Friday, November 30, 2012

The Kinks - "Powerman" (1970)

"It's the same old story, it's the same old game..."

Any fan of The Kinks will tell you that 1970's Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround: Part One is an overly honest look at the state of the music industry.  The album uses heavy satire to demonstrate the  greedy nature of the business.  "Powerman," the record's second-to-last track, was written as a humorous salute to record tycoons all over the world.

Now, unless you've actually had a bad experience working in the music industry, you're probably not going to relate to the song's subject matter.  However, anyone who has ever had a job before can at least relate to it emotionally.  Think about your own life - who's above you?  Who controls what you do?  What makes them so special?  How did they get there?  And damn it - where the hell is all your money going? I'm certainly not trying to single anybody out, but the idea of being the "little guy" is something that almost anyone can relate to.

It also helps that the song absolutely rocks (well, by Kinks standards, that is.) "Powerman" opens with an off-key guitar drone, which abruptly transforms into a pretty epic opening riff.  Perhaps I'm looking deeper into this than I should, but I always felt that this transition symbolized the idea of "waking up" from your own ignorance.  The rest of the song is carried by one of the most ruthless and underrated guitar riffs known to music. Overall, the band's performance sounds gritty, raw, yet somehow very inspired. The Davies brothers also provide compelling vocals, and their harmonizing is superb as always.

"Powerman" is by no means my favorite song on the album.  That award would have to go to the undeniably gorgeous ballad "Strangers," but we'll save that for another post.  Still, whenever I feel like someone in this world is trying to screw me over, this song always hits the spot.

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