“You guys really like The Kinks.”
The above is a quote from a London Walker from Austin, Texas (a great music city, too) on the Rock’n’Roll London walk recently.
A regular follower of The Daily Constitutional, he was observing that in our Friday Rock’n’Roll London slot we often come back to The Kinks.
And here we go again…
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society was released in November 1968… and failed to chart. In the intervening 40-odd years the album has progressed from runt of the Kinks’ commercial litter to cult classic to finally be recognised as a landmark in English popular songwriting. Ray Davies, it is said, once described it as, "The most successful flop of all time". It was released on the same day as The Beatles double album (known widely as the White Album).
Davies, as ever, ploughs his own unique furrow. As Jagger fantasised about being a Street Fightin’ Man and Lennon challenged us to a debate on Revolution, Ray holds his head in his hands and bemoans the pace of change, encroaching concrete and the demise of the steam trains.
His wistful, witty and poetic take on such themes later found more vitriolic expression when, having passed through the prism of punk, it begat the sentiment of Blur’s 1993 album title Modern Life Is Rubbish (you can see that sleeve HERE.)
The sleeve shows record label Pye’s customary and fundamental misunderstanding of the artistic aims of their act – casting an incongruous, psychedelic pall over the whole affair.
The photoshoot took place on Hampstead Heath, near Kenwood House. It captures the original line up of the group for the very last time. Bass player Pete Quaife would quit the band in 1969.
The sleeve for the Swedish version of the album…
…released in a 12 track version (as it was all over the continent) gives a much better feel of the location and, indeed, the feel of the album.
The Deluxe Edition of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is availalable to buy through Ray Davies’s official website www.raydavies.info (follow the Merchandise Shop link).
Join the Rock’n'Roll London Walk on Friday at 2pm, meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station (Exit 3) – to book a Private Walk call 020 7642 3978 or email firstname.lastname@example.org