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The Kinks - Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire 50th Anniversary Edition


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Long considered one of the greatest masterpieces from the mind of Kinks front man and songwriter Ray Davies, this late '60s album was written by Davies at the same time that he wrote its predecessor, the also highly-acclaimed The Village Green Preservation Society. Neither record cracked the Top 100; rather they have over the years come to be viewed as essential pieces of the Kinks canon. Buoyed by the single "Victoria" and featuring similarly catchy cuts like "Drivin'," "Australia" and the whimsical "She Bought a Hat like Princess Marina," Arthur... is quintessentially English and particularly personal to Davies. The Arthur referred to in the title is Davies' brother-in-law, who had emigrated to Australia with Davies' sister, because he was seriously dismayed that the UK was joining the European Union. Ironically, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the album, the UK is struggling to depart from the European Union.

This 2-CD package includes a 2019 remaster of the original stereo album; added to the 12 original cuts are seven bonus tracks, including mono versions of album cuts "Drivin'" and "Shangri-La," a stereo take on non-album cut "Plastic Man" and a mono version of the great, shoulda-been-a-hit "King Kong." The package's second CD is The Great Lost Dave Davies Album, an effort with band guitarist Dave Davies handling lead vocals (which he seldom got to do on Kinks albums) on a selection of songs that he wrote himself. Brother Ray does pen a couple of the selections, like the catchy but pithy "Mr. Reporter" and the funky pop of "Groovy Movies," and the album is in reality a Kinks album considering that Ray and the rest of the band play on every cut. Some of the included cuts were previously released on The Great Lost Kinks Album while others featured on the Hidden Treasures record; this is the first time that the dozen cuts have been released together. Mono versions of album cuts "Creeping Jean," "Lincoln County," "There is no Life without Love" and "Hold My Hand" are included as bonus cuts.

Housed in a "media book" package, Arthur... features a bound-in booklet with photos and an essay by Andy Neilli and commentary from band members Ray Davies, Dave Davies, John Dalton and Mick Avory. A Limited Edition Box Set of Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire is also available; it has 4-CDs with extras like singles and B-sides, alternate versions, new doo wop choir recordings, a Ray Davies remixes and demo medley and theatrical and BBC tracks. Other goodies in the box include four reproduced 7" vinyl singles, a 68-page book with new band interviews and rare images, and a Kinks metal pin badge.

The Kinks - Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire 50th Anniversary Edition

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