|album track by The Kinks from the album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||Late 1967 at Pye Studios, London|
|Genre||Baroque pop, psychedelic pop|
Sanctuary (2004 Reissue)
|The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society track listing|
"Phenomenal Cat" is a song by the British rock band The Kinks, appearing on their album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. It was written by Ray Davies.
Lyrics and music
Like Pink Floyd's "The Gnome", the lyrics of "Phenomenal Cat" are similar to a nursery rhyme. The song tells the story of a "phenomenal cat" who lived "in the land of idiot boys." He "just lived to eat 'cause it kept him fat" which was "how he wanted to stay." The phenomenal cat then went on to look back at his travels in the past, "point[ing] out on the map all the places he had been," among them "Kathmandu, the Scilley Isles and Sahara." However, when he journeyed to Hong Kong, he learned the meaning of live, which then convinced him to stop his diet and relax in his tree.
Sung by Ray Davies, "Phenomenal Cat" features flute simulated by mellotron, as well as the sped-up voice of Dave Davies, which was made to represent the cat himself. The song is often referred to as the most psychedelic song that The Kinks (who have always disliked the drug culture) have recorded, for both its bizarre instrumentation and strange lyrics. In 2002, Ray Davies told The Onion that "Maybe Village Green Preservation Society was my psychedelic album. I withdrew into my little community-spirit ... my trivial world of little corner shops and English black-and-white movies. Maybe that's my form of psychedelia."
Release and reception
"Phenomenal Cat" was to appear on the unreleased U.S. Four More Respected Gentlemen album, as well as the European 12-track version of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. However, it was first released in Britain and America on the 15-track version of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society in 1968 (where it was mislabeled as "Phenominal Cat" on the LP sleeve.) Although it was not released as a single, it did appear on the compilation album Haunted: Psychedelic Pstones, Vol. 2, which also featured The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society's "Wicked Annabella".
Writer Robert Christgau said that the song "might have been turned out by some Drury Lane whimsy specialist" and suffered from "the kind of impersonal artsiness that flaws ... [The Kinks' 1967 album] Something Else."