Where Live at Kelvin Hall was a snapshot of the early Kinks live experience, The Village Green Preservation Society is very much the definitive early Kinks album – although, at the time, it utterly flopped at home and in the US.
As the title might suggest, this is an album about England – that strange, idealised England that was foreshadowed in Something Else and should really be the setting for a Stepfordland-style novel (coming soon to an e-reader near you: Something Else by Steve Trower) – the original album following the title track with 14 more Davies-penned tales of English village life.
There is no genre-busting guitar riff like the band’s early hits, but to try and recreate You Really Got Me at this point in their (apparently failing) career would have seemed desperate. What there is, is the simple beauty of the title track; jolly little little ditties like People Take Pictures Of Each Other and Picture Book; the melancholy reminiscences of Do You Remember Walter and Village Green; the blues inspiration of Last Of The Steam Powered Trains; the weirdly fantastical Phenomenal Cat; and the dark and mysterious Wicked Annabella – a change of pace from the rest of the album, heightened by Dave Davies’ slightly creepy vocal.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the only thing missing from the album is filler. For my money this is not only the Kinks’ best album, but probably one of the best albums I own. It is also the best deluxe re-release; coming in on 3 discs and an epic 62 tracks, this does somewhat address the shortage of filler (as if that was really a problem), but also gives the first CD release to some rare tracks – including the awesomely titled instrumental Mick Avory’s Underpants – as well as the usual collection of instrumentals, alternative mixes and BB sessions.
The deluxe release also includes the simply brilliant Days (one version for each disc) which, being in part about the end of the Kinks golden era (Village Green was the last album recorded by the original line-up), has an emotional depth to it that Kirsty MacColl could never hope to match.
Stand-out tracks: From the original track list, The Village Green Preservation Society is jolly, quotable fun. From the bonus material, Days of course, and of the more obscure tracks, Where Did My Spring Go, in which Ray has a fun little poke at getting old.