Thursday, February 26, 2004

#61) The Kinks - The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (released in 1968, I used to borrowed this from my sister and bought it on CD for myself in 2000)

While concept albums can be a bit much, I'm a sucker for albums with a running thematic thread. Whether it's a mood or a specific subject, I like it when bands provide that sense of unity. It's definitely one of the reasons that this is my favorite out of the five Kinks albums I own (Arthur, which is great, is definitely more on the "rock opera" side of the coin). Most of the songs reflect a playful yet definite desire for the simplicity and calm associated with rural areas and the past. Unlike most pines for the good ol' days, Village Green is very lively. I'm irritated that my Rolling Stone Album Guide says this is the band's "quietest" work - Mick Avory's drums have plenty of forceful swing (his drum rolls on "Wicked Annabella" are the first thing you hear in my solitary slice of film school auteurism, Fat Tony's Cancer) and even at its most pastoral none of the songs feel particularly hushed (except "Phenomenal Cat," whose ultra-twee chorus creeps me out).

Perverse cynical portraits are Ray Davies' speciality, and my favorites here include "Picture Book," a self-conscious look at memento seekers that still finds room for a few "shooby dooby doo"'s, "Do You Remember Walter"'s vaguely homoerotic anguish over a childhood friend and "Big Sky," a song that recommends detaching yourself from the world's misery by pretending you're above it all like God. There's too much beauty in the melodies and his voice for Davies to sound like the asshole he may well have been, but I'm enough of a cynically conservative asshole myself that I probably don't need that comfort anyway.

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