The Kinks

Set Me Free

Song Review by

”Set Me Free” Ray Davies (1965)

Following a slight sag in the charts after the release of ”Who’ll Be The Next In Line?”/”Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” a few months earlier, The Kinks looked to duplicate the previous success of the sublime ”Tired Of Waiting For You”. Though not as rooted in the sliding chord formula that had quickly become the group’s trademark, ”Set Me Free” had the same minor chord sadness and lazy, contemplative feel of ”Tired Of Waiting For You” and managed to put the band back into the British top ten. Going with the slower track as opposed to the hard rocking b-side, ”I Need You” (a song much more in the vein of ”You Really Got Me”), points to Ray Davies’ ambitions as songwriter. The song’s highly repetitive lyrics and smooth dual-tracked vocal, set to a gentle descending minor key progression, tugs at the heart while the melody quickly grabs the ear. Drummer, Mick Avery’s frequent start and stops make allow for subtle dynamic adjustments throughout the track and a hypnotic b-section surreptitiously builds tension behind Davies’ sleepy vocal as he vows, “I don’t want no one / If I can’t have you to myself / I don’t need nobody else / So if I can’t have you to myself / Set me free / Set me free” In an almost musical slight of hand we suddenly find that we’ve slide into the chorus, singing along to the wistfully rising melody of the repeated title lyric. Barely over the two minute mark, The Kinks have deposited yet another gem in their quickly growing repertoire of rock and roll classics. –Tom Maginnis

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Kinda Kinks 1965 Sanctuary 2:12
Kinks Size 1965 Castle Music Ltd.
Drop In 1966 Castle Music Ltd. 2:12
No Image 1966 Reprise
No Image 1980 Hallmark Recordings
No Image 1984
Kinks-Size/Kinkdom 1988 Rhino
25 Years: The Ultimate Collection 1989 Polytel (Silver Eagle) 2:15
Classic Rock: 1965 - Shakin' All Over 1989
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:13
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 [Rhino] 1989 Rhino 2:12
No Image 1989 Pickwick
Fab Forty: The Singles Collection 1964-1970 1990 Charly Records
Complete Collection 1992 Castle Music Ltd. 2:11
All the Hits and More 1993 Electrola
To the Bone 1994 Guardian / Angel 0:00
No Image 1994
You Really Got Me: The Very Best of the Kinks 1994 Edsel 2:12
Kontrasts 1995 Third Eye Music
Tired of Waiting for You 1995 Rhino
18 Free & Easy Hits from the '60s 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 2:10
The Kinks Collection, Vol. 1 1996 Excelsior Recordings
Greatest Hits [Castle] 1999 Deuce 2:13
Story of the Kinks: 24 Greatest Hits 2000 Donna 2:14
No Image 2002 Universal Distribution
Picture Book [Box Set] 2008 Sanctuary 2:12
The Essential Kinks 2014 Arista / Legacy / RCA 2:11
The Anthology 1964-1971 2014 BMG / Sanctuary / Sony Music 2:11
Greatest Hits [Marble Arch] Marble Arch Records
Greatest Hits [UK] Bellaphon Records