The Kinks
The Village Green Preservation Society


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
October 19th, 2009 | 21 replies


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A middle finger to America that remains potent today.

So what do you hear when you're listening to The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society? Usually when people discuss this record, particularly in the English media, they do so with a kind of misty-eyed nostalgia, treating the record as a loving tribute to the pastures and cottages of the England of years gone by. They hear admiration, even tenderness.

You know what I hear? Spite.

By 1968 it was clear that The Kinks would never truly experience success in America, success they apparently craved as much as anything. They'd been shafted by The American Federation of Musicians, who unfairly denied them a license to perform live in the country at the height of the British invasion. It was their big shot and they weren't even given the chance to blow it on their own terms - as a result the perfectly fine single "Days", released the same year as this album, never even charted on US shores. They were credited as influences by The Rolling Stone and The Who, they were stars in their home country, they were keeping admirable pace with The Beatles as far as great singles went, and yet at the time, they weren't even on the same radar in the eyes of the most lucrative of markets. Ray Davies probably feared, quite reasonably, that his band had missed their chance to be remembered in the right way, alongside all the biggest and best bands of the time. Wouldn't YOU be pissed off?

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society reflects all of that. After persevering for a little while by writing music that was palatable to Americans (including "Days"), this is Davies turning a complete 180 and making arguably the most aggressively English album ever; certainly up to that point, nobody has done anything like this. But I think it's missing the point a little to just see this as English - it's also anti-American, a spiteful move made in anger and frustration at the situation they'd found themselves in. And in ways, it's also a little spiteful toward England, too. Perhaps constantly being reassured by people talking about his English success had irked him as well; whatever the cause, it's undeniable that there are mocking exaggerations here, coupled with an occasional tone of patronization, that could be quite easily compared with Frank Zappa's We're Only in it For the Money.

Is that just me? Does anybody else listen to "Do You Remember Walter?" and wonder how sincere the lyric is meant to be? Sound to me like the time when everyone knew Walter's name isn't a particularly interesting one. And doesn't anybody else hear the title track and wonder whether Ray Davies really think that strawberry jam, virginity, Mrs. Mopp, and antique tables are really the best things about England? And for that matter, in what way is Donald Duck meant to be English? Even Desperate Dan and Fu Manchu might be English creations, but they're also obvious and lazy parodies of other nations. There's a song called "Animal Farm" that is quite literally about a farm with animals, rather being than an Orwellian anti-Communist rant that would have been in keeping with the political climate in 1960s America. "People Take Pictures of Each Other" could be interpreted as an attack on being having that misty-eyed view of the old England based purely on a few carefully chosen images that ignored the realities of life. And on it goes.

I realize what I've put here might seem like a radical re-positioning of this album in the eyes of many, but in truth, that's the very reason I love it. On first listen I heard a great pop album with a lot of nice ideas about a time long past. On second listen I figured that it had no depth beyond that and wouldn't hold up to repeated listens. And then, I started hearing something else, something darker. It may not strictly be the traditional use of the term, but The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is one of the all-time great protest albums.



Recent reviews by this author
Krzysztof Penderecki and Jonny Greenwood Krzysztof Penderecki / Jonny GreenwoodLana Del Rey Paradise
Scott Walker Bish BoschEmilie Autumn Fight Like A Girl
Susanne Sundfor The Silicone VeilPepe Deluxe Queen of the Wave
user ratings (281)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
Scott Herren (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
October 19th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

is this streaming anywhere idk

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2009


10493 Comments


nick who do you think you are with these time traveling reviews

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Tits McGee
October 19th 2009


1876 Comments


band is good. i'll get this

NortherlyNanook
October 19th 2009


1285 Comments


that makes no sense but youre sonictheplumber so oh well

fireaboveicebelow
October 19th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

cool stuff

endlessartix
October 19th 2009


275 Comments


hey guys this isn't related to this at all and i dont mean to sound like a noob (ive been here six months) but i never figured out how to get my avatar to show up next to my comments. i tried the 'edit my info
thing but 1. it won't let me upload my own and 2. the predifined ones don't work

Anyway my friend's dad loves the Kinks I never bothered to check em out though really. Maybe I should one of these days.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2009


15743 Comments


summary needs some fixin but i like these old school reviews

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

alachlahol
October 20th 2009


7501 Comments


it's actually a review about the old school, not itself an old-school review

SylentEcho
October 20th 2009


1573 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review. Album was perfect when I first heard it and still is.

Iai
Emeritus
October 20th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dumb summary typo corrected :-/

Yotimi
October 20th 2009


6521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool review. Great album. Picture Book >>> Green Day's Warning.

DhA
October 20th 2009


421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mistake because the singer is actually a massive ocnserative and is actually just THAT british tbh

Roach
December 15th 2009


2148 Comments


what

crazyblinddude
March 5th 2010


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

im sad more people dont know about this album

Pheromone
November 14th 2013


3631 Comments


Who doesn't love the kinks?

Digging: Squirrel Bait - Skag Heaven

leobrodinho
November 18th 2013


11 Comments


Who????

KILL
January 13th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

a picture of you in your birthday suit :D

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Pheromone
January 13th 2014


3631 Comments


Kinks > Beatles
oops

KILL
January 13th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea u def made a mistake dw it happens

Pheromone
January 13th 2014


3631 Comments


KILL do you know Humble Pie?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy