Kinks – Give The People What They Want

Back in 1981 I bought the album that this song is the title track to. I had their greatest hits of mostly their sixties hits and this album was the first new Kinks album I ever bought.

The song is a pure rock song with a huge punk edge. I read where a critic wrote that The Kinks were a great punk band who could actually play their instruments and with this song you see that.

This song is my favorite song off the album. While writing Low Budget, their previous album, Ray was watching American TV including “That’s Incredible” where people did dangerous and insane stunts. He writes a fair statement about the viewing public…now and then. Parts of it are crude but is true to life.  When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane, But still we watch the re-runs again and again, We all sit glued while the killer takes aim… 

The song tells the truth…violence sells.

Ray Davies: “What happens is the consumer is being used to entertain, to get high ratings, to sell products to consumers. It was going around in a circle. That’s a real con. And good shows were being dropped from TV. I’ve just written an outline, and I hope we’re going to get some money from RCA to do a videodisc because it’s a media-based album.”

From Songfacts

The title track to The Kinks 1981 album, “Give The People What They Want” was written by their frontman Ray Davies in response to what he saw on American TV when he was writing songs for their previous album, Low Budget. He noticed that TV was getting more and more sensational, and that viewers were fascinated with violence and tragedy – similar to how Romans watched Christians get fed to the lions.

One show Davies watched was That’s Incredible, where regular people performed dangerous stunts.

Ray Davies said that he took out the following verse:

The French Revolution was a crazy scene
All those aristocrats getting guillotined
The promoters cleaned up
The expenses were low
An execution costs nothing
It’s a wonderful show

Taken at face value with just the title for reference, this song can appear to be about The Kinks making an effort to please their audience by delivering a hit. That interpretation is way off, however, as the song is much more a social commentary on those who pander to the masses.

The Kinks went for a monster drum sound on this one in an effort to make it arena-friendly. To get his sound, they placed corrugated iron around the walls of Konk Studios in London, where they recorded the album.

Give The People What They Want

Hey, hey, hey
Give the people what they want

Well, it’s been said before, the world is a stage
A different performance with every age
Open the history book to any old page
Bring on the lions and open the cage

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
The more they get, the more they need
And every time they get harder and harder to please

The Roman promoters really did things right
They needed a show that would clearly excite
The attendance was sparse so they put on a fight
Threw the Christians to the lions, it sold out every night

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
The more they get, the more they need
And every time they get harder and harder to please

Give ’em lots of sex, perversion and rape
Give ’em lots of violence, and plenty to hate
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want

When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane
But still we watch the re-runs again and again
We all sit glued while the killer takes aim
“Hey Mom, there goes a piece of the president’s brain!”

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
Blow out your brains, and do it right
Make sure it’s prime time and on a Saturday night
You gotta give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want

The Kinks – Give The People What They Want…Desert Island Albums

This is my eighth-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 8- PICK 4- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KINKS- GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

In 1981 I remember hearing Destroyer on the radio and was confused..Wait…is this a new version of All Day and All of the Night? I wanted that song so I bought the album. Give The People What They Want combines different styles. Punk, Rock, and a little New Wave was thrown in on a few of the songs. I had bought singles and a greatest hits by the Kinks but this was the first new Kinks album I purchased. It’s not considered among their best but I think it’s been underrated and the album still stands up today.

It didn’t get the recognition that their next album “State of Confusion” received because it didn’t have a huge hit single like Come Dancing. Songs like Better Things, Around The Dial,  and Destroyer did get radio play though.

Two years after I bought the album I saw the Kinks live at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. They opened with “Around The Dial,” the opener off of this album.. Ray started to write songs that played well in arenas during this time. The concert was right up there with The Stones concerts to me. I was lucky to see the Kinks while they still were still releasing new albums.

Their energy was off the charts. They were approaching middle age but they had more energy than their opening band (The White Animals) who were in their early 20s.

The album opener… Around The Dial is a song that I totally can relate to today because of pre-programmed radio shows. It’s about corporations taking over radio and getting rid of the free form local DJ’s who played songs that their audience actually wanted to hear. This was starting to get popular in the late seventies…now it’s standard.

The song Give The People What They Want is my favorite song off the album. While writing Low Budget, their previous album, Ray was watching American TV including “That’s Incredible” where people did dangerous and insane stunts. He writes a fair statement about the viewing public…now and then. Parts of it are crude but is true to life.  When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane, But still we watch the re-runs again and again, We all sit glued while the killer takes aim…

Ray borrowed his own riff from All Day And All Of The Night and repurposed it for Destroyer. He also revisits Lola in the song. Destroyer reached #3 on the Billboard Rock Top Tracks chart and #85 on the Billboard 100.

Better Things has a  new wave feel to it and one of the few optimistic songs on the record. It’s the closing song on the album and changes the dark cynical tone of the album to a little more hopeful.

I finally brought an album to the island that wasn’t released in the 60s or 70s. This 1981 album rocks. It’s probably the hardest rock album that the Kinks ever produced…but it’s still unmistakably Ray Davies.

  1. Around The Dial
  2. Give The People What They Want
  3. Killers Eyes
  4. Predictable
  5. Add It Up
  6. Destroyer
  7. Yo-Yo
  8. Back To Front
  9. Art Lover
  10. A Little Bit Of Abuse
  11. Better Things

Kinks – Better Things

This song is really positive and positive is a good thing right now.

Ray Davies wrote this song in 1979 during the Low Budget sessions. It was written about Ray’s failing marriage to Yvonne Gunner…his second marriage. The band tried to record it for their album Low Budget that year, but couldn’t make it work.

It ended up on the Album “Give The People What They Want.” That was the first new Kinks album I ever bought. It’s a good album…some punk influence along with what the Kinks do best.

This song peaked at #92 in 1982 in the Billboard 100. The album peaked at #15 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1981.

From Songfacts

“Better Things,” written by Kinks’ frontman Ray Davies, was a single released in August of 1981 in the US, but not until January of 1982 in the UK. It is a cheerful, uplifting song, and so it fulfills what seemed to be a rule with The Kinks’ later albums, to end each album on a positive note: See also “Get Up” from Misfits, and “Life Goes On” from Sleepwalker.

The single’s initial copies came with a lagniappe 7-inch vinyl containing live versions of “Lola” and “David Watts,” which had been recorded on American tours in 1979 and 1980.

Artists who have covered this song include Bouncing Souls, Dar Williams, and Fountains of Wayne, the last of which was for a tribute album The Modern Genius of Ray Davies, arranged by the British music magazine Mojo.

The last track on Give The People What They Want, this song changes the tone of the album, which to this point is very unsettling and cynical (the penultimate song is “A Little Bit of Abuse”). “It’s just a change, a musical trick,” Ray Davies told Creem. “But I really like the song, ‘Better Things.’ It gives me hope. And after a song like ‘A Little Bit Of Abuse,’ you need some hope.”

Better Things

Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses, too
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

Here’s hoping all the days ahead
Won’t be as bitter as the ones behind you
Be an optimist instead
And somehow happiness will find you
Forget what happened yesterday
I know that better things are on the way

It’s really good to see you rocking out
And having fun
Living like you’ve just begun
Accept your life and what it brings
I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses, too
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead
The past is gone, it’s all been said
So here’s to what the future brings
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things