Can we take a moment to moment to appreciate, what might be, the most English album title ever. It’s one of those references that I don’t think many would necessarily understand outside of the UK. Then again we are listening to an album from a time where music still received separate UK and US releases. Also, I doubt the Kinks would have given too much of a damn if this reference was lost on people.
For whatever reason I have always somewhat discounted the Kinks. Maybe I thought of them being just another old band. Maybe young me just confused them with the Kooks. Who knows at this point. What I do know is that having listened to the Kinks as part of the 1001 songs list I should walk into this album with an open mind.
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society may be one of the best albums that I have heard for the Acclaimed Albums list in a long time. I think that the last time that I had such an immediate positive reaction would have been to another album with a similarly long name: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Interestingly, these albums have a fair bit in common.
Both albums contain a fairly lengthy track-list made up of short songs and both are written fairly tongue in cheek. There is a wit in Ray Davies’ songwriting that make these short, pithy songs a lot of fun to listen to. Sure this is an album dripping in Beatles influence, but when that’s done well that isn’t a bad thing. I mean that didn’t hurt Oasis, now did it?
At the time The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society barely made a dent. It had some critical appeal, but with the public had moved on from this safer rock sound. 1968 was the time where harder and bluesier rock was starting to take control of the charts. The year of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘Born to be Wild’ so it’s possible that a gentler sound like this was going out of fashion. Sure, the Beatles still got a number one album that year… but they’re the Beatles and, by that point, were exempt from things like fashion.
However, this is what is great about critics and with many of them having the last word on this. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society has outlasted a lot of the other albums from the same year. For a reason – it’s just good music, if only 18 months too late.