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Baker's Dozen

The Fabulous, Most Groovy: Director Edgar Wright's Favourite Albums
Mark Andrews , June 23rd, 2017 09:39

With 'Baby Driver' all set to be one of the Summer's biggest hits, director Edgar Wright sits down with the Quietus to choose his 13 favourite albums


The Kinks - The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

I love this album as it flies in the face of the fashion at the time and for me is a bittersweet remembrance of a time gone by. The title track ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’ and ‘Village Green’ are both used in Hot Fuzz to soundtrack the backward thinking, rose-coloured glasses-wearing denizens of Sandford, but in truth I think the album is more satiric and conflicted than it first appears. In fact, my favourite track ‘Do You Remember Walter?’ directly inspired The World’s End , as it tells a tale of the cool kid at school who all the girls fancied, who is not quite as cool now as he was then. It seems like a more realistic look at ‘David Watts’, the school crush now grown up. The whole song has that extremely bittersweet tone that suggests that these once best friends are separated by the most brutal of enemies – time.

The lyrics in the final verse, I found desperately sad, despite the perky piano-led rhythm of the track:

"Walter, you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago
If you saw me now you wouldn't even know my name
I bet you're fat and married and you're always home in bed by half-past eight
And if I talked about the old times, you'd get bored and you'll have nothing more to say
Yes people often change, but memories of people can remain.”

The context of the album is fascinating to me to as The Kinks were stuck in the United Kingdom after having their visas taken away after a rambunctious tour in the USA. While their contemporaries like The Stones and The Who were touring the States and becoming enormous international live acts, Ray and co were stuck in Olde England and that inspired a run of Brit-centric albums - Something Else By The KinksThe Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation SocietyArthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) and more.

I love that Ray turned his attention inwards at a time when most of London was on a head trip. I don’t see the album as being isolationist, more a wry look backwards to find that nostalgia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Another standout track is the jaunty, yet melancholic ‘Picture Book’ (with the lyric “those days when you were happy, a long time ago.”) 

There’s also the satiric ‘People Take Pictures Of Each Other’ with its wry prediction of the Instagram generation from 49 years ago. As well as ‘Starstruck’, a cautionary tale of letting London get into your head, which seems like a sharp riposte to all the tales of Swinging London.

The fact that within three years, the Kinks would be singing country songs of Muswell Hillbillies and back on the way to being a huge US touring act, just shows that this 1968 moment was about a band as prisoners in their own country, looking inward, but conflicted about what they find.

The deluxe editions reveal a purple period of song writing that is incredible. ‘Days’ is the single that should have been on here, not to mention B-side classics like ‘Misty Water’ (another very Hot Fuzz song) and ‘Berkley Mews’. Most artists would kill for songs this good, but Ray was knocking out 30 tracks per album session: an artist at his peak while stuck at home.