Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the kinks are the village green preservation society

The Kinks sought to preserve the old ways and protect the new ways with the wistful reminiscences of this bucolic British bulwark.  Despite the high critical praise of their albums 'Face to Face' and 'Something Else',  the band had seen their popularity continue to wane as singles like 'Wonderboy' and 'Days' failed to duplicate their earlier chart success.  

Ray Davies began working on a concept album about a mythical England that was disappearing.  They took several months to record the album tentatively titled 'Village Green' at Pye Studios in London with producer Ray Davies on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, and harmonica; Dave Davies on lead guitar, backup vocals, and lead vocals on "Wicked Annabella"; Pete Quaife on bass and backup vocals; and Mick Avory on drums and percussion;   with Nicky Hopkins adding keyboards and mellotron, and Rasa Davies providing backup vocals.  

Ray says:    "I wanted it to be 'Under Milk Wood', something like that, but I never got the chance to do it because we had to make albums. Somebody told me that I preserve things, and I like village greens and preservation society. The title track is the national anthem of the album, and I like Donald Duck, Desperate Dan, draught beer.  Johnny Thunder lives on water, he don't eat food, he feeds on lightening (laughter). Frankenstein. It's not a cowboy song. It would be nice to hear the Who sing it.  Phenomenal Cat went to Singapore and Hong Kong and decided it was just was well to get fat. I didn't, he did. It was completely his own decision. And he came back and at himself to eternity."

Dave considers:    "I’ve never been a really sentimental person. Even back in the days of ['The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society'], there wasn’t so much fighting to hold on to the past, that was a time when there was large amount of thinking about getting rid of the past and moving on. 'Let’s keep the stuff that works and get rid of stuff that doesn’t work and then let’s move on!' It’s things we carry internally that are really important in the end. I’ve always been ready to embrace what’s around the corner because it might be just the thing that I need to help me grow." 

Peter Quaife says the album is his favorite of the band's:   "It was the one album where all four of us contributed ideas. It was the only project where everybody participated as a group. Ironically, it was my last album with the band...I don't entirely blame external music industry forces [for the band's lack of sustained success]. The Kinks put on a happy facade to the outside world. Behind closed doors it was like the WWF (World Wrestling Federation). If we had have worked together in a more positive way, communicated. Talked instead of argued. I really think we hurt ourselves with the constant scrapping. I remember, early on, that the Stones and us were about of equal popularity. I knew one of us would emerge as number two behind the Beatles. There was no way either us or the Stones were going to surpass the Beatles. The Kinks knew that. But we did have a chance to surpass the Stones if we worked as a collaborative unit and cut out the bullshit and fighting. I pulled Ray aside to talk about this and he told me to 'sexually fornicate' off."

When the record was completed, Ray Davies was not satisfied and petitioned Pye to let him turn it into a double album.  The label refused, as the record had already been sent to the presses; but they allowed him to rework it and expand it from twelve to fifteen tracks.  The personal reflections of the album had a hard time finding an audience at the time and the album sold poorly despite an overwhelmingly positive critical response.  'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' has gone on to become a classic and is considered to be one of their very best.  Ray quips:   "Maybe people should have a winding down session before listening to our songs. Maybe they should be briefed. Or debriefed. I think they should be debriefed."!/album/The+Kinks+Are+The+Village+Green+Preservation+Society/2415360

"The Village Green Preservation Society" – 2:45

We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society
God save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother Riley
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium
God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them
We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula
We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate
God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
God save the Village Green.

"Do You Remember Walter?" – 2:23

"Picture Book" – 2:34

"Johnny Thunder" – 2:28

"Last of the Steam-powered Trains" – 4:03

"Big Sky" – 2:49

"Sitting by the Riverside" – 2:21

"Animal Farm" – 2:57

"Village Green" – 2:08

"Starstruck" – 2:18

"Phenomenal Cat" ("Phenominal" on the LP sleeve) – 2:34

"All of My Friends Were There" – 2:23

"Wicked Annabella" – 2:40

"Monica" – 2:13

"People Take Pictures of Each Other" – 2:10

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