Muswell Hillbillies is the tenth studio album by The Kinks, released in 1971. Named after the borough of Haringey (London) neighbourhood in which the Davies brothers grew up, it introduced a new country influence to the bands music, as well as New Orleans style horns on some tracks.
- "20th Century Man" (5:57)
- "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" (3:32)
- "Holiday" (2:40)
- "Skin And Bone" (3:39)
- "Alcohol" (3:35)
- "Complicated Life" (4:02)
- "Here Come The People In Grey" (3:46)
- "Have A Cuppa Tea" (3:45)
- "Holloway Jail" (3:29)
- "Oklahoma U.S.A." (2:38)
- "Uncle Son" (2:33)
- "Muswell Hillbilly" (4:58)
- Mick Avory - drums, percussion
- John Dalton - bass, vocals
- Dave Davies - guitar, vocals, banjo
- Ray Davies - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
- John Gosling - piano, organ, accordion
- The Alcoholic
- Alcohol, obviously.
- Rosie Rooke in Muswell Hillbilly has bloodshot alcoholic eyes.
- Born in the Wrong Century: 20th Century Man. As he says but I dont wanna be here.
- Conspicuous Consumption: The main target of the entire album is how local traditions are being ground down by consumerism and modern life, including pressures to have unrealistic weight ("Skin And Bone"), expecting that a "computerized community" can stifle local Cockney pride and so on. In the end, people are confused, bitter and alone.
- Girls Behind Bars: Fanservice aspects are entirely averted on Holloway Jail.
- The Government: Recurrent source of angst, especially on Here Come the People in Grey. The climactic verse of "20th Century Man" is especially bitter and poignant:I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy
Controlled by civil servants
And people dressed in grey
Got no privacy, got no liberty
Cos the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me.
- Longing for Fictionland: Oklahoma, U.S.A.
- Morality Ballad: "Alcohol", which begins:Here's a story about a sinner
He used to be a winner
Who enjoyed a life of prominence and position.
- New Sound Album: Marked a new country rock sound for the Kinks, specifically it mixes American country with English musical hall, so convincingly that it's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. "20th Century Man" is even sung with a typical country western nasal twang.
- One-Man Song: "20th Century Man", "Uncle Son".
- One-Word Title: "Alcohol"
You keep all your smart modern writers
- Some long-gone creators get mentioned on 20th Century Man:
Give me William Shakespeare
You keep all your smart modern painters
Ill take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci and Gainsborough.
- "Oklahoma, U.S.A" to, of course, Oklahoma!.
- Something Blues: Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues
- Spot of Tea: Have a Cuppa Tea:Granny's always raving and ranting
And she's always puffing and panting
And she's always screaming and shouting
And she's always brewing up tea.
- Weight Woe: Fat Flabby Annie in Skin and Bone takes her desire to lose weight to the point of eating disorder:She used to be so cuddly
She used to be so fat
But oh what a sin cos shes oh so thin
That shes lost all the friends that she had.
- Working-Class Hero: Uncle Son, which ambiguously seems to be a eulogy for a simple man, more sympathetic in tone than Lennon's famous song but the same undercurrent of scorn is there. It notes how working class people are honoured and eulogized but exploited by the same people who romanticize their plight:Unionists tell you when to strike
Generals tell you when to fight
Preachers teach you wrong from right
They'll feed you when you're born
And use you all your life
- The bonus track "Mountain Woman" also has a similar theme. The government shoves off people from their home and landscape to build a dam, and then compensate them with a modern apartment filled with Conspicuous Consumption.