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

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, 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 all this week. Read our Q&A with him.

“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. It’s on two levels, my love for custard pie. I loved cakes, for a start. As a kid, I loved desserts—custard pie, in particular. Also it has another connotation. In music-hall theatre, the custard pie stands for receiving your comeuppance: getting the custard pie in the face. You never know when one’s going to crop up. So, in that sense, it’s a friendly way of doing it. I did it once to a DJ on a live TV broadcast on New Year’s Eve, 1978. There’s a much loved and much respected London DJ called Bob Harris. He went onstage to introduce the Kinks, and I went up with a custard pie and put it in his face. It’s a term of endearment. I have got one once, as well, on a kids’ plug program called Tiswas. One of the obligatory things is that you get humiliated in some form. It was aimed for the kisser, but I ducked and got a little of it on my jacket.