Lex on The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Let me set the record straight; I didn’t like Thriller by Michael Jackson.

I may have been in the right place at the right time, but I didn’t care for all of the hoopla that surrounded Michael Jackson or Thriller.  When that album came out in late 1982, I was an 8th grader in junior high school.  About 95% of my school fell in line with the songs, the videos, and the mania that surrounded Thriller.  I was probably the only 13 year old black kid in school that didn’t care for it.

I was in the process of learning about all of the pop and rock music that came about during the 1960s, and for me it was all about the first wave of British musical acts that came over to America in 1964.  At the time everyone at my school was going ga-ga over “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” I was into the Kinks.  The songwriting of Ray Davies and the noise produced by the Kinks had a very hypnotic sway over my musical mind.  I heard Kinks “klassics” like “You Really Got Me,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” and “Lola” on the oldies stations, and was collecting as many of their records as I could find.

In school, I used to earn extra record money by writing love notes and love letters for my friends to give to the girls they liked (usually a dollar per letter).  One day I found myself thumbing through the Kinks records at Record Retreat and came across a title that I hadn’t heard about before.  Originally released on November 22 1968, it was called The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society.  I handed Punk Rock John (the cashier dude with the purple hair) 6 bucks and ran home to listen to my new find.

I put the album on the turntable, and off I went.

While listening to the record, I looked at the album cover.  The band looked younger than they did on their 70s RCA and Arista releases.  Their 60s material, for the most part, was long out of print in America.  I was happy to get something that was 60s related.  I didn’t recognize any of the song titles, but it wouldn’t be long before the songs were etched into my brain.  I thought the title song was catchy, and started playing along to it with my new acoustic guitar.  As great as that song was, I was in for a musical ride that foreshadowed what was later called “brit-pop” 22 years after the album’s initial release.

“Do You Remember Walter” struck me really hard.  It reminded me of my old elementary school partner-in-crime Damon.  I had not seen him in 2 years at this point, and the song had me missing him, as well as those pre-teen days when every day was a new adventure with the two of us.  He was my “soul brother.”  He ended up going to a different junior high school, which I resented.  “Picture Book” was another song that had me looking back at my childhood with serious nostalgia.  It was also the song that I picked when I learned how to play bass – I was the new bassist for my school’s jazz band program.  When the song was used years later for a Hewlitt – Packard printer commercial, I found it hard not to stop all activity and listen.

Continuing through the songs on the album, I came across a gem called “Big Sky.”  It was like nothing I’d ever heard before.  It was like 60s “brit-rap,” except that it was melodic and rockin’.  It was another song that I learned to play straight from the record.  It still sound cool to this day.  When Ray and his brother Dave sing the chorus, I still get an emotional musical tug at the heart.

One day we’ll be free,
We won’t care, just you see
Til that day can be,
Don’t let it get you down

Believe me, those words helped me get through the first years of puberty.

“Animal Farm” had very little to do with the novel written by George Orwell, but it got me to take a “read a book for pleasure” day away from school.  I love the book, but I still prefer the Kinks song of the same title.  “Village Green” struck me really hard.  It reminded me of my last year in elementary school, and all of the friends I had.  I grew nostalgic for the times when I was the “leader of the pack” among my school mates.  Here I was, 2 years later, and struggling with being the “odd” black kid that listened to rock and 60s pop rather than Thriller.

“All Of My Friends Were There,” with its bizarre time signature changes and strange lyrical pentameter, caught my ear and became my favorite track on the album for a long time.  I guess its theme about being nervous after being away for a long time struck a nerve.  “Wicked Annabella” was just HEAVY for a 60s pop band.  Sung by Dave Davies, the song takes on a sinister tone that is hard to imitate.  I could imagine Black Sabbath covering this song with the greatest of ease.

They way that if a song is good, you can walk away, hum the melody and remember some of the words.  With The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, I found myself in school humming snatches of each song on the album.  For me, that album represents something that Thriller can’t.  Village Green caught my musical ear, as well as another side of me that wanted so bad to go back to the normal life I had before I entered junior high school and puberty.  Just two short years prior to hearing this Kinks masterpiece, I had free reign to be as different as I wanted and no one questioned it.

Junior high school could be cruel.  If you didn’t like what everyone else liked, you’d get called on it. With Village Green, I found an album that I could sing and dance to and I didn’t have to use a glitter glove.  I guess you could say that  Village Green was the soundtrack of me reclaiming my individuality.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at
http://www.poppermost.com ).

Please note that the original release date for this klassic Kinks album was November 22, 1968.

Currently listening :
The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
By The Kinks
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~ by Poppermost on November 22, 2008.

One Response to “Lex on The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society”

  1. God save the kinks, forever! They have always been the best band in the land from 1964 thru the end in 1996 ( last US show was in 95 ) – Frank Lima, The Montvale, New Jersey Hilbilly Boy aka Dan the Fan

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