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Muswell Hillbillies

Muswell Hillbillies
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Muswell Hillbillies  (Audio CD) 
by Kinks

 
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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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Product Details
Audio CD Release Date:August 24, 2004
Studio:Velvel Records
Number Of Discs:1
Format:Hybrid SACD - DSD
Average Customer Rating: based on 121 reviews

Track Listing
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

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review:4.5 ( 121 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 69 found the following review helpful:


5Uniquely British Rock  Oct 14, 2004 By Kindle Customer "soul_survivor"
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!"

32 of 32 found the following review helpful:


5Have a "Holiday" with the Kinks........  Mar 11, 2000 By kevin march
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.... if you LISTEN, I mean truly LISTEN to the lyrical content you'll detect the desperate sadness that he was trying to convey about the struggles of the English working class to maintain any semblance of sanity in the face of the modern technological society that was threatening to oppress them even more. Ray Davies WAS (and still is) very sensitive to this. Many would scoff at this...the world famous wealthy pop legend? how could he possibly relate to the poor? Easy, his fame aside Ray NEVER lost the common touch. Of all the pop icons, he never forgot his roots. Its a recorded fact that Ray always lamented the passing of a more simpler time. Recall his odes to "Victoria" and the magnificent "Waterloo Sunset" (which I always felt was Ray's greatest single composition, on a par with Lennon's "Day in the Life" on "Pepper') Just listen to the opening rocker on "Muswell" ,"20th Century Man" with it's vehement jabs at modern life and the painfully poignant line "I'm a 20th century man but I don't want to be here......" This seems to be Ray's personal philosophy in an aural nutshell, if you will, and this brilliant album captures this ethos perfectly. Ray is a walking anachronism, a man out of place in his time ...he has stated many times that he feels he was born too late. As far as I can tell he's adjusted pretty well and enriched the world with his genius. I highly recommend this cd, for any serious Kinks fan. GOD SAVE THE KINKS

29 of 30 found the following review helpful:


5The Album that Time Forgot  Mar 20, 2005 By J. Fregosi
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.

24 of 25 found the following review helpful:


5Darkly funny Kinks masterpiece  Apr 17, 2006 By W. M. Davidson
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.

13 of 13 found the following review helpful:


5One of the finest albums ever recorded  Oct 25, 1998
There are a zillion Kinks albums, and yet only five or six songs--if that many--have ever been touched by radio. After getting sick of those songs before 1985, I had *no* interest in the Kinks by 1998.
I listened to Muswell Hillbillies on a whim and I was shocked. It has nothing to do with the sound of Lola or the handful of mid 60s tunes I've always associated with the Kinks. This is a deep, listenable, folk/blues record that's best dissaociated with the Kinks radio-pop franchise. There are some brilliant songs here--Holiday, Holloway Jail, Complicated Life, the title track--without any weaklings in the bunch. And if I were compiling a list of the ten most stick-in-your-head songs of all time, Skin and Bone would be near the top.
Highly recommended, even if you never pictured yourself buying a Kinks CD.

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