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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.[3]

Muswell Hillbillies
The Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies.jpg
Studio album by
Released24 November 1971 (1971-11-24)
RecordedAugust–October 1971
StudioMorgan Studios, London
ProducerRay Davies
The Kinks chronology
Muswell Hillbillies
The Kink Kronikles
Singles from Muswell Hillbillies
  1. "20th Century Man"
    Released: December 1971

The album introduces a number of working class figures and the stresses with which they must contend. It did not sell well but received positive reviews and critical acclaim.



Muswell Hillbillies was the band's first album for RCA Records,[2] 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.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [2]
Blender     [4]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[5]
Drowned In Sound10/10[6]
Pitchfork Media8.9/10[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 called the album a wide-ranging collection of Ray Davies compositions which focus on the tensions and frustrations of modern life.[2]


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 artEdit

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 listingEdit

All tracks written by Ray Davies.

Side one
1."20th Century Man"5:57
2."Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues"3:32
4."Skin and Bone"3:39
6."Complicated Life"4:02
Side two
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


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.

The Kinks



  1. ^ Donald Brown. Bob Dylan: American Troubadour. p. 121.
  2. ^ a b c d e Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  3. ^ Stolder, Steven. "Muswell Hillbillies". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  4. ^ Blender reviewArchived 4 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 28 February 2019 – via
  6. ^ Slaughter, Matthew (4 October 2013). "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.