Arthur Or The Decline and Fall Of The British Empire – The Kinks (1969)

Album no. 167/1001

The last Kinks album on the list! Goodbye The Kinks, we were pretty on the fence about you in the end.

This was originally going to be the soundtrack to a tv show, but the show never got made so it ended up as a sort of concept album about being blue collar English during and after the second world war.

It got good reviews, but unlike Village Green Preservation Society it sold quite well in America. English audiences still didn’t buy it, but this album helped the Kinks get back to America for the first time since 1965.

Have you listened to this album before?

NK: I have not! I missed this one. I am excited to hear it.

CL: Mmm. No i haven’t. But once again i’m struck with a feeling of ‘them?’. I don’t get it.

Standout track

NK: Probably ‘Victoria’. It’s really good! Great chorus. ‘Brainwashed’ and the closer ‘Arthur’ are a good song as well. This is pretty much a rock opera, all the songs are about Arthur and his life, but also life in post war Britain. It’s quite bleak, with occasional rays of hope. I didn’t mind it, but it certainly isn’t my favourite Kinks album.

CL: You’re quite right, the only song here worth your time is ‘Victoria’ – that’s a banger. It’s the first track as well, so i get really excited, but it was short-lived. It’s also REALLY long for no discernible reason. Did musicians in 1969 get paid per second of music or something?

When would be the best time to listen to this?

NK: If you need a dose of Englishness. Like Village Green Preservation Society this is deeply rooted in Ray Davies’ take on being English and the society he grew up in.

CL: I don’t think it’s quite as technicolor as their previous albums that have been on this list – which is definitely a good thing. I mean, it’s so quintessentially english i don’t think they could ever do anything to get rid of that vibe, but they obviously stuck with the age old adage of:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and even if it is broke, just leave it”.

That may not be a direct quote.

Why has this album been included on the list?

NK: It’s another step in rock opera history I suppose. I think the songs are more interesting than either ‘Tommy’ or ‘SF Sorrow’. That said, I am still really shocked that this made the list over ‘Lola vs Powerman and the Moneygoround’ which I think is way better than this.

CL: I didn’t even pick up that it was a supposed rock opera – so, clearly it wasn’t very successful.

Will you be listening again?  

NK: I listened to it twice to write this, which is already a lot better than the last few albums.

CL: Nah. Keep Victoria on standby though.

Rating

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Arthur, Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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