Ray Davies' sentimental, nostalgic streak emerged on Something Else
, but it developed into a manifesto on The Village Green Preservation Society
, a concept album lamenting the passing of old-fashioned English traditions. As the opening title song says, the Kinks -- meaning Ray himself, in this case -- were for preserving "draught beer and virginity," and throughout the rest of the album, he creates a series of stories, sketches, and characters about a picturesque England that never really was. It's a lovely, gentle album, evoking a small British country town, and drawing the listener into its lazy rhythms and sensibilities. Although there is an undercurrent of regret running throughout the album, Davies' fondness for the past is warm, making the album feel like a sweet, hazy dream. And considering the subdued performances and the detailed instrumentations, it's not surprising that the record feels more like a Ray Davies solo project than a Kinks album. The bluesy shuffle of "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains" is the closest the album comes to rock & roll, and Dave Davies
' cameo on the menacing "Wicked Annabella" comes as surprise, since the album is so calm. But calm doesn't mean tame or bland -- there are endless layers of musical and lyrical innovation on The Village Green Preservation Society
, and its defiantly British sensibilities became the foundation of generations of British guitar pop.