Background and recording
The Kinks ban by the American Federation of Musicians on performing in America, which had been in force since 1965, was lifted in 1969, so the group's management arranged a North American tour. However, members of the band fell ill, and the tour was shuffled, resulting in the band playing only a few dates in America and Canada. A follow-up tour in 1970 met with similar results, with the group performing at only a select number of venues, with many dates cancelled. The down time between the tours allowed Ray Davies, lead singer and songwriter of the group, to develop the band's next single, "Lola".
The Kinks returned to England to start work on their new LP in spring 1970. The group used Morgan Studios, an independent studio in Willesden, London, which was a change for them. They would continue recording their albums there until Preservation, when they switched to their newly purchased studio, Konk. Recording began in late April/early May. Some of the first songs recorded were "Lola", the outtake "The Good Life", "Powerman" and "Got to Be Free". The sessions for "Lola" were especially long, and the recording continued into late May. Davies would recall later how he achieved the signature clangy sound at the beginning of the track:
||"I remember going into a music store on Shaftesbury Avenue in London when we were about to make 'Lola'. I said, 'I want to get a really good guitar sound on this record. I want a Martin.' And in the corner they had this old 1938 dobro [resonator guitar, in this case a National Steel] that I bought for £150. I put them together on 'Lola' which is what makes that clangy sound: the combination of the Martin and the dobro with heavy compression."
The National Steel would play an integral part in many Kinks projects after that. In the 1972 song "Supersonic Rocket Ship", Ray Davies would use the guitar to create a Caribbean feel for the record. Davies would play it on numerous Top of The Pops appearances, and it would be featured in several music videos the Kinks made in the future, including "Scattered" in 1992.
Keyboardist John Gosling was added to the Kinks' lineup in May. He auditioned on the final backing master track for "Lola", and was hired soon after. He was initially taken on solely for their upcoming US tour, but his post evolved into a more permanent position soon after. Gosling would remain with the band until 1977, departing after the release of Sleepwalker. Dubbing for "Lola" was finished in June. Recording for the LP was completed by October, and it was mixed throughout the remainder of the month. Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One was released on 27 November 1970.
For "Lola", Ray Davies overdubbed the trademarked word "Coca-Cola" with the generic "cherry-cola" for the mono single release, as product placement rules meant the BBC (being a public service broadcaster) would not have played it. The lyrics in the gatefold sleeve of the original LP use the "cherry-cola" line, though the album track contains the original stereo "Coca-Cola" version. A similar situation was encountered with the song "Apeman", concerning the line "the air pollution is a-foggin' up my eyes". "Fogging" was mistaken for "fucking", and consequently Ray Davies had to re-record this line prior to its single release.