Saturday, November 3, 2018


Village Green has been reissued before, with bonus tracks galore and in mono/stereo, but this is the most meticulous version, sure to excite fans of this classic 1968 release. BMG has released it as a huge, 11-piece super-deluxe box, with 5 CD's, LP's and 45's, housed in a monster package with memorabilia and a hard-bound book, at $170 bucks. We'll look at the more affordable 2-disc set however, and you crazed fans (well, me) can decide to upgrade later if you want.

Like The Beach Boys at roughly the same period, The Kinks started making their best albums as their popularity plummeted, their pop audience not making the transition from hit 45's to art rock with them. Such were the vagaries of success, the album wasn't celebrated like other classics of the time. Still in the same month we'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of the White Album, this birthday party will be much more subdued, even though Village Green stands equal if not higher to that set. So be it, it just means more folks may come across this for the first time and be amazed.

The great irony of this album is that we have Ray Davies singing about an England that was fast disappearing, about steam trains and village greens and other institutions, looking back with sadness at boyhood pals and lost girlfriends, going through old photos, and he was all of 24. But we're not quite sure if he's celebrating the old empire days, mocking them or simply catching on to the sea change that was changing his family and all the others. There's lots of winking going on, and by the time the original album closes, with People Take Pictures Of Each Other, he sounds pretty fed up with nostalgia. By the way, that should be the theme song for the selfie generation.

Davies was writing like crazy during this period, and at one point this was going to be a double album. It was also hauled back from the original release, with different tracks added, so there are a ton of bonus cuts to fill up this double CD. There's also the brilliant single Days, surely one of The Kinks' very best, and other associated cuts, with both mono and stereo mixes, so lots to choose from. Although the bulk have come out in the various reissues and box sets, and made up part of the 1973 Great Lost Kinks Album, fans will find some exciting, brand new things here. There's a cut called Time Song which comes from 1973, when Davies was revisiting the Village Green period, with its logical successor, Preservation Act One, which apparently was supposed to have been started right after Village Green but got delayed. At those same sessions, the band recorded brand-new versions of four Village Green numbers, including the title cut, and Picture Book/People Take Pictures Of Each Other in a medley. These are quite different and very fun, with the band now able to afford real horns and stringss and backing singers, and give the songs more of a theatrical approach. This is a real highlight for us well-familiar with the other bonus cuts. For you comers, let in all soak in, and then start saving that 170 bucks.

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