Ask Cool Daddy Again
Dear Cool Daddy: I had to admit to my daughter that all these years later, between the “Coca Cola” and the “cherry cola” versions of the Kinks song “Lola,” I couldn’t remember which I heard on the radio when it first came out. Which did I, and should I care? …from Skippy in Pacoima
Dear Skippy: Of course you should, geez, what’s this world coming to? Here’s the tale of the tape, in excruciating detail, as recounted by Doug Hinman in his book “The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night: Day by Day Concerts, Recordings and Broadcasts.” The song is the first Ray Davies writes for the Kinks new LP Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round and they record it in England in April and early May 1970, with the line “where you drink champagne and it takes just like Coca Cola.” An audio re-recording for BBC radio is done May 18, and a video for TV is filmed May 20, then the band is off on a North American tour, scheduled to run May 22 thru July 10.
While in New York City, they learn that the BBC will not broadcast the 2 recordings, owing to their long-standing policy banning the mention of commercial products in songs. Now excuse me for living, but I must raise the issue of how Davies thought he could get away with “Coca Cola” in the first place…perhaps he thought Auntie Beeb would cut them some slack. She didn’t. The tour is interrupted as he flies back to London on May 25 and for the next several days “repairs” the BBC tracks by substituting “cherry cola.” By but May 28, he still hasn’t successfully overdubbed the LP track for the upcoming 45 release. He flies back for 2 shows in Chicago, May 29 and 30, then is back in London June 1 when he finally nails it. The single is released in the UK on June 12, with great fanfare given to the fact he had to fly back twice to “fix” the A-side, and it comes out in the US 8 days later.
The 45 is of course a mono mix, and it says “cherry
cola” in both the US and the UK, so this is the hit you heard on the radio during the summer of 1970…because you see, that was the only version available! But to tell you the truth, before I started writing this, I listened to both versions myself, and as much as I loved the song when it came out, I couldn’t remember which I heard that summer either. Now when the LP was released…November 27 in the UK, December 2 in the US…both contained the “Coca Cola” version, and since I played the %@!# out of that disc, that’s
really the version that sounds more familiar to me. I’m sure FM stations playing album tracks back in the day must have sometimes played this “new” version of “Lola,” which of course turned out to be the original version. And the irony is, the LP gatefold had all the song lyrics, and it says “cherry cola.” That version, still in the original mono, is now sometimes included as a bonus track on Kinks CD re-issues.
And the song itself is supposedly about one of the band member’s real-life encounter…which one depends on who’s telling the story…with a Big Apple transvestite, and some speculate it might have been Andy Warhol posse member Candy Darling, seen at right. Above left are the British 45 and LP sleeves…the American 45 had a different B-side, and the album had all blue lines, not black. A little known instrumental version appears on the soundtrack of the British movie Percy for which the Kinks provided the music…if you’ve never heard it, here it is: Percy Lola… And for you out-of-towners, Pacoima is a section of Los Angeles. The closest I ever got to Pacoima was Cheech & Chong’s “Santa Claus and His Old Lady,” where it’s mentioned along with Nueva York, remember?
Dear Cool Daddy: I’m a big Vince Guaraldi fan, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him do disco. Did he? …from Disco Lu in Lompoc
Dear Lu: I think I’ve heard most everything he ever recorded and I’ve never heard anything resembling disco either. He died unexpectedly on February 6, 1976 of a heart attack, while relaxing in his hotel room between sets at a club called Butterfield’s in Menlo Park, CA, just up the coast from you. He was 47. At that time disco was really building up a head of steam…like the theme from Dallas…and C.H.I.P.S. Indeed, some pop jazz artists were dabbling with the disco beat…perhaps Herbie Mann was most successful…remember “Hijack”?…or…”Waterbed”?
But not the guy they called Dr. Funk. Earlier in the day, he had completed work on his 15th and last Peanuts TV special, “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown.” The series is now up to 46, with some of the most recent ones being released directly to DVD so you may have missed them. Recently, many of the lost melodies from Vince’s Peanuts scores have been issued on CD…check your favorite music vendor. And don’t forget, next time the opportunity presents itself, to cast your fate to the wind…
No, Jed and Miss Hathaway are not getting married…it’s just the 947th time on that show that somebody mistook something they saw & heard for something else…a tried and true old gimmick that worked for me…
Check Out These Shameless Plugs, Charlie Brown…
Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)
Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…twc-rr so still giga-blows to infinity & beyond…