In full swing around the Brexit, the album of Kinks "Arthur, the Decline and Fall of the British Empire" is reissued, 50 years later, with a funny resonance.
Published in 1969 with its 12 original titles, "Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire" concept album, will only be critically successful, and only the song "Victoria" will have the honor of climbing a few steps in the charts.
Outstanding storyteller, the leader of the English quartet Ray Davies, 75 years old today, is inspired by the true story of his sister Rosie and her husband Arthur, who emigrate to Australia. With this "contemporary pop opera", "documentary", as he often presented it, he wanted to talk about those "disillusioned with England after World War II, who felt betrayed" with a social horizon clogged , as he exposes to AFP.
To hear it today, not much has changed. Ray Davies continues to denounce "the manipulation of information" by the powers in place. Fifty years ago, he sang in "Brainwashed": "You look like a real human being / But you have no thought for yourself".
- "Traffickers of human beings" -
In the title track "Arthur", he portrayed a young man "of the working class", with "so much ambition", but always "picked up speed by those who make the big decisions".
As a result, his characters were leaving for Australia, a country supposed to be "without distinction of class". Today, the quest for an Eldorado, this "Shangri-La", another title, leads to dramas, like those 39 people found dead in a truck east of London. "Victims of human traffickers", laments to AFP Ray Davies.
In full tumult around the Brexit, Ray Davies is moved by the "rise of the nationalisms". Like an echo of the acid text of "Yes Sir, No sir" from 50 years ago.
And Ray Davies looks further than his island and worries about the weight of "Marine Le Pen in France", advocating: "It takes alternatives".
As with every event around the Kinks, the rumor machine is racing around this legendary band, which has not released a studio album since 1993 and has not performed on stage since 1996.
So we ask Ray Davies the perennial questions: is a new record possible? Can the band re-form in concert as so many other bands from the 1960s and 70s did?
- "Then we'll see" -
"Let's work on new songs first, then we'll see", is content to answer the author of the fulgurance rock "You really got me".
This is not the first time that he suggests that new titles are being prepared and caution is needed. There are signs that fans will not fail to interpret.
The two brothers in the group, Ray and Dave, were scrambled. But in the rich box "Arthur" published October 25 (4 CDs of 81 titles in total, including 5 unpublished and 28 unreleased versions, demos, etc.), we find in particular the solo album of Dave, too long remained in the drawers.
It is presented as "the great Dave Davies lost album". What does his brother Ray think? "I like this record," he says, speaking affectionately about this little brother - 72 years old today - that he encouraged "to do more".
When told that Dave's "Creeping Jean" riff is effective, Ray retorts, "I prefer Lincoln County." In the 68-page booklet that accompanies "Arthur," Ray praises this piece on Billy the Kid, which he would have "liked to write" the verses. A nice compliment from one of the best lyricists of the years 1960-70.
© 2019 AFP