Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Video

My favorite Kinks album is Arthur: Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, from which this song, "Shangri-La" is pulled. This, the group's first concept album and, arugably, best was meant to be the soundtrack for a BBC television series. The album's satirical critique of English post-war society takes as its foil the person of an everyman named, you guessed it, Arthur. Each song unfolds through a kind of third person omniscient narrator, often resorting to mild mocking sympathy of the title character. It's obvious Davies pities him, but can't resist putting in a few stinging barbs at the character's expense.

Ray Davies' sardonic criticisms of consumerism and conformity are at their strongest in this batch of songs, which he and the rest of the group would never top in quality. A return to success in American success was still a year away, fostered by the off-kilter hit "Lola", but the band reached its peak here.

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