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The Kinks' 1969 concept album takes on war, politics and suburban malaise it also features two out-and-out classics- Victoria and Shangri-La -plus Arthur; Drivin'; Australia , and more!
Written as the score for a never-aired BBC television drama, Arthur is the story of late-'60s English working-class exhaustion. Perhaps not the most attention-grabbing subject for a rock album, but in Ray Davies's hands it's rich in texture and stylistic possibility. From the rousing ode to Britain's glorious past ("Victoria") to its less-than-glamorous present (that being the late '60s), Davies portrays a life of cautiously reduced expectations. Arthur once dreamed of owning his own business but has settled for a car and an indoor bathroom ("Shangri-La"). One of his sons spends his time complaining about the system ("Brainwashed"), the other dreams of moving to a new land of opportunity ("Australia"), and when they get together for Sunday dinner there's simply "Nothing to Say." The Kinks at their mighty and surprisingly tender best. --Percy Keegan
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Disc 1 (78:24 minutes):
2. Yes Sir, No Sir
3. Some Mother’s Son
7. Shangri La
8. Mr. Churchill Says
9. She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Maria
10. Young And Innocent Days
11. Nothing To Say
Tracks 1 to 12 are the MONO version of the LP "Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire" released 10 October 1969 in the UK on Pye Records NPL 18317 (no Mono version was released in the USA – only Stereo – see Disc 2)
Track 13 is "Plastic Man" – the non-album Mono A-side of a UK 7” single released 29 March 1969 on Pye Records 7N.17724 ("King Kong" from "Village Green…" is its B-side)
Track 14 is "This Man He Weeps Tonight" – the Mono non-album B-side of a UK 7” single released 12 September 1969 on Pye Records 7N.17812 (the mono A-side is "Shangri La" from the album)
Track 15 is "Mindless Child Of Motherhood" - the Mono non-album B-side of a UK 7" single released 20 June 1969 on Pye Records 7N.17776. The A-side is the album track "Drivin'" – the B-side is credited as Kinks featuring Dave Davies
Track 16 is "Creeping Jean" – credited to Dave Davies, it’s the Mono B-side of a UK 7” single released 17 January 1969 on Pye Records 7N.Read more ›
But Arthur crushes them all in its giant maw...
From the first song, where you hear Dave whooping with joy in the background to the last defeated rave-up, this album is pure greatness and it should be requisite law that every house should have it.
What makes this album their best, other than it being a concept album (and we all know that concept albums make the best albums), is that it is a album of 20 songs, most of them songs within songs. It's rare for an album to cover so much terrain and still come in under an hour.
Besides which, this is the Kinks at their shining hour of greatness, all their successes and defeats behind them and nothing as good as this in their future. Ray's writing is more genius than its ever been before. The Kinks' playing has never been so tight and together.
Plus it has 'Shangri-La.' Which is possibly one of the 10 best songs ever written...
So share with the Kinks the joy of conquering the muscial frontier and weld your CD player shut as soon as you put "Arthur" in it....
"Arthur" remains one of Ray Davies' masterpieces. It didn't sell well in the U.S. but it gained a cult following among everyone who cared about music.
This deluxe edition helps redress some of the issues that blocked this great album from receiving its due back in 1969.
Andrew Sandoval went back to the original master tapes, dug around in the archives and done a splendid job of remastering what he found (with Dan Hersh)for this latest CD edition. Audiophiles should note that this is louder than previous editions but Sandoval has done a nice job of balancing the needs of the marketplace to that of the music listener; these are NOT brickwalled and have nice dynamics.
Disc one and two consist of the original (respectively) mono and stereo versions of the album. Which one you prefer will probably depend on which one you heard first but both have some minor, subtle variations in their mixes that make them both essential for hardcore Kinks fans.
PLEASE NOTE: On the mono version of "This Man He Weeps Tonight" there appear to be clicks and pops as if the digital file was corrupted somehow. Just be aware of it and hopefully Universal will fix it in the next pressing.
EDIT: 11/14 Reportedly the reissue has had this problem fixed.
Both discs are rounded out by a variety of single b-sides/alternate takes/backing tracks and outtakes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the greatest albums in the Western World. Acerbic and tear-jerking. A true masterpiece.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm not even done listening to this yet, on Young and Innocent Days stereo version now. It's amazing. Bursting with musical and lyrical ideas. A really fun listen. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Thomas J. Super
I have always liked The Kinks, but all I really ever knew where their hits up till Lola. Read more
Usually don't write reviews since I didn't expect much from this movie, I thought that I should. Very pleasantly surprised. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Ron Winters