This has been a tough decision.
It’s always difficult to come up with a handful of top albums. But in writing this, we have to say that, excluding jazz (too complicated to factor in), the Kinks are our favorite band. Ever.
The Kinks – Are the Village Green Preservation Society [Deluxe remastering]
Rating: over 9000
…And Are the Village Green Preservation Society is our favorite album of theirs.
Bear in mind, people will cite the Beatles, or maybe Lou Reed, maybe sympathize with Brian Wilson. These artists all sound better than the more nasal tones of the Kinks. But yet the Kinks are our #1 band. So when we heard about the earth-shattering deluxe-upon-deluxe release of Village Green… let’s say our ears perked up.
The full multi-record deluxe edition comes with 17 discs, and oodles of photos. While we got part of the mini-deluxe 2-CD version (an extra 34 tracks – we got 10 of those), this is the kind of release that was made for deep Kinks fans such as us.
Some of the content includes never-released tracks, photos, and even radio interviews. Also expect new essays afoot. The total price is well over $100 for the 17-record edition, and we don’t anticipate many people will want to invest that much money outside of their favorite, absolute, number one band.
But the CD deluxe edition does include some interesting tracks to the “Kinks are in my top 10 bands” kind of fan. Throughout the album there is a theme of nostalgia, encapsulated in personal photos. The medley of “Picture Book” and “People Take Pictures of Each Other” does show the deliberateness Ray Davies took in his symbolism and understanding of human psychology fifty years ago. Any relation to the photo sharing of today? The world may never know…
Andy Neill’s essay in the CD edition helps to highlight some of these themes and shed light on the construction of the album. His take on the album track by track is exactly what we’ve been doing since we heard the album in aught-two, dissecting it and figuring how the thing works.
While the album itself was a failure in its time (too nostalgic for the Sgt. Pepper’s era of revolution), it sheds more light on the human experience than anything the Beatles have put together, and vocalizes the deep contradictions within the human psyche… all in layperson’s dialog. Our final comment here is that, in the extra tracks, Davies does have a mean streak in him, and when you listen to “When I Turn off the Living Room Light,” a song about two ugly people in love… you see an ugly side of Davies. We understand the completist mindset when it comes to music fans, but we weigh more credit to Davies for not including this song on the original album.
There has also been a 3-CD deluxe release of this album some time ago, but we feel the record release is the one if this album is your #1. And if you can shell out the dough. In Davies’ words, the album is “the end of our innocence, our youth. Some people are quite old in the Village Green, you’re never allowed to grow up… [it] is part of a life cycle.” Chew on that.
If you’re up for complicated music that forces you to interpret again and again and again, this is the album for you. Also consider their follow-up album Arthur, which delves deeper into the destruction wrought by the conservatism and nostalgia presented here. (Hopefully a 17-record deluxe of that will out next year.)