I finally finished reading The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (TKATVGPS) Andy Miller’s contribution to the 33 1/3 books series. It’s not a long book, but it took a minute for me to actually get into it, even though the Kinks are probably my favorite band of all time, and this album is of particular importance to me. Why? Well, like many of the books in the series, it’s not exactly the smoothest read.
The book’s structure is strange. It first tells the story of how the album is made and the various stumbling blocks that the Kinks — or rather Ray Davies — ran into along the way. That’s the sort of story I’m interested in reading and it was an engaging one. However, once that story ends, it begins again, this time as a painstaking account of each song that was written and recorded during this period, along with some speculation about why it had or hadn’t appeared on the final version of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. It doesn’t sound as bad when I write it here, but trust me, reading the same story told two different ways smacked of a witness perjuring himself on the stand.
Such is the reputation of the 33 1/3 books series. Every author approaches his or her book differently, and even the most adventuresome music fans approach the series with trepidation. These are beloved albums after all.
Now comes word that the series itself has hit a snag due to the current state of the economy. I’m not sure anyone would be surprised considering how both the music and publishing industries have fared lately. I just hope that Geeta Dayal’s Another Green World book sees the light of day. (Of course I’m rooting for Christopher Weingarten’s It Takes a Nation of Millions book, too, but that’s in the more distant future.) As author Douglas Wolk once (infamously) wrote of 33 1/3, “the series that more people want to write than to read!” I guess that makes the 33 1/3 series the Velvet Underground and Nico of microniche music books!