Take Me Back To Those Black Hills That I Ain't Never Seen!
Shell-Zee | Long Island, NY | 12/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After a five year run at Warner/Reprise Records, and constant griping over their lack of marketing support, the Kinks finally made their way torward the greener pastures of RCA. With their last three efforts at Warner/Reprise (Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur and Lola Versus...) the group was clearly moving in the direction of a more themeatic approach. Especially Arthur, which beat The Who to the punch by some five or six months, The Kinks had produced a completely original work that clearly was aimed at establishing a new almost operatic format. Of course The Who firmly placed the term "Rock-Opera" on the map with the release of Tommy. Naturally they grabed the lime-light away from Ray and the boys. But The Kinks had become accustomed to their second-fiddle role and readily made a point of bemoaning their lack of recognition and unfair treatment by both critics and the A&R Execs at Warner/Reprise.
That brings us to Spring of 1971 and their RCA debut of Muswell Hillbillies. What would Ray find to bitch and moan about the state of affairs of "20th Century Man"? Perhaps it was nothing more than an "age of insanity", a "mechanical nightmare"..."I'm a paranoid schizoid product of the twentith century"...."I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to die here". It all sounds so Kink-Like dosen't it? So just how do they cope with this horrible situation? Easy. first you take a nice long "Holiday". You know a lovely little trip to the sea-side where "Lying on the beach with back burned rare. The salt gets in the blisters and the sand gets in your hair". It doesn't matter..."I'm oh so glad they sent me away to have a little holiday". And if that doesn't cure your paranoia, then "the pressures at the office, your social life engagements and your selfish wife's fanatical ambition", where do you turn? Simple you fall a slave to demon "Alcohol"....Yes "Who thought I'd fall slave to demon alcohol".
But what's become of the simple life? Where did life's small pleasures go? "You've Gotta stand and face it life's so dammed complicated....Life is over-rated"...."Cut down the struggle and strife. Such a complicated life!" So resign yourself to this twentieth century nightmare existance. Give in...Afterall..."Here come the People In Grey to take me away. But "I'm so unprepared. I've got no time to pack and I've got nothing to wear"...."We're gonna live in a tent. We're gonna pay no more rent"...I'm gonna tell all my secrets to the people in grey".
And just when you thought things could not look more hopeless and bleek!... "They took my baby to Holloway Jail...She was lady when she went in....Now she's in jail and it's giving me hell"...."But in her dreams she is far far away with Shirley Jones and Gordon McRea"....In "Okalahoma USA"... Yes "All life we work, but work is a bore"...."If life's for liviv' what's livin' for?"
So there you have it. Now crank up the ole' tweleve string Dave!!!! And wail away with the vocals Ray!!!! Kick it out with some Kink-Like gusto boys!!!!..."Well I said goodbye to Rosie Rook this morning...I'm gonna'miss her alcholic blood-shot eyes"...."Cause I'm a Muswell Hillbilly boy....But still I dream of those Black Hills that I ain't never seen"...."They're trying to build a computerized community. But they're never gonna' make a zombie out of me...And they're never gonna' kill my cocknie pride!!!....Take me back to those Black Hills that I ain't never seen!!!""
Garry Daniel | Knoxville, TN United States | 01/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has always seemed to me that the Kinks were unlike other bands of thier era in that they sang songs that dealt with generations past.
Ray seemed to always be out of step with the present day "rock band mentality". They seemed more interested in writing about another England, an older,more genteel England. Several songs on Muswell Hillbillies were about celebrating the old ways and thier fear and mistrust of the new Government. Some may call songs such as 20th Century Man or Here come the people in Gray paranoid ravings, but I see them as the voice of a man who is afraid his old way of life (his old England) is being taken over and trod upon by beauracratic, lifeless, souless people. Have a Cup of Tea (according to Ray) was about his actual grandmother. How many rock bands sing about thier grandmothers? Skin and Bone speaks of the overwhelming desire of many to become fashionably lean and emaciated. He almost says it's ok to be a little chubby and not to kill yourself trying to be skinny and fashionable. If you listen to the Kinks albums that came before this one, you'll see the thread of wistfulness for a past life time in those works as well. Listen to Village Green Preservation Society and you'll hear what I mean. Even the 80's Kinks ask us to Come Dancing and remind us Don't Forget to Dance. I think Ray Davies was an old man in a young man's body. An old mind in a young rock band. Listen to Muswell hillbillies. If you are open minded, and interesed in the Kinks YOU WILL LIKE IT."