Artist: The Kinks
Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
“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 varietiesPreserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways, for me and for you
What more can we do?”
I am back! Not in terms of this blog, because let’s be honest I’ll constantly be taking breaks and slowing down. But in terms of my mood and just all around being me as a person, I finally feel like I’m back to normal. I’ve been getting amazing sleep. I wake up early naturally. I feel energised the entire day with no need for naps. I’m actually in a good mood. I feel like I’m myself again, my motivation has returned and I find myself actually being productive (or at least somewhat). Thins are turning around and I feel great.
On top of that I got to enjoy what I feel is currently my favourite Kinks album. I think I’m finally sold on them and this was the album that sealed the deal for me. I was somewhat hesitant at first but now I think I absolutely love The Kinks. There’s something about their music that both feels incredibly nostalgic but fresh at the same time. Like they’re working with formulas but somehow using them in an original way. It’s a strange sentiment to feel, but a great one nonetheless and I really hope this isn’t it for the Kinks catalogue (but it might be sadly). Shame, I was really hoping for more.
Something The Kinks do very well is capture an image of old school England. That sense of nostalgia doesn’t just come through their music but their imagery as well as they capture a slice of life within the community. Here they do it their best as they paint a picture within the confines of the idea of the “Village Green” which according to the writers is a sort of safe haven away from all the artifice and bullshit of the city life and real world. A place where things are simpler and easier with nothing fake happening, just a genuine world within a plastic one. As someone who is a strong believer in honesty, this idea really feels like a breath of fresh air.
As a concept album it works very well, creating these little vignettes to fully create this world they’re taking you through. Oddly enough, despite being unanimously critically acclaimed, it sold very poorly, which sadly seems to be a regular thing for The Kinks. Once again, it’s one of those a;bums that only started to get noticed way past it’s release and would be rediscovered years later. The Kinks seem to have a weird relationship with this sort of thing and apparently their feelings of exclusion from the US was in part what had them create this album. Here’s an interesting snippet I found that I would like to share:
“Davies, who had suffered mental exhaustion himself, isolated and conscious of “the hole I was in” – to either be a hit machine or not to exist, sings; “This world is big and wild and half insane… It’s a hard, hard world if it gets you down – Dreams often fade and die in a bad, bad world” with “Everybody pushing one another around… all the people who think they got problems.. don’t let it get you down”. He advises one friend (“Starstruck“); “you’re a victim of bright city lights and your mind is not right…. running around like you’re crazy… out on your feet – It’s gonna drive you insane because the world’s not so tame”.
The writer admits; “I sought fame, and so I left the village green.” But he has somewhere to return to; “I’ll take you where real animals are playing, and people are real people not just playing. It’s a quiet, quiet life”. The village green offers a place to be natural, a place of solitude, while the “city” offers only artifice, haste, competition and the dangers of the Cold War. The animal farm, Ray Davies said, “was just me thinking everybody else is mad and we are all animals anyway – which is really the idea of the whole album.””
It really puts the album into a new perspective getting an introspective look at the writer’s mindset when creating the album and it really added a lot, for me at least. And obviously who can say what they’re doing better than the writer themselves. I really get a sense that he was just plain fed up of the world and he vented all his frustrations into this album. The energy he put into it really shows and it’s easily their best album (at least of the ones I’ve heard on this list). It’s nice to see The Kinks finally fall into place and having seen their progression and growth, this is probably the peak of their career, which is a shame because getting the chance to watch them grow beyond this would have been quite a spectacle to witness.
What else can I really say about this album without going into a song play by play (which I will not do). It’s essentially just the masterwork of a band that has been building up to this sort of climax for awhile. They finally achieved it and can finally sit back and know that they’ve managed to create something that remains both timeless and old, a difficult feat to achieve. In days like today where technology is moving fast and everything is becoming more and more artificial, it’s good to have moments like this where we can hold on to older and more slow-paced days. The idea of the Village Green is definitely an idealistic one but one we should all go to every now and then to remind ourselves that it’s ok to slow down every once in awhile.
Also getting some peace of mind isn’t bad either.
Song of Choice: Picture Book
p.s Funnily enough, all this talk about the world being artificial and I was listening to Kraftwerk’s “The Man Machine” while writing this. Pure coincidence, did not do that on purpose.