Kinks: Preservation Act 1: Pitchfork Review
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Cover Art Kinks
Preservation Act 1
[Velvel]
Rating: 9.8

First of all, I hate rock operas. I hate 'em, I hate 'em, I hate 'em! If you wanna rock, then rock. If you wanna tell a story, I'll see you at the library. What's the motivation for trying to tell a story spread out over a bunch of songs? Why is it always a double album? (Name the last rock opera that got it over in less than 45 minutes apart from Nova Mob's godawful Last Days of Pompei or the pathetic Pete Townshend product The Iron Man.) How come it's always a sad story? The Wall? Alienation. Tommy? Alienation. Chess? Um, chess. How come there hasn't been a rock opera about what a wonderful world our world is?

Well, Preservation isn't a happy work, but it's full of the joy and enthusiasm of Ray Davies and his Kinks at the peak of their creative persuasion tackling the heady, rock opera ready topic of... urban renewal.

Huh?

Well, fuck it. Act 1 is part of a double album that was released in two chunks, which wasn't originally the plan. Not long before his RCA imposed deadline for Preservation, Davies discovered that most of the tracks didn't sound so hot. The band managed to get the first half re-recorded in time for a November 1973 release with Act 2 coming along six months later. Velvel's reissue is still in separate pieces, but if you get one you won't be able to resist the other. And the accounting department at Velvel knows it. What fool bought Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion I but didn't tackle the equally metal, more poetic Use Your Illusion II?

Act 1 kicks off with a bonus track called "Preservation," a lankier, reworded take on the album closer "Demolition." "Preservation" never made the album, instead working as a single that sold the concept of the album. Track two, "Morning Song," is the great choral leap into the fray, followed by "Daylight," a laid- back hybrid of Zeppelin's India fetish and the Beatles' "Penny Lane." "Sweet Lady Genevieve," the next cut, is one of the Kinks' greatest singles, a simple porchy folk- rock number you'll be humming for days. That particular number is sung by Davies in the guise of the Tramp, who gets one of the other showstoppers "Sitting in the Midday Sun" (which is just begging for a cover treatment by Ween). Who is the Tramp? What's his deal? I don't care. I just like the fact that he checked in with some great tunes.

Because it's a rock opera, Preservation gets away with being theatrically playful in terms of music styles. '50s rock, stiff upper lip pomp, folk, and even Mr. Whitey's interpretation of Isaac Hayes' music get the Kinks treatment; in that sense, I'm grateful for the excuse of creating art over rock. When it's done by one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all times at their peak, how could it be a disappointment?

-Jason Josephes

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RATING KEY
10.0: Indispensable, classic
9.5-9.9: Spectacular
9.0-9.4: Amazing
8.5-8.9: Exceptional; will likely rank among writer's top ten albums of the year
8.0-8.4: Very good
7.5-7.9: Above average; enjoyable
7.0-7.4: Not brilliant, but nice enough
6.0-6.9: Has its moments, but isn't strong
5.0-5.9: Mediocre; not good, but not awful
4.0-4.9: Just below average; bad outweighs good by just a little bit
3.0-3.9: Definitely below average, but a few redeeming qualities
2.0-2.9: Heard worse, but still pretty bad
1.0-1.9: Awful; not a single pleasant track
0.0-0.9: Breaks new ground for terrible
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