The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
|The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society|
|Studio album by The Kinks|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||November 1966 – October 1968 at Pye Studios, London|
|Label||Pye (UK), Reprise (US)|
|The Kinks chronology|
|Singles from The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society|
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is the sixth studio album by the English rock group the Kinks, released in November 1968. It was the last album by the original quartet, as bassist Pete Quaife left the group in early 1969. A collection of thematic vignettes of English town and hamlet life, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society was assembled from songs written and recorded over the previous two years. Allmusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine described Village Green as a "concept album lamenting the passing of old-fashioned English traditions."
Although the record is widely considered one of the most influential and important works by the Kinks, it failed to chart upon release, and only sold about 100,000 copies. In 2003, the album was ranked number 255 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The first activity towards the Village Green LP was the recording of the song "Village Green" during the sessions for the Kinks' 1967 LP Something Else. Inspired by a trip taken by lead vocalist and songwriter Ray Davies to rural Devon, the song served as a catalyst for The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, and Davies began collecting ideas for a thematic album revolving around the village green concept. The band's interest in the project began to grow in mid 1967. In a June interview promoting his new single, "Death of a Clown", lead guitarist Dave Davies announced that a Ray Davies solo LP was scheduled for release in September. In his book All Day and All of the Night, Doug Hinman interpreted that the solo LP "probably refers to Ray's plans for a collection of songs with a London theme, a la 'Waterloo Sunset', an idea that seems to appear and disappear quickly, or his Village Green concept, the one that seems to take hold." The Kinks spent the remainder of the year focusing on completing Something Else. After the LP's completion, the group went on a short hiatus, before beginning work on Village Green.
The sessions for Village Green were born out of a rough period for the group. In early 1968, a combination of legal and family issues slowed Ray Davies' songwriting output, and the song "Wonderboy", released in April, was a chart failure, becoming the first Kinks single to not enter the NME Top 30. Davies, determined to restore the Kinks' dwindling success, pulled the group together to begin sessions for Village Green in May. The first songs recorded included "Misty Water" (an outtake), "Picture Book", and "Days", intended for the group's next single release. After laying down rough versions of the tracks, the group departed for a short tour of the Netherlands on 18 and 19 May. After returning, the group headed straight for the studio to continue work on "Days". On 27 May a new song was recorded, "Pictures In The Sand", and "Days" was revised. The final version of the song was released on 24 July, backed with an outtake from 1966, "She's Got Everything", used due to a lack of new recorded material. The single proved successful, and quickly climbed to number 14 on NME. Shortly after its release, Dave Davies revealed the title and subject matter of the upcoming LP, stating that it will be called Village Green, and will revolve around a town and its people. He added that it was "the best thing we've ever done."
In early August, the band focused on completing the LP, tentatively titled "Village Green". The last track was completed on 12 August, "Village Green Preservation Society", and tapes were delivered to Pye. A release date was scheduled for 27 September. Ray Davies, however, was frustrated with how the record had turned out, and asked the label to postpone the album's release to rework and add new material to it. This decision came so late that Pye had already shipped tapes to some for its foreign subsidiaries, and the twelve-track incarnation of the record was released in France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand—these copies have since become extremely rare and collectible. Ray Davies began negotiating with Pye to expand Village Green into a double album, but Pye refused. A compromise was eventually reached—Davies was allowed to resequence a fifteen-track edition of the album within a single disc. Davies agreed to this, and the band returned to the studio to lay down two more tracks: "Big Sky" and "Last of The Steam Powered Trains". Andy Miller commented on these changes in his book about the album:
"Davies was a perfectionist, and by this stage his perfectionism was verging on the neurotic, indulged by a management and record company who hoped the Kinks' main man would soon recapture his hit making form. In a sense, he was also reluctant to finish the project, describing it as "a pet dream". The album was already highly personal; now it represented ... a decisive break in 'the hit machine'."
By October, mixing was complete for the expanded 15-track album, renamed The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. After several other re-arrangements, Davies was finally pleased with the outcome, and delivered the master tapes to Pye. The album was released on 22 November (the same day The Beatles released their The Beatles).
A sample of the song "Picture Book". The song prominently features percussion. The lyrics centre on reminiscing.
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The album theme was inspired by the November 1966 track "Village Green", which was inspired by the Kinks' performances in rustic Devon, England in late 1966. (Davies has also stated that Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood was an indirect inspiration for the concept). This song neatly sums up the album's broad theme: "I miss the village green, and all the simple people..." In addition to nostalgia, the album's songs touch on a wide range of emotions and experiences, from lost friends ("Do You Remember Walter?"), memories ("People Take Pictures of Each Other", "Picture Book"), technological obsolescence ("Last of the Steam-Powered Trains"), bucolic escape ("Animal Farm"), social marginalization ("Johnny Thunder", "Wicked Annabella"), public embarrassment ("All of My Friends Were There"), childlike fantasy ("Phenomenal Cat"), straying from home ("Starstruck") and stoical acceptance of life ("Big Sky", "Sitting By the Riverside"). Davies did not compose many of the songs to fit the predetermined theme of the album; rather, their commonality developed naturally from his nostalgic songwriting interests at the time. The title track, one of the last written and recorded (in August 1968), effectively unifies the songs through an appeal to preserve a litany of sentimental objects, experiences, and fictional characters from progress and modern indifference: "God save little shops, china cups, and virginity". This last lyric inspired the slogan "God Save the Kinks" which was used in the US promotion for the album, and was associated with the band through the 1970s.
Session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins contributed significantly to the album. With the exception of true orchestral backing on the early "Village Green" track, the string and woodwind backings on such tracks as "Animal Farm", "Days", "Starstruck" and "Phenomenal Cat" were simulated by the Mellotron, played by both Hopkins and Ray Davies. Hopkins later stated that he provided "about seventy per cent of the work" on the album, and later developed a life-long grudge when Davies apparently credited himself for the majority of the keyboard playing.
Upon its release, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society was greeted with almost unanimously positive reviews from both UK and US rock critics, but at the time the album failed to sell strongly, with an estimated 100,000 copies sold worldwide. Despite this, the album has become the Kinks' best-selling original record. The album did not have a popular single ("Starstruck" was released in North America and continental Europe, but failed to chart anywhere but the Netherlands). Although it was commercially unsuccessful, Village Green, upon its US release in January 1969, was embraced by the new underground rock press, particularly in the United States, where the Kinks' status as a cult band began to grow. In The Village Voice, a newly hired Robert Christgau called it "the best album of the year so far", and Circus magazine ran an article under the heading "Kinks—Unhip But Original", which stated: "The Kinks are backdated, cut off from the mainstream of pop progression. Just the same they're originals and now have a fine new album out". In Boston's underground paper Fusion, a review stated, "The Kinks continue, despite the odds, the bad press and their demonstrated lot, to come across... Their persistence is dignified, their virtues are stoic. The Kinks are forever, only for now in modern dress". Paul Williams in Rolling Stone wrote a review that heaped praise on Village Green, saying "I've played [Village Green] twice since it arrived here this afternoon, and already the songs are slipping into my mind, each new hearing is a combined joy of renewal and discovery. Such a joy, to make new friends! And each and every song Ray Davies has written is a different friend to me." The record was not without its critics, however. In the student paper California Tech, one writer commented that it was "schmaltz rock", and that it is "without imagination, poorly arranged, and a poor copy of the Beatles".
The LP went virtually unnoticed in the UK, receiving only a single review in Disc. The nameless reviewer commented that "[Davies has managed to bypass] everything psychedelic and electronic ... The Kinks may not be on the crest of the pop wave at these days, but Ray Davies will remain one of our finest composers for many years."
The record soon achieved a cult following, and remains popular today. Kinks fan and British musician Pete Townshend of The Who later said that "For me, Village Green Preservation Society was Ray's masterwork. It's his Sgt. Pepper, it's what makes him the definitive pop poet laureate." Davies' timing with the album's nostalgic concept proved to be just out of step in the cultural turmoil of 1968, but it soon gained a much greater mainstream appeal. In 2003, the album was ranked number 255 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Sequels and follow-ups
From its inception, Davies considered the album for stage presentation and its general theme served to inspire the Kinks' more ambitious, but less popular, two-part theatrical work Preservation in 1972–1974. In his autobiography X-Ray, Davies would refer to the three albums as his "Preservation trilogy," confirming that Preservation is directly related to Village Green Preservation Society.
On 19 June 2011 Ray Davies performed the album live in its entirety for the first time. The concert was at the Royal Festival Hall in London and was part of the Meltdown festival. He was accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
All songs written by Ray Davies except as noted.
UK and U.S. version
|1.||"The Village Green Preservation Society"||2:45|
|2.||"Do You Remember Walter?"||2:23|
|5.||"Last of the Steam-Powered Trains"||4:03|
|7.||"Sitting by the Riverside"||2:21|
|4.||"Phenomenal Cat" (spelled "Phenominal Cat" on the LP sleeve)||2:34|
|5.||"All of My Friends Were There"||2:23|
|8.||"People Take Pictures of Each Other"||2:10|
|1998 CD reissue bonus tracks|
|16.||"The Village Green Preservation Society" (stereo)||2:48|
|17.||"Do You Remember Walter" (stereo)||2:28|
|18.||"Picture Book" (stereo)||2:38|
|19.||"Johnny Thunder" (stereo)||2:33|
|22.||"Village Green" (stereo)||2:11|
|23.||"Mr. Songbird" (stereo)||2:27|
|24.||"Wicked Annabella" (stereo)||2:43|
|26.||"Phenomenal Cat" (stereo)||2:38|
|27.||"People Take Pictures of Each Other" (stereo)||2:26|
|2004 Sanctuary Records special deluxe edition Disc 1 (stereo) bonus tracks|
|17.||"Days" (stereo mix from original 12-track edition released in France, Norway and Sweden)||2:53|
|18.||"Do You Remember Walter?" (stereo mix from original 12-track edition released in France, Norway and Sweden)||2:25|
|19.||"People Take Pictures of Each Other" (stereo mix from original 12-track edition released in France, Norway and Sweden)||2:24|
|2004 Sanctuary Records special deluxe edition Disc 2 (mono) bonus tracks|
|16.||"Days" (version also used for single)||2:55|
|17.||"Mr. Songbird" (previously unreleased mono mix)||2:25|
|21.||"Village Green" (no strings version, previously unreleased)||2:13|
|2004 Sanctuary Records special deluxe edition Disc 3 (rarities)|
|1.||"Village Green" (with orchestra overdub, previously unreleased)||2:22|
|2.||"Misty Water" (stereo)||3:05|
|3.||"Berkeley Mews" (stereo)||2:40|
|4.||"Easy Come, There You Went" (stereo, previously unreleased)||2:25|
|6.||"Animal Farm" (alternate stereo mix, previously unreleased)||3:02|
|7.||"Phenomenal Cat" (mono instrumental, previously unreleased)||2:50|
|8.||"Johnny Thunder" (stereo remix from the original multi-track tapes, previously unreleased)||2:36|
|9.||"Did You See His Name" (mono mix, previously unreleased)||2:00|
|10.||"Mick Avory's Underpants" (previously unreleased)||2:19|
|14.||"Spotty Grotty Anna"||2:07|
|15.||"Where Did My Spring Go"||2:11|
|17.||"Creeping Jean" (written by Dave Davies; previously unreleased longer stereo mix with some minor overdubbing missing)||3:12|
|19.||"Misty Water" (mono, previously unreleased)||3:12|
|20.||"Do You Remember Walter" (BBC session remix, previously unreleased)||2:17|
|21.||"Animal Farm" (BBC session remix, previously unreleased)||2:56|
|22.||"Days" (BBC session remix, previously unreleased)||3:02|
Original European 12-song version
- Side one
- "The Village Green Preservation Society"
- "Do You Remember Walter?"
- "Picture Book"
- "Johnny Thunder"
- Side two
- "Village Green"
- "Mr. Songbird"
- "Wicked Annabella"
- "Phenomenal Cat"
- "People Take Pictures Of Each Other"
This 12-song version was the original track listing intended for the European market. It was released in France, Sweden and Norway in October 1968, New Zealand in December 1968 and Italy in January 1969. However, before its release in the U.K, Ray and Pye had it withdrawn before it was manufactured and a re-sequenced version, expanded to 15 songs, was released there (22 November 1968) and in the United States (January 1969). Apart from sequencing, this early version differs by the absence of "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains", "Big Sky", "Sitting by the Riverside", "Animal Farm" and "All of My Friends Were There", and the inclusion of "Mr. Songbird" and "Days" (the latter a #12 UK hit single released in June 1968). The stereo mixes of "Do You Remember Walter" and "People Take Pictures Of Each Other" featured slightly different parts from the mono mixes.
The unreleased Four More Respected Gentlemen
In parallel with the 12-song European version, Ray and Reprise Records (the band's U.S. label) intended to release an 11-song album (originally 15 songs before it was shortened) for the American market called Four More Respected Gentlemen. The unreleased album was even given a Reprise serial number (RS 6309). However, Reprise at some point decided that the 15-track UK "Village Green" album was suitable for the US market and cancelled plans for this album. The track listing would have consisted of:
- Side one
- Side two
The original 15 track version, sent to Reprise, would have also included the following tracks:
These songs, however, were pulled from the album before the final master tape was compiled.
Song and album notes
In late summer of 1968, the Kinks had hoped to release the album as a two-record set with 20 tracks, but Pye Records rejected this plan. A twelve-track version of the album was released in September 1968 throughout certain European markets; these are now valuable collector's items. Production of this version was quickly halted at Ray Davies's insistence and the final revamped fifteen-track version was released in the UK in November 1968.
U.S. record label Reprise had intended to release many of album's tracks on a separate Kinks album titled Four More Respected Gentlemen sometime in mid-1968 to fulfil a contractual album obligation. This was in the final stages of pre-production when Reprise dropped all plans to issue it, based on the strength of the forthcoming Village Green album.
"Starstruck" was released as a single in Europe and the United States, and charted in The Netherlands, peaking at #13. This is the only appearance of any track from the album on the hit parade in any country. A promotional film shot was shot for "Starstruck" in late 1968 for the overseas promotion of the single, and has since been re-used in various Kinks bios. The only other surviving contemporary footage of the band performing Village Green songs is their January 1969 spot on the TV music programme "Once More with Felix", on which they were seen performing "Last Of the Steam-Powered Trains" and "Picture Book" in colour. This clip, long believed lost, came to light in 2007.
The photography used for the album art was shot in August 1968 on Parliament Hill, a part of Hampstead Heath, North London.
Out of print on vinyl for years, although consistently available on US Reprise CD since 1990, the album is reported to be the best-selling non-compilation album in the Kinks' catalogue. Ray Davies has recently referred to it as the "most successful flop of all time".
- Ray Davies – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, accordion, oboe, flute
- Dave Davies – lead guitar, backup vocals, lead vocals on "Wicked Annabella"
- Pete Quaife – bass, backup vocals
- Mick Avory – drums, percussion
- the Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society Deluxe Edition liner notes, "Village Green is folk-rock music in a sense, when you think of the influences and where the ideas came from."
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- Hinman, Doug (2004). p. 114
- Hinman, Doug (2004). p. 118
- Rogan, Johnny (1998). p. 20
- Miller, Andy (2003). pp.39-42
- Miller, Andy (2003). p.41
- Hinman, Doug (2004). p. 121
- Mason, Stewart. "The Village Green Preservation Society". AllMusic Guide. Retrieved 29 January 2007.
- Dawson, Julian (2011). p.82-83
- [dead link]
- Christgau, Robert (10 April 1969). "Kinks Kountry". The Village Voice (New York). ISSN 0042-6180. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- Tompkins, J.H. (26 July 2004). "The Kinks: The Village Green Preservation Society". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- "The Kinks: Album Guide". RollingStone.com. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- Miller, Andy (2003). p. 138
- Hinman, Doug (2004). p.125
- Williams, Paul (14 June 1969). "The Kinks :The Village Green Preservation Society". Rolling Stone (Straight Arrow) (RS 35). ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- Miller, Andy (2003). p.42
- Jovanovic, Rob. God Save The Kinks: A Biography.
- "Ray Davies & London Philharmonic Orchestra with the Crouch End Festival Chorus". Meltdown. southbankcentre.co.uk. 19 June 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- Emlen, Dave. "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society". kindakinks.net. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- Mason, Stewart. "Picture Book". AllMusic Guide. Retrieved 29 January 2007.
- Hinman, Doug (2004). The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0-87930-765-X.
- Rogan, Johnny (1998). The Complete Guide to the Music of The Kinks. London, UK: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6314-2.
- Kitts, Thomas (2007). Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else. London, UK: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97769-X.
- Miller, Andy (2003). The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1498-2.
- Dave Emlen's Unofficial Kinks Web Site - Covers Latest News Concerning the Kinks
- The Golden Age of the Kinks - Discusses the Kinks' Most Artistically Fertile Period (1966-1972)