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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Rewind: 1968 The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society - The Kinks

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society - The Kinks
Pye (UK) Reprise (US)
Produced by Ray Davies
Released 22nd November 1968
Did Not Chart!

The Kinks
    Ray Davies – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, accordion, oboe, flute
    Dave Davies – lead guitar, backup vocals, lead vocals on "Wicked Annabella"
    Pete Quaife – bass, backup vocals
    Mick Avory – drums, percussion

Additional musicians
    Nicky Hopkins – keyboards, mellotron
    Rasa Davies – backing vocals

Rob Webb writing for the BBC in 2004 said, "In 1968 The Kinks released The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, an album curiously closer in spirit to that year's new sitcom hit, Dad's Army, than to the more familiar rock 'n' roll preoccupations of the day. While his contemporaries were revolting in style or getting mystic, Ray Davies spent much of the summer putting together a concept album steeped in nostalgia for an 'Olde England' of corner shops, custard pies and steam trains; an album which seemed to draw as much on the prewar music-hall of Max Miller as it did the blues. While the rock mainstream embraced Satanism and free love, Davies sang about preserving virginity and Sunday School. The Kinks' latest heroes were, apparently, Desperate Dan and Mrs Mopp, rather than Abraham, Martin or John. It was seriously out of step with prevailing trends."

Released on the same day in 1968 as The White Album by The Beatles and there were two very different reactions to both albums. The Beatles album was massive worldwide, The Kinks album made no impact upon the charts in the UK or anywhere else for that matter! It is considered to be one of their most influential and important works and yet at the time it was not the case. Critics praised the album (Read Paul Williams review for Rolling Stone, the album was released in America in January 1969), the public ignored it, and Davies -- surveying the scene-- asserted that it wasn't created for public consumption.

The album was the last one that featured the original quartet as Pete Quaife left the band early 1969 before work began on Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). They had basically spent the better part of two years recording the album and added the finishing touches in October 1968.

Original European 12-song version
Side one
    "The Village Green Preservation Society"
    "Do You Remember Walter?"
    "Picture Book"
    "Johnny Thunder"

Side two
    "Village Green"
    "Mr. Songbird"
    "Wicked Annabella"
    "Phenomenal Cat"
    "People Take Pictures Of Each Other"

This 12-song version was the original track listing intended for the European market. It was released in France, Sweden and Norway in October 1968, New Zealand in December 1968 and Italy in January 1969. However, before its release in the U.K, Ray and Pye had it withdrawn before it was manufactured and a re-sequenced version, expanded to 15 songs. Apart from sequencing, this early version differs by the absence of "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains", "Big Sky", "Sitting by the Riverside", "Animal Farm" and "All of My Friends Were There", and the inclusion of "Mr. Songbird" and "Days" (the latter a #12 UK hit single released in June 1968). The stereo mixes of "Do You Remember Walter" and "People Take Pictures Of Each Other" featured slightly different parts from the mono mixes. This version is extremely rare to find.

The 1998 CD version of the album contained a Stereo Mix of 12 songs from the album and also a mono mix of Days. The 2004 3CD Special Deluxe Edition had a number of bonus tracks including three Stereo Mixes from the withdrawn 12 track edition and a disc of alternate and unreleased versions of songs.

Over the years there has been a major rethink about the album and as I said before many now declare it as their finest work. In Rolling Stone Magazine it was ranked at #255 in their 500 Greatest Albums of All TimePete Townshend of The Who later said that "For me, Village Green Preservation Society was Ray's masterwork. It's his Sgt. Pepper, it's what makes him the definitive pop poet laureate."

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