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on 19 January 2005
I decided to write this review as a means of helping other people discover this wonderful album the same way that I did.
I'd bought "Village Green" and was just browsing through the site and I noticed all these rave reviews for "Muswell", I thought at the price it was worth a chance and am I glad I took it.
A bitter-sweet look at life in England at the time this is a far more entertaining way to learn about our more recent history than any book.
The song writing is that good (read the booklet that comes with the album) you are transported back in time.
The opening "20th century man" offers an immediate insight of life and thoughts at the time of writing and the album carries on with poignant reminders of life "Holiday", "Skin & bone", "Complicated life", "Here come the people in grey", "Muswell Hillbilly" all dealt with the subtle humour of Ray Davies. The track "Have a cuppa tea" immediately made me think of my Grandma (bless her) with a smile and a tear at the same time. I don't think a Robbie Williams track will ever move me that way.
In short you've got all variety of music on here from blues to rock to folk and back again, I love it, my kids (6 & 4 years old)
love it (a joy to hear them singing "halleluja rosie lea) and you'll love it.
Hope you've found this review helpful, thanks to the other reviewers that's how I found this album.
It's a bargain price aswell.
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on 30 November 2008
Whilst this is not one of the Kinks' best known or best selling albums, it is easily one of their best. Moreover it has a raft of first class songs that most people will have never heard.

Released after the success of the hit single Lola (and its much inferior accompanying album), Muswell Hilbillies was a commercial failure. The unfashionable subject matter (lives of North London working class folk) and the muddy production quality were probably both factors. However, if you get past these issues, the quality of songs and many of the arrangements will hook you in. A previous reviewer says that the songs lack wit. I wouldn't agree at all. They are full of well observed humour, even if the subject matter is grim. e.g:

"The sea's an open sewer, but I really couldn't care. I'm breathing through my mouth so I don't have to sniff the air!" (Holiday)

The other theme running through the album is escape in various forms including alcohol, holidays and cups of tea. Towards the end, another approach to escape emerges - fantasising about life in rural USA, probably inspired by visits to the cinema. "I'm Muswell hillbilly boy, but my heart lies in old West Virginia". The twin themes of poor-quality city life and escape brings coherence to the whole album.
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on 13 June 2011
If most people accept the Beatles and the Stones as the two greatest British bands of the 1960's then who should be 3rd? Many fine contenders exist - The Who, The Small Faces, The Moody Blues to name but three but I feel that accolade firmly rests with the Kinks. As they entered the 1970's they were riding high on the back of the massive hit 'Lola' and had just switched label to RCA. Surely another decade of uninterrupted success lay ahead.

We now know that was not to be, the endless stream of killer singles was to dry up and Ray Davies would take the band in a different direction towards music hall. However before that all happened the band produced one of their finest albums. There is no big hit single here but the songs are perfectly crafted pop/rock confections with a country tinge and a small nod to future music hall adventures to come. The thing is the album works as a whole, their most cohesive work since 'Preservation Green' and perhaps as such is greater than the sum of it's individual songs.
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on 16 May 2015
The Kinks were on fine form again with this album, following a slew of under-appreciated classics (Village Green, Arthur, Lola v Powerman). This album reminds me of Travis's first album (Good Feeling) in that at the beginning of each song I tend to think 'This isn't going to be much,' before it soars off to melodic and rousing heights. I can't believe that none of the first half a dozen songs became singles hits, but I guess Benny Hill and Clive Dunn were the nation's chart luminaries around this time.

Firstly, I love the way the first track begins as a downtrodden mumble and builds up to a defiant shout of 'This is the twentieth century, I don't wanna die here.' Thankfully for Ray Davies, he won't.

Much of the first half is like an 'A to Z' of mental disorders: anxiety, alcoholism, anorexia - and that's just the As - but always delivered in a humorous, sing-along way so that it never gets depressing, but rather that you can celebrate that we are not like the cloned 'people in grey,' perfectly adjusted to modern life.

My personal favourite is Have a Cuppa Tea which would be a far better national anthem for the UK than God Save the Queen. Imagine that belting out while the latest Formula 1 champ stands astride the Grand Prix podium!

Following this one, 'Everybody's in Showbiz' is well worth a stab, as are 'Soap Opera' and 'Schoolboys in Disgrace,' although the 'Preservation Act' discs never quite grabbed me in the same way. Perhaps this is my loss.
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on 15 July 2009
One of the greatest albums ever made, no question. Roots rock and roll with a caustic depressive lyrical outlook unique to Sir Ray (and why not?!). Anyone who thinks becoming a rock star will make you happy should listen to this album.

All life we work but work is a bore,
If life's for livin' then what's livin' for?
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on 30 April 2014
This may be better quality, being an SACD, but it's only 2.0. Sony will be pleased, but not me. If you like the Kinks and it's missing from your collection, but it.
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on 2 June 2007
Muswell Hillbillies proved to be a dramatic departure for one of the sixties most prolific and successful British pop groups. From Lola in 1970 we were suddenly dropped into 40 minutes of what seemed like a collection of gloomy and depressing songs. There were no hit singles on this album. RCA must have had a pink fit! However, if you treat this album as a serious collection of honest songs about the world we were all growing up in at the time; it stands up as a truly remarkable album. The lyrics are finely written. The tunes are catchy and well played. 20th Century Man (the opening track) is a powerful statement of not wanting to be part of this world. Ray still plays this track live today and it still sounds outstanding 36 years on. Oklahoma USA is one of the most beautiful songs you will ever here. Tracks like Alcohol, Skin and Bone and Complicated Life have an air of sarcasm and wit about them that is very appealing. There are a lot of Kinks fans out there - me included - who feel that this album was a real one-off departure for the Kinks which sounds as fresh and gritty today as it did in 1971. We thank Ray and the band for this classic album because the band never released anything as honest and open again. A true classic but don't look for any hit singles here - there aren't any - just a collection of great observations that are still very relevant in the 21st century.
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on 3 July 2000
Ah yes, there's something about the music of the Kinks that just grows and grows on you. Muswell Hillbillies, released in 1971, is by no means like the music of the mid sixties that the Kinks tend to get labelled with, however, give this album a couple of listens and you'll realise this is not a bad thing. I'd like to pick a couple of favourites from the album, but that's too difficult, just buy it..you won't be sorry. Nice one Ray..(again). Kevin.
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on 31 January 2014
I had never heard this album before, but being desperate to hear something 'new' from the Kinks, gave it a punt. I am so pleased I did, it's fantastic, with not a dud to be found anywhere on either disc. The Americana feel makes a refreshing change to the oft used musical theatre stylings. As usuall Ray Davies turns the mirror on us all and life in Britain to produce an album rich in memorable songs with insightful lyrics. Have a cup of tea!
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on 2 August 2017
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