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A Pastoral Triumph,
This review is from: The Village Green Preservation Society: Remastered (Audio CD)
You will have to search hard amongst the plethora of greatest album lists produced by the glossier music magazines in the last few years before you find this album and yet it remains one of the pinnacles of pop/rock. Unlike Sgt Pepper it has not lost any of its charm - it is fresh and relevant and very, very listenable.
The album was originally intended to consist of twelve tracks including the hit single 'Days' (one of the most beautiful tracks ever to grace the charts). Then Ray Davies changed his mind, pulling 'Days' and 'Mr Songbird' and adding five new tracks bringing the total to fifteen. And all first rate.
The title track sets the gentle pastoral tone of the album as well as setting out two of its central themes, conservation and nostalgia. It is a witty list song of the kind Ian Dury was to make a career of, with some outrageous rhymes. It could have been a single. As could 'Do You Remember Walter' an affectionate but sad look at schoolboy memories. The album contained other tracks just as strong. 'Animal Farm' continuing the pastoral theme is another missed opportunity in the singles department, this one a sure fire hit, as the song is in the grand Kinks tradition. 'Monica' a delicious calypso flavoured love song (to a woman of the night) that will stay in your head for days. 'All of My Friends Were There' is a nightmare song out of music hall via Gilbert and Sullivan. And then there's 'Starstuck' and 'Big Sky' and 'Johnny Thunder' the great comic book hero who was to return later in the Kinks' career. 'Last of the Steam Powered Trains' is musically a nod to their Rhythm and Blues roots which oddly but quite effectively continues the very English strain of nostalgia. And there is more...
If the OK Computers and Revolvers and Neverminds and Dark Sides of this world can't all shift seats to make room for this masterpiece there is no justice.
The cd contains both the fifteen track (mono) album plus the original twelve track selection (in stereo and as released in Europe) plus the mono mix of 'Days' for good measure. the inevitable duplication suggests that this release is aimed at the established fans (who must, to be fair, account for a sizeable chunk of the sales) but the album should really be purchased by every music lover. The Kinks produced other very fine albums, but none with quite such consistent brilliance. Along with a good singles compilation (the 'Essential Kinks' perhaps) this is the indispensible Kinks purchase.