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Music / Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One

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"El-oh-el-aye Lola."

Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One is the eighth studio album by The Kinks, released in 1970. While not a big seller initially, it proved to be a critical success and featured the Breakaway Pop Hit "Lola", which topped the NME chart in the UK and gave the band their first Top 10 hit in the US in five years. It is generally considered by most aficionados to be one of their greatest albums and a classic of its era. The album was initially floated as a two-part album, hence the otherwise confusing "Part One" at the end of the title. (There were plans for a "Part Two", but the band went in a different direction with Percy and Muswell Hillbillies.) It is also the first Kinks album to officially feature keyboardist John Gosling, who had joined the band the previous year.

Lola is a Concept Album in that it deals with the Music Industry and the consequences of a career in the business — the agents, the hangers-on, the publishers, the soul-crushing capitalism, the constant touring and loneliness. Of course given the nature of Ray Davies style, there's a lot of Applicability in terms of lyrics and the general theme is how life is full of compromises, melancholy and regret but friends and relationships make it worthwhile. Two of the songs, "Lola" and "Apeman", were released as singles, and stand out for its more general themes — romantic confusion and modern-life lacking fulfillment.

The album has become more prominent in the millennial decade thanks to its use as soundtrack in several recent films, including Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited (which uses three songs from the album) and the French film Les Amants reguliers (also featuring "This Time Tomorrow"). The 2012 indie film Lola Versus also gives a Shout-Out to the title of this album. "Weird Al" Yankovic also memorably parodied "Lola" as "Yoda" in 1985.


Side One

  1. "The Contenders" (2:42)
  2. "Strangers" (3:20)
  3. "Denmark Street" (2:02)
  4. "Get Back in Line" (3:04)
  5. "Lola" (4:01)
  6. "Top of the Pops" (3:40)
  7. "The Moneygoround" (1:47)

Side Two

  1. "This Time Tomorrow" (3:22)
  2. "A Long Way from Home" (2:27)
  3. "Rats" (2:40)
  4. "Apeman" (3:52)
  5. "Powerman" (4:18)
  6. "Got to be Free" (3:01)

Principal Members:

  • Mick Avory - drums, percussion
  • John Dalton - bass, vocals
  • Dave Davies - guitar, backing and lead vocals, banjo
  • Ray Davies - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboard
  • John Gosling - keyboard, piano, organ

Top Of The Tropes:

  • Album Title Drop: The full title isn't mentioned, but "Lola", "The Moneygoround" and "Powerman" are during their respective tracks.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: A classic example with "I'm glad I'm a man, and so is Lola." Lola's also glad he's a man? Or Lola also is a man? Or, of course, possibly both?
  • Book Ends: "The Contenders", which is about youthful singers wanting to find success and be free to make their music, opens with a verse reassuring their mother that they'll be fine:
    Hush little mammy, don't you cry
    I've got to see what it's like on the world outside
    Got to get out of this life somehow
    Got to be free, got to be free now
    • The final song of the album titled "Got to be Free" shows the band after tasting some success, realizing that they're nowhere near free and their struggle has no real end, but they're going to continue anyway:
    Hush little baby don't you cry
    Soon the sun is going to shine
    We're going to be free like the birds and the bees
    Running wild in the big country
  • Continuity Nod: The album title alludes to the first of a presumable second part. This was long considered, but never officially came about.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Generally subject to scorn throughout the album. The basic theme is that however much you and your friends may want it to be about "the music", the minute you walk into "Denmark Street"note , the business takes over. "The Moneygoround" is especially scornful:
    There's no end to it I'm in a pit and I'm stuck in it
    The money goes round and around and around
    And it comes out here when they've all taken their share
    I went to see a solicitor and my story was heard and the writs were served
    On the verge of a nervous breakdown I decided to fight right to the end
    But if I ever get my money I'll be too old and grey to spend it
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover is in black-and-white.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover features Ray Davies' face in a series of mathematical shapes.
  • Double Entendre: Among the most famous in popular music:
    Well I'm not the world's most masculine man,
    But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man,
    And so is Lola.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: As the protagonist of "Lola" rather belatedly finds out about the title character.
  • Face on the Cover: Ray Davies' face, drawn in the middle of a series of circles, triangles and squares.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: Ray's head floats on the cover.
  • Genre Shift: "The Moneygoround". It wouldn't sound out-of-place in an old-fashioned music hall. Likewise "Apeman" suddenly introduces a kind of Reggae sound in an otherwise conventional blues-ballad rock album, with Ray Davies singing the verses with a Reggae twang ("They're walking around like flies, mon"). Still awesome.
  • One-Word Title: "Strangers", "Rats".
  • One-Man Song: "Apeman", "Powerman".
  • One-Woman Song: "Lola".
  • Pep-Talk Song: The final song, "Got to be Free" is supposed to be this. After an entire album filled with disillusionment and bitterness at fame, success and the music business, the new contenders decide they are going to go on and continue to struggle for artistic freedom, but at the same there's a note of desperation in the entire track:
    Got to be free to say what I want
    Make what I want and play what I want
    I've got to be proud and stand up straight
    And let people see I ain't nobody's slave
    I've got to be free before it's too late
    I've just got to be free.
  • Rock Star Song: "Top of the Pops" is an intentionally naïve and starstruck-sounding song about first experience with rock stardom.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The cover evokes the scientific drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, with Ray on the back cover depicted like the Vitruvian Man.
    • "Apeman", from the title onwards, recalls the Tarzan character and also name-drops King Kong and generally has fun with the Chimp theme.
  • Social Climber: "Powerman" deals with the psychology of one such figure. "He started from the bottom/and he worked his way up/now he's never gonna stop/until he reaches the top" noting how such figures don't care about other people and becomes The Social Darwinist for whom "everybody else is just a sucker".
  • Title Track: Thanks to the nature of the title, there are three title tracks to choose from: "Lola", "The Moneygoround" and "Powerman".
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: From "A Long Way from Home":
    You've come a long way from the runny-nosed and scruffy kid I knew
    You had such good ways
    I can remember the little things that always made you smile
    They made you happy
    Now you think you're wiser because you're older and you think
    That money buys everything
    And you think you need no one to guide you
    But you're still a long way from home.