Strange I had to wait so long before someone asked me for this one. A putative version of what this album should have been if the times had been different and the external pressure for having a hit album not so heavy. Maybe I'm wrong but this may have done of this album a direct cult contender to the White Album or Pet Sounds. Catch it here.
From the automn of 1967 to the summer of 1968, Ray Davies was not far to live what Brian Wilson had lived the year before when trying to achieve what should have been his masterpiece: Smile. Moreover, he didn't really know whether the songs he was composing really fitted for the Kinks. The failure of "Wonderboy" and "Days" when released as singles in spring 1968 seemed to confirm that his material did not match exactly what the fans were waiting from the Kinks. But the question was: did the Kinks still had fans? In 1968 the music was completely changing (Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd had modified the perception of music) and Ray Davies was composing his most nostalgic and passeist songs since his beginnings. Things got worse when the American label asked for a record to release. He gave them at the onset of summer a strange mix of 14 songs, without much homogeneity, and the record was briefly released under the name of Four More Respected Gentlemen after 3 songs were withdrawn for unknown reasons. In september, Ray Davies finally provided to the English label the result of his cogitations, the famous and long-awaited Village Green Preservation Society project finally achieved but containing only 12 songs. This version was actually released in some countries with various sleeves but it is said that Ray Davies suddenly changed his mind and asked the label to release a 20-track double LP sold at budget price. The label refused but gave him the authorization to edit a 15-track single LP. Strangely, instead of adding 3 songs to the 12-track version he had proposed, he removed "Days" and "Mr Songbird" and added "All Of My Friends Were There", "Sitting By The Riverside" and "Animal Farm" that he had recorded during the previous months. Moreover, he decided to compose and record 2 new songs, "Big Sky" and "The Last Of The Steam Powered Train", that belong to a different musical universe, much more in the American vein that the band will develop 2 years later, and they sounded quite out of place here. Maybe the fact that Ray Davies felt that the music was quick changing and that his album might appear as too 60's led him to do that. I've read several books about the Kinks and particulartly the chapters about this record, and none provided a list of songs that might have been the director's cut for Ray Davies. Actually, there is no reason that all the songs that, at a time or another featured in the selection of Village Green, would not have been in this double LP version. But in taking all the songs Ray Davies and the Kinks really finished during these 12 months, the sum is 22 and not 20. So, I decided to imagine what would have been a Village Green Preservation Society on which all the wonderful songs that the Kinks had recorded during this period were included. The problem was to chose an order for the songs. In the various versions that Ray Davies had proposed, it is clear that some were considered as openings and other as endings. Moreover, "Village Green" had to cut the album in the middle. Although some song sequences were the sames in the 12 and 15-track versions, some were not. I usually respected the sequences that did not change in the various versions. I tried several sequences for the whole album and finally opted for this one. The major liberty I took with the original choice was to conclude the album with "Berkeley Mews". Actually, all Ray Davies versions closed with "People Take Pictures Of Each Other" but honestly, I never found this song a good one to close such an album. "Berkeley Mews" has for me something of the classic ironic quality that the Kinks showed in their closing tracks. But this can be debated. Since I play to create fake vinyl LPs, I separated the 22 tracks in 4 sides, trying also to chose songs for opening and closing each side that seemed appropriate for these roles. Not an easy thing to do but Ray helped me a lot since his sequences were sometimes perfect for 5 or 6 songs a side with a perfect choice for opening and closing it. I'm happy that some songs so underrated and forgotten ("Lavender Hill", "Rosemary Rose", "Misty Water") can integrate here their place among the classics associated with Village Green. I generally chose to put the mono version rather than the stereo one to respect the original concept but it's not the case everywhere I fear. The lyrics of all the songs are included in a rtf file. This was mandatory for this post to be respectfull of the work of Ray Davies. Getting older, this is the only thing I feel remains important to do: respect the achievement of great artists. Enjoy this experimental album.
Rosemary Rose.Rosemary rose,Nature sure gave you such a beautiful nose.'though you're not beautiful as someone would know,That rosemary rose,Has eyes of blue,And someone is treasuring a picture of you,Taken on a holiday when you were just three,My sweet rosemary.You look nothing like a child,Yet you're such a little baby.Chewing on your liquorish gum, and cigarettes.Rosemary rose,Carefully sewing on your buttons and bows.Hoping that someone will be wanting to know,Of rosemary rose. You look nothing like a child,Yet you're such a little baby.Chewing on your liquorish gum, and cigarettes.Rosemary rose,Carefully sewing on your buttons and bows.Hoping that someone will be wanting to know,Of rosemary rose