Friday, October 2, 2009

Kinks - Apeman

(Pye, 1970)

If it’s praise for “Apeman” that you seek, seek elsewhere, PAL, because I don’t have many kind things to say about a single that takes Ray Davies’ dead-horse themes of dislocation and escape and forces them into a cloying, dunderheaded novelty entirely lacking in wit. Sure, I can appreciate new-guy John Gosling, who continues to make his presence felt with a pronounced piano/keys oom-pah that adds extra weight to the music, but, as on “Lola,” what’s up with Ray’s “in-character” vocals? That weak, tip-toe style of enunciating that he employs is EXTREMELY irritating, not to mention mildly racist during his terrible “reggae-man” spoken bit. Lousy lyrics (“I’m an apeman, I’m an ape-apeman, oh I’m an apeman / I’m a King Kong man, I’m a voodoo man / Oh I’m an apeman”) compound the problem, making “Apeman” a record that hardly ranks among the finer moments from ol’ Ray, a guy who likes to fancy himself the thinking-fellow’s pop star. Pfft. Clunker though it is, feel free to flip the thing over and enjoy “Rats,” a typically serviceable Dave Davies rawker. While the Kinks aren’t quite capable of running with the Heavy crowd of the early ’70s, this one makes a noble, noisy go of it and actually ain’t half bad. We’ll never see eye to eye on the whole alien-visitation thing, but I think we can at least agree that you did a swell job here, Dave! Common ground, my friend.

1 comment:

Donald Brown said...

Jeeze, lighten up. This song is fun! Listen to how Ray sings "coconut tree," and if you can't laugh at "I'm think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized, 'cos I'm a strict vegetarian," well then, maybe you ain't eyeballing those borough brats with sufficient ape man scorn. And as mindless sing-alongs go (try it on a roadtrip with kids) "i'm an ape man, I'm an ape-ape-man" can be energizing. It's also funny thinking of Ray, who was man-handled by a cross-dresser in "Lola," suddenly declaring his Tarzan / Jane ethic.

A friend's dad insisted it said "keeps fucking up my eyes" and wouldn't let him play the song.