ON THIS DATE (38 YEARS AGO)
May 8, 1974 – The Kinks: Preservation Act 2 is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5 (reissue w/bonus tracks)
# allmusic 1.5/5
Preservation Act 2 is a 1974 concept album by British rock band The Kinks. It was not well-received by critics and sold poorly (peaking on the Billboard 200 at #114), though the live performances of the material were much better received.
Arriving in May, 1974, just six months after Preservation Act 1, the Kinks’ double-album Preservation Act 2 better represented the scope of Ray Davies’s aspirations to extend his creative talent to the arena of musical theater. It begins roughly where Preservation Act 1 ended, with the formerly placid inhabitants of Davies’ mythical English country village taking up arms against the sleazy dictator Flash. While Flash represents animal desires given free reign, opposition leader Mr.Black takes advantage of citizens’ Puritan desires for good old law and order.
As the two demagogues circle each other, the masses quickly become pawns in a political morality play that has little actual political content and no morality to speak of, save for Davies’ obvious affection for everyday folks. Musically, Preservation Act 2 closely follows the style Davies affected in Act 1. The songs are tightly produced, with close harmonies, a liberal sprinkling of hooks, and a high level of drama. Davies has periodically threatened to turn the entire Preservation into a Broadway show, and this album is a reminder of just how close it was to the time-honored Broadway style even when he first conceived it.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic
Ray Davies released the “song” songs from Preservation — the character sketches, the wry observations, the lovely ballads — on the first record (or “Act”) of the musical drama, leaving the narrative for Preservation, Act 2, a double album released six months after its companion. Simply put, the record is a mess, an impenetrable jumble of story, theater, instrumentals, “announcements,” unfinished ideas, guest singers, and, on occasion, a song or two. There may have been a workable theatrical production hidden somewhere in Preservation, but it was utterly lost on record (reportedly it was better live), due in no small part to how it was unevenly divided, a practice that revealed Davies’ lack of realized songs for the project, plus his unfinished story. It was later revealed that Ray was at the end of his rope during the making of Preservation — he would have a breakdown during its supporting tour — so, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the album doesn’t work on its own. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that he was in such a fog, that he didn’t realize that “Slum Kids,” a staple in the Preservation shows and a concert favorite throughout the ’70s, was the best rocker he penned for the project and left it off both records. Thankfully, it was added as a bonus track to VelVel’s 1999 reissue of the album, improving the quality of the album considerably. The single version of “Mirror of Love” was added as a second bonus track to this edition, as well.
All songs written and composed by Raymond Douglas Davies.
1. “Announcement” 0:41
2. “Introduction to Solution” 2:43
3. “When a Solution Comes” 3:40
4. “Money Talks” 3:44
5. “Announcement” 0:55
6. “Shepherds of the Nation” 4:17
1. “Scum of the Earth” 2:45
2. “Second-Hand Car Spiv” 4:01
3. “He’s Evil” 4:25
4. “Mirror of Love” 3:26
5. “Announcement” 0:34
1. “Nobody Gives” 6:33
2. “Oh Where Oh Where Is Love?” 3:40
3. “Flash’s Dream (The Final Elbow)” 4:17
4. “Flash’s Confession” 4:06
1. “Nothing Lasts Forever” 3:42
2. “Announcement” 0:20
3. “Artificial Man” 5:30
4. “Scrapheap City” 3:16
5. “Announcement” 1:05
6. “Salvation Road” 3:20
CD reissue bonus tracks
22. “Mirror of Love” (Alternate mix) 3:29
23. “Slum Kids” (Take 1) 6:27