Archive | April, 2017

Certain Songs #860: The Kinks – “Australia”

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire)
Year: 1969

After a pair of anti-war songs, a look at the disruptive technology of the car, and Ray ranting at the government, the first side of Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire) ends its first side with the longest song The Kinks had recorded up to that point, the epic “Australia.”

Inspired by Ray and Dave’s older sister, Rose, who emigrated to Australia a few years prior, “Australia” is a seven increasingly loopy minutes of reasons to get the hell out of England that nevertheless must have the been the soundtrack to more than one newly-minted immigrant.

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Certain Songs #859: The Kinks – “Victoria”

Album: Arthur (Or The Fall And Decline of The British Empire)
Year: 1969

And then everything changed again. After the relatively intimate songs of Something Else By The Kinks and The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation, Ray Davies took up Granada TV’s offer to write a concept album that was based upon, um, the history of Great Britain in the 20th century.

But Ray Davies being Ray Davies, it was really about his brother-in-law, Arthur, who had recently emigrated to Australia with his favorite older sister, Rose.

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Certain Songs #858: The Kinks – “All of My Friends Were There”

Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1968

One of the things about The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is that it’s one of those albums that is so loaded with weird, disparate songs that — outside of the title track and probably “Big Sky,” — there isn’t a whole lot of consensus as to what the best songs are.

So I’m guessing that people those who were scandalized, or at least puzzled, by me picking “Phenomenal Cat” yesterday are probably utterly gobsmacked by “All Of My Friends Were There,” which might be the weirdest song on the whole record.

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Certain Songs #857: The Kinks – “Phenomenal Cat”

Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1968

Right. While other bands could emulate The Kinks riff-rocking and social commentary songs ::coughs:: The Who ::coughs:: there were songs on The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society that were totally and utterly unemulatable, that really could really have come from Raymond Douglas Davies.

“Phenomenal Cat” is one of those songs.

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Certain Songs #856: The Kinks – “Big Sky”

Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1968

And how about that lovely album cover? Framing the four Kinks outdoors, none of them smiling, situated somehow simultaneously in front of and behind a glowing, swirling canopy, it represented the music within much better than the garish, overthought covers of Face to Face, Arthur, Lola or even Something Else by The Kinks.

That cover — like the music on the album — is mysterious and eternal, capturing a moment that was somehow out of time. Pete Quaife left The Kinks for good just after The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, so among other things, that cover photo is one of the last ones taken of the original quartet.

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