This is not only a great album from this time, but seemingly an odd one. Rejecting psychedelia of the time, The Kinks went for a more straightforward approach looking back to earlier times in history when life was simpler. Hence the title and the overall concept of this album. Let’s take a listen to this album, and see how it stands up today.
Beginning with acoustic guitar and organ is The Village Green Preservation Society which is an upbeat and good quality song about keeping the old with the new. It is a good, upbeat pop piece typical of the 1960s and sounds amazing, even today. It is an inspired piece of music, and is a great listen. Some lyrics about Donald Duck and strawberry jam are here too. Good pop brilliance.
Next is Do You Remember Walter? which has some nice piano and other similar instrumentation to kick off with. With Ray Davies singing about the memories of the past and looking into the future, it shows how easily things can change as the future comes. Memories of playing cricket in the rain and dreaming of big things change into a shadow of what had come before. Good song.
Picture Book is classic and classy Kinks. It reminds one about the memories that one has when younger. This album is something really to be cherished, just like the songs here. Musically, it has some excellent acoustic and electric guitar playing here, along with some visionary lyrics and brilliant harmonies. This is a masterful album so far, and is deeply inspired and original. Great song here, too.
Johnny Thunder is a really excellent piece that sounds very much like something that their contemporaries The Who could make. This album is really magical, and this song too. It is wonderful 1960s music at hand, and is a great reminder of memories of the era. The harmonies here are really lovely, and our character Johnny Thunder lives a larger than life set of experiences.
Following is Last Of The Steam-Powered Trains is a great rifftastic and catchy pop/rock piece for the late 1960s and beyond. It talks about the memories of older technology, and the times and feeling that went about it. A good and original piece about this subject, it has some harmonica in this too. Overall, a fresh and solid listen from The Kinks. Excellent music, it speeds up towards the end, just like a said steam train. The whole thing is marvelous to listen to, and has barely aged at all. Great tune.
Next is Big Sky which has some awesome multitracked guitar parts and talks about the sky as a concept of being human, an odd concept indeed. It is a fresh and inspired listen, and Ray Davies sings about how the weather affects human emotions, which in reality, it does. Nice tune, and is another great song from this wonderful album.
Sitting By The Riverside is a piano led piece of musical wonder that sounds awesome. It’s a very old fashioned sort of listen here, which has Ray Davies singing about spending time with a lover nearby the river. Pretty cool, and the whole piece sounds magically wonderful. Surprisingly underrated, it also has accordion. Lovely tune.
Animal Farm is not specifically about the George Orwell book, it is more likely to be about real life experiences with animals on a farm. It’s pretty cool music though, it just sounds wonderful and beautiful simultaneously. This is really underrated music. It also has a violin snuck in for your pleasure, sounding strong and brilliant as a piece of music. Very beautiful song, and very timeless too.
Next is the interesting Village Green which almost sounds medieval in its intention. Ray Davies sings emotionally about memories of a simple and easygoing place. This is not hippie psychedelic music, although it does sound very 1960s. Memories of a great place and a girl that one misses is here. Nice tune.
Following is Starstruck is about a lady who is in the spotlight, perhaps specifically about a lover that Ray Davies may have had. It’s a good singalong and wonderful piece with some excellent Mellotron like sounds in it. It is a great tune to hear, and is a nice listen, although there is some dark lyrics here. Rather typical of The Kinks to do so, but it works very well.
Phenomenal Cat has some classical like flute in it. It’s a humourous piece about a cat with an eating disorder, quite funny in that sense. It has some pitch shifted helium sounding singing in it, too. A strange piece that is really awesome all the same, it is easy to see where Sufjan Stevens got his ideas from. Great tune to listen to, and to laugh away at.
All Of My Friends Were There is excellent, sounding like a carnival sort of song that pays respect to The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is seemingly about public embarrassment and the feelings to go with it, which can and does happen to public performers. Ray Davies may have been insecure about his public life on this album, seemingly.
Next is Wicked Annabella is about said character who is dark and evil. A great, catchy and wacky listen about the wicked lady who does bad deeds. It is a lesser track here, but still is just as quintessential listening and well done as the other songs here. Some distorted electric guitar is at the end here, making it somewhat creepy.
Following is Monica which is a Spanish music influenced piece about lady who all the men chase. It is a great listen, and something of an oddity in The Kinks back catalogue. There is beautiful strummed acoustic guitar and bongos here, very 1960s, but also very very good.
People Take Pictures Of Each Other is something that people do frequently which is a hobby. It seems rather ridiculous lyrically, but musically, this piece sounds as wonderful and fresh as it did back in 1968. It finishes the album off nicely, a very strong and enjoyable listen with a classic 1960s feel about it. Brilliant.
This whole album lives up to its reputation of an underrated masterpiece. Which it is. Not a single bad track is here, and the whole thing is short and sweet. If you want to hear a great album by The Kinks or something released in the late 1960s that is not psychedelia, check this out immediately. A very top notch listen indeed.
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