Monday, October 29, 2012

The Kinks The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society 1968

This record sounds English in a way few records do. Some of the Small Faces work comes to mind, and some of the English folk-inspired music comes to mind, such as Fairport Convention and Fotheringay (those sound English, but not like this).

This is something else entirely, and uniquely English. It is at once pop confection, ode to a romanticized simpler English past, and rock and roll record. Ray Davies had a clear and unique vision in 1968, and it sounded like nothing else. The intricate arrangements were rivaled by only Lennon and McCartney and Brian Wilson in 1968.

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society was released near the end of a ban from live performance in America that had harmed the Kinks popularity here, and it sold poorly (in America and the U.K.) despite positive press. It is the only Kinks record to stay off the charts in both America and the U.K., and the band would never again see the U.K. album charts except for compilation records, although they continued to sneak a single in once in a while. The lack of a hit single on the record probably didn't help. It's one of those records that became famous long after it's initial weak sales. Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis suffered the same fate, and has since, like this one, become an "instant classic".

There are, of course, quite a few songs about the idyllic English past and quaint pastimes. The title track, Picture Book, Last Of The Steam-Powered Trains, Sitting By The Riverside, Animal Farm, and Village Green all focus lyrically on nostalgia for some idealized past. The mature psych-rock of Do You Remember Walter and Big Sky is refreshing, and the blues-rock of Wicked Anabella and Steam-Powered Trains recalls their early singles. Throw in Starstruck with its Beach Boys chorus, the odd chamber-pop of Phenomenal Cat, the Latin styling of Monica, and a bit of Davies' music hall/carbaret influence on the self deprecating All My Friends Were There, and you've covered a lot of territory.

The songs and arrangements are almost universally strong. Mick Avory is an outstanding drummer. Nicky Hopkins is still assisting on piano and harpsichord. Ray and Dave Davies both bring unique assets to the rock and roll game. The recording is good, if at times a bit thin on the low end.

Is it THE Classic Kinks record? If you say so, I won't argue with you. It is the culmination of the style they birthed two years earlier with Face To Face, and which will begin to change with Arthur. They will begin to rock just a little bit more after this, and branch out a bit stylistically. The next few years hold quite a few more highlights.

For me, Ray Davies wrote his strongest song cycle for Arthur, where he combined the nostalgia for the past on display here with bitter social commentary on the present. A couple of years ago, I reviewed Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire 1969 here.

Here's my other Kinks reviews:
Face To Face 1966
Something Else By The Kinks  1967
Ray Davies The Kinks Choral Collection 2009


  1. This is one of, if not my, favorite Kinks album.

  2. Glad you like it. All of the Kinks reviews I've done have gotten many more hits than most of my posts. The Kinks fan site at is well run and clearly attracts a fanatic crowd.