Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire 50th Anniversary

The Kinks

BMG, 2019

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


It's been 50 years since The Kinks released Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire, and to celebrate the half a century mark, they're releasing it as a special box set with some extras thrown in.

Disc one includes their seventh album in its entirety, and the concept record proves its stood up to the test of time with Ray Davies' strong storytelling amid the timeless, louder rock of “Shangri-La” as well as harmonic protest tunes like “Some Mother's Son.” Largely considered their best work, tracks like “Young And Innocent Days” bring warm balladry, while the album closer, “Arthur,” reiterates how fluid their guitar-focused sounds were at this point. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The bonus tracks on the first disc include mono versions of three tunes off of Arthur, while rare tunes like the B-side quintessential '60s tune “This Man He Weeps Tonight” (Mono) and rhythmic “Plastic Man” (Stereo) are certainly worth sticking around for, too.

Disc two brings us the shelved Dave Davies album referred to as The Great Lost Dave Davies Album. Recorded during the same time as Arthur, everyone in The Kinks plays on the album, though Dave is front and center.

Highlights from disc two include the playful and anthemic “Mindless Child Of Motherhood,” while the jangly “Lincoln County” brings even more varied, upbeat fun to the equation. Davies sounds at his best on “Mr. Reporter” as his smooth rasp aligns ideally with the acoustic guitars, bright horns, and bouncy bass work of the highlight tune. Some of the songs here have been available on other releases and reissues, but here they're all collected with four bonus mono versions from the recording session.

Davies reportedly felt forced to make this solo album and his heart just wasn't into it. Regardless, the listen is fantastic, and, dare I say, I actually enjoyed it more than Arthur.

If you're a fan of The Kinks you've no doubt already picked this up and have played in endlessly. Or, if you're like me and these legends were just a bit before your time, this is a great introduction to one of the most influential bands from this time.

Rating: A-

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