Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire (2019 Deluxe Remaster) The Kinks
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- 1Victoria (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)03:41
- 2Yes Sir, No Sir (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)03:50
- 3Some Mother's Son (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)03:28
- 4Drivin' (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)03:23
- 5Brainwashed (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)02:37
- 6Australia (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)06:49
- 7Shangri-La (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)05:22
- 8Mr. Churchill Says (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)04:46
- 9She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)03:11
- 10Young and Innocent Days (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)05:22
- 11Nothing to Say (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)03:10
- 12Arthur (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)05:27
- 13Victoria (Alternate Stereo Mix / 2019 - Remaster)03:54
- 14Yes Sir, No Sir (Alternate Stereo Mix / 2019 - Remaster)03:55
- 15Drivin' (Alternate Stereo Mix / 2019 - Remaster)03:42
- 16Groovy Movies (Stereo / 2019 - Remaster)02:33
- 17Lincoln County (Acoustic Mix; 2019 - Remaster)03:45
- 18The Future (with Ray Davies) (Doo-Wop Version)02:27
- 19Shangri-La (2019 Mix)05:54
- 20Australia (2019 Mix)06:52
Info for Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire (2019 Deluxe Remaster)
Remastered in stereo from the original tapes! The Kinks were in the middle of a commercial downturn when they made Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire in 1969. Their most recent album, 1968's The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, failed to chart in the U.S., and it was their lowest-selling record in their native U.K. at that time.
The album would later be recognized as the Kinks' masterpiece, but at the time its setback didn't seem to affect the band one bit. In fact, leader Ray Davies' reaction to Village Green was to go even further into the conceptual territory that LP mapped out; with Arthur, he dived head-first into a distant British culture and its somewhat antiquated mores.
The 50th Anniversary Edition of the album, like 2018's Village Green reissue, takes a deep dive that doesn't necessarily shed new light on the work as much as it reinforces just how good this often-overlooked record is. Expanded to four CDs, the deluxe box set serves as a time capsule of the era, collecting stereo and mono versions of the album, sessions, singles, outtakes, BBC performances and Dave Davies' never-released solo record from 1969.
In some respects, Arthur is the Kinks' most ambitious work – maybe not in narrative scope (the later Preservation albums hold that honor, although somewhat dubiously), but in its musical range. It's more musically motivated than many of the band's records from this rich period, including its celebrated predecessor and the LP that followed it, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.
It's also the tentative starting point of Davies' theatrical period, which he'd toyed with in the years leading up to Arthur. Face to Face, from 1966, was a precursor to the conceptual themes explored on both Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur, but the story here is the centerpiece: It's not that surprising since Arthur was originally conceived as a soundtrack to an unproduced television play co-written by Davies about a Londoner, based on his brother-in-law, nostalgic for the old days as he reminisces on class, war and family.
This theatrical turn eventually led to some forgettable albums in the first part of the '70s, but Arthur has more in common with, and is really like a spiritual sequel to, Village Green. The Victorian themes outlined on the earlier album are more refined here – as is the music, which is sharper, more tuneful and more expansive than anything the Kinks had recorded before. The album's best songs – "Victoria," "Drivin'," "Australia," "Shagri-La" – are even more vibrant now thanks to the new remastering.
Putting the pieces together with the bonus material isn't much of a chore, since Arthur was pretty much developed and released with few songs left over. Many of the extras gathered throughout the 50th Anniversary Edition amount to alternate mixes and takes, along with a couple of singles that came out around the time. The 1969 demos and newly recorded "theatrical" and "doo-wop" versions of previously unissued numbers offer split perspectives of songs in their respective skeletal and retrospective stages, and neither adds much to the package.
Better is "The Great Lost Dave Davies Album," which reconstructs the 12-track solo record the guitarist worked on between Village Green and Arthur. While some of the songs have shown up over the years on various singles, both A- and B-sides of solo and band tracks, as well as on 1973's The Great Lost Kinks Album, this is the first real attempt to assemble the LP, along with nearly a dozen bonus tracks.
Some of the songs – like "Mindless Child of Motherhood" and "Hold My Hand" – are quite good and, since they're performed by the Kinks with Dave on lead vocals, could have easily found a spot on the band's albums, if not for Ray's overriding concepts.
Arthur arrived in the middle of the Kinks' most creative period. They'd make two more great albums before Ray Davies' theatrical ambitions took over and inundated the first half of the '70s with records even fans have a hard time defending. But in 1969, Davies' nostalgia found a perfect partner in the sound of post-Summer of Love Britain. Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire really couldn't have been made at any other time, and as the 50th Anniversary Edition makes clear, it achieves a sort of timelessness because of that.
are recognised as one of the most important and influential British groups of all time, with millions of record sales and countless awards and accolades to their name. From their explosive beginnings as part of the British Beat movement to forays into concept albums, stadium rock and acoustic balladeering, The Kinks have left an unimpeachable legacy of classic songs, many of which form the building blocks of popular music as we know it today.
Hailing from Muswell Hill in north London, The Kinks were formed by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. Calling themselves The Ravens, an early line-up saw them playing a combination of skiffle and rock and roll with friend Peter Quaife on bass. A self-produced demo tape reached record producer Shel Talmy who helped the band land a contract with Pye Records in 1964. Before signing, the group replaced their drummer with Mick Avory and renamed themselves The Kinks.
With the classic line-up in place, music history was about to be written and, after two failed singles (including a cover of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally), the group's third, You Really Got Me, stormed to the top of the UK charts. Written by Ray and Dave in their parents' front room, the song has since been cited as the inspiration for garage rock, punk, heavy metal and on contempories The Who. An album, The Kinks, was hastily assembled in the aftermath of the monster hit and was, in turn, swiftly followed by a second Top 10 single, All Day and All Of the Night.
Between 1965-1967, The Kinks enjoyed their first commercial peak, scoring nine British and seven US chart hits. 1965's Tired Of Waiting For You displayed Ray's world-weary vocal style while Dave came up with a then innovatory Indian style drone guitar on See My Friends. As Ray's songwriting developed, he emerged as a witty, compassionate social commentator, chronicling the absurdities and aspirations of English life. He took stabs at fashion victims with Dedicated Follower Of Fashion and his fellow nouveau rich pop star peers on Sunny Afternoon. He even created a hymn to the Thames on the peerless Waterloo Sunset.
Despite the Kinks' commercial success at home, an unresolved dispute with the American Federation of Musicians during a 1965 tour, led to a ban on US appearances which lasted until 1969. These problems coupled with the pressures of recording and touring caused Ray to collapse from nervous exhaustion in 1966. So, with most UK bands looking to America's burgeoning flower power revolution for inspiration, Ray looked no further than his back garden for his own concept album, 1968's Village Green Preservation Society. On the album Ray developed the major themes of his work, a lament for the traditions of a near-mythical England lost among modernity. Despite flirting with the de rigeur psychedelia sound, the album was overlooked by the British record-buying public and one of the Kinks' most artistically successful albums slipped away. Fortunately, subsequent years have seen it grow in stature and it’s now recognised as one of the most important British albums ever released.
The loftily named follow up, Arthur - The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, addressed similar themes, portraying an English family looking back over their experiences before emigrating to Australia featuring the oft-covered Victoria. The mood lightened a little with the monster 1970 hit single Lola. 1971's Muswell Hillbillies album echoed Village Green's collection of storybook vignettes and the single Supersonic Rocketship from Everybody’s In Showbiz went Top 20 in 1972 while Celluloid Heroes from the same album became a live favourite . The remainder of the '70s found our heroes tackling a dazzling array of real-life themes and situations with the bands four concept albums, Preservation Act 1, Preservation Act 2, Soap Opera and Schoolboys in Disgrace. While the UK hits dried up, their sizeable following in the US brought them commercial rewards and, in 1977, a Top 30 album in the form of Sleepwalker.
Two years later the band released the hard rock Low Budget album and became belated rock stars in America, gaining a sizeable chunk of the stadium rock circuit, selling out Madison Square Gardens. The Americans also lapped up early 80's albums Give The People What they Want and State Of Confusion which featured the hit singles Better Things and Destroyer. The Kinks even found themselves back in the UK charts with 1983’s, Come Dancing. For many years The Kinks had been receiving reverential nods from the rock fraternity, all of which increased their cachet with wave after wave of new bands and musicians. In 1978 The Jam had covered David Watts while The Pretenders had their first UK hit with a version of Stop Your Sobbing. Biggest of all was Kirsty McColl’s breathtaking take on ‘Days’.
Through the 90s, The Kinks garnered a whole new generation of fans as yet another wave of British musicians paid tribute to the band. Blur’s Damon Albarn in particular acknowledged Davies as a key influence: the classic Kinks sound and sensibilities underpin the Brit Pop-ers’ classic triptych of ‘London albums’, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape. With The Kinks on hiatus since 1996 Ray Davies continued to record and tour acclaimed albums like 2006’s Other People’s Life and 2007’s Working Man’s Café. In 2009 he released The Kinks Choral Collection, an album of Kinks compositions in collaboration with the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
Despite intermittent rumours to the contrary throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, ill-health scuppered plans for a reunion of the original line-up. Sadly, Peter Quaife, who had been receiving kidney dialysis for more than ten years, died on 23rd June 2010. Ray Davies dedicated his June 27th performance at the Glastonbury festival to his honour, telling the crowd, “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him”.
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