The Kinks &- Muswell Hillbillies
(RCA &- 1971)
Released in 1971 as the follow-up to the hugely successful Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, Muswell Hillbillies failed to be as commercially successful as its predecessor.
It’s not entirely a concept album, but primary songwriter Ray Davies thematically explores poverty and the gentrification of working-class Victorian neighbourhoods.
There’s no better way to introduce the themes than the opener “20th Century Man.” Davies is quick to point out his dissatisfaction as he plainly states “Ain’t got no ambition, I’m just disillusioned/ I’m a twentieth century man but I don’t wanna be here.” It’s a straightforward rock song and stands out against the country-tinged numbers that make up the album.
“Alcohol” brings a particular British music hall styling to the album which fits with the working class motif. “Here Come the People In Grey” is classic Kinks blues.
Muswell Hillbillies marked the end of The Kinks’ golden era of recording; they later turned unsuccessfully to writing songs for the theatre.
Trial track: “20th Century Man”