Friday, November 6, 2009

Four More Respected Gentlemen

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. It is a mouthful. And on plenty of days, my favorite LP of all time. By anyone. Thirteen of its fifteen songs clock in at under three minutes. The full flowering of Ray Davies' melodicism runs rampant throughout. Never again would his muse maintain such a consistently high level of songwriting (the pleasures of the next LP to come notwithstanding). Mr. Davies pulled a rabbit of a hat for TVGPS, for the songs were cobbled together from a solo project and the aborted Kink's LP Four More Respected Gentlemen. I have always wondered if those four distinguished Gentlemen went by the names of Quaife, Davies, Avory, and Davies.

If one includes the two splendid Kinks singles A sides released in 1968 - Wonderboy and Days - Mr. Davies gives the Beatles and the Rolling Stones their fiercest competition in that incredible year of music. But make no mistake, The Kinks at this point are about as far from a rock and roll band as they will ever get. The focus here is on the past, things that no longer exist, and our attempts to recall that past via memories and photographs. Ray Davies was fighting to keep that past alive. And I suppose that by writing about it, I attempt to do the same.

If you do not own TVGPS in some media format, shame on you. But since I know you do, go listen. There is a wonderful live performance of Last of the Steam-Powered Trains and Picture Book on YouTube, but alas no embedding. Just click the link.


Holly A Hughes said...

I love your comment that on VGPS they were as far from a rock & roll band as they would ever get. Maybe that's why they had to rock out so hard when they got to Arthur next year.

Nevertheless, this album is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I'm always on the caboose (there's a word the kids nowadaze won't even know the meaning of) of Mr. P's Kinks Express because I can't keep up with him yet refuse to miss a post or skip ahead!

As a huge fan of old photos of all sorts, I've always felt like Ray knew me spookily well when he wrote Picture Book. I suppose the bed & breakfast photos of which he sings were taken in sunny South End but of course I've always heard it as "sunny South Bend" and would always think of this song whenever I took the turnpike across Indiana, which i used to do a lot. :-)

But one thing, which has probably been pointed out many times before, but man: it had to have taken just a lot of guts to record this album, which I tentatively have in my top 10 of all time.

And Holly's point re Arthur is so true as well though -- you know Dave Davies was excited to move there anyway, just from his great background yells in Victoria. (Simels once had a Listomania re something to the effect of Your Favorite Magical Moments on a Post-Elvis Record!!! or somesuch, & Dave exhuberance on Victoria is one of mine). I think that point too was first made to me in the -- obviously highly influential to me! -- Kinks Kronikles double LP liner notes by i dunno who -- because I've never owned any of their greatest hits LPs YET really loved reading and re-reading he Kinks Kronikles liner notes at one point at an epic party ... "a long time ago." :-)

Who did write those by the way? Anyone know?

Mister Pleasant said...

So Who Am Us Anyway - is South Bend anywhere close to Kokomo? (its a rhetorical question - no need to answer). Put into geographical perspective, your mis-hearing of the lyrics is a riot.

The liner notes for the Kinks Kronikles LP were written by John Mendelssohn, one of the first and foremost of Kinks fans, also a reviewer for Rolling Stone mag back in the day. His book on The Kinks is a must-read. It turned me from a fan into a fanatic.