, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, was critically acclaimed. Most critics were won over by Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround. There were very few dissenting voices. That’s not the case now.

Since 1970, some critics have changed their opinion of Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround. Mostly, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround has been well received by critics. However, some recent reviews have been mixed. In the main, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround is perceived as one of The Kinks’ finest albums. It certainly revived The Kinks fortunes.

Just like their previous album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) Lola Versus The Powerman and TheMoneygoround fared better in American than Britain. Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround,reached number thirty-five in the US Billboard 200 charts. However, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround failed to chart in Britain. It seemed that The Kinks were more popular in America than their home country. Maybe, America got better understood the concept album that was Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround?

Just like so many of The Kinks’ previous albums, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround was eclectic. It veered between pop, power pop, hard rock and folk. There was even a homage to the British music hall, which Ray Davies was a devotee of. The Kinks combined acerbic comment, wit, nostalgia, frustration and anger. After all, The Kinks hadn’t had an easy ride at the hand of the music industry. This was apparent when Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround.

Opening Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, is Contenders, a song about bands who dream about making it big. That’s until they have to negotiate with the music publishers in Denmark Street or the unions that feature in the ballad Get Back In Line. Then there’s the Lola, the best known song on Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround.

Whilst not directly about the music industry, Lola is a song about the  type of people who populate the fringes of the music industry. The song is about brief romantic encounter between a young man and a transvestite. Ray’s voice gets across the confusion, panic and bewilderment the narrator encounters when he sings the lyric “walked like a woman and talked like a man.” Although Lola is the best known track on  Lola Versus The Powerman and The Underground, there’s much more than one track.

After Lola, Ray turns his ire on Top Of The Pops. It was merely an arbiter of popularity, not quality. This must have frustrated Ray. The music he wrote was much more cerebral and incisive than most of the music that appeared on Top Of The Pops. After Top Of The Pops, business managers and accountants incur the wrath of Ray on The Moneygoround. It’s as if he’s been waiting a while to unleash his ire.

After Top Of The Pops, business managers and accountants incur the wrath of Ray on The Moneygoround, which is a homage to the English music hall. It’s as if he’s been waiting a while to unleash his ire. 

This Time Tomorrow and the ballad A Long Way Home, finds Ray reflecting on the life on the road. Gruelling, tiring and boring, Ray misses his family and home. After the balladry of A Long Way Home, Dave delivers the lead vocal on Rats. 

Rats bursts into life. It also features some of the best guitar playing on Lola Versus The Powerman and The Underground. On the release of the hard rocking Apeman, Rats was chosen as the B-Side. Just like Strangers, it’s a reminder of Dave’s talent as a singer and songwriter. The hard rocking continues on Powerman, where The Kinks cut loose. It’s an impressive sound. So is the song that closes Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround.

Closing Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround, is the poignant, wistful Got to Be Free. It’s a mixture of country and bluegrass. This is quite unlike most of Lola Versus The Powerman and The Underground. The way Ray delivers the lyrics, it’s as if Ray feels enslaved by the contract he’s tied to. It’s as if all he longs for is to be free of the contract.

Never before had anyone written a concept album about the music industry. Then along came The Kinks in 1970. Their eighth album Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround saw the brothers’ Davies unleash acerbic comment, wit, nostalgia, frustration and anger. They turn their guns on the music industry, which they felt had treated them badly. The only way of telling people about this, was through their music. It proved an eye opener for music fans. Many of them had no idea how the music industry worked. Ironically, having exposed the inner workings of the music industry, it proved profitable for The Kinks.

After the commercial success of Lola, The Kinks were offered a new contract by RCA Records. The Kinks negotiated hard. As a result, they were able to build their own recording studio. This made life much easier and cheaper for The Kinks. Now whenever they wanted to record new music, they could head to their own studio. All this was the result of The Kinks best known singles, Lola. Less well known was The Kinks’ ninth album Percy.

Percy.

Just five months after the release of Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround The Kinks released their ninth album, Percy. It was released on March 26th 1971. This was no ordinary Kinks album. 

No. Instead, Percy was the soundtrack to a British comedy film featuring Hywel Bennett and Britt Elkland. Directed by Ralph Thomas, Percy featured the music of The Kinks. They were assisted by Stanley Myers, who took charge of the orchestral arrangements, for what was The Kinks final albums for Pye. 

For Percy, Dave Davies penned fourteen tracks. These fourteen tracks were recorded at Morgan Studios, London, between October 1970 and January 1971.  The lineup of The Kinks was a rhythm section of bassist John Dalton,drummer Mike Avory and Dave Davies on six and twelve string guitar. John Gosling played keyboards. Ray Davies sang lead vocals, played acoustic guitar and harmonica. When Percy was completed, it was released on March 26th 1971.

When Percy was released on March 26th 1971, music critics weren’t won over by the Percy soundtrack. Its mixture of pop and rock wasn’t as well received as  Lola Versus The Powerman and Moneygoround. That’s not surprising. The two albums were very different.

Percy was the soundtrack to a low budget British movie. Pop and rock sat side-by-side. There were two firsts on Percy. Some of the songs were instrumentals. The other first was that Willesden Green was the only Kinks song to feature vocals by another band member. On Willesden Green, John Dalton impersonates Elvis Presley. This shows a lighter side to The Kinks. Sadly, Percy wasn’t a commercially successful album. 

On its release, Percy failed to chart in Britain. Pye decided not to release Percy in America. Considering The Kinks were more popular in America than Britain, this seems strange. It may have been that because Percy was the soundtrack to a low budget British film? A single was released from Percy.

A single God’s Children was released from Percy. It gave The Kinks a minor single in Australia and New Zealand. It failed to chart in America. This was the case with the God’s Children E.P, which was released in Britain. Just like the album Percy, it failed chart. For The Kinks, this was a disappointing end to their time at Pye.

The last few years had been tough for The Kinks in Britain. Neither Lola Versus The Powerman and The Underground nor Percy had charted in Britain. At least the single Lola had given The Kinks a hit single. However, mostly, times had been tough for The Kinks. 

There had been illness, managerial problems and tours cancelled. They’d lost their original bassist Pete Quaife and been banned from playing in America for four years. Then there was Percy, their soundtrack album. It was neither The Kinks finest, nor most successful album. 

Percy is a typical soundtrack album, and very much of its time. Revisiting Percy after forty-three years, it hasn’t stood the test of time as well as Lola Versus The Powerman and The Underground. Having said that, there are some memorable moments. This includes God’s Children and Animals In The Zoo. Then there’s the rocky Dreams and bluesy Completely. That’s four reasons why during the seventies, Percy was constantly being imported into America. It seemed that Percy had belatedly, found an audience, in The Kinks’ adopted home country, America. Now forty-three years later, Percy has been rereleased.

Recently, Sony Music released Lola Versus The Powerman and Moneygoround as a double album. On disc two, is the soundtrack album Percy. It makes a welcome return. However, the main even is Lola Versus The Powerman and The Underground, which was one of The Kinks’ finest albums of the seventies. Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround could’ve and should’ve transformed The Kinks’ career. If The Kinks American tour hadn’t been cancelled then maybe, just maybe, Lola Versus The Powerman and The Moneygoround would’ve transformed The Kinks into one of the biggest British bands in America. 

THE KINKS-LOLA VERSUS POWERMAN AND THE MONEYGOROUND AND PERCY.

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