“Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)” by The Kinks - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1969Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

Best of British what, what? An undoubted high point in the Kinks story – yet, as with many episodes, the back-ground events were enough to drive them mad. The set was recorded in the summertime of ’69 and issued in October of that year. It was conceptual; conceived as the soundtrack to a Granada Television play that fell apart due to withdrawn financial backing. Novelist Julian Mitchell and Ray Davies had worked closely together on the storyline; losing the performance platform was a real kick in the teeth after a lot of hard work. Still, at least an album lasts for generations yet unborn; their labours were far from wasted. As Wikipedia tells, the liner notes reveal some of the plot:

“Arthur Morgan … lives in a London suburb in a house called Shangri-La, with a garden and a car and a wife called Rose and a son called Derek who's married to Liz, and they have these two very nice kids, Terry and Marilyn. Derek and Liz and Terry and Marilyn are emigrating to Australia. Arthur did have another son, called Eddie. He was named for Arthur's brother, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Arthur's Eddie was killed, too—in Korea.”

With an underlying theme of nostalgia, the songs describe the England that Arthur once knew (“Victoria”, “Young and Innocent Days”), the promise of life in Australia for one of his sons (“Australia”), the emptiness of his superficially comfortable life in his home (“Shangri-La”), the resolve of the British people during the Second World War (“Mr. Churchill Says”), the privations that marked the austerity period after the war (“She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”), and the death of his brother in World War I (“Yes Sir, No Sir”, “Some Mother's Son”). Who knew tales of suburban disenchantment could be responsible for such greatness? I say, well played. Cup of tea Mrs? Best china, mind.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:40] 9.0.png The Kinks - Victoria (Ray Davies) Cerebral Pop
A2 [03:46] 8.4.png The Kinks - Yes Sir, No Sir (Ray Davies) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
A3 [03:25] 7.2.png The Kinks - Some Mother’s Son (Ray Davies) Folk Rock / Americana
A4 [03:21] 7.4.png The Kinks - Drivin’ (Ray Davies) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
A5 [02:34] 7.4.png The Kinks - Brainwashed (Ray Davies) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
A6 [06:46] 6.7.png The Kinks - Australia (Ray Davies) Cerebral Pop
B1 [05:20] 8.5.png The Kinks - Shangri-La (Ray Davies) Cerebral Pop
B2 [04:42] 7.1.png The Kinks - Mr. Churchill Says (Ray Davies) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B3 [03:07] 6.3.png The Kinks - She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina [original stereo album version] (Ray Davies) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B4 [03:21] 9.2.png The Kinks - Young And Innocent Days (Ray Davies) Folk
B5 [03:08] 6.8.png The Kinks - Nothing To Say (Ray Davies) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B6 [05:27] 7.0.png The Kinks - Arthur (Ray Davies) Folk Rock / Americana

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