“Soap Opera” or “The Kinks Present a Soap Opera” was the fourteenth studio album by the Kinks and the first album I owned by them. It was released two days after my birthday on May 16, 1975. I was at a record store, on my birthday, and I heard this really cool British album playing. I had no idea who or what it was so I asked.
The employee told me it was the new record by the Kinks and I told him I’d take it. That is when he told me that it was their promo copy and not for sale. I went back the next week and purchased a copy.
For about a decade from the late ’60s until the late ’70s, Kinks frontman Ray Davies was obsessed with concepts larger than a simple rock song. Soap Opera began life as a 1974 TV play called Starmaker, produced for Granada TV in the U.K.
- Ray Davies – vocals, guitar
- Dave Davies – guitar, vocals
- John Dalton – bass
- Mick Avory – drums
- John Gosling – keyboards
- June Ritchie – vocals of “Andrea” (“Norman”‘s wife)
- John Beecham – trombone, Tuba
- Alan Holmes – saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe
- Laurie Brown – trumpet, flute, saxophone
- Lyndsey Moore – vocals
- Pamela Travis – vocals
- Shirley Roden – vocals
Written by Ray, the production told the story of a musician named Starmaker, who decides to trade places with a regular bloke named Norman in order to gain knowledge about everyday life for his songs. Eventually, Starmaker forgets that he is not actually Norman and he fades away, leaving only his music behind. Davies starred as the title character, while actress June Ritchie played Norman’s wife, Andrea.
Although Davies wanted to take Soap Opera on tour as a real musical, those plans were scrapped in favor of a simpler concert approach in which the Kinks, plus extra collaborators, performed the LP straight through.
As a result of the tour, Soap Opera sold slightly better than any Kinks record since 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. The album, written, arranged, and produced by Ray Davies was recorded at Konk Studios. The lacquer was cut at Sterling Sound and it was pressed by RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis. The engineer was Roger Beale, the chief engineer at Konk. The album art direction was by Pat Doyle and the illustration is by Joe Petagno.
- “Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker)” 2:57
- “Ordinary People” 3:49
- “Rush Hour Blues” 4:27
- “Nine to Five” 1:48
- “When Work Is Over” 2:06
- “Have Another Drink” 2:41
- Underneath the Neon Sign” 3:53
- “Holiday Romance” 3:10
- “You Make It All Worthwhile” 3:49
- “Ducks on the Wall” 3:20
- “(A) Face in the Crowd” 2:17
- “You Can’t Stop the Music” 3:12
“Holiday Romance” was released as a British and Japanese single in October 1974, “Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker)”/”Ordinary People” was released in April 1975 (US), “Ducks on the Wall” was released: April 18, 1975 (UK), and “You Can’t Stop the Music” was released May 23, 1975 (UK). “Rush Hour Blues” was always my overall favorite song on the album.
- ITV Granada, formerly known as Granada Television, is the ITV franchisee for the North West of England and Isle of Man. From 1956 to 1968 it broadcast to both the north west and Yorkshire but only on weekdays as ABC Weekend Television was its weekend counterpart. Granada’s parent company Granada plc later bought several other regional ITV stations and, in 2004, merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc. Granada Television was particularly noted by critics for the distinctive northern and “social realism” character of many of its network programmes, as well as the high quality of its drama and documentaries. In its prime as an independent franchisee, prior to its parent company merging with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc, it was the largest Independent Television producer in the UK, accounting for 25% of the total broadcasting output of the ITV network. Some of its most notable programmes include Sherlock Holmes, Coronation Street, Seven Up!, The Royle Family, The Jewel in the Crown, Brideshead Revisited, World in Action, University Challenge and The Krypton Factor. Notable employees have included Paul Greengrass, Michael Apted, Mike Newell, Jeremy Isaacs, Andy Harries, Russell T Davies, Leslie Woodhead, Tony Wilson, Roland Joffe, Derek Granger, Gordon McDougall and Dan Walker. [Back]
- Konk Studios, located at 84-86 Tottenham Lane, London, N8 7EE United Kingdom. Established in the early 1970s by The Kinks as their private studio and a few years later opened to outside acts with the likes of the Bay City Rollers, Thin Lizzy, and the Bee Gees working there. The studio grew largely from word of mouth with a huge client list including Depeche Mode, The Stone Roses, Massive Attack, and more recently The Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Wild Beasts. [Back]