Ray(mond Douglas) Davies Loraine Alterman - Essay

Loraine Alterman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"Preservation Act 1" is actually a full-length development of themes Davies began in 1968 on "The Village Green Preservation Society" album. The songs on this new album relate how greed in the guise of progress is swallowing up individuality and humanity as personified by the inhabitants of a small town. The concept may sound rather grandiose, but Davies … could never get swept up by pretension.

Sparked by his sardonic wit and keen sensitivity, Davies makes his point in very down-to-earth terms. The lyric sheet indicates that each song is to be sung by a different character in this musical so Davies, the songwriter and lead singer, gives us all sides of the story including the villain who gets rich knocking down the village's thatched cottages and the vicar who compares life to a game of cricket….

By varying his music and arrangements to reflect the idea of his lyrics, Davies has created that rarity, a concept album (or "rock opera" if you must) that never gets dull. And though he is protesting the bulldozing of old values, Davies' wit saves him from the heaviness that lessens the impact of message songs.

The Kinks never got as much exposure in America as the Beatles or the Stones in the sixties so they have never had as much popular acclaim as they deserve. Yet there's no doubt that they continue to flourish as one of England's most original rock bands, anchored on the exceptional songwriting talents of Ray Davies. (p. D27)

Loraine Alterman, "What Happened to Swinging London?" in The New York Times, Section 2 (© 1973 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 23, 1973, pp. D27-D28.∗