Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies: Deluxe Edition (Sanctuary, 2013)

At this point in their career, the early seventies, The Kinks were all but forgotten in the midst of the emergence of hard rock and psychedelic rock. This is a shame, because although primary songwriter Ray Davies kept a somewhat conservative view of a long lost England of his imagination, he was nevertheless a sterling storyteller and the band’s musical arrangements fit his songs to a T. Many of the group’s best songs are about being a man out of time in modern post-war England. This album continued that trend with “20th Century Man” and “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues” which both show the powerful whiplash effect in Britain of the early 1970’s between the search for the lost Albion and the fading empire. There are a couple of interesting character portraits as well, “Alcohol” about the ravages of drink and “Skin and Bone” a jaunty number about a woman fading away to anorexia. The flannel suit of the time gave way to a faded conformity of “Here Come the People in Grey” and “Complicated Life” sends a sly wink to the furor of modern life. The second disc of this expanded edition contains alternate takes of the album in addition to instrumental mixes and mono tracks recorded at the BBC studios in 1972. It could be argued that this is the last great Kinks album. After this, their ideas for larger form works began stretch beyond their means during the extended concept pieces like Preservation and Schoolboys in Disgrace showed their ambitions stretching beyond their means. But none of that can sully this album which remains an under-appreciated triumph. Muswell Hillbillies Deluxe Edition -
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