Muswell Hillbillies

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Muswell Hillbillies
The Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies.jpg
Studio album by The Kinks
Released 24 November 1971 (1971-11-24)
Recorded August–October 1971
Studio Morgan Studios, London
Genre Rock, country rock[1]
Length 44:38
Language English
Label RCA
Producer Ray Davies
The Kinks chronology
Muswell Hillbillies
Everybody's in Show-Biz
(1972)Everybody's in Show-Biz1972
Singles from Muswell Hillbillies
  1. "20th Century Man"
    Released: December 1971

Muswell Hillbillies is an album by the English rock group The Kinks. Released in November 1971, it was the band's first album for RCA Records. The album is named after the Muswell Hill area of North London, where band leader Ray Davies and guitarist Dave Davies grew up and the band formed in the early 1960s.[2]

The album centred on themes of poverty and working-class life, as well as the destruction and subdivision of old Victorian neighbourhoods—a practice that had become commonplace in North London during the 1970s.


Muswell Hillbillies was the band's first album for RCA Records,[3] their prior recordings having been released on Pye Records (Reprise Records in the United States). Their contract with Pye/Reprise expired the same year. The album was recorded between August and October 1971 at Morgan Studios, London, using a new brass section, the Mike Cotton Sound, which included Mike Cotton on trumpet, John Beecham on trombone and tuba, and Alan Holmes on clarinet.[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Blender 4/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau B+[5]
Drowned In Sound (10/10)[6]
Pitchfork Media (8.9/10)[7]
Rolling Stone (favourable)[8]

The album was not a commercial success (it failed to chart in the United Kingdom and peaked at #48 in the U.S.[9]), and its sales were a disappointment following the success of Lola the previous year. Stereo Review magazine called the poor-selling record "album of the year" in 1972 (even though it was released on 24 November 1971). In the 1984 Rolling Stone Album Guide, Rolling Stone editors gave the album five stars out of five and called it Davies' "signature statement" as a songwriter.

In a retrospective review for Allmusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine feels the album is a wide-ranging collection of Ray Davies compositions which focus on the tensions and frustrations of modern life.[3] The album introduces a number of working class figures and the stresses with which they must contend.


A remastered deluxe edition of Muswell Hillbillies was released in the UK on 7 October 2013, with several bonus tracks, alternate takes, and BBC recordings all remastered by Andrew Sandoval and Dan Hersch. On 10 November 2014, a Legacy Edition was released for the United States, with disc 1 containing the remastered stereo album, and many of the UK Deluxe Edition bonus tracks remastered by Vic Anesini, while the second disc is a DVD with promotional TV performances (previously released in the UK on The Kinks At The BBC box set) from the era.

Cover art[edit]

The front cover picture was taken in the Archway Tavern, a pub in Archway (more than two miles away from Muswell Hill). The back inset picture, showing the band below a signpost giving directions to Muswell Hill, was taken on the small traffic island at the intersection of Castle Yard and Southwood Lane in Highgate.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ray Davies.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "20th Century Man" 5:57
2. "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" 3:32
3. "Holiday" 2:40
4. "Skin and Bone" 3:39
5. "Alcohol" 3:35
6. "Complicated Life" 4:02
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Here Come the People in Grey" 3:46
2. "Have a Cuppa Tea" 3:45
3. "Holloway Jail" 3:29
4. "Oklahoma U.S.A." 2:38
5. "Uncle Son" 2:33
6. "Muswell Hillbilly" 4:58



  1. ^ Donald Brown. Bob Dylan: American Troubadour. p. 121. 
  2. ^ Stolder, Steven. "Muswell Hillbillies". Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  4. ^ Blender reviewArchived 4 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Kinks". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Slaughter, Matthew (2013-10-04). "Muswell Hillbillies (reissue)". Drowned In Sound. 
  7. ^ Josephes, Jason (24 August 2004). "The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Saunders, Mike (3 February 1972). "The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow (RS 101). ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. 
  9. ^ "The Kinks' Chart Positions". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Muswell Hillbillies > Credits". Retrieved 9 November 2011.