5 March 2015
While his contemporaries were revolting in style or getting mystic, "Ray Davies" spent much of the summer putting together a concept album steeped in nostalgia for an 'Olde England' of corner shops, custard pies and steam trains.
While the Rock mainstream embraced satanism and free love, "Ray Davies" sang about preserving virginity and Sunday School. "The Kinks"' latest heroes were, apparently, Desperate Dan and "Mrs Mopp", rather than Abraham, Martin or John. It was seriously out of step with prevailing trends.
Its potential success was not helped by the injunction which prevented "The Kinks" from touring the US between 1965 and 1969, essentially isolating them from Rock's biggest market. Despite their position as one of the founding-fathers of mid-sixties British Pop/Pock, "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society" flopped big-time.
The Kinks: The Village Green Preservation Society" Italian version Pye Records SLBP 63.003, 1968
"Ray Davies"' sentimental, nostalgic streak emerged on "Something Else", but it developed into a manifesto on "The Village Green Preservation Society". As the opening title song says, "The Kinks" -- meaning Ray himself, in this case -- were for preserving "draught beer and virginity", and throughout the rest of the album, he creates a series of stories, sketches, and characters about a picturesque England that never really was. It's a lovely, gentle album, evoking a small British country town, and drawing the listener into its lazy rhythms and sensibilities.
"The Village Green Preservation Society" was as far away from almost everything else that was happening in popular music at the time, that its no small wonder really it didn't sell. It's a shame, as greater exposure for this work would have reversed the common perception of "The Kinks" as a singles act. Following on from "Face To Face" and "Something Else", this album proves that "The Kinks" were putting together a string of albums as strong as anybody.
You rarely hear "The Kinks" mentioned in the same breath as other British groups of the time like "The Beatles", "The Rolling Stones", or "The Who", but they should be. They are perhaps the most British of the British Invasion bands, incorporating traditional Pop, Blues, Folk and Country.