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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

The Kinks

1969

Buy At Rough Trade
Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Album Summary

Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), often referred to as just Arthur, is the seventh studio album by the English rock band the Kinks, released in October 1969. Kinks frontman Ray Davies constructed the concept album as the soundtrack to a Granada Television play and developed the storyline with novelist Julian Mitchell; the television programme was never produced. The rough plot revolved around Arthur Morgan, a carpet-layer, who was based on Ray and guitarist Dave Davies' brother-in-law Arthur Anning. A stereo version was released internationally. A mono version was released in the UK, but not in the US. The album was met with poor sales but nearly unanimous acclaim, especially among the American music press. Although Arthur and its first two singles, "Drivin’" and "Shangri-La", failed to chart in the UK, the Kinks returned to the Billboard charts after a two-year absence with "Victoria", the lead single in the US, peaking at number 62. The album itself reached number 105 on the Billboard album chart, their highest position since 1965. Arthur paved the way for the further success of the Kinks’ 1970 comeback album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.39

Votes

13632

Genres

  • Rock
  • Pop

Reviews

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Thu Jun 24 2021
4

My kinks include, but aren't limited to: Ass licking Amputees Getting my balls stamped on GILFS Gorillas Smearing my shit into the eyes of my sister Getting my feet tickled Wearing a jacket made of toast and leaping off a diving board onto an angry sea lion. BBW gangbangs Dave Davies' solo work

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Wed May 05 2021
5

This is where the Kinks start making all types of sense to me. A perfect definition of weird and wonderful. Loved all of it. Mr Churchill Says (absolutely cracking bridge), Nothing to Say and Plastic Man are the big highlights. His voice on Mindless Child of Motherhood is amazing.. Actually just his voice in general is crazy-weird-good-can't-explain-it at times. The Kazoo attack at the end of Hat Like is hilarious. Shangri-La, Yes Sir No Sir and Some Mother's Son are pretty sad. Some of the Stereo versions really bring them to life with headphones on, especially Plastic Man.

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Tue Mar 16 2021
5

This is glorious. Biting social commentary with uplifting tunes.

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Tue May 25 2021
5

What an album. Every song expertly crafted, lyrically poignant. Taking the time and attention to appreciate each songs individual charms and then how each on fits within the tapestry of the albums entirety. Brilliant!

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Mon Dec 13 2021
5

What a helluva album. A lot of fun, a fully realized concept, interweaving serious themes, and captivating me the whole time; That's a success! Rarely, I think, does an album get me so excited while listening but fuck, The Kinks did it here.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
3

Very witty lyrics. Definitely a lot of references to war and being under the Queens rule vibe. I nearly thought that Sir Paul McCartney was in this band. Someone influenced someone.

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Tue Nov 10 2020
5

Top notch album by the best British Invasion pop group. Victoria is a banger of a song, and the concept of the album never gets in the way of it's enjoyability.

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Mon Nov 15 2021
5

I've said this before, and been threatened and abused for saying it, but I'll say it again. Ray Davies is a better songwriter than Lennon & McCartney.

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Tue Nov 29 2022
5

Could we please have The Kinks every week?

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Sat Dec 18 2021
5

Rich and exceptionally well conceived and executed, each song stands on it's own merits while still contributing to the larger themes. Great melodies, kicking arrangements, humor and pathos, this album stands as a rocking testament to the Kinks' contributions to the genre. Having only ever heard Victoria prior to this listen, the album hit me from out of left field. I've never been so happy to get beaned!

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Thu Jun 24 2021
4

What a fucking tune Victoria is.

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Thu May 06 2021
4

For a concept album, it has to be one of the best I’ve heard. I’m a sucker for these kinds of albums and the storyline kept me involved all throughout my listen.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
4

This took a few listens for me to truly appreciate, but over the course of those listens, I became a bigger and bigger fan of this album. In classic concept album style, the songs weave together and tell the story of Arthur and his experience in a post-war Britain. There's so much to enjoy here - the bombastic opener 'Victoria', the cheeky, Beatles-esque 'Yes Sir, No Sir', the highly energetic and catchy 'Shangri-La', just to name a few. This is quality 60's pop rock, and is well worth several listens.

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Thu May 12 2022
4

“She’s Bought a Hat” is like Sgt Peppers remixed for a Monty Python fanfic. I started just humoring this, but by golly, by the end I loved it. Not everyone can reinvent pop music like the Beatles; this takes a lot of inspiration from that group and shines with its own voice and whimsy.

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Wed Aug 03 2022
4

The Kinks were on fire in the late 60s, god damn. An album criticizing Britain from the most British band to ever exist? That's my kink. Almost like a really really early "Let England Shake" by PJ Harvey (also really good and also on this list, by the way). Best songs: "Australia", "Shangri-La", "Victoria".

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Fri Jul 02 2021
5

Obviously a great album from a classic band. Though not one of their more highly appreciated albums, this is still a great album with some classics on it. The Kinks are often said to be the 'first punk band' and you can certainly hear elements that would eventually influence bands such as the Clash. The guitar parts in Australia come to mind. Lots of other interesting sounds mixed in as well. From the silly circus style music in "She bought a hat like princess marina," and some surf-rock like guitar mixed in elsewhere. I wouldn't call it a 'Rock Opera' in the same sense as Tommy for example, but it's still an interestingly tied together concept album. Favorite Songs: Victoria, Nothing to Say

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Fri Apr 22 2022
5

I've owned and loved this record for 25 years. Hopefully I will get something I can explore soon.

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Fri Jun 25 2021
4

At the beginning of Victoria, the lead guitar part is echoed with delay in the opposite ear, which is a pretty neat sound. There are some moments on this album that remind me of The Beatles, like like the latter half of She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina and Nothing To Say. If The Kinks hadn’t been banned from touring in the US for 4 years in the late 1960s during the height of the British Invasion, they might have been way bigger here. The Kinks are clearly British as they sing about countries of the British empire and Mr. Churchill. The song Australia drags on too long and I could do without Drivin’. This album grew on me. I was solidly in the 3 star camp, but after a third listen, I want to keep listening. So I’m keeping it in my library…for now. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Mon Jul 26 2021
4

A concept album about a man losing his son whois moving to Australia at the fag end of the sixties?Typically great Ray Davies lyrics looking at the minutiae of life and pretty simply it also rocks. Best Tracks: Victoria, Brainwashed, Shangri-La

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Sat Nov 20 2021
4

4.0 - Came to this one excited because I love Village Green Preservation Society. Great concept developed in the first 8 songs, which are lyrically amazing, catchy, bouncy and well produced. The Kinks come on facetious in a charming British way - there's a Monty Python feel here, reflected also with the album art. Standouts include: really, all of side A into "Shangri-LA" on the reverse side. After that, I felt an unexpected drop-off in quality. I don't know if I was burnt out or if the songs got worse, maybe both. In any case, the last 15 minutes are a bit of a letdown. All in all, I still like it a lot.

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Mon Feb 28 2022
4

Definitely one to revisit, and pay more attention to, especially the lyrics. A harder Beatles basically, with a cool concept. Catchy enough here and there

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Mon Jan 18 2021
3

Kind of odd. Like listening to a Monty Python movie. Combo of The Beatles, The Doors, Benny Hill. Fun at times, but I could not listen to regularly I don't think.

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Sun Jun 20 2021
3

Not as good as Preservation Society, but some fun songs nonetheless. Davies LOVES TROMBONES

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Mon Jan 25 2021
3

This sounds like a real classic. No matter who you are, these songs are all very recognizable to anyone. Great album.

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Sat Nov 20 2021
3

While The Kinks is not really underrated, they're obviously overshadowed by their peers. And like the big names such as The Beatles and The Stones, The Kinks also went beyond the usual cheap pop-rock stuff and made daring albums later in their career. That is not really interesting or surprising. But the sound and the scope of "Arthur" certainly is. It's a concept album about war and politics in the UK. Interestingly, it was originally made as a soundtrack for a TV show, which was never aired. Aside from the tunes and the lyrics, the thing that fascinates me here is the fact that this "concept album" is so carefree and loose sounding. It sounds fun and light oftentimes. As of now, however, it didn't really stuck to me. It has a few stellar moments, especially in the instrumentals. But the tunes are ultimately forgettable for me. But I guess it's interesting enough for me to listen to it again.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
3

By the second song I found myself surprisingly thinking "This is like a Beatles record written by Ringo!"  That's not a bad thing at all though. This sort of music hall /novelty aspect makes it sound really different from the rest of the music produced at the time, at least to my ears.  OK, there is a little bit of Paul as well.  All in all, a very British record with its own references and probably idiosyncrasies, which makes it a bit harder for me to get fully into it as, for obvious reasons, I lack the cultural background. 

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Fri Jan 15 2021
2

Beginning was meh, middle had some decent songs then I lost interest towards the end again. It may have been a better effort at the time, there was depth to some of their songs but it weren't for me. 2*

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Sat Jan 07 2023
2

At some point, it becomes hard to judge these early, folksy-sounding white guy rock albums because there's just so many of them. They all start to sound the same at some point so it begs the question - was this sound so instrumental to the formation of music that they have to appear on this list more than almost any other genre? Also, I guess I've had a different impression of The Kinks all these years because I thought more of their music would sound like You Really Got Me & Lola. Anyway, the record is fine. There are some good songs, like Australia and Some Mother's Son. But there's far too many albums like this on the list.

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Tue Sep 08 2020
5

Of its time but timeless. Huge fun.

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Thu Dec 24 2020
5

Novo clássico. Álbum conceitual e história muito interessante. Destaque para Drivin' e Australia

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Thu Dec 10 2020
5

Great concept album, each song feels like a sonic short story

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Wed May 12 2021
5

Great album through and through. May not have all the “hits” but the album gels together nicely

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

I really like the Kinks but hadn’t listened to this album prior so it was a good choice. I really loved this album! Stand out tracks: Victoria, Yes Sir No Sir and Brainwashed.

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Sat Mar 27 2021
5

La verdad sí me gustó el disco en general. La batería en especial me prendió. Tiene un sonido fresco y movidon. Brainwashed creo que fue la que más me gustó pero en la mayoría estuvo haciendo mi bailecito que consiste en solo mover la parte superior dec cuerpo desde mi escritorio finjiendo que toco una batería en el teclado. Mood: retro english sexy time.

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Tue Feb 09 2021
5

day behind again, listened on very cold morn (-10). its like bizarro world WHO with some beatles trip mixed in. I will listen again!

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Sat Mar 27 2021
5

Aquí está la magia de las bandas inglesas. Capaces de tomar el R&B, soul, country y rockandroll gringo y darle una vuelta y volverlo nativo. Es extraño pero funciona increíble. Este disco está lleno de grandes canciones, no lo había escuchado completo. Y lo mejor de todo, es que, en su mayoría son cortas. Ser concreto, que gran virtud. Las letras son increíbles, muy interesantes y hay riffs increíbles ahí. El disco es conceptual, al menos parece. Lleno de nostalgia por tiempos pre-Segunda Guerra Mundial. Nostalgia decimonónica. En 2021 se lee remal eso, los tiempos del Imperio británico pero aquí lo entendemos. La neta, me vale verga esa lectura. Espero que este juego nos ponga más discos de Kinks.

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Tue Feb 16 2021
5

Absolutely delicious clasic.

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Thu Jun 24 2021
5

just as good as i remember. I love how most of the tracks have a mad jam out ending when the drummer gets to shine. the drumming on this whole album is immense, i can't think of many albums pre 70s that had drumming like this. would have been excellent if they'd have made the film this was written for.

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Sun Apr 04 2021
5

Super læææækkkeeeerrt Kan super godt lide det, og kan godt finde på at lytte til det igen. Elsker det mere og mere

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Wed Apr 14 2021
5

I can't believe how good this album is. Total pioneers. I'm a kinks fan; but, never gave this albumn a go before. I'm so glad this is on the list.

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Mon Jun 21 2021
5

Rating: 9/10 Best songs: Yes sir, no sir, Drivin’, Brainwashed, Arthur

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Fri Oct 08 2021
5

An absolute classic rock album in the vein of The Beatles. Dig the lyricism and the instrumentation. '69 was such a great year for music.

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Fri Oct 29 2021
5

good album. Unexpected surprise.

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Sat Oct 30 2021
5

had a great sound and story, looking forward to revisiting this again. Seems like something i really could get lost in.

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

fun so far. like a less overplayed beatles. is it a 5? time will tell.

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Thu Jan 27 2022
5

I really liked that way more imaginative and diverse than most hard rock albums I’ve heard definitely a 10/10 for me, really fun album

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Fri Feb 25 2022
5

GENIE Prefs: Victoria, Yes Sir, No Sir, Some Mother's Son, Brainwashed, Australia, Shangri-La, She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina, Arthur Moins pref: Mr. Churchill Says (quand même incroyable)

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

Teniendo una canción que se llame Arthur, cómo no voy a darle un 5

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Thu Mar 17 2022
5

I know the kinks hits, but first time listening to this album. This is a masterpiece brilliant musical story telling through out the album, up there with the best concept albums.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
5

Amazing -never heard it before but like Floyd and Groundhogs a preoccupation with the futility of war is as poignant as ever.

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Fri Apr 01 2022
5

Concept album alert!!!! Bit it's theme is incredibly prescient for a 55 year old album - we're still debating the failure of empire and colonialism 55 years later. Ray Davies' knack for storytelling is brutal here. He takes a 'square' character, makes you empathise with him despite his flaws and let's the (then) modern world tear his life apart. The fact it also has some great Kinks classic songs in there is almost a bonus! The music is a solid 4, but delivering a story this good with such resonant themes on top of that easily pushes it into the upper echelons.

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Mon Apr 11 2022
5

Oi - bloody brilliant, innit it? Good 60s British Invasion rock/pop.

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Tue Jun 07 2022
5

This was pretty great. The Kinks were very ahead of their time.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
5

Light but rich rock'n'roll tunes. The lyrics center around social and political commentary, yet they are not bitter.

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Fri Sep 30 2022
5

I wrote something about "their brand" of psych last time I listened to The Kinks and this album has me regretting it. There is a progression here more suitable for an album twice as long, but only in density and never in drag. The weirdness and soft noodlings peak in the middle (and in Australia) with what sound like British beginnings and American ends, more simply. It's an album that covers much of life and a lot of the time between 1969 and now. All in a way that sounds great and is still fun. Village Green charmed me and this adds just enough edge while staying full Kinks.

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Sat Oct 01 2022
5

On par with sgt pepper or pet sounds, if maybe to influenced by it, but also influencing like the beach boys or Beatles but not with the same credit. Vitoria and Arthur bookend the album perfectly that is maybe hurt by its Britishness in North America

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Thu Nov 10 2022
5

Here's the deal - this album get five stars on the basis of Shangri-La alone. It is one of my favourite songs, ever. As a songwriting commentator on a specific type of small, suburban British life I don't think Ray Davies has a peer. Take Shangri-La - is it a celebration of those creature comforts that welcome us after our day's toil? Is it a critique of this lifestyle? Or is it, as I suspect, both? It walks the line beautifully in terms of both tone and execution, from its gentle fingerpicked intro to the brass-driven midsection. There's more juice in this one track than some artists manage over the course of a whole album. And then there's Victoria, and the breezy pastoral of Drivin'...and everything else. So, so good.

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Wed Nov 23 2022
5

Great album with smart lyrics and great sound. Saved tracks: Victoria, Shangri-La, Mr Churchill Says, Plastic Man, Mindless Child of Motherhood

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Ray Davies is my favorite lyricist. He tells beautiful and sad tales of everyday Britons with such empathy, compassion, and love. That alone would endear him to me, but these songs aren't just pretty tunes or great rockers; they're also powered by Davies' scathing wit, which is fueled by rage and contempt towards the powers that be who stomp his protagonists into the ground, killing their sons in war, and crushing their spirits, leaving them with only dreams of owning a house with no outdoor loo or buying a nice hat, which they can wear while scrubbing the stairs. Plus, the songs are bangers. This album contains some of the best Kinks songs of all time (Victoria, Shangri-La, Arthur, and Some Mother's Son, which is the best anti-war song ever). And the fact that this ambitious project is just ONE of the contenders for the Best Kinks Album is a testament to how damned great these guys were at this time. Their run of Face to Face, Something Else, Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur, Lola, and Muswell Hillbillies rivals the best run of any band or artist. As a die-hard Kinks fan, I now have to sign off with the obligatory "God Save the Kinks."

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Wed Dec 14 2022
5

This is a real gem of an album - so English, so much of its time, and yet still very relevant.

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Tue Dec 20 2022
5

Always assumed ‘Victoria’ was by The Fall, didn’t realise it was a cover. Anyway, couldnt be bothered with this. Mondays are always really busy for me, but I’m glad I made the time. This is class. How’s it like 50 year old? Can hear so many bands in this record. Much prefer this to previous Kinks. Another concept album that’s way better than it sounds on paper.

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Sun Jan 22 2023
5

This might be another 5. I mean it's the most beatles sounding kinks album but it's very sharp fresh, with some great jams and tunes

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Mon Jan 23 2023
5

Ray Davies and The Kinks gets overshadowed in the rock opera discussions. This quintessentially British story is great from stary to finish. Ray Davies observations on everyday life are nuanced and insightful. The story, like many rock operas, is thin, but it fuels a superb song cycle. While many artists would get snarky with material like this, The Kinks are sympathetic. While there were no hit songs, Victoria, Australia and Shangri-La are stand outs.

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Wed Jan 18 2023
5

Great album. The Kinks had an incredibly consistent (and prolific) output for nearly a decade. 18 albums from 1965 to 1975. A couple duds in there, but from Face to Face (1966) through Muswell Hillbillies (1971), they were unstoppable. Every album is fantastic (excluding the soundtrack to Percy in 1971). This is arguably their best and gives any of the Beatles' albums a run for their money. Victoria and Shangri-La are the standouts, but all of the tracks are great. 9/10.

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Mon Mar 06 2023
5

Victoria is a banger. The album is great as a whole, very cohesive

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Fri Mar 10 2023
5

Victoooooooria! Victoooooooria! Victoria. Victoria. I love the Kinks. I've always loved their songs, but their back-catalogue was always a bit intimidating, so I never really ventured into it beyond the (admittedly still quite large selection of) greatest hits. So thank you 1001 albums generator for making me do just that! There's lots of really good songs in here, with tons of personality and charm. Everything is top class - songwriting, musicality, instrumentation, the sheer variation on display. I am loving the brass on here! I'm loving how upbeat it is! I am loving the extended instrumental moments! I'm loving the boldness, the chucking lots of different ideas at it, the range of instrumentation! The different styles! The lyrical content! They're just an all-round class act.

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Tue Mar 14 2023
5

Oh no, a rock-opera, the album generator has become sentient and is targeting me now. I love this period of messing with stereo recording, the isolated instruments on each side makes it feel immersive. Very catchy, and I love albums that have a narrative.

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Wed Mar 15 2023
5

Holy **** I just love this album to death. Definitely my most listened to album of the 60s (and I really like the 60s). It's just so perfect, each track makes me feel happy or pumped up (except the one or two sad ones). Each track is just perfect, criminally underrated on this website. Glad it’s rated way higher on RYM

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Tue Mar 21 2023
5

I'm generally a fan of concept albums and this is one of the best. "Village Green" usually gets most of the attention in this regard, perhaps because it came first, but I think "Arthur" is much more focused and holds together more consistently as an album. Some of the songs are almost mini-operas or song suites on their own, particularly "Shangri-La" and "Mr. Churchill Says." The former being my favorite track on the album by far. But the entire album flows effortlessly. Only weak spot might be that the jam at the end of "Australia" goes a bit too long.

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Mon Mar 27 2023
5

Classic record from the Kinks. The Kinks were known in their early days for their hit singles, but by the mid-60's they strung together some great albums. Except for maybe, Victoria, songs from Arthur weren't on greatest hit albums, instead the album was consistently excellent with well crafted and intelligent songs written by the Davies brothers. This is peak Kinks, one of my all-time favourite albums and it holds up today as one of their finest achievements of their career. Must hear, essential!

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Fri Mar 31 2023
5

I love the Kinks, and this album falls directly in (towards the end of, really) their greatest period of work. The concept album kings, this one here loosely follows a carpet-layer, a proxy for the Davies brothers' own brother-in-law. The album features some of the band's most fun singles, like "Victoria" and "Drivin'". It blows me away that this album is from the '60s. The Kinks should be spoken about in the same breath as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; they were really that good.

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Fri Apr 07 2023
5

Fantastic album! Much better than I expected. Before this, I only knew 4-5 of their songs. Almost every song is great. I especially loved the drum work. "Some Mother's Son" brought the album down a bit with the gruesome subject matter, but the rest more than made up for it. 5/5 Hard to choose a favorite, maybe "Shangri-La"?

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Mon Apr 10 2023
5

My favourite Kinks album so far. Cheered me right up.

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Mon Apr 10 2023
5

Another great Kinks album, and not only the hit singles but also tracks like Yes Sir, No Sir. A timeless classic.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
5

Though the TV special it was intended to soundtrack never materialized, Arthur still stands on its own as a fully formed and beautifully realized story. Exploring the trepidation of moving to a new country, the devastation of war, and the sneaking suspicion that life isn’t as happy as it seems, Ray Davies pens some of his most aching and revealing songs.

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Thu May 25 2023
5

Haven’t heard this album before, let’s see how it is. Love it, catchy songs

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Fri May 26 2023
5

Me: I want to listen to some great music to drown out my thoughts. Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire): NOPE! And it’s from 1969! Misleadingly fun instrumentals, gut-wrenching overall.

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Fri Jun 23 2023
5

christ these guys leveled up since Something Else

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Sat Jul 01 2023
5

I was disappointed by the last Kinks album I listened to, so didn’t have high expectations for this one. But it was a masterpiece.

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Tue Jul 04 2023
5

Another fantastic album by The Kinks after their brilliant their Village Green...LP. They were at the peak of their careers at this time. This rock musical has great storytelling, music, production. It really has it all.

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Sat Jul 08 2023
5

Dare I say it? I think this may be The Kinks’ best work. Hadn’t listened to it in years and loved rediscovering this masterpiece. So good!

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Tue Jul 18 2023
5

I like the Kinks but I’ve never heard these songs. The album starts really well and Brainwashed is a real high. The production and arrangements are really satisfying and the drums really pack a punch. The album keeps you hooked throughout with unexpected movements in the songs. Considering how it was really fresh and enjoyable for me having not heard it before, it’s earned a 5/5.

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Wed Sep 06 2023
5

Teniendo una canción que se llame Arthur, cómo no voy a darle un 5.

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