Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kinks - Lola

(Pye, 1970)

I can remember a grocery-baggin’ period in high school when I would shudder and reach for the dial each time the local classic-rock station trotted this one out, but calendars have changed and so have I, and I gotta cop now to MUCH toe-tappery whenever I hear “Lola.” Undeniable that the song’s instantly memorable, and, for those keen on expending at least minimal brain power on bigger-picture considerations, it DOES emerge from a particularly interesting time for the Kinks. The entire Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround album is a transitional one in that it moves further away from the precious, hyper-conceptual British-isms of albums past by rocking harder (a move hinted at musically on Arthur) while also showing some of the country/Americana influences that would soon dominate the band on Muswell Hillbillies. “Lola” marries these two forward-thinking impulses quite effectively, its big, aggressive choruses alternating with rolling, string-pluckin’ verses, all with a pre-glam gender-bend story slathered atop it. I still have mixed feelings about the way an over-mannered Ray Davies delicately picks his way through the lyrics, but younger-bro Dave’s nasal owl-hoot actually works well here in the background as a complementary vocal part. Also intriguing is the B-side, “Berkeley Mews,” a Village Green Preservation Society outtake that is quite inessential but ends up fitting in surprisingly well – both in its faux-American barrelhouse shtick and sexually-confused lyrics – when paired (two years after its recording) with “Lola.” A relative rarity, the song was mysteriously left off of the late-’90s CD reissues and, on full-lengths, is only easily found on The Kink Kronikles and the 3CD Village Green deluxe set.

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