Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire
Release info:Produced by: Ray Davies
Release date: 10 Oct, 1969
Record label & catalog #: Reprise RS 6366
Format: 12" vinyl LP (album), 33 1/3 RPM
Release type: Regular release
Description/Notes: stereo mix
|1. Victoria||stereo mix (3:38), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|2. Yes Sir, No Sir||stereo mix (3:44), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|3. Some Mother's Son||stereo mix (3:23), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|4. Drivin'||stereo mix (3:18), recorded May 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|5. Brainwashed||stereo mix (2:32), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|6. Australia||stereo mix (6:44), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|1. Shangri-la||stereo mix (5:18), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|2. Mr. Churchill Says||stereo mix (4:41), recorded May-Jun 1969, remixed Jul 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|3. She Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina||stereo mix (3:05), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|4. Young And Innocent Days||stereo mix (3:19), recorded May-Jun 1969, remixed Jul 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|5. Nothing To Say||stereo mix (3:07), recorded May-Jun 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|6. Arthur||stereo mix (5:26), recorded May-Jun 1969, remixed Jul 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
Tracks Arranged by The Kinks
Brass and Strings Conducted by Lew Warburton
Engineer: Andrew Hendriksen except Brian Humphries on "Drivin'"
Recorded at Pye Studios, London
Artwork: Bob Lawrie
Art Direction: The Kinks
Original Story of Arthur Written by Julian Mitchell and
Ray Davies, Commissioned by Granada Television Ltd., London
Arthur? Oh, of course--England and knights and round tables, Excalibur, Camelot, "So all day long the noise of battle roll'd among the mountains by the winter sea." Sorry, no. This is Arthur Morgan, who lives in a London suburb in a house called Shangri-La, with a garden and a car and a wife called Rose and a son called Derek who's married to Liz, and they have these two very nice kids, Terry and Manlyn. Derek and Liz and Terry and Marilyn are emigrating to Australia. Arthur did have another son, called Eddie. He was named for Arthurs brother, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Arthur's Eddie was killed, too--in Korea. His son, Ronnie, is a student and he thinks the world's got to change one hell of a lot before it's going to be good enough for him. Derek thinks it's changed a bloody sight too much--he can't stick England any more, all these bloody bureaucrats everywhere, bloody hell, he's getting out. Ronnie and Derek don't exactly get on.
Arthur wasn't named for Arthur of Camelot and all that; he was called after Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, 1st Duke of Connaught and Stratheam and Earl of Sussex, because Arthurs parents knew their place, and children ought to be named in honour of Queen Victona's children, and Prince Arthur, you know, he was her third and married...
Arthur has spent most of his life on his knees, laying carpets. Oh, he had his plans; he was thinking very seriously indeed about setting up on his own, only he hadn't much in the way of savings and there was this Hitler and... it all seemed a bit risky. There were the children to think of, weren't there? Arthur doesn't like risks, never has. He bought a car instead, and took the kids out on Sundays. Things aren't exactly easy now he's retired, but he owns his own house, and most of his car. You've got to be careful. But you don't want to worry too much about the worid, the way Ronnie does, or complain all the tlme like Derek; you're not going to get anywhere like that, you know. You want to take things as they come.
Things have been coming at Arthur all his life.
Arthur's life (and the lives of millions of English people like him) is shown through the songs Ray Davies has written. The Granada TV story in which they're set all takes place on Derek and Liz's last day in England. Nothing happens very much--everyone has Sunday dinner together, then Ronnie turns up and the men go to the pub where Ronnie gets all worked up about The System, while Liz and Rose talk about the past, and then Arthur takes them all to the boat, and they have a picnic on the way, and all the time Arthur's remembering his life and... It's a sad day for Arthur, seeing them off. People haven't been nearly as nice to Arthur as he's been to them, and... what's it all about, then? Is this what he's lived for? He's got the house, hasn't he? And the car? It's been a good life, hasn't it? Well, hasn't it?
In the words of an otherwise very dear friend, I am "almost annoyingly partial to the Kinks..."
Which all started ages ago when I first heard "You Really Got Me" on my car radio and, feeling almost as if I'd been slugged in the chest (rather powerful stuff that), very nearly went off Sunset Blvd. Later there was "I Need You," which to this day I consider one of Rock-and-Roll's-with-capital-R's genuine masterpieces. Two summers ago there was "Waterloo Sunset," one summer ago "Days," both of which I've played and been almost inappropriately moved by nearly every day since their respective appearances. And since the release of The Village Green Preservation Society I've been blowing my newly-acquired critic's trumpet for the Kinks far less abashedly than at least one friend would prefer. With this Arthur, though, I've become convinced that I'll need a critics sousaphone if I'm to continue blowing as loud as I feel affection for the music of the Kinks. Arthur, as Mr. Mitchell's notes next door explain, is the score for a television drama that he co-authored with the group's leader, Ray Davies. Which is fine by me, but what I'd like to put in two unsolicited cents' worth about is not the album's dramatic inspiration (rest assured that there are many here among us who will soon be making all the necessary favorable comparisons to Hair! and Tommy for us), but about its brilliance as a corpus of rock and roll. Like I'm even more convinced than ever that Davies ranks right up there with Townshend and McCartney and all the usual others as a composer of rock and roll, right up there with Jagger and Dylan as a singer of same.
"His voice (Ray's) is flat and awkward, quavering along like some pop George Formby. The whole thing is lopsided, crablike, one step from chaos, but somehow it balances out, it makes sense," wrote Nik Cohn. Indeed, perfectly wonderful sense! I just can't get over Ray's exuberant, almost drunken-sounding singing on the beginnings of "Victoria" and "Nothing To Say" and all through "Yes Sir, No Sir" ("I think this life is affecting my brain..."), its quietly intense, quietly enraged quality in "Some Mother's Son," the lovely falsetto sha-la-la's that Dave has always done so artfully all over the place. And I'm utterly delighted with the arrangements, with things like that absurd kazoo on the absurd part of "Princess Marina" and the horns that add so much to the exhilarating power of the "Australia" and "Shangri-la" and "Victoria" choruses.
And the songs themselves! "He writes about nothing much: streets and houses and pubs, days at the seaside, little bits of love, drabness and things that don't change--stuff like that. Mostly he writes about small lives, small pleasures..." (N. Cohn again.) Yes, the small lives and pleasures are certainly dealt with here in the characteristically brilliant Davies fashion in "Nothing To Say" and "Princess Marina" and 'Shangri-la" ("All the houses in the street have got a name/' Cos all the houses in the street they look the same..."--I love that). But can the subject of "Some Mother's Son," the most potent, the most moving condemnation of the its-your-duty-to-fight morality I've ever heard in a rock and roll song, possibly be considered the "nothing much" that Ray has always chronicled with such wit?
And finally, to my further delight, there's not a song in the lot, start they with harpsichords or slow military drums, that ends up anything less than great bopping rock.
Do pardon me. I've gone off a bit long-windedly about things you need only put Arthur on your turntable to discover yourself. But I'm passionate about rock and roll, and this album is pretty nearly as passion-inspiring a rock and roll work as I've ever heard. I'm confident we'll get along magnificently.
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||10 Oct, 1969||UK||Pye NSPL 18317||12" vinyl LP (album), 33 1/3 RPM|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||10 Oct, 1969||UK||Pye NPL 18317||12" vinyl LP (album), 33 1/3 RPM|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||Jan 1987||UK||PRT CDMP 8835||CD|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||15 May, 1990||USA||Reprise RS 6366-2||CD|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||25 May, 1998||UK||Essential/Castle Communications ESM CD 511||CD|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||17 Sep, 2001||UK||Castle Music/Sanctuary CMTCD322||CD|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire||27 Sep, 2004||UK||Sanctuary Midline SMRCD062||CD|
|Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire (Deluxe Edition)||20 Jun, 2011||UK||Sanctuary Records/Universal Music 273 227-4||2 CD set|
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