The Kinks

Sleepwalker

Composed by Ray Davies

Song Review by

Though not a hit single, the title song from the Kinks' 1977 album, Sleepwalker, a loosely themed album about insomnia, was a massive success for the band and helped turn them into a concert-arena attraction. Upon moving from London to New York in the mid-'70s, Kinks leader Ray Davies immediately took to the city's 'round-the-clock lifestyle, as he was a suffering insomniac. "Sleepwalker" sings to "night-stalkers, street-walkers, night-hawkers," and other creatures of the night, even vampires. Like the earliest of Kinks hits -- like "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" -- the song relies on a catchy, heavy guitar riff slammed out by Dave Davies. His evocative playing style echoes the action as it mimes the sound of a stalker a beat or two behind the vocal melody and again during his lead, which creeps along until it builds into frenzied outbursts and a twin layered lead for the outro. There's a breakdown in which Ray raps with a Dylanesque cadence ("I walk around on my tippy toes/And I get into place that nobody knows") and a chorus of call-and-response "oh yea"s. It's the kitchen sink of rock & roll songs. With all the earmarks of a classic, it's amazing "Sleepwalker" didn't chart Top 40; however, it was an FM-radio staple.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sleepwalker 1977 Universal Ireland 4:02
Come Dancing with the Kinks: The Best of the Kinks 1977-1986 [Koch 2000] 1986 Koch / Velvel Records 4:04
Sounds of the Seventies: 1977 -- Take Two 1991
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:04
Classic Rock, Vol. 5: Glitter Bands 1993
Various Artists
Priority Records / Priority
No Image 1993
Various Artists
Frat Rock: More of the '70s 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 4:05
Live Broadcasts: Collector's Rarities [DVD] 2006 Classic Rock Legends
The Arista Years 2006 Velvel Records 4:04
Golden Years 2007 PHV
The Kinks Greatest 1970-1986 2007 Velvel Records 3:53
Picture Book [Box Set] 2008 Sanctuary 4:05
Life on the Road 2009 Edgehill
The Essential Kinks 2014 Arista / Legacy / RCA 4:04
Original Album Classics: The Arista Years Legacy
blue highlight denotes editor's pick