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Muswell Hillbillies Hybrid SACD - DSD

4.5 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, August 24, 2004
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Audio, Cassette, January 22, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The roots, blues and music-hall styles of this 1971 masterpiece have never sounded so sweet: 20th Century Man; Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues , and more.

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The first album in the Kinks' RCA phase, this 1971 aggregation stands as one of the pivotal titles in the group's extensive oeuvre. Check out the cover for a sense where this collection is rooted: the five longhaired lads mill about at a sunlit working-class pub where the regulars go about their libationary affairs. The album's keynote tracks--"20th Century Man," "Holiday," "Here Come the People in Grey"--focus on proletariat proceedings that were familiar to frontman Ray Davies and his guitar-slinging sibling, Dave. Indeed, the title track's name is concocted from of the name of the north London community where the Davies brothers grew up and the then-popular Beverly Hillbillies TV show. Musically, Muswell Hillbillies draws on country and pub-jazz elements; check out the trad-band brass that adorns the intoxicating "Alcohol." Ray Davies called this album his "existentialist-type record," noting that he resisted the temptation to design a radio-friendly single to succeed "Lola" in favor of devising a conceptual collection of tunes. For better or worse, it would be some time before he'd abandon his predilection for plots. --Steven Stolder

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. 20th Century Man
  2. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues
  3. Holiday
  4. Skin & Bone
  5. Alcohol
  6. Complicated Life
  7. Here Come The People In Grey
  8. Have A Cuppa Tea
  9. Holloway Jail
  10. Oklahoma U.S.A.
  11. Uncle Son
  12. Muswell Hillbilly
  13. Mountain Woman
  14. Kentucky Moon


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Velvel Records
  • ASIN: B0002IQI7E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,727 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Following the international success of "Lola", RCA signed the Kinks to a record deal, anticipating more smash hit singles. What they got was something quite different.

Ray Davies had already produced some fine concept albums ("Village Green Preservation Society" and "Arthur") in the late 60s, and "Muswell Hillbillies" returns to some of those themes: the ordinary man or woman, caught up in forces beyond their control "Holloway Jail", "Uncle Son"; the good old days before technology ("Twentieth Century Man", "Complicated Life"). In passing the Kinks comment on fad diets ("Skin and Bone"), addiction ("Alcohol") and bureaucracy ("Here Come the People in Gray").

There's not a false note or a weak song to be found on this elegant and touching album. The overarching theme is a whimsical view of British fascination with the mythical America of movies ("Take me back to those black hills/That I have never seen", sings Ray in the title track). However, this is not the three-chord power rock of the Kinks' early singles; nor is it the para-metal of their later hits like "Low Budget". While their hard rock albums sold much better, my preference is for the lighter, more whimsical Kinks, with their uniquely British perspective on pop music. I rate this as one the Kinks' four or five best records.

Although it was a relative commercial failure on its release, the years have been kind to the 1970s Kinks, as more people have discovered that this music really rocks ... in its own Kinky way.

This new SACD remaster is nothing short of spectacular. The sound is crystal clear, the stereo separation is almost lifelike; in short, these songs have never sounded better. The disc plays in regular CD players and is a major improvement over previous CD issues.

Do yourself a favor: buy this disc, pour yourself a cuppa tea, and take a trip back to those black hills that most of us have never seen. As Eric Burdon once sang, "It will be worth it!"
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Format: Audio CD
Take it from an ancient Kinks fan...this is certainly one of their very best. I consider "Muswell" a masterpiece that stands confidently next to the other generally "accepted" Ray Davies masterworks ,i.e., "Lola vs..." , "Village Green Preservation Society", and the UNDISPUTED GIANT of Kinks works...."Arthur". I fully appreciate the common criticism that always seems to attend any meaningful discussion regarding "Muswell" among Kinks fans: that the album lacks the "English-pop" intensity of their previous works, so therefore it's "not quite" the Kinks...Well, boys and girls, THATS THE POINT of this LP ! It was a CONSCIOUS change of direction. Every great artist in history has experimented with the limits of his or her talents...and Raymond Douglas Davies is no different. Any TRUE Kinks purist would understand this and embrace this 1971 gem with open arms. Granted, it might take several listenings before this worthy disc endears itself to you but it's well worth the effort. However many spins it takes, eventually you'll sit up in your chair and exclaim loudly....Oh yeah, ...NOW I GET IT..! "Muswell Hillbillies" is an ACQUIRED taste. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Ray teases us with delectible little country-flavored ditties like the Title tune (an effective ode to his hometown suburb in North London)or the heavily horned and witty "Holiday" and "Alcohol". When you first encounter these particular tunes (as I did in the early 70's), you might make the error of dismissing them out of hand as campy novelty tunes far below Ray's abilities. This couldn't be further from the truth....Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Over the last few months, I have been re-acquainting myself with the Kinks, and I have come to the conclusion that they are the most sadly neglected group in Rock History. If you were to ask the average person to name a Kinks song, they will probably get stymied after "Lola" and "You Really Got Me". Most people probably don't even own a Kinks album.

From the fist moment I heard "Muswell Hillbillies" I knew I was hearing one of the very best albums in Rock and Roll. The songs of Ray Davies transcend old-fashioned bluegrass, blues, English vaudeville, and German Beerhall music, delicately making it something urgent and relevant for the new millenium.

Not one of these songs could be considered a pop hit unto itself, but all together they make one of the most original and versatile listening experiences you're likely to hear.
3 Comments 30 of 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
At the start of the seventies, the Kinks changed labels (from Pye to RCA) in the wake of their biggest hit in several years, the glammed-up anthem "Lola." But instead of capitalizing on "Lola"'s success by delivering more of the same, the band reinvented their sound for "Muswell Hillbillies"-- an utterly unique blend of music hall, jazz, and country. Twangy acoustic guitars and rollicking piano prevail, with a jazz horn ensemble guest-starring on a couple of songs. Ray sings while chomping a cigar on "Holiday"; the title track features the Davies brothers' hilariously inept hillbilly accents as they croon about "old West Virginia." It's a strange mix, but it all works beautifully, and it's the perfect vehicle for Ray Davies' exploration of the improbable spiritual link between working-class London and the American frontier.

Thematically, "Muswell Hillbillies" is a loose concept album about the gentrification of the Muswell Hill neighborhood. More generally, it's about ordinary, tradition-minded English people finding themselves thrust against their will into the modern world. Ray rants against technology, conformity, and intrusive government-- some of the same sentiments that would suffocate later Kinks albums like "UK Jive"-- but here, crucially, he never lets the vitriol obscure his empathy and sense of humor.

Smart, angry, funny, and surprising, "Muswell Hillbillies" is the Kinks at their very best. If you like rock music at all, don't hesitate to add this album to your collection.
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