The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies

 

Muswell Hillbillies: 1971

Muswell Hillbillies: 1971

Dave Davies – guitar, harmonica, slide guitar, keyboards, vocals

Ray Davies – guitar, piano, vocals, producer, composer

Mick Avory – drums

John Dalton – bass

And a host of guest musicians

The Kinks are probably the most overlooked big time band. Sure, everyone knows “All Day and All Night” and “Lola,” but not many people know about the more artistic triumphs. There are a slew of fantastic albums from the late 60’s and early 70’s that you never hear about. The only tracks you ever hear from any of those albums are “Lola,” and sometimes “Ape Man.” Let me tell you that this period contains the bands finest work, and Ray Davies’ best writing.

 To me the apex is “Muswell Hillbillies.” Not only is it essential listening, but it is also a very different album. If it wasn’t Ray singing, you might not even realize this was The Kinks. As you may have guessed from the title, there is a distinct country flavor, blended with bluegrass, Dixieland, and of course rock. Ray pulled everything straight from the good ol’ U. S, of A.

 Now, the album does begin with the solid rockin’ “20th Century Man,” but after that it’s down south and up to the mountains. The one exception is “Here Come the People in Grey.” You might think this was a Rolling Stones number (my favorite country band). The songs are little soulful vignettes (of which Ray Davies has always been a master) of downtrodden people. You feel as if the folks he was singing about actually wrote these tunes. Musically it is equally as tight. The band was never tighter. Every style is executed as if this was the only thing they ever did.

 I could go into intricate detail about every little nuance, and the scrutiny would reveal very few flaws. However, the bottom line is that this album is just a joy to listen to. Once you’ve heard it, you will probably become an ardent fan of the group. Then you will be compelled to explore further, and you will be better for it.

 

 


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4 Responses to “The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies”

  1. God save the KinKs…they remain sekond to none and I remain Dan the Fan The Montvale, New Jersey Hillbilly Boy aka Frank Lima

  2. Hey H.T.,

    This has been a fave of mine since I was in highschool, and believe it or not, I used to live in Muswell Hill for three years. We used to go to the pub across the street from the Davies home where they first played, and the walls were adorned with their gold records and a few guitars.

    Muswell Hill was also the home of Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson, Rod Stewart went to grade school there, The Jam played their final gig there, and the lead singer of …. ummmm…. Spandau Ballet lived a few blocks from my apartment.

    Fantastic neighborhood, really miss it.

  3. Thanks Antonio. I love personal stories, and associations. I think it’s this type of thing that makes these particular albums so dear to us.

    I came upon this one fairly recently, but I cherish it as much as things i have been listening to for decades.


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