The Kinks The Village Green Preservation Society

[Pye/Reprise; 1968]

Styles: British invasion, ’60s pop
Others: the Who, Love, the Zombies

Originally released in 1968, The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society was a commercial failure. Released the same year as the Beatles' White Album, The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet, and Led Zeppelin's debut; Village Green, with its gentle quasi-folk melodies, whimsical song structures, and lyrics exploring themes such as why people take pictures of each other, failed to attract an audience looking for the psychedelic experimentation and increasingly aggressive rock dominating the market.

An odd album for its time, The Village Green Preservation Society has thankfully survived and is now rightfully regarded as a '60s classic, if not a timeless one. A piece of near perfect pop perfection repeatedly imitated and arguably never bettered. It's essentially an anachronistic concept album, lamenting the decline of an imaginary British way of life, the joy of a pint of beer, and the last of the, "good old fashioned" steam powered trains (which ceased all operation in England in 1968). "Sitting by the River Side" expresses the joy of simply sitting down by the river and watching the water go by, and "Animal Farm" declares the desire to return to the pastoral country side to evade the increasingly whirlwind and "insane" pace of modern urban life. It's a far cry from repeating the number nine over and over again.

Lyrical content aside, it's the music itself that carries Village Green from an odd ball piece of rose tinted British nostalgia, to a rightfully regarded piece of song writing brilliance. Gentle, folk-like arrangements flirt with traditional English music hall melodies to create frequently stunning pop ditties, injected with a dose of intelligently accessible complexity that props the album up, from what could have been merely comedic, to serious brilliance.

Taken as a whole, Village Green presents an artistic statement that is immediately familiar on first listen; an artistic statement examining the motivations, fears, and concerns behind day to day existence, never dwelling into the realm of posturing pretension, instead comfortable enough to boldly stand on its own legs, expressing a gentle and sentimental vision through the lens of intelligent pop music. A unique accomplishment for any era, it's no wonder that The Village Green Preservation Society is not just viewed by many as a good album, it's viewed as an essential album, and rightfully so.        

1. The Village Green Preservation Society
2. Do You Remember Walter
3. Picture Book
4. Johnny Thunder
5. Last Of The Steam Powered Trains
6. Big Sky
7. Sitting By The Riverside
8. Animal Farm
9. Village Green
10. Starstruck
11. Phenomenal Cat
12. All Of My Friends Were There
13. Wicked Annabella
14. Monica
15. People Take Pictures Of Each Other

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