The Kinks – Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
The Kinks are waiting for me. At some point—once Dadhood finally sets in—there will be weeks and months and years of digging up and internalizing the intricacies of British pop and rock music from the 1960s and 1970s. At this point, all I can do is keep dangling my toes in the water and collecting the accepted masterpieces. I really like the Kinks, but do I really like the Kinks? I can’t talk about their line-up changes, their cultural impact, or Ray Davies’ solo career but I sure do love Lola vs. The Powermanat the Money-Go-Round. The only other album of there’s I’ve listened to is the US version of their debut. There are six albums between Kinks and Lola, and the only one I’ve listened to of those six is Village Green. And really, I’d only listened to it once all the way through up until this afternoon. “Someday,” I said to myself when the deluxe edition of Village Green came into the store. “Someday I’ll read the Kinks entire Wikipedia page and dive into their discography album by album and be able to appreciate the b-sides and rarities.” I like having background information. Sometimes it becomes prohibitively necessary for me to fully enjoy an album. I’ve listened to Village Green three times this morning and I’m over the moon about it. It’s one of the most inventive pop albums I’ve ever heard. It’s fun and funny and the composition, orchestration, and songwriting is out-of-this-world great. But I know I could appreciate it more.
But none of that matters because I can just put on Village Green and go about my morning routine and enjoy the pleasant, inventive, and eccentric tunes, which practically ooze nostalgia. There are all sorts of thematic mourning for England’s bygone days that feel universal now, then, and forever. Plus there’s just pure pop majesty in the melodies. The way that chorus for “All My FriendsWere There” sneaks up on you is just so fucking gorgeous. The way the title track never, ever wears out. That might be a fun experiment, because of course you’ll get sick of a great song if you hear it enough times in a row. But how many listens would it take for someone to get sick of “The Village Green Preservation Society”? I bet quite a few. Plus there is so much going on sonically that you would always be picking up new little things you missed before. I love the Kinks because they never seem preoccupied with being hip or cool, which seems to be the defining trait of many a modern mainstream Britpop band. I think I should probably listen to Arthur. I find it insane that I’m running a music blog and fancy myself some kind of rock music nerd and have never listened to Arthur. But that’s half the fun, I suppose. I’m quite partial to that “How have I gone my whole life and never listened to this great record feeling?” It keeps you humble and coming back for more.
My copy of Village Green is a second US pressing from the mid-70s. It is in fantastic condition, which means that it will someday be destroyed by my future children. I can see it now, and it is terrifying. My parents never had much of a record collection when I was growing up. By the time I was old enough to know what music was, the ancient turntable had been buried in the basement with a stack of Eagles, Olivia Newton John, and greatest rock hits of the 70s LPs piled on top of it. There was one Beatles LP: a thoroughly scratched up copy of Revolver. I’m fairly certain there were two Rutles albums, which is insane. No Led Zep, no Sabbath: Just a bunch of stuff that you usually find sitting in the corners of basements, garages, and attics. Pretty much every record buy at HPB is like this (the collections have varying degrees of mold and mustiness and are quite honestly the bane of my existence). The kind of stuff that thoroughly annoys a teenager looking to experience music in a tactile form because the cassingle of “Whoomp There it Is” does not count. So the teenager is left to plug in the record player and spend an hour trying to figure out how to hook up the massive wooden speakers. And then the teenager puts on some record and proceeds to play DJ and scratch the shit out of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” which is the only song he knows and is track one on one of the myriad best of the 70s compilations. His father gets pissed even though the records are worthless. That was me, that teenager, but unlike my father my record collection has some real gems and all I can do now is fear and dream of a locked glass cabinet and severe groundings for trying to mess with Dad’s records. And at the same time, I want my kids to inherit my record collection. It feels like an investment, but it’s not about the money (although they are sort of an emergency fund). I want them to learn to take care of nice things that have appreciating value.
Now here's one of the greatest summertime jams you will ever hear.