The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is a an album that takes a humorous and nostalgic view of British society, with Ray Davies' tongue firmly in his cheek he gently lampoons those who wish to stay rooted in the past. At times it seems that Davies himself also wants to attach himself firmly to the feeling of familiarity, the album is also a gentle homage to English life. Davies as a songwriter was no stranger to reflecting on British society, Waterloo Sunset, Autumn Almanac were all portents of things to come. The genesis of the album had started during the sessions for the 1967 album Something Else, but it wasn't until the following year that the band entered the studio with a collection of songs that went to the heart of British nostalgia
The title track has Davies taking aim at a generation who wants to hold on to what is safe, and reject anything new.
We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the desperate Dan Appreciation society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and you
What more can we do.
Do You Remember Walter is another vignette, reminiscing about playing cricket in the the thunder and the rain and asking Walter where are you now? The Kink craft each song, musically every song fits there is a deftness to the approach. One strong presence is the work of Mick Avory on the drums, rhythmically precise and very crisp. Picture Book reminds me of Green Day's Warning that guitar pattern sound very similar.
Picture Yourself when you're getting older
You sat by the fireside pondering all
Picture Book, pictures taken of your mama by your papa
A long time ago
It's a song that captures that English tradition of summers by the water, and in Davies' mind days that were safe and happy. A certain restlessness can be found in these songs, perhaps reflecting Davies' own growing disenchantment with the music industry. Last of The Steam Powered Trains captures that sense of uncertainty and almost fear that seemed to grip British society post WWII, that resistance to change.
Like the last of the good ol puffer trains
I'm the last of the blood and sweat brigade
And I don't know where I'm going or why I came
The song has a real bluesy feel, with an almost Creedence like guitar riff driving the song, fiery blasts of the harmonica add to the dirty diesel spitting atmosphere. Sitting By The Riverside has a music hall novelty feel, with Davies singing almost falsetto, it has a very dainty feel. Village Green has a delicate refrain, harpsichord via Nicky Hopkins on mellotron creates an aching heartfelt atmosphere.
Out in the country
Far from all the soot and noise of the city
There's a village green
It's been a long time
Since I last set eyes on the church with the steeple.
Down by the village green
Twas there I met a girl called Daisy
And I kissed her by the old oak tree
Although I loved my Daisy, I saw fame
So I left the village green
The dreamlike carnival sound of All My Friends Were There an old vaudeville performer struggling to go with the show. Wicked Annabella takes a more vicious surreal turn, sounding a little like The Who, but it also shows not only could they craft brilliant melodies but they were also capable of grounding out something bluesy with a more distinct rock feel. In some ways Village Green has an album shares in common something with The Beatles Sgt Pepper's which in it's own was also a nod to the past. It's an album that reflected where Ray Davies was at that time in his life, frustrated with the music business and hankering for a quiet family life.