On Its 50th Anniversary, Ray Davies Revisits The Kinks’ “The Village Green Preservation Society”: Draught Beer

BMG just released the 50th anniversary edition of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, hands-down one of the best and most influential rock albums ever. Nine years ago, when Kinks main man (and MAGNET hero) Ray Davies guest edited magnetmagazine.com, he revisited the LP’s title track and provided insight into its nostalgic reflection on British culture past. So for the next two weeks, we’re going to revisit Davies’ commentary on this classic album’s centerpiece. And as always, god save the Kinks.

RAYDAVIESlogoIn light of his overwhelming back catalog of songs that can stop people dead in their tracks, Ray Davies must be considered in the same breath as Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend and Jagger/Richards as the preeminent songwriters of the ’60s rock revolution. Davies refused to Americanize his sound like all the rest, remaining true to his “pint of bitter, 20 Benson & Hedges and a packet of crisps” English roots. And no Kinks album better voices that traditional spirit than The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, a record that sold poorly when released in 1968 but is now appreciated as a Kinks klassic. Davies has even breathed new life into Village Green with The Kinks Choral Collection (Decca), newly recorded versions of Kinks gems backed by the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Davies will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with him.

DraftBeer

“The Village Green Preservation Society”:

Davies: As “The Village Green Preservation Society” is supposed to be about things I want to preserve, I thought I would try that song. Draught beer goes down very well. The best ones, that is. There are a lot of bad copies around. I love the way the best go down so smoothly and affect the legs first. Nearly died out but was salvaged by some breweries. The best draught beer should not be served too cold.

On Its 50th Anniversary, Ray Davies Revisits The Kinks’ “The Village Green Preservation Society”: Desperate Dan

BMG just released the 50th anniversary edition of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, hands-down one of the best and most influential rock albums ever. Nine years ago, when Kinks main man (and MAGNET hero) Ray Davies guest edited magnetmagazine.com, he revisited the LP’s title track and provided insight into its nostalgic reflection on British culture past. So for the next two weeks, we’re going to revisit Davies’ commentary on this classic album’s centerpiece. And as always, god save the Kinks.

RAYDAVIESlogoIn light of his overwhelming back catalog of songs that can stop people dead in their tracks, Ray Davies must be considered in the same breath as Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend and Jagger/Richards as the preeminent songwriters of the ’60s rock revolution. Davies refused to Americanize his sound like all the rest, remaining true to his “pint of bitter, 20 Benson & Hedges and a packet of crisps” English roots. And no Kinks album better voices that traditional spirit than The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, a record that sold poorly when released in 1968 but is now appreciated as a Kinks klassic. Davies has even breathed new life into Village Green with The Kinks Choral Collection (Decca), newly recorded versions of Kinks gems backed by the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Davies will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with him.

desperate_dan

“The Village Green Preservation Society”:

Davies: As “The Village Green Preservation Society” is supposed to be about things I want to preserve, I thought I would try that song. Desperate Dan is a comic-strip character from a magazine called The Beano. An English version of Bluto from Popeye but the good guy. A muscle man with a big chin covered with stubble. He would eat cow pie for some reason. I forgive him because I don’t eat meat. I still wonder what Desperate Dan’s function was in the world. I still do not know why he was called Desperate.

On Its 50th Anniversary, Ray Davies Revisits The Kinks’ “The Village Green Preservation Society”: Vaudeville And Variety

BMG just released the 50th anniversary edition of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, hands-down one of the best and most influential rock albums ever. Nine years ago, when Kinks main man (and MAGNET hero) Ray Davies guest edited magnetmagazine.com, he revisited the LP’s title track and provided insight into its nostalgic reflection on British culture past. So for the next two weeks, we’re going to revisit Davies’ commentary on this classic album’s centerpiece. And as always, god save the Kinks.

RAYDAVIESlogoIn light of his overwhelming back catalog of songs that can stop people dead in their tracks, Ray Davies must be considered in the same breath as Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend and Jagger/Richards as the preeminent songwriters of the ’60s rock revolution. Davies refused to Americanize his sound like all the rest, remaining true to his “pint of bitter, 20 Benson & Hedges and a packet of crisps” English roots. And no Kinks album better voices that traditional spirit than The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, a record that sold poorly when released in 1968 but is now appreciated as a Kinks klassic. Davies has even breathed new life into Village Green with The Kinks Choral Collection (Decca), newly recorded versions of Kinks gems backed by the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Davies will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with him.

Vaudville1

“The Village Green Preservation Society”:

Davies: As “The Village Green Preservation Society” is supposed to be about things I want to preserve, I thought I would try that song. My father used to talk about variety shows in north London when I was a kid. They died out a long time ago. It was left over from old Victorian London. People used to come on and do what they called a “turn”: sing a song or tell jokes and juggle. Pre TV. I went once with my dad and can just remember seeing a comedian called Max Miller (pictured left). The cockney king of stand up. A big influence. Vaudeville is not purely English. They were popular in the U.S., where Bob Hope (pictured right) and Laurel and Hardy started. All before my time, I might add.

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: Chevrolet Astro Vans

Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: Most people would use this space to write about some “cool” car, but I’m here to lament the late, great Astro van. Also manufactured as the Safari by GMC and Pontiac, the Astro was marketed as a minivan but sat on a truck suspension, making it feel sturdy. You could pack a band and all its gear inside and not worry about the undercarriage scraping the pavement. I owned a few of these that I rode into the ground, and I would gladly own another—if only they’d not been discontinued in 2005. It was the ultimate tour vehicle for a three- or four-piece band with compact backline—and even better as a solo vessel. (I did an eight-week tour in mine, in 2011, and found it made a pretty comfortable mobile home.) Also its stubby front end made it parkable in places like, say, Manhattan. I often joked that I could fit my Astro into the same spot as a Jetta or Corolla, but I probably did exactly that on more than one occasion. And apparently it had a big cult following in Japan! I can only hope to follow in its footsteps.

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: The Egg

Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: In the heart of downtown Albany, N.Y., lies a massive government complex known as the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. Built in the ’60s and ’70s, it’s a massive, brutalist eyesore—a series of narrow office towers arranged upon more than 300 million cubic feet of concrete and white marble, with the Capitol at one end, the State Museum at the other, a massive underground pedestrian mall and, like, 12 parking garages beneath. It’s visible from across the Hudson River and probably also from outer space. An outsider might assume it’s meant to mark coordinates for the return of our alien overlords, and so far there has been no evidence to the contrary. Its very existence is worthy of a much heavier discussion—its construction evicted an entire neighborhood of more than 9,000 people, primarily immigrants, and basically walled off Albany’s South End from the rest of the city. Fuck Nelson Rockefeller.

But I digress.

Near the center of this chilly urban desert is a huge, oblong thing: a massive, cement clamshell on a two tiny pedestals. It looks like a punctuation mark. Or a football trophy if the football were half-deflated. Depending on your vantage point, it might resemble a the Starship Enterprise, the symbol for pi or a pig’s butt. But inside—you can go inside—are two lovely, intimate theater spaces. I’ve seen dozens of shows there (including the fellows in the video below), and I can’t say I ever had a bad time. The Egg is the saving grace of the Empire State Plaza and, maybe, downtown Albany itself. It may be a big old pile of what-the-fuck on top of an even bigger pile of what-the-fuck, but it’s the first thing I look for anytime I go back to my old city.

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: Portishead

Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: Just a shout-out to a group that has made only three perfect studio albums and a few singles in the last 25 years, that last LP (Third) coming a full decade ago. (Their Roseland NYC live record is equally stunning.) Supposedly they’ve worked on more music, but why ruin a spotless track record? All three long-players stand up nicely; each one is its own world. I had Dummy on the car stereo last week and it still sounds as jarring and original as it did 25 years ago. From that first album’s goth club bangers, to their self-titled LP’s trip-hop Bond themes, to the Silver Apples-influenced deconstruction of Third, this is an act that was always fascinating and never repetitious. To paraphrase Viv Savage, “Have a sour time, all the time.”

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: Breakfast

Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: It’s the most important meal of the day, right? When I was younger, I would just grab an egg-and-cheese sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts or some such crap factory. Which I’m sure is perfectly fine if you do it once a week, but this was often. When I went vegetarian and attempted to eat healthier, I would at best consume some yogurt or granola among the day’s first four cups of coffee. (Note to self: Maybe this is why you’re so anxious all the time?)

Having moved to a vegan diet a few years ago, I find that a protein-rich and low-sugar breakfast is crucial to my daily routine, as much as I have one of those. Nowadays, I take my morning gallon of joe with a big old bowl of seeds and powders. Righteous energy food. Did you come here looking for a recipe? Well, you’re getting one.

JB’s Breakfast Of Champions:
I start with a base of Nature’s Path granola. They sell this stuff at Trader Joe’s for three bucks a box, but you can usually get it in bulk from the bins at your local hippie-friendly market or co-op. I go for the hemp- or pumpkin-seed variety because they aren’t sweetened with honey. Add to that a small handful of pumpkin seeds, a big pinch of dried coconut flakes, seven or eight crushed cashews, a small handful (or large fingerful) of goji berries, roughly a half tablespoon of cacao powder and somewhere around a tablespoon each of flax, chia and hemp seeds. Sometimes I add about half a teaspoon of maca and/or chlorella powder. Top with fresh blueberries or sliced banana. This morning meal will set you straight and keep you on your game well into the afternoon hours—which is perfect for someone like me who routinely forgets to eat lunch.

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: “Waging Heavy Peace”

strong>Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: Wanna spend some time inside Neil Young’s brain? Take a walk with this, the ultimate for-fans-only autobiography. Little about its presentation could appeal to someone unfamiliar with Young’s work or personality, and that personality flows from every page. Uncle Neil drifts from stories about his childhood and family to long, colorful descriptions of favorite cars and model trains, dispenses anecdotes about longtime producer David Briggs and the formation of Buffalo Springfield, and occasionally takes a full chapter to plug his ultra-high-fidelity PureTone music device (later known as Pono) or his LincVolt electric car. I say “occasionally” because PureTone/Pono and LincVolt earned several chapters in this rambling, endearing 500-pager. The tone ranges from “Can you believe they asked me to write a book?” to “Well, I guess I’d better write this dang book,” and it’s littered with these strange commercial interjections. The prose is awkward, the storytelling scatterbrained—there’s a lot of you-had-to-be-there in here. I’m not even sure this is a very good book. But I love Neil to death—I think of him as my spirit animal—and Waging Heavy Peace made me love him even more. He took no effort to structure his writing chronologically or topically, just wandered in the direction of whatever interested him at the time. Much the same way he’s conducted his career.

That said, I could have used a few more words on his bizarre 1982 apocalypse comedy film Human Highway. Perhaps there’s a shoot diary lurking in those Archives of his?

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”

Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: An artfully crafted, deeply surreal, beautifully honest film about love and memory and the things that make us what we are. I remember seeing it for the first time with a then-recent ex-lover—our relationship left the theater far more complicated than when it arrived. Needless to say, this film has stuck with me like few others. It ticks all the emotional boxes, especially if you’re young and sad and trying to figure out what romantic love is all about. Michel Gondry’s skewed visionary eye brings to vivid life Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant and touching screenplay. (This slot almost went to Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman’s directorial debut from several years later, which I recommend highly if you’re into diving headfirst into existential rabbit holes.) Jim Carrey does some of his best work here (not counting his paintings) as the introverted and shell-shocked Joel. Kate Winslet is pitch-perfect as the “manic pixie dream girl” type, or is that just Joel’s memory of her? The supporting actors are uniformly excellent. Jon Brion did the score, which is always a major plus. And it’s capped by Beck’s mournful version of “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime,” which is so of a piece with his work of that period that I half-expect to hear it when I listen to Sea Change.

From The Desk Of Bird Streets’ John Brodeur: Joining A Fan Club

Omnivore just released the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets (a.k.a. John Brodeur). In addition to self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur also worked as a music journalist (poor guy). For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur enlisted Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer, while Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell contribute to a few tracks as well. Brodeur will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Check out the Bird Streets track we premiered in June.

Brodeur: Being a rather sickly child kept me indoors a lot, so records were my friends. I’d examine every inch of the liner notes, memorizing the names of every session player, publisher and accountant listed on the sleeve. In those days, before Al Gore discovered the internet, there was the U.S. Postal Service. And if you were a fan of music and desired some kind of connection to the musicians you loved, you might send a letter and a self-addressed envelope to the address printed on the inside of your favorite band’s record jacket. I did this all the time, from the time I was old enough to lick a postage stamp. From Aerosmith’s “Aero Force One” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten Club” to every second-tier pop-metal act on the market, I put pen to paper and expressed my undying adoration—or at least fleeting interest.

Patience was the key. A note to, say, the Enuff Z’Nuff fan club might not yield a response immediately, but usually something would turn up in the mailbox several weeks, sometimes months, later. Often a photocopied newsletter, merch catalog and maybe a sticker or some other promotional swag. But sometimes the bands would actually write back. Case in point: the Canadian band Sloan, who I first wrote to in 1993, when their Smeared album was freshly out in the States. Dudes took the time to include funny little handwritten notes on all of their correspondence, a term I use because this familiar touch inspired me to write them several more times over the years. Somewhere I have a stash of a half-dozen or so postcards and envelopes with personalized messages from the Sloan dudes. Even if they weren’t one of the great pop bands of the last quarter-century, I’d still be a huge fan because of those early interactions.

Speaking of the personal touch, I wrote to Nirvana right after Nevermind came out, and nothing happened for what seemed like an eternity. Then, one day, there was an envelope. Inside, a photocopied merch form (printed over an a 16 magazine ad for a celebrity home-address guide—yikes) and a snarky “form letter” on yellow paper—personally signed by all three members of the band. Instantly and for all time, the coolest piece of rock memorabilia I own.