Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) – The Kinks (1969)

Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) is the seventh studio album by 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; however, the television programme was cancelled and 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 mono version was released in the UK, but not in the US. It is now available on the 2011 deluxe-edition re-issue. Arthur was met with nearly unanimous acclaim upon release. It received generous coverage in the US rock press, with articles running in underground magazines such as Fusion and The Village Voice. It garnered back-to-back reviews by Mike Daly and Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone magazine’s lead section; Daly rated it ‘the Kinks’ finest hour’, and Marcus ranked it ‘the best British album of 1969’. Reviews in the UK were also positive. Although Arthur received a mixed review in New Musical Express, Disc & Music Echo praised the album’s musical integrity, and Melody Maker called it ‘Ray Davies’ finest hour … beautifully British to the core’. The album, although not very successful commercially, was a return to the charts in the US for the band. … The album was critically acclaimed at the time of release, especially in the US rock press. It was favourably compared to contemporary works, namely Tommy by The Who, released earlier in the year. In Rolling Stone magazine, Arthur was spotlighted in its lead section, with back-to-back reviews by Mike Daly and Greil Marcus. Daly called it ‘an album that is a masterpiece on every level: Ray Davies’ finest hour, the Kinks’ supreme achievement’. Rolling Stone reviewer J.R. Young also praised the record, and said: ‘Less ambitious than Tommy, and far more musical … Arthur is by all odds the best British album of 1969. It shows that Pete Townshend still has worlds to conquer and that The Beatles have a lot of catching up to do.’ …”
46 Years Ago: The Kinks’ Heady Ambitions Drive ‘Arthur’ (Video)
Classic Rock Review
YouTube: Arthur (Full Album)

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