WHO ARE THEY? Singer-guitarist and songwriter’s songwriter Ray Davies, his eccentric lead-guitarist brother/longtime nemesis Dave and their late ’60s bandmates, who were collectively the most successful and influential British Invasion band that still managed somehow to remain underappreciated.
WHAT IS THIS? An expanded reissue of their seventh studio release, which was one of Davies’ many concept-album ruminations on the life in post-war Britain — though this one was inspired by the life of the Davies’ sister, who emigrated to Australia with her family. Originally, Arthur was conceived as the soundtrack to a kitchen-sink teleplay which never came to fruition. Something tells me that’s probably for the best.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The lengthier version of a tale that’s still timely and topical half a century after its creation. This set includes a sharply remastered version of the original 12-song album, plus a second disc of alternate mixes and outtakes. Some editions also include a third disc of Dave-centric fare.
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Arthur: The Royal Treatment.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While quaffing ale and having a pub lunch down the local.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Theatrical, reflective, tender, literate, clever, poignant, whimsical, wry, homey, nostalgic.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The original disc boasts the anthemic hit single Victoria, along with quirkier fare like Shangri-La, Nothing To Say, Arthur and the magnificently titled She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina. The bonus set includes rarities like the aptly titled Groovy Movies, the rootsy Lincoln County and the doo-wop ditty The Future.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘So it’s not about Camelot, then?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? More often than you have for the past 30 years or so.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A MEMENTO, WHAT WOULD IT BE? An old family album that’s been collecting dust in the attic for far too long.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? It might not be their peak, but it’s not far off — and it remains a classic that belongs in your collection.