Monday, December 04, 2006

167. The Kinks - Arthur - Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire (1969)

Track Listing

1. Victoria
2. Yes Sir No Sir
3. Some Mother's Son
4. Drivin'
5. Brainwashed
6. Australia
7. Shangri-la
8. Mr Churchill Says
9. She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina
10. Young And Innocent Days
11. Nothing To Say
12. Arthur


This might just be, next to The Village Green Preservation Society, the best Kinks album. And that is saying a great deal. Before starting this list I was mostly indiferent on the subject of The Kinks, I have, however, come to love them dearly as time goes by.

This is a concept album, with kind of the same idea of Tommy and S F Sorrow as following the life of a man, but there are strong differences that make this the best of the bunch by very, very far.

The first difference that pops out is the fact that none of the songs here are filler, or made just to progress the storyline. All the tracks are good, in fact are great and the concept is serving the album instead of vice-versa, for once. Then The Kinks chose a subject which isn't absurd or stupid, the life in post-war England and dealt with it with humour, social consciousness and beauty, never forgetting to be toungue-in-cheek. Tommy looks puerile and stupid next to this, Arthur is greatly written and greatly composed.

So, in my opinion this is the first truly succesful Biographical concept album ever done. And the music is just brilliant, it will put a smile on your face one moment, just to pull the rug under your feet and make you fall on your ass. Good stuff. Buy it at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Victoria
2. Shangri-La
3. Australia
4. Mr. Churchill Says

Final Grade




From Wikipedia:

The story is based on Davies' brother-in-law Arthur, who emigrated from England to Australia with his wife Rose (Ray and Dave's older sister) in the early 1960s. The lead character Arthur is a carpet layer, and he and his family's plight in the opportunity-poor setting of post-war England is depicted. The songs describe the England that Arthur once knew, the promise of life in Australia for one of his sons, the emptiness of his superficially comfortable life in his home "Shangri-La", the resolve of the British people in World War II and the death of his brother in World War I, among other things. Many of the songs (such as "Victoria" and "Brainwashed") represent a strong return to Rock and Roll by the Kinks, which they had largely forgone during the 1966-1968 period.

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