Stuart Anthony, member of The Long Lost Band, is perhaps best known for his recent collaborations with legendary poet Larry Beckett. Following One More Mile (2015) and Love & Trial (2018) they’ve just released the Risk Is Music EP (our review here) where he’s put more of the Beckett words to music. Having pressed him for his own inspirations, theses words came flooding out as he tells us about his love for the massively influential Sixties outfit, The Kinks.
When I was 10 years old I moved with my family to the edge of the New Forest leaving the busy port city of Southampton behind. A more rural existence beckoned. I had been learning to play the trumpet at school, and I was introduced to a village Silver Brass Band and joined. This led me into an innocent world of performance at cake laden garden fetes, village greens, harvest festivals in old churches, and carols round dark villages on the back of farm trucks. It was about as rock and roll as a plate of scones. However, it was a part of my growing up and it meant something to me as the last time of innocence.
Fast forward to 1994 and I was caught up in the 60’s revival that Brit-pop bought and I stumbled upon ‘The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society’ album after it had been mentioned in an article about Blur’s ‘Parklife’. Somehow, I had missed it.
Of course I’d heard The Kinks before and like everyone in the world with ears, I loved ‘Waterloo Sunset’ but this album was different. The title intrigued me. I have a perma-image of the village green which I frequented in that brass band in hazy Summer months, burnt onto my memory, and to my delight, the album was taking me back to my own childhood and that lost world. My reference village green was what ran in my mind as Ray Davies sang about his.
This opened the door to that album in way that was very personal, and as every song tumbled out I just instantly fell under its spell in a wave of recognition. ‘Do You Remember Walter?’ Oh yes. ‘Johnny Thunder’ rode through my village once a year heading for some big bikers south coast hang out and punch up. I often sat by the riverside looking at ‘The Big Sky’, or found myself on Animal Farm running after escaped piglets and chickens. I played the endlessly requested ‘Floral Dance’ on the Village Green at bunting strewn fetes. I remember trying to make friends with the neighbour’s fat cat that did sit in a tree, and of course, I was afraid of that big house at the end of the village where the scary old lady lived like in ‘Wicked Annabella’.
Ray Davies did this a lot. He was able to get under the skin of being English and ordinary. I dipped more and more into their catalogue finding delights like ‘She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina’ and ‘Young And Innocent Days’ which emit a humble Englishness like a lamp emits light. The power of song to say what is usually impossible to encapsulate, lay heavy on Ray Davies and the band
I was inspired by that ability to tell stories in song and to emote often missed subtleties and moments in life. I fell in love with the Kinks canon and dug their slightly underdog vibe that The Beatles lost.
It’s very hard to pick out a favourite song or lyric because so many take no prisoners, and Village Green to me is a cohesive whole, but forced at gunpoint into a Desert Island Disc’s scenario it would be Young And Innocent Days from Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) and the stand out lyric that still rings around my head, is from ‘Do You Remember Walter?’. I think we all have that friend in the past who is our Walter.
“Do you remember, Walter, how we said we’d fight the world so we’d be free?
We’d save up all our money and we’d buy a boat and sail away to sea.
But it was not to be.”
God bless the Village Green.
Many thanks to Stuart for writing about his love of The Kinks for us.
Listen to You Belong To Me from Stuart’s latest collaboration with Larry Baeckett:
Stuart Anthony online: Twitter / Facebook / Bandcamp / Youtube
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Categories: Featured, Features, Why I Love...
Hey Stuart what a lovely tribute to one of the country’s favourite early pop bands…I like to think that the Kinks were definitely ‘of their time’ rather than ‘ ‘before their time’ and Ray Davies’ songs have ,because artists of your age respect and enjoy their music, have ‘stood the test of time’ along with other composers like Pete Townshend.
Glad you dug it Howard. The world would not be right without them 🙂
I was 10 also when becoming influenced by ThE KinKs. My life changing event was hearing “destroyer” off of give the people what they want,,the kinks 1981 release. From then on..I’ve been able to see them 7 times in concert..and have cherished every cd made by The KInks! Sir Ray Davies is an artist way ahead of all ..and Dave Davies is the spark to the engine of ThE KiNks. Thankyou for the article. Good luck also with your inspirations also. GOD SAVE THE KINKS ps..parklife by Blur..awesome
Nice one, and I agree! Thanks for your good wishes 🙂
So good to realize that there are more kindred souls that feed on the words and wonder of Kinks music. Reading your well-written memories once again awakened the life and love of an England that is being preserved in so many Ray Davies songs. Thank you from the Netherlands.
Yeah its anazing how personal some Kinks records are, as if they speak directly to you, and they evoke something which I didn’t know how to express, but that is the power of song. It taught me alot. Glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
I adore this Album.❤️ It was around the 90s and I was aware of The Kinks but knew I wanted to explore more of their songs. I came across a review of the Village Green album. Mention of the description of characters on this album was what clinched it for me – I had to purchase it.
I’d been looking for songs a bit different to the norm. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but just knew that I wanted songs that perhaps featured a story. Well, here it was and I was in my element. Songs ranging from a cat that had travelled around the world, a human-like train, wicked witch and even the sky as a character!
It’s as though Ray had teleported to the future; seen Garfield, Thomas the Tank Engine and Grot Bags, and was back in the 60s writing about them! 😁
That’s a great perspective. Phenonemal Cat also has roots in the Cheshire Cat of Alice, so its part of a stream of tradition. A village near me in Lancashire has a big plaque 3d statue of a cat with a rat, right on the main junction of the village from 1858. The cat is in the collective psyche and constantly reappears. I also saw it in Henry’s Cat the 80’s cartoon. Garfield is very apt!
Thank you, Stuart. VGPS means a lot to me as an album. The rich, colourful characters bundled up in great songs. It’s the perfect album for using your imagination as you’re transported into a world of brilliant characters. Ray Davies is certainly one of the best songwriters of our time.