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The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society (Thirty Three and a Third series) Paperback – September 1, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This detailed tome leads the reader through the often fraught construction of what is now regarded as Davies's [sic] masterpiece- and, like the best books of its ilk, it makes the reader want ot either re-investigate the album or hear it for the first time." -Blender Magazine, October 2003

"Miller takes an in-depth look at the Kinks' nostalgic and autobiographical album, released in 1968 , at the worst possible time, when rock was all about rebellion and psychedelia…This is the sort of focus that my make you want to buy a copy, or dig out your old one." -Rob Mackie, The Guardian

A compelling portrait...Miller’s insight into the album’s thematic structure is as eloquent as any writing on The Kinks—Philadelphia City Paper

"So thorough is Miller’s survey of the period."- Pop Culture Press

"Kinks kommander Ray Davies once described the Beatles as "the boy next door only better." Miller notices this is a deeply autobiographical comment, and he's unquestionably in the tank for both that boy and that boy's nostalgia-driven magnum opus. But Miller tempers his enthusiasm with research, with and detailed-if-straightforward analyis of the songs, the time, the players and the fascinating history of the very English temperament that produced this most English of magnum opuses. A" —Austin American-Statesman, Oct. 17, 2004

"...thisis a charming and valuable addition to the series."- Joe Pettit, Ugly Things, Issue 25 (Ugly Things)

“…thisis a charming and valuable addition to the series.”- Joe Pettit, Ugly Things, Issue 25 (Sanford Lakoff)

From the Publisher

"Thirty Three and a Third" is a new series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives – often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums. By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. What binds the series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors – musicians, broadcasters, scholars, and writers – are huge fans of the album they have chosen.
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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826414982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826414984
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Just in time for the re-issue of this classic record by Sanctuary, Mr. Miller's book is a fine example of rock writing without pretension or artifice. His writing is clear, well-informed, illuminating, and witty. A pleasure to read. A shame that he couldn't get Ray Davies to talk, but then not many can. Still, there is some good input from the rest of the band, including a wonderful remark from Pete Quaife, which is too rude to repeat here!
Another positive feature of the book is that Mr. Miller devotes almost as much time to the songs which never made it on to the LP as he does to those that did. I am sure the sleevenotes for the reissue will be good, but they are unlikely to be as fascinating as Mr. Miller's book.
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Format: Paperback
This is the second 33 1-3 book I've read and it'll probably be the last. It's much better than the first one I tried, Jim Fusilli's book on Pet Sounds, which was discursive and only occasionally illuminating. It begins promisingly, with a solid overview of the Kinks' place in the British music scene in the mid-60s and the band's fall from grace. There's a clear and informative summary of the band's disasterous year of 1968 and of the causes and effects of the group's internal strife during this period.

Once it gets to the album itself, however, the book falls short. For some reason (licensing? space constrictions?) the author chooses not to cite lyrics from the album; this weakens what analysis goes on here, as the reader is required to have committed the entire album to memory in order to follow some points made. Worse, most of the discussion of individual songs here is descriptive only, without much in the way of analysis of the song's musical or lyrical significance. That's a shame, especially for American readers who would really benefit from a discussion of the many specific and (to us, anyway) obscure British subtexts and references scattered throughout this great album.

Mr. Miller is an extremely capable writer, so reading this book was a breeze (Fusilli's book, in contrast, is full of annoying colloquialisms). There is some useful information here, but this is not the 'last word on TKATVGPS' that I'd hoped it would be. I'm beginning to suspect the entire 33 1-3 series has been too hastily written and edited--both books I've read fell well short of expectations.
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Format: Paperback
Though the 3 cd reissue of Village Green Preservation Society is excellent, it lacks extensive liner notes that shed more light on it. This book details everything about the album, the band during that period, the recording sessions and how it translated live. The analysis is crucial. While the Kinks after their sound matured were masters at social commentary what they were expressing in their songs was not always obvious if you weren't there at the time. For example the song on Village Green "Last of the Steam Powered Trains" is referring (at least according to the book) about a blues rave up by Howlin' Wolf "Smokestack Lightning" that was a live staple of all the bands at that time until psychadelia encroached which made the music instantly nostalgic. The book expertly picks through the threads that that the album is woven from. I find all the books in this series to be enlightening but the ones that are the notable discuss albums that haven't been already picked apart by rock critics (e.g. Neutral Milk Hotel) and while the Kinks have been around for a while this book offers a fresh perspective on an album that not only has not dated but with its then unique mix of nostalgia and cynicism become ripe for discussion.
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The Kinks are one of my all-time desert-island favorite bands, and Village Green is one of my all-time favorite desert-island records. I want to love this book, but it really isn't what I'd hoped. Not that there isn't interesting information and amusing anecdotes, but it's more a look at the group and their environs--what was going on in and around the Kinks, what was going on in any given Davies head-- during the recording, not the actual recording of the album. Which makes sense, naturally, as the potential market for the nuts-and-bolts of the Kinks in the studio is probably damned small. I wasn't expecting a Recording the Beatles or even a The Beatles Complete Recording Sessions (my top two all-time favorite desert island books)--but as a music fan, recordist, and musician, I'm generally a lot less interested in the artists personally and a lot more interested in the music, its creation, and its capture.
The book isn't at fault, and I love having it on my shelf with all my other gazillion music books, but after the first read, I've never opened it again.
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The Kinks are somewhat on the "b-team" of English rock acts, and that's a shame even if it's somewhat appropriate. For all their success in the Sixties, they were kept out of the States by a travel ban for much of that decade, and their record label Pye was apparently the cheapest outfit in the history of recorded music (even Sam Philips, who famously gave away Elvis Presley, would look at Pye and shake his head). But they managed to carry on, in the English way, by exploring the very land of their birth in songs and albums where the tongue may have been placed firmly in cheek but then again it was hard to say just how far in cheek that tongue was.

In "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society," Andy Miller tackles the album that may have best captured Ray Davies' creative peak, in the late Sixties. While his peers were dropping acid and experimenting with mind-bending music, Davies seems to have discovered the joys of Sunday tea and village greens. I'm sure Davies was no stranger to the harder drugs of the musician's world back then, but it's hard to imagine the Kinks toking up or dropping acid and doing anything more than giggling a little and getting on with their business. "Village Green," which saw the light of day in England in late 1968 and America around that same time, is an out-of-time album in some ways; it's not concerned, seemingly, with what's going on in the wider world.

But as Miller suggests, the album manages to stand the test of time because of its very oddness. It's got some great songs on there (the title track and "Picture Book" are personal favorites of mine), but it's not really a "concept" album in many ways.
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