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Music Review: The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One

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Change was in the air for The Kinks as 1970 came to an end. Left behind were Ray Davies’ pastoral explorations of the English countryside and his examinations of the British psyche and life. In their place were shorter stories and a more varied musical approach. His witty, pithy, and sarcastic commentary about the music business, publishers, accountants, managers, and just about anyone or anything else that came to his mind were now at the center of his short storytelling approach. Another big change was the departure of original bassist Pete Quaife. In his place were bassist Jack Dalton and keyboardist John Gosling.

Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One was released during the late fall of 1970 and was another critical and commercial success for Ray Davies and The Kinks. It may not have had the cohesion of Arthur and The Village Green Preservation Society or contained the surprises of Something Else or Face To Face, but it contains tracks that are the equal of some of the best music of the early 1970s.

The album will always be associated with two classic Kinks songs. “Lola” always brings a smile to my face. Ray Davies is one of the few composers who could write a song about a relationship between a man and a transvestite and not only make it listenable but also make it commercial enough to become a hit single. There are even some old-style Kinks power riffs. It’s one of the great subtle rock songs of its era. “Apeman” was Davies rejection of the British lifestyle as he wanted to sail away and live like an apeman.

There were a number of other very good tracks. “Denmark Street” is an actual road in central London and is the home of the British equivalent of Tin Pan Alley. It now formed the vehicle for Ray Davies to express his feelings concerning publishers. “Rats,” written by Dave Davies, contained a number of power chords that supported his frenetic vocals. The album closer, “Got To Be Free,” was Ray Davies longing for a better world. It was a combination of power rock and a country/bluegrass motif, a style the Kinks would explore in their next album. The other song of note was “Top of the Pops,” which was a catchy concoction where Ray took on the press.

Lola Versus Power Man and the Moneygoround, Part One concluded what many people consider The Kinks classic period. It may not have been their best release, but overall it was a solid one with elements of brilliance in places. It remains one of their better listens.

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