"The Way Love Used To Be" / The Kinks
Well, I had to buy Percy to be a Kinks kompletist -- but I can't say I listen to it much. As a film soundtrack (and by all accounts the film is truly dreadful), it caters to the story rather than telling its own tale. All the Kinks play on it, but it doesn't much sound like a Kinks album.
"The Way Love Used to Be" may not sound like a Kinks song, but it's still simply gorgeous. It isn't just the orchestral arrangement that's unusual (the Kinks never got hooked on string quartets like some bands did); its tender quality is something Ray Davies rarely employed on Kinks records. It's the sort of stuff he could handily turn out for TV themes, however, as he did for several BBC productions, like "Until Death Us Do Part" (the British series that America's All In the Family was copied from). A handful of these and other stray tracks are cobbled together on the rogue album The Great Lost Kinks Album, issued in the US by Reprise Records after the Kinks had moved to RCA. (Every time the Kinks changed labels, the old label would crank out a couple of tacky compilations to recoup their lost investment.) And what do you know, "The Way Love Used to Be" also appears on TGLKA, where it fits in just fine.
Listen carefully and you'll discover that "The Way Love Used To Be" has all the hallmarks of a Ray Davies song -- the secret handshake, if you will. There's the yearning to escape ("I know a place not far from here / It's not far away, love, but if you come / I know a place where we'll be alone"), the nostalgia for times past ("And we'll talk of life, the way love used to be"), the horror of modern civilization ("And we'll find a way through the city streets / We'll find a way through the mad rushing crowd"). Although Ray sings it with a tremulous flutter, for once it doesn't sound campy to me -- no, it's wistful and yearning, not hiding behind a scrim of irony.
Yes, the arrangement is old-fashioned, like something from the 1940s or early 1950s, with a pillow of strings and delicate classical accents. It's movie music, pure and simple -- something that wouldn't be out of place in a film like Brief Encounter or Mrs. Miniver. But I get the idea that Ray loves old movies, that he's totally into recreating this romantic, gently melancholy sound.
So what was a song like this doing in a movie about the comic adventures of a man with a penis transplant? I swear, it would almost be worth watching Percy to find out.
UP NEXT: Muswell Hillbillies and "Have a Cuppa Tea"