My Top 1000 Songs #54: Village Green Preservation Society

The title track from the Kinks' 1968 masterpiece sets the tone for what has long been, by far, my favorite Kinks album. Musically, it's stripped down and clean, a far cry from the damaged-amp distortion of early hits like "You've Really Got Me"; and as peer acts like the Beatles and the Who grew increasingly more complex, Ray Davies opted for simplicity, little more than a lo-fi unplugged guitar riff. Lyrically, it's the boldest statement yet of Davies embrace of traditionalism, a loving look-back to the days of innocence (albeit largely imagined). "We are the office block persecution affinity; God save little shops, China cups and virginity. We are the skyscraper condemnation affiliate; God save Tudor houses, antique tables and billiards."

Extolling the virtues of virginity, to say nothing of Donald Duck and Dracula, suggests Davies is being at least a tad ironic here. But as with much of the band's late '60s and early '70s work, Davies' wistful romanticism of days gone by is always refreshing, a momentary reprieve from harsh reality. All set to a wonderfully melodic, insinuating tune, delivered with one of Ray's most affectionate vocals and a touch of harmony.
Here's a wonderful, horn-abetted live version from the early '70s: