the kinks’ arthur album and related singles 1969

THE KINKS’ ARTHUR album of 1969 was a smashing suc­cess with the critics and the few fans that the once pop­ular group still had at the time. It sold better than any Kinks album had in re­cent memory, but barely graced the best-selling charts. ARTHUR has grown in pres­tige through the years and now both orig­inal press­ings and even reis­sues are sought after by col­lec­tors.

There were three sin­gles pulled from the album ses­sions; none were major hits in the UK or the US. All are rather dif­fi­cult to find—especially in top con­di­tion. This ar­ticle is a discog­raphy of those sin­gles that fo­cuses on the var­ious pic­ture sleeves is­sued with the single in coun­tries around the world.

I have as­signed sug­gested values for each item in near mint (NM) con­di­tion. Each sells for con­sid­er­ably less in less that tip-top con­di­tion. Note that there are reis­sues of the album on Pye that are con­sid­ered su­pe­rior son­i­cally and can com­mand higher prices than the orig­inal pressing. 

This discog­raphy is in­tended as a com­panion piece to the ar­ticle “The Kinks On Arthur And Finding Shangri-La.”


Take a drive with me

Arthur album: photo of the Kinks 1969 tinted rusty red.

The first single was re­leased in June 1969. Drivin’ (Pye 7N 17776) was an un­be­liev­ably stupid choice for a single in that heady year. Was it Ray Davies’s ob­sti­nate per­son­ality telling the times in which he lived to bugger off? Or was it re­flec­tive of some func­tionary at Pye who thought a piece about the joys of au­to­mo­biling was ex­actly what young British record-buyers were in the mood for? 

It sold few copies and failed to make any major chart in any major market where it was re­leased. Reprise didn’t even re­lease Drivin’ in the US.

Note that Shangri-La is prop­erly two words with a hy­phen, al­though none of the Eu­ro­pean graphic artists, type­set­ters, or ed­i­tors seem to have known that. Oddly, the same people got the title of the pre­vious single cor­rect (Drivin’), even though drop­ping a “g” from the end of a word is a dis­tinctly Amer­ican habit.


Arthur album: yellow label promo copy of DRIVIN' single on Pye UK.

Arthur album: blue label stock copy of DRIVIN' single on Pye UK.

Eng­land

Pro­mo­tional copies of Pye 7N-17776, Drivin’ / Mind­less Child Of Moth­er­hood, with yellow la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $100-150. Stock copies with blue la­bels can be found with a big hole and the tra­di­tional knockout center or with a small, LP-sized hole (called ‘solid center’ and pic­tured above). Both press­ings have a sug­gested NM value of $30-50.

Note that the promo has the tra­di­tional ‘knock-out center” as­so­ci­ated with UK press­ings of 45s, while the stock copy has the ‘solid center’ that were in vogue at the time. The latter can also be found with the knock-out center.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from Denmark.

Den­mark

This pic­ture sleeve is so un­ex­cep­tional with let­tering so dreadful that it could be ar­gued ugly. Hard to be­lieve pro­fes­sional graphics people were in­volved. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from France.

France

Fairly drab pic­ture sleeve with a photo of the group sev­eral years old. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from Germany.

Ger­many

Nicely de­signed pic­ture sleeve: the red border sets off the black and white photo, and the en­larged image of Ray gazing upon his band is a very neat touch. My fave of the Drivin’ sleeves. Sug­gested NM value of $40-60.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from Holland.

Hol­land (Nether­lands)

Not bad de­sign: the black and white photo tinted blue looks good, but the slanted, red print bothers me. And Ray’s hair looks like it in curlers and what’s-his-name looks a bit too much like Tiny Tim. Sug­gested NM value of $50-75.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from Japan.

Japan

japanese pic­ture sleeves tend to be tasteful, well-designed, and bloody well made. This ap­pears no ex­cep­tion. Sug­gested NM value of $150-200.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from Norway.

Norway

Very tasteful. Idyllic. Al­though it does ap­pear the vil­lage green is need of a mowing. Sug­gested NM value of $30-50.

 

Arthur album: picture sleeve to DRIVIN' single on Pye from Portugal.

Por­tugal

This pic­ture sleeve’s black and white photo makes the Kinks look like the Vil­lage Gray So­ciety! In­cred­ibly rare sleeve in any con­di­tion with a sug­gested NM value of $200-300.

 
 

You can’t go anywhere

Arthur album: black & white photo of the Kinks 1969 tinted blue.

The second single was Shangri-La, an­other baf­fling se­lec­tion: while Shangri-La is a great track—it can be ar­gued to be the high­light of the album—it is not struc­tured for AM radio play. This should have been shipped as a promo-only to the still-new ‘un­der­ground’ FM radio sta­tions pop­ping up around the US.

It sold few copies and failed to make any major chart in any major market where it was re­leased. Reprise didn’t even re­lease Shangri-La in the US.


Arthur album: yellow label promo copy of SHANGRI-LA single on Pye UK.

Arthur album: blue label stock copy of SHANGRI-LA single on Pye UK. 

Eng­land

Pro­mo­tional copies of Pye 7N-17812, Shangri-La / This Man He Weeps Tonight, with yellow la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $100-150. Stock copies with blue la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $50-60.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from France.

France

Un­ex­cep­tional. Sug­gested NM value of $30-50.


Arthur album: one side of picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from Germany.

Arthur album: another side of picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from Germany.

Ger­many

Most sleeves have the same image on both sides; here Pye of Ger­many went out of their way with two very dif­ferent im­ages. The front is taken from the VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY album photo ses­sions while the back from a re­cent tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ance. My fave of the Shangri-La sleeves. Sug­gested NM value of $40-60.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from Holland.

Hol­land (Nether­lands)

In­ter­esting de­sign: is this record a piece in a bigger puzzle, or are the Kinks them­selves the puzzle piece? Sug­gested NM value of $30-50.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from Japan.

Japan

Typ­ical Japanese de­sign: tasteful if less than ex­citing. Sug­gested NM value of $75-150.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from Norway.

Norway

Un­ex­cep­tional de­sign and the green is icky, but I kind of like it anyway. Sug­gested NM value of $30-50.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to SHANGRI-LA single on Pye from Portugal.

Por­tugal

I don’t like the brown tint but I do like the overall design—even the stamped-on type. Sug­gested NM value of $30-50.

 
 

The rich were so mean

Arthur album: black & white photo of the Kinks 1969 tinted green.

The third and final single was Vic­toria, which should have been the first single. Vic­toria opened the album and would have been a bril­liant se­lec­tion as the first single. Alas, by the time Pye got around to it, any im­petus it may have had from being the ini­tial glimpse of the Kinks’ new album was lost.

Arthur album: yellow label promo copy of VICTORIA single on Pye UK.

Arthur album: blue label stock copy of VICTORIA single on Pye UK.

Eng­land

Pro­mo­tional copies of Pye 7N-17865, Vic­toria / Mr. Churchill Said with yellow la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $50-100. Stock copies with blue la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $25-35.


Arthur album: blue label stock copy of VICTORIA single on Pye Canada.

Canada

Like its fellow former colonists, Cana­dian record buyers pre­ferred their 45s without the knockout cen­ters, so Pye pressed them with a clean hole, like Amer­ican sin­gles. Cana­dian stock copies with blue la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $15-20.

 

Arthur album: picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from France.

France

Never cared for the dated pe­riod look. This may have turned Ray Davies on, but I wonder how the other three Kinks saw it. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40.


Arthur album: front of picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from German.

Arthur album: back of picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from Germany.

Ger­many

Too goofy for my taste but both col­orful and eye-catching. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from Holland.

Hol­land (Nether­lands)

This is some­what better than the French sleeve be­cause it has the Kinks on it. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40.


Arthur album: picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from Japan.

Japan

Even more col­orful and eye-catching than the German sleeve but still too goofy for my taste. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40.


Arthur album: pink picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from Norway.

Arthur album: red picture sleeve to VICTORIA single on Pye from Norway.

Norway

Un­ex­cep­tional ex­cept for the or­nate let­ters. The sleeve was is­sued as both pink and red, ap­par­ently both being about equal, with a sug­gested NM value of $30-40. I don’t re­ally care for any of the Vic­toria sleeves, but if I had to pick one then it would be this for not being a pe­riod piece or being goofy. 


The Arthur album as EP and LP

Arthur album: black & white photo of the Kinks 1969 tinted dark blue.

Arthur as EP album

By the end of the ’60s, the extended-play album (EP) was a dead medium in most of the world. Still, I found two EPs for this album:

Arthur album: ARTHUR EP album on Pye from Japan.

Japan

This is an EP (Columbia/Pye YSS-147-Y) with Vic­toriaDrivin’Shangri-La, and Vil­lage Green. At­trac­tive sleeve with nice if un­re­mark­able cover de­sign. Sug­gested NM value of $40-60.


Arthur album: ARTHUR EP album on Pye from Mexico.

Mexico

This is an EP with Drivin’ (Mane­jando)Vic­toria, Shangri-La, and Mr Churchill Says (Churchill Dice). At­trac­tive sleeve with nice if un­re­mark­able cover de­sign. Sug­gested NM value of $40-60.

Arthur as LP album

I have in­cluded en­tries for en­tries of the orig­inal edi­tions of the LP for the country of origin (UK) and the US. As the pack­aging of the album seems to have been the same every­where, I have only in­cluded one true rarity …


Arthur album: cover of ARTHUR LP album on Pye from England.

Arthur album: original mono label for ARTHUR LP album on Pye from England.

Arthur album: original stereo label for ARTHUR LP album on Pye from England.

Arthur album: Queen Victoria lyric sheet for ARTHUR LP album on Pye from England.

Arthur album: interior artwork for gatefold jacket for ARTHUR LP album on Pye from England.

Orig­inal 1969 edi­tions of ARTHUR (NPL-18317, mono, and NSPL-18317, stereo) fea­tured a gate­fold jacket with a record with blue la­bels and in­cluded a lyric sheet in the shape of Queen Vic­toria. Com­plete mono copies have a sug­gested NM value of $75-150; com­plete stereo copies have a sug­gested NM value of $150-200. 

A second edi­tion of NSPL-18317 from 1971 had the same blue-label record but was is­sued in a reg­ular (non-gatefold) jacket without the lyric sheet. This has a sug­gested NM value of $30-50.

This was the last Kinks album is­sued in both mono and stereo in the UK. For a few words on that, I rec­om­mend this re­view by Monolover.

 

Arthur album: later pressing stereo label for ARTHUR LP album on Pye from England.

Sub­se­quent UK press­ings of NSPL-18317 with gray la­bels are gath­ering worth as col­lec­tables, es­pe­cially as cer­tain press­ings are con­sid­ered au­dibly su­pe­rior to the orig­inal. 


Arthur album: cover of ARTHUR LP album on SR International from Holland.

SR In­ter­na­tional, a mail-order music club in Hol­land, is­sued ARTHUR with this unique cover. It was avail­able only to club mem­bers and has a sug­gested NM value of $300-400.


Arthur in America

Arthur album: black & white photo of the Kinks 1969 tinted brown.

Reprise fi­nally (fi­nally!) re­leased a single from the Kinks’ new album, and guess what? They had there first hit with a Kinks single in two years! Al­though it wasn’t much of a hit: it peaked at #54 on Cash Box but only reaching #62 on Bill­board.


Arthur album: white label promo for VICTORIA single on Reprise from America.

Arthur album: brown label stock copy for VICTORIA single on Reprise from America.

Pro­mo­tional copies of Reprise 0863, Vic­toria / Brain­washed, with white la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $25-35; stock copies with brown la­bels have a sug­gested NM value of $40-60


Arthur album: front cover for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America with promotional title & timing strip.

Arthur album: white promo label for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Reprise RS-6366 as a white label promo record in a stock jacket with a DJ title and timing strip (above) has a sug­gested NM value of $150-200. A white label promo record in a stock jacket without the a DJ strip has a sug­gested NM value of $50-75. 


Arthur album: front cover for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Arthur album: original label for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Arthur album: Queen Victoria lyric sheet for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Arthur album: interior artwork for gatefold jacket for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Stock copies of Reprise RS-6366 with red-and-orange ‘steam­boat’ la­bels. These were is­sued in a gate­fold jacket with the Vic­toria lyric sheet. Sug­gested NM value of $30-40 for the com­plete album.


Arthur album: record label for Capitol Record Club pressing of ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Copies of ARTHUR were man­u­fac­tured by Capitol for sale to their record club mem­bers and is­sued as ST-93034. These have a sug­gested NM value of $30-50.


Arthur album: record label for later pressing of ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Sub­se­quent press­ings of RS-6366 with brown la­bels and the red logo box have little col­lec­tors value at this time with a sug­gested NM value of $10-15. 


Arthur album: front cover for special folder for promotional press kit for ARTHUR LP album on Reprise from America.

Fi­nally, in 1969 Reprise sent out a spe­cial press kit to se­lect radio sta­tions. It con­sisted of a sleeve (front cover pic­tured above) with a copy of the pro­mo­tional album (above) and the fol­lowing in­serts:

• a 1-page letter from Warner/Reprise;
• a 5-page bio
• a 1-page re­view from Rolling Stone
• a 1-page ex­cerpt from Nik Cohn’s book Rock From The Be­gin­ning
• a 1-page re­view by Robert Christgau from The Vil­lage Voice
• two 8 x 10″ black and white photos

This com­plete package is rather rare with a sug­gested NM value of $250-350.


Arthur album: black & white photo of the Kinks 1969.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of the Kinks in 1969. As you must have guessed by now, I like this photo. As for the Kinks: they came roaring back into promi­nence with Lola, one of the most mem­o­rable hits of 1970 (“Well I’m not the world’s most mas­cu­line man, but I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man and so is Lola!”)

Ray­mond Dou­glas Davies then de­cided the Kinks were not only an album-oriented group, but a con­cept album-oriented group with a thing for rock-soap-operas. He wrote and they recorded a se­ries of in­creas­ingly flimsy al­bums and lost their mass au­di­ence. Again. But that’s an­other story …

 


 

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