MUSWELL HILLBILLIES holds a special place in the hearts of many Kinks fans, as well as the band themselves. Released in November 1971, the album has an anachronistic, rootsy quality that flew in the face of the blues-rock acts then diddling themselves all over FM radio. The unaffected, country-influenced, back-to-basics feel was similar to what the Rolling Stones attempted seven months later with EXILE ON MAIN STREET.
However, while the theme of MUSWELL HILLBILLIES was about getting back to the roots, it was Ray and Dave Davies' own roots, in London's Muswell Hill neighborhood, that inspired Ray to pen the album. As on many of the Kinks' albums from the '60s, MUSWELL HILLBILLIES both celebrates and affectionately satirizes English life. "20th Century Man," "Holiday," and "Here Come the People in Gray" address the issues of working-class characters and the tribulations of Muswell as it underwent modernization. The album also demonstrated Ray Davies's penchant for albums based on narrative concepts, a trend he would continue through much of the '70s.
Rolling Stone (p.82) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]he wonderfully ramshackle MUSWELL HILLBILLIES is their EXILE ON MAIN STREET."