×

Kinks’ Concept Album ‘Arthur’ Getting 88-Track Deluxe Treatment in October Box

The set includes an entire unreleased Dave Davies solo album from the late '60s, and two just-recorded "doo wop" arrangements from Ray.

As we proceed through the 50th anniversary celebrations of some of the great moments of rock, it may be instructive to look back at what a Rolling Stone critic considered a peak moment at the time.  “Tommy”? Nah-me. “Abbey Road”? Reviewer J.R. Young was ready to cross to a different side. The album he considered the zenith at the time was the Kinks’ “Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire.”

“Less ambitious than ‘Tommy’, and far more musical … ‘Arthur is by all odds the best British album of 1969,” said Rolling Stone’s review 50 years ago. “It shows that Pete Townshend still has worlds to conquer, and that the Beatles have a lot of catching up to do.”

But “Arthur” had a hard time getting its due outside the pages of the rock press. Now, with an impending 88-track deluxe boxed set, fans who missed the album along the way can catch up and see how it really stacks up against the world of pinball wizardry and silver hammers, and buffs who are already in the know can immerse themselves in a world of outtakes and alternate takes and even a couple of fresh Ray Davies recordings.

The brand new efforts have been the source of much speculation among Kinks fan. One such track was released today, as a lyric music video: a recording of a previously unreleased number called “The Future,” which has Davies singing with a doo-wop ensemble. Sources confirm that this is a freshly minted version of a song Davies wrote but apparently never recorded during the rough “Arthur” time frame, and that the only time the general public has ever heard it was when it was brought up as part of a workshop Davies was doing for a proposed “Come Dancing” musical. It and a similar new doo-wop version of the title song, “Arthur,” were recorded by Davies just this May. These aren’t brand new “Kinks” recordings, but they do represent the band leader’s desire to bring something fresh to the set.

As for Dave Davies, his brother, fans may be getting both less and more than expected. While there are no new reunion recordings, the most attractive part of the box for some fans may be the reconstruction of a never-released Dave Davies solo album the brother were working on in that era before setting the whole idea aside.

“Hearing Dave’s songs again after all this time,” Ray says in the liner notes, “I found them quite moving because they were like the back story of what the Kinks were going through at the time.” Dave himself offers: “One of the reasons the album wasn’t finished was because I felt the Kinks’ management and record company were forcing me too much” at a time after he’d had success with a 1967 solo single, “Death of a Clown.” I felt very comfortable being in the Kinks and it seemed fulfilling to be part of a band. I didn’t really want for more. I couldn’t see the point.”

As with the excellent boxed set that came out last year in anniversary celebration of a 1968 concept album, “The Village Green Preservation Society,” this one is filled with riches. At the core of the set are four CDs including 81 tracks, 33 of which were not included in previous, less ambitious “Arthur” re-releases. These include both the remastered stereo and mono versions of the ’69 album, alternate mixes old and new, songs that never made it to record, and even a latter-day version of “Victoria” that Ray Davies sang with an orchestra. Printed memorabilia and reproductions of four 7-inch singles round out the set. A 68-page book includes an interview with the playwright who wrote a script for a TV play version of “Arthur” that was scrapped at the last minute, orphaning its album companion.

Over the years, a wider cult has grown around “Village Green Preservation Society” as the Kinks’ true masterpiece. Both deal with changes in English society, but “Arthur” was both more narrative and more arguably rocking. Listening to the opening track, “Victoria” (which continued as a staple of the Kinks’ set when they became an arena-rock outfit in America in the late ’70s), Rolling Stone’s critic wrote, “The band drops off all restraints and finally performs like a real rock and roll band instead of like a bunch of old ladies.”

 

More Music

  • Tyrese Gibson

    Tyrese Dedicates Valentine's Day Concert to Kobe Bryant, John Singleton, Paul Walker

    R&B singer Tyrese dedicated a Valentine’s Day performance to entertainers who are no longer with us, including late Lakers star Kobe Bryant, rapper Nipsey Hussle, director John Singleton and actor Paul Walker. Taking the stage at the Forum on Feb. 16, where he shared the bill with Avant, Dru Hill, Ginuwine and Joe, Tyrese, accompanied [...]

  • CDBaby logo

    CD Baby Is Shutting Down Its Retail Store

    As if the name “CD Baby” weren’t already an anachronism, the independent distributor announced late last week that it is shutting down its retail store, although it will continue to distribute physical product through other channels. “CD Baby’s mission is to help artists monetize and promote their music in the best ways possible,” a message [...]

  • Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters

    Foo Fighters Reveal 'Van Tour' Dates to Mark 25th Anniversary

    The Foo Fighters are revisiting their past with a tour to commemorate their first-ever outing as a band in 1995. Dubbed “The Van Tour,” the spring trek will kick off in Phoenix on April 12 and wrap in Hamilton, Ontario on May 12. Each stop will feature a sneak peek at frontman Dave Grohl’s new [...]

  • Harry Styles arrives for the Brit

    Harry Styles Walks Brit Awards Red Carpet After Reported Robbery in London

    Harry Styles walked the red carpet at the Brit Awards in London Tuesday night, shortly after it was reported that he was robbed at knifepoint in his Hampstead neighborhood three nights earlier. Without naming Styles by name, Scotland Yard confirmed Tuesday that an incident seeming to match the circumstances of the alleged assault on the [...]

  • Amazon Music Puts Spotlight on Kane

    'Velocity' Puts Spotlight on Kane Brown as Subject of Amazon Music's Fifth Mini-Doc

    For the fifth entry in its line of mini-documentaries, Amazon Music is putting the spotlight on Kane Brown with a behind-the-scenes look at the young country star that will arrive Thursday, accompanied by a live EP. “Velocity” captures moments leading up to Brown’s headlining appearance at L.A.’s Staples Center Jan. 9, with his wife, managers, [...]

  • American alternative rock band Pearl Jam

    Pearl Jam Tell Congressmen BOSS Ticket-Reform Act Is ‘Flawed’

    UPDATED: The BOSS Act is legislation designed to crack down on improper practices in the secondary ticket market — bots, price-gougers and the like — spearheaded by New Jersey Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone Jr. The bill, which is officially named the “Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content