Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Especially given that there's a recent book about the Kinks' great album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, I'm not going to write a long essay. It's probably my favorite of the "ambitious 60's British Invasion masterpieces" although that's partly because it's much less conceptually ambitious than, say, Sgt. Pepper or Who Sell Out, which means that it's dated less. Actually, if Who Sell Out ended more gracefully, it'd probably be my pick. But it doesn't.

I do want to mention that there's a huge re-issue of the album coming out in June. Details are here and here (see the April 28th entry).

It'd be nice if, like software, CDs came with cheap or free upgrades for registered customers...I've already bought Village Green three times (vinyl, CD, expanded CD) and it's annoying to have to buy an expanded expanded version. Also, some of the bonus tracks look a little dicey: do I need to hear the instrumental version of Phenomenal Cat? I already know the answer to that. But I do want to hear the demos and the BBC Sessions that didn't make it to the BBC Sessions collection.

If you've never bought the album, though, your patience has presumably paid off, as I can't imagine that there's much left to scrape out of this particular barrel. Just to give an idea of what it sounds like, here are three cover versions by three indie-rock types. First Yo La Tengo with an early, tasteful (YLT's "tasteful" isn't always that far removed from "boring") cover of Big Sky. It's functional, but to these ears Ray Davies wins the singing contest handily. Also there's a repeating note (Harpsichord I think. Maybe 12 string?) on the original that's less insistent in YLT's version, and it makes a surprising difference.

Here's The Judy Bats with a nicely energetic Animal Farm...again not changed much from the original, but with fuller production than the YLT track. They tack on a horrible rockin' out ending...you might just want to clip the track about 30 seconds before it finishes. Finally, here's the oddball band The Ophelias (I wrote about them a little in early February) covering one of the strangest songs on Village Green, the creepy Wicked Annabella. This is from a Rough Trade 12" that The Ophelias put out in '87 and if ever a band should have done an all covers album it was probably these guys (see also their Mr. Rabbit and I Dig Your Mind). One of the things I love most about the Kinks is that they have songs that just seem to come out of nowhere...no relation to the other tracks on the album or to much else in the Davies' catalog, and Wicked Annabella is one of the best of these.

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