Kinks’ ‘Arthur’ 50th Anniv. Edition Due: Listen

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To mark its 50th anniversary, The Kinks have announced a special release of Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire, out Oct. 25 (and Oct. 4 in the U.K.) via BMG, which includes the previously unreleased track “The Future.”

Says a press release, “Without doubt, the Kinks 7th studio album is one of the greatest rock albums ever made, a near perfect example of Ray Davies’ incredible storytelling ability in what was an innovation in 1969: a concept album. It’s also poignant that a record based on the story of emigrating from the UK around its potential to enter the Common Market should hit its 50th anniversary right now. With Brexit on the horizon, the themes of Arthur ring alarmingly familiar.”

Arthur followed another classic, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, when it was released on Oct. 10, 1969.

“I started Arthur before the end of Village Green,” says Ray Davies in the July 31 press release for the reissue. “The albums piggyback one another because they are joined. I’d already written the song ‘Arthur.’ I think I wrote ‘Australia’ when I was still living at 87 Fortis Green so it was quite early on. I remember taking it over to Dave, he lived in Cockfosters at the time, and playing it to him. We were laughing at the irony in the line, ‘Nobody’s got a chip on their shoulder.’”

Listen to the BBC version of the title track (from an earlier edition)

In the midst of the Arthur sessions, studio time was devoted to completing tracks for Dave Davies’ proposed solo album. The idea had progressed in staggered intervals since the initial success of Dave’s 1967 single, “Death Of A Clown” but, ultimately, never reached completion.

The Kinks in 1969 (l. to r.): Mick Avory, John Dalton, Dave Davies, Ray Davies (from the band’s website)

“One of the reasons the album wasn’t finished was because I felt the Kinks’ management and record company were forcing me too much,” Dave reflects in the announcement. “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.”

Ray says; “Hearing Dave’s songs again after all this time, I found them quite moving because they were like the back story of what the Kinks were going through at the time.”

Watch the unboxing video for the deluxe edition

Continues the release, “Reprise eventually scrapped the release by September 1969 and over the years, Kinks fans continued to obsess as to what Dave’s album, which some referred to as ‘A Hole In The Sock Of,’ a working title Ray had jokingly thrown to a music journalist, might have contained.”

Included in this anniversary edition are four CDs comprising 81 tracks in total, five of them unreleased and 28 previously unreleased versions. These include 2019 newly remastered versions of the original album from HD sources (in its original track listing), mono and stereo single versions, B-sides, alternate mono and stereo mixes, rehearsal tracks, BBC mixes and the lost Dave Davies’ solo album, with bonus tracks.

It also includes Ray Davies’ compiled medley of unreleased demo tracks, two new recordings of Ray Davies with the Doo Wop Choir, “Arthur & The Emigrants,” including one previously unreleased track, three previously unreleased “The Come Dancing Workshop Ensemble” tracks, and new Ray Davies remixes of “Australia” and “Shangri-La.”

Watch the official lyric video for the previously unreleased track, “The Future”

Related: Read our Album Rewind review of the Kinks’ Everybody’s in Show-Biz

A 68-page softback book has also been included, featuring extensive essays by Kinks experts, original cancelled Arthur play co-scriptwriter Julian Mitchell, and original album sleeve designer Bob Lawrie. There are also new interviews with Ray Davies, Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory, as well as band photos, original release international cover artwork and printed memorabilia.

Four 7-inch singles from the album can also be found—“Drivin’,” “Victoria,” “Shangri-La” and “Hold My Hand” (Dave Davies solo)—all reproduced with original international artwork. Finally, a metal and enamel Kinks logo pin badge is included.

Listen to the 2019 remix of “Shangri-La” from Arthur

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. Dan Zee
    #1 Dan Zee 1 August, 2019, 21:18

    Throw in the kitchen sink and you’ll have everything you need. It’s a brilliant album, but I doubt you’ll listen to the extras more than once.

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  2. Chadland
    #2 Chadland 9 September, 2019, 17:59

    John Dalton is actually photographed. Bassist Pete Quaife had left the band before the recording of Arthur.

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