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On Second Thought
The Kinks - The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society





irst off, I have to mention that this is my favorite album of all time, so this review might be slightly biased. I bought Village Green Preservation Society back in 1996 while I was on Thanksgiving break from college at a record store somewhere in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area, I canít recall exactly which one (though it was probably Quonset Hut in Canton). Iím not sure what possessed me to buy it, it may have had something to do with the fact that Stephen Malkmus namechecked the album in an Alternative Press interview (yeah, I canít believe I used to read Alternative Press, either). According to my rough estimate, I have listened to this album somewhere close to 2,000 times since that day in 1996 (an average of a little more than once a day) and it gets better each time. But, enough about me.


Village Green Preservation Society was recorded during the absolute lowest commercial point in The Kinksí career. Their previous album, Something Else died an early commercial death on both sides of the Atlantic, they were relegated to opening act status (supporting Peter Framptonís first band The Herd), and banned from touring in the United States due to issues with the musicianís union and the fact that Ray Daviesí wife was born in the Soviet Union. Ironically, this was all happening during the highest creative point of the bandís career. Their two previous albums, Face to Face and Something Else, are bonafide classics in their own right, classics that only a select few fans and critics appreciated at the time of their release.


The album was originally intended as a concept album based on Dylan Thomasí Under Milkwood . A concept which was eventually abandoned and replaced with an another concept: life in the English countryside and a return to the way things used to be. A concept that Ray Davies would later revisit in his rock opera Preservation Acts 1 and 2 (elements of the concept also appear in Arthur and Muswell Hillbillies).


The album opens with "Village Green Preservation Society", a mission statement of sorts, singing the praises of Vaudeville, tudor houses, little shops, china cups, and virginity. This is followed by "Do You Remember Walter?", an ode to an old friend whoís probably "fat and married and always home in bed by half past ten", probably the strongest song on the album. "Johnny Thunder"(which gave a Keith Richards obsessed kid from New York named John Ganzale his pseudonym, he later went on to play guitar for the New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers, but thatís another story) introduces the first character of the village, a man who "lives on water", "feeds on lightning", "speaks for no one" and "will never ever end up like the rest". Other characters on the album include a fat, world traveling, "Phenomenal Cat", the town witch, "Wicked Annabella" (the only real "rock" song on the album, also Dave Davies only lead vocal on the album), the town enchantress, "Monica", "The Last of the Steam Powered Trains", the American tourists who exclaim "Boy, darling, isnít it a pretty scene?" in "Village Green", and last but not least, God, whoís too occupied to sympathize with the other villagers ("Big Sky").


Needless to say, a concept of life in the English country side wasnít exactly the best way to improve their commercial fortunes. The album ended up being a total flop, still the lowest selling album in the Kinksí catalog (yes, sadly, more people own UK Jive and Phobia).


Anyway, in my opinion there is no finer rock album than Village Green Preservation Society. It will probably be the only album I will ever give the perfect 10.0 rating because I've never heard any album that is as quite as perfect and I doubt I ever will. In short, if you don't own this already, buy it now.


By: Matt Golden
2003-09-01


Comments
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Posted 08/15/2004 - 11:07:52 PM by DigitalDave:
 I love it. In the first sentence you mention that it's your favorite album of all time, and honestly, I have to agree (although a very very close second is dubnobasswithmyheadman by Underworld, if you can believe that). The Village Green Preservation Society is a record I had heard so many praises for that I had to buy it, and at first I didn't really like it (keep in mind I was mostly listening to newer indie stuff at the time and was just starting to get into the awesome stuff from the 60's and 70's), but after a while I realized that this record is absolutely awesome. Of course it had no single...which one would you choose? There's no clear cut winner, no generic rock hit, which is why this record's sales were so abysmal. And now, over 35 years later, people are starting to catch on. Yeah...this record (along with Arthur) has got to be in everyone's collection.
 
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