MUSIC REVIEW | The Kinks – The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)


The title of the biggest English bands of all time usually gets snatched up by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. When you look more specifically at rock, Led Zeppelin and The Who might get a run. But if you scratch just the tiniest bit off the surface, you’re gonna find another band that gets almost just as much love and admiration. They’ll always be over shadowed by the others, but only just. They are The Kinks. And in 1968, they made the awesomely titled The Village Green Preservation Society.

The opening, titular track is a piece of 60s pop perfection. Jangly guitars, immaculate harmonies and an irresistible optimistic energy. Immediately followed by Do You Remember Walter, you get the same optimism, but with a little more nostalgic looking back, and maybe even just a hint of regret. This slight contradiction of sound and lyrical content gives the song an added dimension.

With songs like Walter and Johnny Thunder, The Village Green Preservation Society almost sounds more like a musical soundtrack than a regular album. Like it’s introducing these characters, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re all thrown together, or against each other, in some wacky adventure.

On Last of the Steam Powered Trains, The Kinks bring a harmonica fuelled, riding the rails sound that is so filled with Amercicana, it only makes this already great song even more impressive when I remember a bunch of poms made it. That US feel continues on Big Sky, which in a lot of ways, reminds me of Hendrix, just with a little less shredding and the tinniest bit of English tweeness.

That tweeness is blown out to the extreme with the piano jaunt fuelled, skip through the park on a summer’s day that is Sitting by the Riverside. Maybe there’s a darkness to the lyrics that I’m not hearing, but this may be the most upbeat, positive album I have ever heard.

Appropriately enough, the trippiest, 60s sounding song on Village Green comes with the trippiest, 60s sounding title. Phenomenal Cat sounds like it could be straight off an Austin Powers soundtrack. If it’s the gentle head trip, the more paranoid high comes with Wicked Annabella. If a song could sound like a stalker, creepily watching a woman from a distance, it would sound like Wicked Annabella.

The almost mariachi Monica would have come as a shock if the album hadn’t already jumped so wildly between genres and sounds. I like an album that sounds like one cohesive piece, but this kind of eclectic approach can work too. With 15 tracks, it may have become a little too much if there was more consistent sound to Village Green. But they mix it up in a way that keeps in t fresh, without becoming schizophrenic.

Now that I’ve paid them a little bit of attention, it’s obvious why The Kinks get almost as much love and attention is the massive English bands, like The Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin etc. It’s also obvious why they only almost get as much attention. They’re amazing at so many different styles and genres. The only problem being, they put that diversity on display so much, it’s hard to pin them down as amazing at any one thing. And it’s that kind of easy to categorise output that makes a band easier to deify.

The Kinks

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