1968 saw the release of the first in a trilogy titled The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (VGPS), followed in 1973 by Preservation Act1 and in 1974, by Preservation Act2. The first was recently released as a triple box set that gives the Kinks enthusiast useful information about what the recordings actually sounded like, since the PYE album was, typical of all other Kinks offerings post Shel Talmy, a sonic mud pile. The 3 CD release has an abundance of evidence that the original recordings sounded fantastic and that the precedents likely do as well. Exactly what sludge box the recordings were originally mastered with, I don't know.
VGPS introduces the Davies audience to his world. In fact, it was one that he was loath to leave, and while other trendy artists were living downtown, Davies never strayed far from Muswell Hill and East Finchley, where he grew up. Nearby Hampstead Heath may have been the setting for some of the charming vignettes that he painted about simple life. But there's an underlying hostility, too. Davies never liked photographs, felt that they were invasive, and at their worst, could be destructive. He mocks those who are discovered by the camera, for it is only the few that find the image captured to be rewarding. Most hate looking at snapshots. "Oh, how dreadful that candid picture of me is. How many relatives have seen it?"
The main character of VGPS is the tramp, who is in love with Daisy, but knows that as a tramp, he has little to offer women, and must watch as Daisy marries the grocer boy. But there's little to redeem the tramp where women are concerned, for he was as inclined to take advantage of Genevieve as he was later to try to make it up to her. Tramp might have been sincere but where women are concerned, he finds most of his company with the floosies that have attached themselves to Flash, who first appears in Act1 as a mildly rogue character with an empire of prostitutes, and an accumulating pot of dirty money that he wishes to launder and of course, grow. Flash makes no secret of the fact that money talks, and turns to real estate development and control of municipal mechanisms to enable large land transactions to take place. In Demolition Flash talks about spying with his little eye, anything that can be bought. Council flats to be replaced with luxy, shitily constructed brick shithouses sold at treble the profit.
Flash's main adversary comes in the form of Mr. Black, who runs for office in an attempt to counter the widespread corruption that has emerged under the regime of Flash. Black is down on sex, and sin, down, on pot and heroin, down with pornography, down with vice, lechery, and debauchery. He is also apparently against pubic hair, but by this he can only mean visible public hair, since the body beautiful movement, which eschews body hair, was high on the list of Black's enemies. As, of course, were Flash's floosies who, apart from having fantastic voices and an awful lot of lower body action happening in their promotional photos, look like nice girls out to earn a living for Flash, who naturally took 80% of his territorial cut, leaving the girls the tiny balance to cover all of their body maintenance and ancillary expenses, which kept them truly svelte. Just the way Flash liked them.
Along the way, the tramp commiserates about the way that things once were, notes that nobody gives anymore, and he can't afford one, anyhow. After a lifetime of trainspotting, the Tramp has little to show for himself except what he expects may be a gradual reduction in his own ability to 'give.'
Eventually, Black and Flash come to a head. Black has real soldiers, while Flash employs spivs with shivs. Only a few automatic guns present on the Flash side, but these are all soldiers of fortune who tend to tell the shivs to try their luck at longevity. Not one of these soldiers is injured and the resulting invoice catches Flash by surprise and leaves him cash shy. "I expected the men to fight... and die. No bills to pay to the dead." Flash, realizing that things are pretty much over, turns to his favorite floosie and engages her in a duet titled 'Nothing Lasts Forever.'
Floosie tells Flash that 'time goes by and people change. It's best we go our separate ways.' She knows that Flash will soon be captured and turned into an artificial man by Black and his team of doom-like politicos. No investment to make in Flash, she turns him away unsatisfied. His recent experiences have left him flaccid. Yet he still has the gall to believe that he can escape his fate. It is only a late night encounter with his soul that informs him that the only destination for him is hell, and that the soul's visit was as a courtesy, since it had vacated Flash sometime back when he was testing his theories on killing flowers.
Preservation ends with Flash being converted into an artificial man, and by all accounts, he is quite pleased with the transformation, which being of the prefrontal type, has left him with nothing at all. Flash had nothing to be confused about, concerning, say, his previous hobby of torturing, even immolating people. He could not even remember the number of stiffs that were buried at the bottom of the shitbrick houses that he constructed to launder and make more and more.
Instead, he whistled a tuneless scree of a song popular at the time (fill in): "It's awf to 'ell I goo.."