Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Kinks: Sleepwalker

It has been well over a year since I’ve featured a song by The Kinks, so I thought that I might remedy that by playing a cut from the band that was jokingly referred to as the “Muswell Hillbillies.” The name is attributed to their origins in the Muswell Hill suburb of London. While the band recorded an album of that name in 1971, our Bubbling Under cut is from later in their career.

Released in February 1977, “Sleepwalker” was the first entry for the band in Billboard’s Hot 100 since 1970’s “Apeman,” which bubbled under at 45. It’s a pity that the band was ignored in that period as some of their classic recordings, such as “Celluloid Heroes” – one of my particular favorites, failed to chart.

The title cut to their “Sleepwalker” album, the single charted at #48 on the Hot 100 in early 1977. The album returned the band to a more classic sound of The Kinks we’ve known and loved. The song really should have done better, as it has a great instrumental and lyrical hook, as well as fantastic lead guitar part by Dave Davies. My only guess is that the lyrical content is a little bit creepy. “I’m a sleepwalker . . . I’m a night stalker; I’m a sleepwalker . . . I’m a night hawker.”

When ev'rybody's fast asleep, I start to creep.
Through the shadows of the moonlight, I walk my beat.
Better close your window tight:
I might come in for a bite,

My favorite part of the song is the bridge where Ray Davies does his pseudo Bob Dylan impersonation. It is a great tune that should have done better, but it really was a comeback record for the band in the late seventies and the album charted at #21 and was their highest charting album in the US since 1965’s “Kinks-Size.” The single “Sleepwalker” was followed by “Juke Box Music” that failed to chart.

Pseudo Live Version

On March 8, 1977, The Kinks appeared on the Merv Griffin Show and performed “Sleepwalker” and “Celluloid Heroes” in a pseudo live performance. I think Ray Davies vocals may have been live, but the instrumentation appears to be canned.

Only 65 more posts until "Reading Between the Grooves" retires.


  1. I'm really glad I discovered your blog, Jim. I was a little tied up with life during this period of music history, so I'm glad to have this introduction to an ace Kinks' tune.

    By the way, do you create some of the videos that you post here? If so, which program do you use? Marie

  2. "In the Grooves"

    Glad you like it. I've had a few periods like that in 90s and it is fun discovering music from this period that I really like.

    Very few of the videos are created by me - out of the 900+ featured, only about five were done by me. I use Sony Vegas Video. It is an outstanding and easy to use program that I highly recommend. It used to be cheaper when Sonic Foundry owned it, but Sony has raised the price by about 50%.


  3. I hadn't seen this before; thanks! I think "Sleepwalker" is totally canned, including the vocals, but "Celluloid Heroes" is 100% live.

  4. You may be right about that. I had a tough time deciding for sure.