Although The Kinks had lost their ability to be commercially successful by this point, they had spawned some interesting critically acclaimed releases prior to the release of Arthur. Arthur was, in retrospect, seen as one of The Kinks best albums. For this reason, it is an essential listen, given the fact that this material is seen as solid gold. Let’s take a listen to this album, track by track, and see how it stands today. Given its name and idea, it is somewhat of a concept album, too.
We begin with Victoria which begins with nicely strummed acoustic guitars, Fender styled guitar tones and a great sense of rhythm here. It goes into some awesome singing, perhaps in a parody sense, about Queen Victoria and the land that one loves. There are some awesome horn parts here as well, in fact, this whole song is brilliant and nicely done. The guitar solo here is understated, and sounds really cool. All in all, a really great start to this album. A really great listen, underrated yet awesome.
Next along is Yes Sir, No Sir which begins with a good drumbeat and some acoustic guitar, before launching into a rather random sort of piece that still sounds really good today. It has more horn sections and an excellently sung piece about social norms and the like. In the middle, it goes into a more normal section with some proper singing that sounds very good. The instrumentation here is spot on, as is the singing here. In fact, this whole album is brilliant, not bad considering The Kinks were in dire straits around this time, especially financially. Good listen though.
Some Mother’s Son begins with a mixture of piano and trippy keyboard, before some guitar parts enter and we are underway. This is a really fine listen, and the song itself is about past memories and dreams that one can have about a certain sort of life that one lives. It’s a great piece of music too, it sounds beautiful and wonderful. Indeed, The Kinks could still craft wonderful music here. A really excellent listen, and musically accomplished, too.
Drivin’ has some weird out of tune harmonies and an array of clean guitar parts, before making some traditional historical references through song and sing joyfully here. Musically, this is wonderfully done and accomplished, with some beautiful acoustic and electric guitar playing here. The concept here is marvelous, as is the music here, too. Although the music here is short, it is a top listen. Three minutes of Pop/Rock joy, it doesn’t get much better than this. Excellent stuff, great to hear.
Next along is Brainwashed which has some quirky muted guitar parts and horns, before some drum rolls get this going. A really awesome and majestic listen, this is a really great and fine sounding piece of music that sounds incredible. The lyrics are self-aware and socially conscious here, and the song here is really good for two and a half minutes long. Direct and brilliant.
Following is the six minute long piece Australia. It begins with glorious vocals inviting people to the island nation, with an air of cynicism lyrically. It is an excellent piece of music with clean guitar parts, piano and rolling drums which add a great deal of emphasis to this tune. It’s a super cynical piece aimed at annoying the folks in Australia. It goes into a semi-Jimi Hendrix sort of midsection with some great guitar playing here. The instrumentation here is quite beautiful, and goes to show that you needn’t have distorted guitars and super over the top sounds to achieve great sonic textures. This is just simply gorgeous to hear. A really great piece of music from start to end, although this song is primarily an instrumental. This was indeed, the late 1960s, and it is a piece very typical of its time. Great to hear.
Shangri-La is next, beginning with a minor key arpeggio. It is a continuation of the previous song, and sounds unusual and odd. It has a wide array of instrumentation and sounds here that sound fresh and original. It is another very cynical and unusual piece that is perfectly fitted into the album here. It just sounds amazing and majestic musically, with many witticisms lyrically. An excellent piece of music, this is definitely one of the better pieces from this album. A golden listen from the golden age of Pop/Rock mastery, this is gorgeous and unique. Awesome stuff, and demands repeat listens here. Nice song.
Mr. Churchill Says is obviously another cynical parody, given the song title and lyrics here. It is about the direct nature of war and the consequences from it. A great and melody song to match with the lyrics, it is beautiful, simple and gorgeous musically. An air raid siren kick starts a change in this song, which makes it sound different. A glorious song about the former English leader of the U.K. Winston Churchill, this is one of the better pieces on this awesome album. It has an extended guitar solo here that is truly wonderful listening, with dual tracked guitars here. Excellent music here. Very catchy.
Next along is She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina which begins with piano and harpsichord in different channels, before the song is launched. A gorgeous and interesting sounding tale that is another sort of parody that is really quite funny. Halfway through the song, it completely changes musically and goes into a semi-Abbey Road sounding piece that sounds weird and wacky, A strange and unusual piece of music that is an incredible effort, definitely worth hearing.
Following is Young and Innocent Days which begins with some super quiet acoustic guitar, before going straight into a melodic piece that sounds gentle and relaxing here. Some extra instrumentation enters, with some more harpsichord and drumbeats eventually joining on in. A golden piece of music from the very late 1960s, this is a wonderful listen all the way through. A three minute piece of gorgeous beauty, this must be heard, along with the rest of the album by Kinks fans. Excellent stuff, it ends with a beautiful acoustic guitar plucked section. Nice.
Nothing to Say is next, beginning with some crazy chugging piano, before launching straight into a song that is obviously somewhat of a parody, once again. It is another really excellent song here that is forward thinking and really quite good. This is a really good album to hear, and towards the end, we are especially aware that this is the case. A great 1960s ode to British culture, in a way.
Arthur is the very last track here and is one of the longer tracks on this album. It begins with clean electric guitar parts, excellent drum beats and a great rhythmic section to boot. This is another excellent song that is keeping in line with the rest of album in its sound. A really great and inspiring listen, if this hasn’t been acknowledged by other bands by this point, it very much should be. This album, and song, are highly inspired and influential in Rock music circles here. A great mixture of sound, lyricism, Pop/Rock sensibility and cynicism into a single track here, this is effortless and brilliant. Great music is here, and it builds up into a great singalong piece right at the end here. A great conclusion to a great album, a must hear for classic Pop/Rock fans.
This is a very fine album, nicely crafted and worth repeat listens about the cynical nature of modern English life. If you like 1960s Pop/Rock sounds with a keen sense of songwriting, look no further. This is a very clever, witty and outstanding listen. A great album and artistic effort. Fans of the album will love to check out remastered re-releases of this album with extra tracks on it.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey