The Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies (1971)

LPFrontCover1Muswell 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.

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, 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.


The album was not a commercial success (it failed to chart in the United Kingdom and peaked at #48 in the U.S.), 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.

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. (by wikipedia)


How did the Kinks respond to the fresh start afforded by Lola? By delivering a skewed, distinctly British, cabaret take on Americana, all pinned down by Ray Davies’ loose autobiography and intense yearning to be anywhere else but here — or, as he says on the opening track, “I’m a 20th century man, but I don’t want to be here.” Unlike its predecessors, Muswell Hillbillies doesn’t overtly seem like a concept album — there are no stories as there are on Lola — but each song undoubtedly shares a similar theme, namely the lives of the working class. Cleverly, the music is a blend of American and British roots music, veering from rowdy blues to boozy vaudeville. There’s as much good humor in the performances as there are in Davies’ songs, which are among his savviest and funniest.


They’re also quite affectionate, a fact underpinned by the heartbreaking “Oklahoma U.S.A.,” one of the starkest numbers Davies ever penned, seeming all the sadder surrounded by the careening country-rock and music hall. That’s the key to Muswell Hillbillies — it mirrors the messy flow of life itself, rolling from love letters and laments to jokes and family reunions. Throughout it all, Davies’ songwriting is at a peak, as are the Kinks themselves. There are a lot of subtle shifts in mood and genre on the album, and the band pulls it off effortlessly and joyously. Regardless of its commercial fate, Muswell Hillbillies stands as one of the Kinks’ best albums. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Mick Avory (drums, percussion)
John Dalton (bass guitar, background vocals)
Dave Davies (lead guitar, slide guitar, banjo, background vocals)
Ray Davies (vocals, guitar)
John Gosling  (keyboards, accordion)
John Beecham (trombone, tuba)
Vicki Brown (background vocals on 04. + 09.)
Mike Cotton (trumpet)
Alan Holmes (saxophone, clarinet)
Ken Jones (harmonica on 07.)


01. 20th Century Man 5.58
02. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues 3.33
03. Holiday 2.40
04. Skin And Bone 3:39
05. Alcohol 3.36
06. Complicated Life 4.03
07. Here Come The People In Grey 3.46
08. Have A Cuppa Tea 3.45
09. Holloway Jail 3.29
10. Oklahoma U.S.A. 2.39
11. Uncle Son 2.33
12. Muswell Hillbilly 4.59
13. Mountain Woman 3.09
14. Kentucky Moon (demo) 3.55

All songs written by Ray Davies.




More from The Kinks:


Ten Years After – A Space in Time (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgA Space in Time is the sixth studio album by the British blues rock band Ten Years After. It was released in August 1971 by Chrysalis Records in the United Kingdom and Columbia Records in America. A departure in style from their previous albums, A Space in Time is less ‘heavy’ than previous albums and includes more acoustic guitar, perhaps influenced by the success of Led Zeppelin who were mixing acoustic songs with heavier numbers. It reached number 17 in the Billboard 200.

The third track on the album, “I’d Love to Change the World”, is also their biggest hit. By combining a melodic acoustic chorus with challenging electric guitar riffs, they managed to produce a sound that hit number 10 in the charts in Canada[citation needed] and number 40 in the USA.[2] Although this was their biggest hit, they rarely played it live. “Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock ‘n’ Roll You” also charted in the USA, peaking at number 61.

Billy Walker gave the album a generally positive review in Sounds. He noted the atypically soft sound of songs such as “Over the Hill” and “Let the Sky Fall” and approved of this “unexpected but pleasing dimension to the overall feel of the album”, while simultaneously praising “the old TYA excitement” of tracks such as “I’d Love to Change the World” and “Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock ‘n’ Roll You”.


He particularly praised Alvin Lee’s guitar work. However, he complained that a number of the tracks suffered from “lack of strength or projection of Alvin’s voice” and concluded “Ten Years After are a far better live band than their albums suggest; they get over much more of their charisma and excitement that has a job surfacing on their recorded work.”

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said the album is one “in which the rock heavy comes of age with his toughest, fullest, and most coherent album. I like it in a way, but it does lack a certain winning abandon, and I’m not crazy about the heavy’s economic theories—fellow seems to believe that if you ‘tax the rich to feed the poor’ you soon run out of rich, with dire consequences.” (by wikipedia)


Chick Churchill (keyboards)
Alvin Lee (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Ric Lee (drums, percussion)
Leo Lyons (bass)

US back cover:

01. One of These Days 5.57
02. Here They Come 4.34
03. I’d Love To Change The World 3.44
04. Over The Hill 2.29
05. Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock ‘n’ Roll You 2.15
06. Once There Was A Time 3.22
07. Let The Sky Fall 4.20
08. Hard Monkeys 3.11
09. I’ve Been There Too 5.45
10. Uncle Jam 1.57

All songs by Alvin Lee except “Uncle Jam”, which was composed by C. Churchill, A. Lee, R. Lee and L. Lyons.



Everywhere is freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity?
Tax the rich, feed the poor
‘Til there are no rich no more

I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money? monopoly

I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

World pollution, there’s no solution
Institution, electrocution
Just black or white, rich or poor
Them and us, stop the war

I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

More from Ten Years After:


Golden Earring – Seven Tears (1971)

OriginalFrontCover1Seven Tears is an album by Dutch rock band Golden Earring, released in 1971. The album was not issued in the U.S. (by wikipedia)

Along with Wall Of Dolls, Seven Tears is probably their proggiest, even if 8MH and Moontan have much to dispute them. The classic quartet is at the top of its form and Barry Hay’s songwriting (along with guitarist Kooymans) is also enhanced by his increasingly excellent voice and flute playing. He also dabbles into acoustic guitars and sax playing. But Barry is not alone on this ship. Coming with a non-committal gatefold artwork (but the title cites seven tears for seven tracks), this is their third “modern-era” album and one of their stronger, due to the fact that GE has that essential touch of dramatics and urgency lacking many of their Dutch compatriots, starting with Alquin and E&F.

Along the album, some of the most dramatic tracks are the superb Silver Ships, the spine-chilling Hope (where Hay shows that even the sax is in his reach), the ultra-classic (and long-time crowd favourite) She Flies On Strange Wings and the wild You’re Better Off Free with a killer guitar solo. Overall the brilliant songwriting and dramatic effects and plenty of instrumental interplay make the full success of the album.


Even the shorter tracks like Don’t Worry holds plenty of energy (Rinus’ bass is overplaying, but man is that unusual sound with his Danelectro guitar), but overall the longer track are the essence of this album

Clearly GE was a force to reckon with, but aside from their previous hit Big Tree, Blue Sea (a little too Tull- ish), all that is lacking the group is international recognition, which will come with Radar Love, but that’s still two albums away. In the meantime start with this one and work backwards if you’re not familiar with them. (by Sean Trane)


Rinus Gerritsen (bass, keyboards)
Barry Hay (flute, vocals)
George Kooymans (guitar, vocals)
Cesar Zuiderwijk (drums)


01. Silver Ships (Kooymans) 5.42
02. The Road Swallowed Her Name (Kooymans) 4.09
03. Hope (Gerritsen/Hay) 4.47
04. Don’t Worry (Hay) 3.22
05. She Flies On Strange Wings (Kooymans) 7.23
06. This Is the Other Side Of Life (Kooymans) 3.21
07. You’re Better Off Free (Kooymans) 6.44




Joe Zawinul – Zawinul (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgJosef Erich Zawinul (7 July 1932 – 11 September 2007)[1] was an Austrian jazz keyboardist and composer. First coming to prominence with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Zawinul went on to play with Miles Davis and to become one of the creators of jazz fusion, a musical genre that combined jazz with rock. He co-founded the groups Weather Report and The Zawinul Syndicate. He pioneered the use of electric piano and synthesizer, and was named “Best Electric Keyboardist” twenty-eight times by the readers of Down Beat magazine.

Zawinul grew up in Vienna, Austria. Accordion was his first instrument. When he was six or seven, he studied clarinet, violin, and piano at the Vienna Conservatory[3] (Konservatorium Wien). During the 1950s he was a staff pianist for Polydor. He worked as a jazz musician with Hans Koller, Friedrich Gulda, Karl Drewo, and Fatty George.[4] In 1959 he moved to the U.S. to attend Berklee College of Music, but a week later he received a job offer from Maynard Ferguson, so he left school and went on tour.[3] He then accompanied Dinah Washington.[5] He spent most of the 1960s with Cannonball Adderley. During this time he wrote “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and “Walk Tall”, and “Country Preacher” and played electric piano. At the end of the decade he recorded with Miles Davis on In a Silent Way as Davis was establishing the genre of jazz fusion, combining jazz with rock. (by wikipedia)


Conceptually, sonically, this is really the first Weather Report album in all but name, confirming that Joe Zawinul was the primary creative engine behind the group from the beginning. It is also the link between WR and Miles Davis’ keyboard-laden experiments on In a Silent Way; indeed, the tune “In a Silent Way” is redone in the more complex form in which Zawinul envisioned it, and Miles even contributes a brief, generous tribute to Zawinul on the liner. Two keyboardists — Zawinul and the formidable Herbie Hancock — form the underpinning of this stately, probing album, garnishing their work with the galactic sound effects of the Echoplex and ring modulator. Earl Turbinton provides the Wayne Shorter-like beams of light on the soprano sax, spelled by Wayne himself on “Double Image.” The third founder of WR, Miroslav Vitous, checks in on bass, and hard-bopping trumpeter Woody Shaw proves to be perfectly adept at the jazz-rock game. Two short-lived standards of the jazz-rock era, the aforementioned “Double Image” and “Doctor Honoris Causa,” are introduced here, yet it is mood pieces like “His Last Journey” and “Arrival in New York” that with the help of tape-speed manipulation, establish the lasting, murky, reflective ambience of this album. (by Richard S. Ginell)

In other words: A true milestone in modern music !


Walter Booker (bass)
Joe Chambers (percussion)
George Davis (flute)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Billy Hart (percussion)
David Lee (percussion)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Earl Turbinton (saxophone)
Miroslav Vitous (bass)
Joe Zawinul (piano)
Jack DeJohnette (percussion, melodica on 03.)
Hubert Laws (flute on 04.)
Wayne Shorter (saxophone on 04.)

01. Doctor Honoris Causa 13.47
02. In A Silent Way 4.49
03. His Last Journey 4.36
04. Double Image 10.33
05. Arrival In New York 1.58

Music composed by Joe Zawinul



Josef Erich Zawinul (7 July 1932 – 11 September 2007)

Poco – Live At Columbia Studios, Hollywood, September 30, 1971 (2010)

FrontCover1.jpgCombining the natural excitement and added vibrancy that a live performance provides, while recording in a studio environment with better acoustics, proves the best of both worlds for a recorded concert. The small invited audience to this label showcase consisted mostly of family, friends, and music company executives from the Columbia/Epic imprints, giving the proceedings a homey, more comfortable vibe. Poco’s live album of predominantly new material, Deliverin’, which came out earlier in the year, was a big seller and the band had just released the studio follow-up, From the Inside, which introduced Paul Cotton into the outfit, replacing Jim Messina. This was Cotton’s first tour with the existing members, and although his contributions on electric guitar and soon-to-be primary songwriter are still on low boil, it’s clear that Poco is headed in a more commercially rock-oriented direction. Not surprisingly, half the 14-song set consists of material from their new album, with four more from Deliverin’, and Furay even diving back to his Buffalo Springfield days to resurrect “A Child’s Claim to Fame” as part of a medley that also includes “Pickin’ Up the Pieces.” It’s a spirited performance with the quintet’s distinctive three- and four-part harmonies — a clear blueprint for what the Eagles would take to the bank just a year later — sounding particularly vibrant. The more intimate atmosphere is evident on a three-song acoustic mini-set where the unplugged songs take on a rootsy flair somewhat at odds with the harder-edged electrified approach the band was leaning towards.


Rusty Young’s inimitable and inventive pedal steel consistently stands out, especially when he makes his instrument sound like a B-3 organ on a rollicking, soulful version of “Hurry Up,” a tune from the group’s second album that acquires new life in this setting. Cotton’s three contributions include “Bad Weather,” one of his finest compositions that would later be a staple of their early catalog. Furay’s lovely “What If I Should Say I Love You” is another standout, with this version even more soulful and slightly slower than the studio take. These guys could play and sing with a taut professionalism that always seemed a little ragged but was never sloppy. With sparks fueled by the live experience, this long-lost professionally recorded show is a necessary addition to any country-rock-loving listener’s collection. (by Hal Horowitz)


Paul Cotton (guitar, vocals)
Ritchie Furay (guitar, vocals)
George Grantham (drums)
Timothy B. Schmidt (bass, vocals)
Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar, guitars, banjo, dobro, vocals)


01. I Guess You Made It (Furay) 4.55
02. A Man Like Me (Furay) 5.41
03. Ol’ Forgiver (Cotton) 4.27
04. Hear That Music (Schmidt) 3.21
05. Hurry Up (Furay) 5.54
06. You Are The One (Furay) 3.04
07. Bad Weather (Cotton) 5.56
08. Medley: Hard Luck / Child’s Claim To Fame / Pickin’ Up The Pieces (Furay/Schmidt) 5.23
09. Hoe Down (Furay/Young) 2.15
10. What A Day (Messina/Furay) 2.25
11. Railroad Days (Cotton) 3.20
12. What If I Should Say I Love You (Furay) 4.16
13. Just For Me And You (Furay) 3.36
14. C’mon (Furay) 5.36




Wishbone Ash – Argus (1972)

FrontCover1.jpgArgus is the third album by the rock band Wishbone Ash. It is their most commercially and critically successful album. It peaked at No. 3 in the UK Albums Chart.

The album is medieval-themed, featuring a blend of progressive rock, folk, and hard rock, and is considered a landmark album in the progression of twin-lead guitar harmonisation later adopted by bands such as Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden. The sound engineer on Argus was Martin Birch, who also worked with Deep Purple, later with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and other hard rock bands.[6] The bulk of the lyrics were provided by bassist/lead vocalist Martin Turner, although all members are credited with the music and arrangements.

It was named “Album of the Year” in the 1972 year-end issue of Sounds magazine. (by wikipedia)

If Wishbone Ash can be considered a group who dabbled in the main strains of early-’70s British rock without ever settling on one (were they a prog rock outfit like Yes, a space rock unit like Pink Floyd, a heavy metal ensemble like Led Zeppelin, or just a boogie TShirt.jpgband like Ten Years After?), the confusion compounded by their relative facelessness and the generic nature of their compositions, Argus, their third album, was the one on which they looked like they finally were going to forge their own unique amalgamation of all those styles into a sound of their own. The album boasted extended compositions, some of them (“Time Was,” “Sometime World”) actually medleys of different tunes, played with assurance and developing into imaginative explorations of new musical territory and group interaction. The lyrics touched on medieval themes (“The King Will Come,” “Warrior”) always popular with British rock bands, adding a majestic tone to the music, but it was the arrangements, with their twin lead guitar parts and open spaces for jamming, that made the songs work so well. Argus was a bigger hit in the U.K., where it reached the Top Five, than in the U.S., where it set up the commercial breakthrough enjoyed by the band’s next album, Wishbone Four, but over the years it came to be seen as the quintessential Wishbone Ash recording, the one that best realized the group’s complex vision. (by William Ruhlmann)

Wishbone Ash01.jpg

Warrior, The King Will Come, Time Was, Blowin Free are such Classics..In fact every track on this album is at least very good if not excellent! This is the “Must Have” Ash recording and has become regarded by most as their finest hour..Its a master piece of prog rock, mystical, diverse and exciting and every track is delivered with conciseness and consistently high quality. One of the best Prog Albums ever! (Steve Smith)

Wishbone Ash were a staple of me and my friends’ mainly English, Progressive leaning lineup of early 70’s bands, and Argus is undoubtedly one of, if not the best, of their albums from that period and this lineup. It is very typical of the then newish, album-oriented, rather than singles, days, in that it is to be listened to as a whole, and indeed, with only two tracks coming in under four minutes, this wasn’t AM radio material (AM radio was still the predominant format in the U.S., esp outside cities). Those were the days of the complete ‘album experience’.

Wishbone Ash02.jpg

You put it on, you listened to both sides, in order (Argus only had 2 songs on the second side, so it was a typical listening ‘experience’, then). And that was a big achievement, to put out an album with no fillers and is what brought forth many masterpieces of that time. Argus is full of many songs with strong hooks, however; even the long, ‘proggy-ier’ songs, which change in tempo, etc, have many memorable moments. Powell’s and Ted Turner’s dual guitars turn in joyous performances here, landing them on many ‘best of’ lists. There are softer tracks on this album (the lovely Leaf and Stream) as well as hard rockers, like the majestic Warrior. The King Will Come, and overall theme were often looked upon as Tolkien references, as Lord of the Rings was extremely popular and mined by many bands at that time Although I own and love all of their first four albums, this is my go-to Ash album, and certainly the most cohesively proggy of those. (S BB)


Andy Powell (guitar, vocals)
Martin Turner (bass, vocals)
Ted Turner (guitar, vocals)
Steve Upton (drums, percussion)
John Tout (organ on 07.)


01. Time Was 9.46
02. Sometime World 6.57
03. Blowin’ Free 5.20
04. The King Will Come 7.08
05. Leaf And Stream  M. Turner 3:55
06. Warrior 5.54
07. Throw Down The Sword 6.00
09. No Easy Road (single version) 3.39

All songs written by Andy Powell – Martin Turner – Ted Turner – Steve Upton




I’m leaving to search for something new
Leaving everything I ever knew
A hundred years in the sunshine
Hasn’t taught me all there is to know

The valley, we will gather there
Helpless in our surrender
Tomorrow the plow becomes the sword
Make us stronger in our danger

Time will pass away
Time will guard our secret
I’ll return again
To fight another day

I’d have to be a warrior
A slave I couldn’t be
A soldier and a conqueror
Fighting to be free

Man – Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In (1971)

FrontCover1.JPGDo You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In? is the fourth album by the Welsh rock band Man and was released in November 1971. The album was recorded in August at Charles and Kingsley Ward’s Rockfield Studios near Monmouth in Southeastern Wales. Sessions took place soon after the renowned ‘All Good Clean Fun’ tour of Switzerland, although a brief break in the hectic German tour schedule during the late spring had resulted in two tracks being written at a studio in Swansea, Wales. Critical reaction to the new album was positive. The album title is apparently a Swansea saying, usually directed at pub landlords of exceptionally long standing. (by wikipedia)

From the opening bars of the first track, ‘Angel Easy’, Man’s fourth album; ‘Do You Like It Here Now, (Are You Settling In Alright?)’ exudes a growing confidence. Released in November 1971 it was recorded in August at Charles and Kingsley Ward’s Rockfield Studios near Monmouth. Sessions took place soon after the renowned ‘All Good Clean Fun’ tour of Switzerland, although a brief break in the hectic German tour schedule during the late spring had resulted in two tracks being written at a studio in Swansea. The band were booked into Rockfield for a period of one week, this being the maximum time that the budget would run to. With only two songs written, the classic ‘Many Are Called But Few Get Up’ and the superb ‘Angel Easy’, they hot-housed the rest of the album, writing, recording and mixing on a kind of panic-stricken conveyor belt. They beat the deadline and then it was straight back on tour again.


Critical reaction to the new album was positive, with encouraging suggestions of a band on the verge of breaking into the big time. The album was promoted during an Autumn tour of Germany, and as the official cover wasn’t yet available it was issued in a promotional sleeve during October and November. The release of the familiar ‘Angels’ cover neatly coincided with the end of the German tour and the start of an intensive four month UK tour. The omens were good.

Special German cover for their German tour in October/November 1971

The album title is apparently a Swansea saying, usually directed at pub landlords of exceptionally long standing. The cover design was left to Andrew Lauder, United Artists’ head of A&R, and the man who had been responsible for bringing the group to their new label. The LP label introduces a Manband logo for the first time, a cartoon man holding aloft the Welsh flag. The front cover with its staged angelic poise, a touch of Victorian whimsy if ever there was one, perhaps alludes to the opening track. The back cover includes the traditional ‘band on steps’ photograph, and of course there was plenty of space for all the lyrics. (


Long a fan favorite, Man’s fourth studio album was recorded in 1971 during a harried one-week studio session that found the group having to write nearly the entire album, barring the tight and rocking “Angel Easy” and the group’s multi-part masterwork “Many Are Called but Few Get Up.” Frankly, the album sounds like a record that was largely jammed in the studio; the eight-minute-plus jams that close each side, “We’re Only Children” and “Love Your Life,” are particularly tiresome, good instrumental and lyrical ideas stretched well past their breaking points. However, besides the superior “Angel Easy” and “Many Are Called but Few Get Up,” the album does include the rather wonderful “All Good Clean Fun,” a showcase for pianist Clive John and lead guitarist Deke Leonard that has a delightful prog pop playfulness akin to some of Genesis’ more lighthearted early moments or the daffiness of the later band Hatfield & the North. The album may be only half good, but that half is among Man’s very best work. (by Stewart Mason)

Martin Ace (bass, guitar, vocals)
Clive John (keyboards, vocals)
Michael “Micky” Jones (guitar, vocals)
Roger “Deke” Leonard (guitar, vocals)
Terry Williams (drums)


01. Angel Easy 5.05
02. All Good Clean Fun 4.34
3. We’re Only Children 8.35
04. Many Are Called But Few Get Up 7.33
05. Manillo 5.20
06. Love Your Life 9.06

All songs written by Martin Ace – Clive John – Michael Jones – Deke Leonard – Terry Williams