Why You Should Listen To The Kinks Preservation Act 2

“In a world full of jive, full of homicide, and suicide there’s no room for love and romance.”

Let that sink in for a second. That line is the opening lyric to Oh Where Is Love from the album Preservation Act 2. The follow up to Preservation Act 1 is an album that strangely mirrors a world nearly 40 years older than the one for which the album was written. Maybe its just that corruption, poverty, the want of power over the masses never truly goes away? Maybe those concepts are those that one doesn’t truly see until they are old enough to understand the way the world works?

Ray Davies is my favorite composer. There, i said it. Whew! That is a weight off of my shoulders. Don’t misunderstand, I love McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, Townshend – but it is Ray Davies that sees the ordinary but describes it in an extraordinary way. He’s full of satire (Well Respected Man), whimsy (Phenomenal Cat), imagination (Kentucky Moon), raw emotion (You Really Got Me), sentimentality (Waterloo Sunset), and nostalgia (The Village Green Preservation Society). Yes, he and his subject matter are very British, but I like that he writes about what he knows. He also makes it accessible to listeners of a non-British background because he touches on themes that are universal: love, loss, family, home, confusion, search, and discovery.

Well, I could go on about Ray Davies, how he writes, his various issues (we all have them, celebrity doesn’t get a pass on that), and the various triumphs and troubles he has had, but I will refrain. If you are interested, check out his book X-Ray a bio/autobiography.

I really enjoyed this book.  I like all of Ray Davies' writing apparently.

I really enjoyed this book. I like all of Ray Davies’ writing apparently.

In brief, just know that as one with an overactive imagination, I can listen to Ray Davies songs and hear the kindred spirit of one who can see the world as it is, but both envision a darker or brighter version (depending on the mood).

Now, on to Preservation Act 2. To get an idea of PA:2 (shortened for your convenience), you have to know a little of Preservation Act 1. In brief, PA:1 takes place in a small English village, thatched roofs and all. The residents of this village are just enjoying life as it is when Mr. Flash arrives with his flunkies, changing the traditional with modern convinces and the promise of the new being better than the old. It ends with Flash declaring “we will buy up the town, knock it all down, build a brand new world of our own.”

Opened Cover of PA:2

Opened Cover of PA:2

At the opening of PA:2, Flash is the leader of a corrupt government coming under siege by a Mr. Black – that believes in everything opposite of Flash. It really is a battle between the very secular and the very religious. Neither give quarter, there is no middle ground. Compromise cannot be made.

Sound familiar? It did to me, at any rate. When I first discovered this album, I was in the midst of my “I just discovered how amazing the Kinks are, I must buy all the albums!!” phase. Immediately, I loved the way it played like a radio drama. Through the Announcements, you get to hear the progression of the story through news reports. You learn about Mr. Black and his followers leading, at first, a small rebellion that grows as the people become discontented with Flash’s regime. Like the Who’s Tommy, it’s operatic, but a bit more straightforward. There is no guessing and what moves the plot forward.

There were songs that immediately struck a chord with me. Money Talks, Artificial Man, Nothing Lasts Forever – really, the whole album is full of great songs, but some don’t stand up outside of the confines of the album structure as well as others. After all, it is a composition that is meant to be listened to in order – that’s kinda the point of a concept album, I guess. While it was obvious that the album is discussing how corruption will lead to downfall, and that what replaces the corrupt is not necessarily good, sometimes, people choose the lesser of two evils in the hopes that it won’t be “that bad” or “it can’t be worse.”

It wasn’t until I was older, until I lived a little more, paid taxes, questioned the authority around me and their decisions as a working adult with responsibilities, that I could see how The Kinks – particularly Ray Davies – really hit the nail on the head.

So, why do I think you should listen to this album? Firstly, it’s a really well put together album. That may be the most important reason, in fact. The Kinks are at the height of their musical powers. The lyrics, music, and tightness of play are impressive – especially is all you know them for is All Day and All of the Night or You Really Got Me (both B.A. songs, no doubt – straight rock and roll). Secondly, the topic is timeless and hits particularly close to home.

We live in a world where it can be difficult to see a bright side. Corrupt politicians that cannot seem to find a middle ground to benefit the people they claim to represent (like Flash and his cronies), and a continuously stressed middle and lower class that cannot seem to catch a break are reflected in Ray Davies grand audio play. The finale of the album, Salvation Road, makes it sound like those newly in power are different. They aren’t, and that’s the point. The system doesn’t change, just the faces.
The best thing about Davies though, and part of the reason I love his writing, is that there is hope. He doesn’t shy away from the darker themes. Rather, he accepts them as part of life and his songs reflect that. It’s the balance between the dark that the light shines.

Ray Davies and the Kinks shine on Preservation Act 2, and in the process provide a mirror to a world we may not like looking at, but we need to.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Frank Lima
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 08:41:56

    Ray Davies is the undisputed world champion of songwriters!

    Reply

  2. Kc Nims
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 08:58:58

    Preservation Act 2, one of my favorite albums growing up, and still is today!

    Reply

  3. Frank Lima
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 10:48:29

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    “Civilization’s dead, over the edge”.R.D.D.”
    Yeah, lets fight for mickey mouseYeah, lets fight for freedom.Oh, God save us one and all,Oh, God save us from defeat”…John Lennon/Yoko Ono,- the elastic oz band.

    I decided to do a year end partial core dump and just spit out random thoughts and writings form “The Diary (of maybe a not so) mad KinKs fan…that only touches on what is has always meant and still means to me to be a follower of the kinks, it’s more than just another great rock & roll band, it’s more than just the music and how it sounds, it more than I could ever explain in words and it’s more than only a very few could or even want to understand.

    The Kinks= The Bible= Preservation+ world, Prophets, Saviors, Heroes, rock & roll, scrapheap city, money and Corruption, Artificial man, Plastic Man, Loony Balloon, now and then,Civilization’s dead, over the edge, and we have only ourselves to blame

    ” And say good-bye to a world that’s too real;Good-bye to a world that’s forgotten how to feel.And it’s slowly usin’ me,And there’s no security”” Is this really it? Is this the final station It’s really been quite a trip”

    Someone mentioned that some spelling and grammar errors slipped through in the Picture Book box set booklet and then I read some idiot’s critical review of the box set and I just flipped, I went over the edge, and have now officially joined the Barmy Army! !!!

    Also I think finally getting, seeing and holding the kinks box set set, and reading the GREAT liner notes in the booklet off a chemical reaction in my brain, and I haven’t even listened to it yet so there will be more where this comes from in the future because once I get started I go to town…!!!

    A few spelling and grammar errors just make it that more loveable, if the everything about the kinks career was perfect none of would probably be here right now in the first place…

    The packaging and booklet with the box set is brilliant and just gives me goose bumps to look at it, read it and hold it and that is even before I even listen to it!!! Already I have seen some critical reviews of it and it has just sent me over the edge…I can’t take it anymore…I am now a full fledged member of the Barmy army.

    This world is killing me and I can’t take it and won’t take it any more…! on the subject of the kinks and their entire career and to any critic of the band, and their career…show me something better, show me something almost as good, show me something real, show me something that is not a product of the artificial, plastic world we live in…show me a time when the music mattered…

    The only Kritical komment I can ever make about Ray and the kinks and about anything they ever did or put out is that they never gave in, they were too smart and ahead of their time for their own good, ( along with a handful of other artists) they never sold out, or gave in to fashion, and even when they think they did they were still misfits and not like everybody else,…

    We live in a fast food world and the kinks are like that hidden old world restaurant that still remembers how things use to be and when the food and the music mattered and people really cared, and weren’t looking for the next chain restaurant or all you can eat buffet. And if you think the government and the corporations didn’t have anything to do with it, take a look at the course of music and pop culture after Woodstock, when they knew it was more than just another fad, and they were scared of us and the counter culture, and knew we had to be stopped, they had to do something about it. If only John Lennon were alive to tell his story ) I could write a book on my theory and what I think was a conspiracy…J

    John Lennon like Ray hit the nail on the head too many times, John was not as subtle as Ray (” Money and Corruption” ) and had way more of a voice and paid the price for it, otherwise Ray and John could be in each others shoes today…also Ray writes a lot of his views in the 3rd _party but don’t let that fool or confuse you…??? Ray and the kinks were far more radical than you know???

    ” I’m sick and tired of hearing things From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocriticsAll I want is the truthJust gimme some truthIve had enough of reading thingsBy neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politiciansAll I want is the truthJust gimme some truthAh, Im sick and tired of hearing thingsFrom uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritesAll I want is the truth nowJust gimme some truth nowIve had enough of reading thingsBy neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politiciansAll I want is the truth nowJust gimme some truth now”

    “The world’s goin’ crazy and Nobody gives a damn anymore” .When something threatens something you have several options, try to calm it down, dismiss it, eliminate or destroy it, and when all else fails you make it acceptable so that it becomes just like every other part of the establishment and by doing so you weaken the entire credibility of the movement instead and just turn it to another part of your army. That’s what they did to the whole whole peace, anti war movement, and rock and roll and everything it stood for. They could not stop it, or squelch it, and they were afraid of it so they made it part of the norm and status quo and we the counter culture and general public let them do it to us…” and I don’t want to be destroyed like everybody else ” could be the greatest lyrical rewrite in history ” God save us all, Save me from tomorrow because we’re all sailing on the ship of fools” hundreds of years from now if we survive that long, they are going to look back and the 1950’s, especially the 60’s and even much of the 70’s as a time when we had it all, and had the world at our feet, and then how we totally exploited it all and destroyed ourselves in to the age of technology and mechanical nightmares by taking a good thing too far and not knowing when to stop.

    ” Man made the buildings that reach for the skyAnd man made the motorcar and learned how to fly But he didn’t make the flowers and he didn’t make the treesAnd he didn’t make you and he didn’t make meAnd he got no right to turn us into machines, He’s got no right at all’Cause we are all God’s childrenAnd he got no right to change usOh, we gotta go back the way the good lord made us all Don’t want this world to change me I wanna go back the way the good lord made me Same lungs that he gave me to breath with Same eyes he gave me to see with” Ray Davies

    “They’ll move me up to Muswell Hill tomorrow,Photographs and souvenirs are all I’ve got,They’re gonna try and make me change my way of living,But they’ll never make me something that I’m not.Cos I’m a Muswell Hillbilly boy,But my heart lies in old West Virginia,Never seen New Orleans, Oklahoma, Tennessee,Still I dream of the Black Hills that I ain’t never seen.They’re putting us in little boxes,No character just uniformity,They’re trying to build a computerised community,But they’ll never make a zombie out of me.” Ray Davies is my Hero, and along with a few others will someday be remembered as one of the few who predicted it all but “nobody listened” to them.” The powers that be say they can’t keep a hold Of a world that is escalating out of control Out on the street there’s a war going on And everything’s going wild”” The world’s spinning round like a looney balloonHeading for a collision with Saturn and MarsAnd we’re narrowly missing the man in the moon,Spinning out of control crashing into the stars.Have we all lost our gravity, reason and sanity?Is this the price that we pay?Have we now lost our way on this looney balloon”? But for all we know, we might still have a way to go

    Posted by Wonderboy at 8:23 AM No comments:

    I am the Imaginary Man…

    The Imaginary Man in my head is maybe not so imaginary after all. Ray Davies and The kinks music and career is like the checks and balances of a world gone wrong and a civilization that has gone out of control and that is in a tail spin.

    ” This world is big and wild and half insane Take me where real animals are playing ”

    ” We are the Village Green Preservation SocietyGod save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and VarietyWe are the Desperate Dan Appreciation SocietyGod save strawberry jam and all the different varietiesPreserving the old ways from being abusedProtecting the new ways for me and for youWhat more can we doWe are the Draught Beer Preservation SocietyGod save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother RileyWe are the Custard Pie Appreciation ConsortiumGod save the George Cross and all those who were awarded themWe are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking VernacularHelp save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and DraculaWe are the Office Block Persecution AffinityGod save little shops, china cups and virginityWe are the Skyscraper Condemnation AffiliateGod save tudor houses, antique tables and billiardsPreserving the old ways from being abusedProtecting the new ways for me and for youWhat more can we doGod save the Village Green.”

    Posted by Wonderboy at 8:20 AM No comments:

    I’m a 20th Century Man but I don’t wanna live in a world gone wrong.

    Bob Dylan and Ray Davies have more in common that you might think…Bob has said he never meant to be a spokesman for a generation and Ray said he never was part of the movement, but both were actually at the top of those things they didn’t want to be and did it better than anyone.

    The Loony Balloon keeps on going round…KinKdom and how it relates to our world, out society, our civilization…

    ” There ain’t no beautyAnd there ain’t no styleLook at all the people,Why they all look the same.They’re tearing old quality downWithout any pity,Now they’re coming to take me awayTo Scrapheap City”

    “He was young and he had so much ambition All the way he was overtaken By the people who make the big decisions But he tried and he tried for a better life And a way to improve his own condition If only life were easy it would be such fun”..Ray Davies

    ” I use to care but things have changed” Dylan

    I’m a twentieth century man but I don’t wanna be here.and I don’t want to live in a world gone wrong either…ain’t it a pity, scrapheap city.”

    “Pack up my suitcase, give me my hat,No use to ask me, baby, ’cause I’ll never be back.I can’t be good no more, once like I did before.I can’t be good, baby,Honey, because the world’s gone wrong.” …Bob Dylan

    Reply

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