After the commercial failure of 'Village Green Preservation Society', the Kinks could have gone one of two ways. They could have forgotten about making cohesive, 'veddy british' albums and gone back to simply putting together album-length collections of unrelated songs. Or they could have moved from concept albums to full-fledged rock operas, full of third-person tunes that would enable Ray Davies to further distance himself from his audience. They chose the latter, earning themselves a solid core of new fans along the way. The pleasure of 'Arthur' is that, while it shows the Kinks' readiness to tackle the rock opera form, it retains a close connection with their more pop-oriented past. Opener 'Victoria' remained a concert favourite for years afterwards, while the delicate 'Shangri-la' likewise took on a life of its own outside the rock-opera format. Clearly, the group had more creativity at this point than it knew what to do with. Arthur is probably the only album that you could play for a fan of the pop Kinks and a fan of the theatrical Kinks and please both.

The Kinks - Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) LP

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