The Kinks’ Lola is just a brilliant song isn’t it? Laid back, sleazy, sexy, funny, clever rock and roll.
In the opening bars, Ray Davies portrays the naïve kid at large in Soho; his voice shell-shocked and timid over an innocuous, finger-picked, folksy acoustic guitar line. But then we meet Lola – L-O-L-A, Lola. La, la, la, la Lola – and it takes off in a big way.
“I’m not the world’s most physical guy, but when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine.”
It’s full of killer lines, sleazy riffs and sloppy percussion. Lola sees The Kinks go barrelling into Rolling Stones territory and making themselves very comfortable.
“Now, I’m not dumb but I don’t understand why she walks like a woman and talks like a man”. Well, mate, you say you’re not dumb but you’re not the sharpest shirt on Carnaby Street if you can’t work out what’s going on there. In fairness, this was released in 1970, but it was the mention of Coca Cola rather than the edgy subject matter that got the song banned by the BBC, forcing Ray to make a round trip across the Atlantic from a US tour just to re-record that part as ‘cherry cola’.
As the night wears on and the champagne flows, Ray loosens up, until by the end, he’s repeatedly hollering “Lola” in a besotted, throaty roar. This is the night that changes everything and you know that timid little voice that opened the song is never coming back.
Cud were my favourite band for about two weeks when I was a teenager. They were a Leeds indie band with a nice line in catchy pop tunes, cryptic lyrics and odd album covers. I don’t know why it didn’t last, but I moved on to other things and never went back.
They were never afraid to cover an iconic tune. They did a jokey version of You Sexy Thing for a Peel Session and even (shambolically) tackled Bohemian Rhapsody for the Alvin Lives In Leeds compilation a couple of years later. Their cover of Lola is actually pretty faithful – respectful even. It sounds like a band playing a song they love.
Other than a nice, new, prominent bassline, some minor rearrangements and a bit of wah-wah added to the end of the main riff, the main thing distinguishing it from the original is Carl Puttnam’s powerful, distinctive voice. His voice was always Cud’s biggest selling point and he puts in one of his best recorded performances on Lola. It was the perfect song for him really – he was happier than most indie frontmen of that time (1989) to sing about sex and the way the song builds to a climax suited his vocal talents ideally.
Cud’s Lola is a magnificent cover version. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original song but without changing too much, the band make it their own.
Shit video though.