Hot on the heels of Small Faces' ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’ marking its 50th birthday, 'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' also clocks up its 50th, to be marked with an anniversary release that includes the previously unreleased 'Time Song'.
The Kinks' sixth album grew from the song 'Village Green' initially written for the previous year's 'Something Else by The Kinks'. Davies decided to hold the song back to develop a concept album around its themes, (in favour of his other plan of a London themed concept album expanding on 'Waterloo Sunset') and 'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' was the end result. Surprisingly, the record failed to perform commercially upon its release, perhaps due in part to it being released on the same day as The Beatles' White Album, but like so many great albums it has come to be appreciated in the decades since, becoming the biggest selling album of The Kinks' back catalogue as the decades passed. The album was also the last to feature the classic Kinks line-up of brothers Ray Davies and Dave Davies along with Pete Quaife and Mick Avory.
“I think The Village Green Preservation Society is about the ending of a time personally for me in my life,” says Ray Davies. “In my imaginary village. It’s the end of our innocence, our youth. Some people are quite old but in the Village Green, you’re never allowed to grow up. I feel the project itself is part of a life cycle.”
Ray Davies' talents as a lyricist were never in doubt, but the timely and prescient nature of some of the songs on the album is quite eye-opening half a century on from the record's creation. While 'The Village Green Preservation Society', 'Village Green' and 'Last of The Steam Powered Trains' seem to mourn the passing of some impossibly bucolic idea of British life, they also serve to illustrate the inevitable need for modernisation, the threat of isolation and the unsustainability and outdated nature of the old British Empire.
Elsewhere on the album 'People Take Pictures Of Each Other' could have been written about our present-day relationship with Instagram, 43 years before its inception, with its stinging lyric "people take pictures of each other, just to prove that they really existed".
Among the mass of previously unreleased material included with the anniversary release, 'Time Song' was originally recorded in 1973 to mark Britain joining the Common Market, but never made it onto an album.
"Oddly enough, the song seems quite poignant and appropriate to release at this time in British history, and like Europe itself, the track is a rough mix which still has to be finessed." - Ray Davies
The deluxe box sets also include extensive sleeve notes, interviews, photographs documenting the band in late 1968, and two essays about the album written by Pete Townshend and respected music journalist Kate Mossman.
From 4th October there will also be a chance for fans to visit a coinciding exhibition at London's Proud Gallery, bringing together a selection of rare collector’s items including specially commissioned artworks by members of the band and vintage memorabilia, along with a collection of photographs documenting the period in the band’s history. Each work is hand-signed by surviving band members Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Mick Avory. The exhibition will run until 18th November.
Find out more about the exhibition at www.proudonline.co.uk
Pre-order 'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' releases here.
Listen to our Subculture Playlist with Dave Davies here.