The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is the sixth studio album by The Kinks, released in 1968. A loosely connected Concept Album, it grew out of leader Ray Davies' reading of Georgian poets like A. E. Housman and memories of his own life. During the sessions for the band's previous studio album, Something Else by the Kinks, Davies had dismissed their producer Shel Talmy and produced the song "Waterloo Sunset" himself. Now he envisioned an entire album of songs he would produce in a lush-yet-unfussy style.
To say that the immediate results were disappointing is an understatement. Reviews were mixed. Sales, by the standards of the time, were abysmal. This album was their last with Pete Quaife; he left the band in early 1969 and was replaced by John Dalton, who had previously filled in for Pete in 1966 after his car accident.
Then people started to listen to what Ray and the Kinks had done. The result was one of the textbook cases of Vindicated by History in pop music history. The album was listed at #255 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- "The Village Green Preservation Society" (2:45)
- "Do You Remember Walter?" (2:23)
- "Picture Book" (2:34)
- "Johnny Thunder" (2:28)
- "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains" (4:03)
- "Big Sky" (2:49)
- "Sitting by the Riverside" (2:21)
- "Animal Farm" (2:57)
- "Village Green" (2:08)
- "Starstruck" (2:18)
- "Phenomenal Cat" (2:34)
- "All of My Friends Were There" (2:23)
- "Wicked Annabella" (2:40)
- "Monica" (2:13)
- "People Take Pictures of Each Other" (2:10)
- Mick Avory - drums, percussion
- Dave Davies - guitar, backing and lead vocals
- Ray Davies - lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, harmonica, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, accordion, oboe, flute
- Pete Quaife - bass, vocals
God save TV Tropes and all the different varieties:
- Album Title Drop: "The Village Green Preservation Society".
- Arcadia: Songs like "Animal Farm" and "Village Green" extol a version of this.
- Call to Agriculture: "Animal Farm", where the protagonist longs to be taken back to "Animal Farm, my animal home".
- Celebrity Is Overrated: "Starstruck" is a warning about the trappings of life in the city.
- Concept Album: Loosely built around the themes of memory, nostalgia, and rural or small-town life. While born and raised in London, Ray always considered himself something of a rustic.
- Eagleland: Picture-snapping American tourists don't come off well in "Village Green".
- Face on the Cover: The four band members appear on the cover, bathed in concentric circles of light.
- Fat Cat: The Phenomenal Cat is described as such. Also well-travelled.There live a cat, a phenomenal cat,Who loved to wallow all day.No one bothered himAs he sat, content in his tree.He just lived to eat 'cause it kept him fat,And that's how he wanted to stay.
- The Future Will Be Better: "Big Sky" promises this in a way; that is, someday, we'll adopt the indifference of nature, symbolized by the titular sky.
- Growing Up Sucks: In "Do You Remember Walter?", growing up causes friendships to dissolve and dreams to die.Do you remember, Walter, how we said we'd fight the world so we'd be free.
We'd save up all our money and we'd buy a boat and sail away to sea.
But it was not to be.
I knew you then but do I know you now?
- Humiliation Conga: "All of My Friends Were There", about an real-life account of Ray Davies playing a gig while drunk, and all his best friends - who brought their own friends along - turned up to watch him bomb spectacularly. The ordeal was so embarrassing that he ended up having to wear a Paper-Thin Disguise in public for a while.
- "I Am" Song: "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains". "The Village Green Preservation Society" is a "We Are" Song.
- One-Man Song: "Do You Remember Walter?", "Johnny Thunder".
- One-Woman Song: "Wicked Annabella", "Monica"
- One-Word Title: "Starstruck", "Monica"
- The One Who Made It Out: What "Do You Remember Walter?" deals with someone who has made it out, singing about Walter, who hasn't and the huge gulf that separates the two:"Walter, you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago
If you saw me now, you wouldn't even know my name.
I bet you're fat and married and you're always home in bed by half-past eight.
And if I talked about the old times you'd get bored and you'll have nothing more to say.
Yes, people often change, but memories of people can remain."
- Precious Photo: "Picture Book" presents a sentimental view of how people preserve the past with photographs. "People Take Pictures of Each Other" is more cynical and hardheaded about the same subject, ending with the request "Don't show me no more please".
- Questioning Title?: "Do You Remember Walter?"
- Religion Rant Song: "Big Sky" is a Third Person perspective about "Big Sky looks down on all the people who look up to the Big Sky". The song, especially the later choral version is partly sarcastic and sincere about the idea of religious belief, featuring lines like:Big Sky feels bad about the children who scream and cryBut the Big Sky doesn't let it get him down(...) And when I feel that the world is too much for meI think about the Big Sky and nothing matters much to me
- Small Town Boredom: The narrator of "Village Green" regrets that boredom and the desire for fame caused him to leave his small town, and the changes that have taken place in it since.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Dave Davies takes the lead vocal on "Wicked Annabella" and provides the cat's sped-up voice in "Phenomenal Cat".
- Train Song: Last of the Steam-Powered Trains about an antique train preserved in a museum.
- Wicked Witch: "Wicked Annabella"Wicked Annabella mixes a brewThat no one's ever seen.Relatives have passed her by,Too scared to even say hello.She's in perpetual midnight,She shuts out the day,And goes about her sinful ways.