Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
Please don't list all those (other worthy) songs that stopped Waterloo Sunset from reaching #1 in the USA!
Really, can't we compromise with a Pouty-Ray?
Reminds me of Dylan's Time Out Of Mind.
I was forced to grow up with Jimmy Barnes as i could hear him screaming louder than everyone else.
N.b. Some really great stuff with Cold Chisel & some decent solo work but some real over reach and some poor choices of latter day covers whereby it doesn't always sound like a man loves a woman!
Mark please forgive my poky sledge.
Please remain seated the van will be around shortly!
Great point @croquetlawns , i have often thought that exact thing about Dave's vocals.
With a capital 'V'?
Now now we don't want to unduly alarm Mark.
Did you see a question mark
I sing pretty well, but I never got to their level
Mr Big Man
I don't have time to work it out properly with my guitar, but the chords are apparently
Am, Dm, Bb
Am, Dm, Bb
Gm, F, C, Gm
Am, Dm, Bb, C, Dm
Dm , Bb, C, DM
Dm , Bb, C, DM
F, C, Gm, Bb
Dm , Bb, C, DM
Single by The Kinks
from the album Sleepwalker
B-side "Full Moon"
Released 18 March 1977
Recorded September–October 1976 at Konk Studios, London
Songwriter(s) Ray Davies
Producer(s) Ray Davies
stereo mix (4:01), recorded 22-30 Sep, 1976 at Konk Studios, Hornsey, London
Ev'rybody got problems, buddy. I got mine.
When midnight comes around, I start to lose my mind.
When the sun puts out the light,
I join the creatures of the night,
I'm a sleepwalker.
I'm a night stalker.
I'm a street walker.
I'm a night hawker.
Ev'rybody got secrets that they wanna hide.
When midnight comes along, I take a look inside.
Don't go talkin' in your sleep:
I might come in for a peep,
I'm a sleepwalker.
I'm a night stalker.
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,
When the night time comes, I start to creep.
I prowl around when you're fast asleep.
I walk around on my tippy toes,
And I get into places that nobody knows.
I'm always around if you wanna meet.
You can find me on almost ev'ry street.
You'll always get me on the telephone.
I'll even come to your home if you're ever alone.
I'm a sleepwalker.
I'm a night stalker.
I'm a street walker.
I'm a night hawker.
Written by: Ray Davies
Published by: Davray Music Ltd.
This is a great song,
Apparently this was somewhat written based around Ray's move from London to New York, and his somewhat insomniac tendencies adjusting to the 24 hour a day schedule of the city.
This was apparently recorded somewhere in late September in the same week as Sleepless Nights and Life Goes On.
This was the first Kinks song to enter the US top 100 singles since Apeman, and it reached number 48 on the chart, and it's really not hard to see why. It also hit 54 on the charts in Canada.
Lyrically this is a typically tongue in cheek Ray look at a real problem. Insomnia can be problematic, not so much if you have no kind of schedule to keep, but when you have things you have to get up to do, the fact that you didn't get to bed until 4 in the morning can cause some energy flow problems.
There are many who see this album as having somewhat of a sleeplessness theme, and although that does show up a few times, I actually think that it was merely that a few songs were inspired by the whole New York situation. It would be unusual moving from a city that shuts down at 8 or 9 pm to a city that just doesn't sleep. I know back in the late seventies Perth shut down pretty early, and we still stayed up doing whatever we did back then, but when you know that everything is still open and you don't feel tired, well you just go out and do something.
I was always an insomniac and smoked copious amounts of mother nature to put myself to sleep back in the day, so I understand the theme here well.
The lyric starts off quite sane, as we just get told that when midnight comes around he starts to lose his mind, and you do. You sit there with your eyes wide open feeling like the only thing that will put you to sleep is a ten pound sledge hammer to the head.
To some degree I think Ray paints the persona of New York, or perhaps the myth of New York into the song.... I've never been there.
He goes on to say that when the sun puts out the light, he joins the creatures of the night, and this is where the song takes its interesting twist.
The chorus uses a nice array of picturesque titles that draw all sorts of pictures of who this character is. Interesting the titles he uses could well bring some shudders to some folks, particularly the Night Stalker, but Richard Ramirez didn't appear on the scene until 1984, so I don't think Ray was particularly attempting to draw that picture here.
There was the Night Stalker tv series, but that was about a reporter who investigated mysterious crimes... in fact it is generally accepted that Night Stalker was the inspiration for X Files.... and I think that ties into Ray using the phrase "I join the creatures of the night"... as an observer and writer it makes perfect sense to draw this comparison, to me at least.
I suppose the verses could be seen as a little creepy with the lines "I Might come in for a peek", "I might come in for a bite" "I'll come into your home if you're ever alone" ... but they all come with a certain amount of tongue in cheek delivery and it is essentially just Ray teasing. He is still awake so if you start talking in your sleep, he may think you're inviting him in for a chat. If you call him on the phone, he'll certainly head over, he needs some human interaction.
The other thing is, particularly with the NEw York base here, it seems like Ray may well be teasing people's paranoia's.
In many ways it speaks to the idea of insomnia really well. When you're sitting awake at 3 am and not even able to consider going to sleep, sometimes there is nothing you would like more than there to be someone else hanging around to have a drink or a chat with.
Musically again we have some grade A Kinks.
The opening drum intro may be reminiscent of Steve Miller's Take The Money and Run, and we do open with a clean rhythm guitar, but really that's about as close as it gets. This is a very different song.
Mick rolls out a nice intro. It actually starts off a little like a sped up Superstition, and then moves into some nicely turned around rhythms, and then the rhythm guitar comes in and it is a really nice crisp clean guitar that rolls along really nicely.
Again though the drums sound a little low and a little flat. For some reason on this album the drums are missing a bit of oomph, and I think that a bit more punch, perhaps the snare tuned a bit higher or something would add quite a bit to the sound and feel.
For me those kinds of things are incidental, and don't generally interfere with the way I listen to the songs themselves.
Mick continues the cool, somewhat offbeat groove. The piano comes in and nicely bolsters the guitar, and as we move into the chorus we get a nice bit of lead guitar mixed just about spot on to add a little bit to the arrangement.
As we move into the second verse the piano starts punching a counter rhythm.
Ray modulates the key as we lead into the next chorus, and it is a nice way of lifting the intensity of this insomnia.
Dave plays a few tasty little licks on the left side, and then adds this lovely little repetitive phrase on the right, and it works like the mental haze of needing to sleep but not being able to.
It is reflecting the haze in our insomniacs head. It is almost the rational and irrational thoughts fighting each other.
This leads to a pretend modulation in key, as Ray throws in a couple of chords lifting the pitch but we roll back down to the key we were in. Again in the context of the song it is used beautifully to accent the confused mind of the insomniac, it is beautiful writing.
This takes us into the next verse, we again get that blurred mind guitar come in at the end, and then another wonderful piece of writing brings us back to the reality.... as suddenly it is quiet, and we move into a gentle piano. We are on the street at night, and there is nobody around and it is quiet. The piano paints this picture well, and Ray's vocal starts on the right, and as the key changes again it comes in on the left, again accenting the confused mind of the insomniac.
Then we burst back into the full band, and Ray is reminding us that he is this sleepwalking crazy person, with a modified delivery of the chorus...... this all makes me think of when I was a youngster, and my mum wouldn't let me sleep over at friends houses, because I was an active sleepwalker, and I mean that literally. She was afraid I would walk into a friend's sister's bedroom or something.
Here we get Dave adding a beautifully melodic lead guitar line, and our sleepwalker rambles on.
The guitar becomes a harmonised guitar and is even more sweet sounding.
After a final announcement about him being this Sleepwalker we fade out on Dave's beautiful guitar lines.
For me a magnificent song that gives us three out of three, and every one of these tracks would make it onto any compilation of best Kinks songs for me. In fact, even though I'm probably the only one that thinks so, these three tracks make up one of the best openings to a Kinks album that we have seen.
@croquetlawns and @All Down The Line - I'm not sure how you can be for shamed to yourselves Australians
“Sleepwalker” I suppose it was catchy enough, and that chorus will stay with you, but it wasn’t what I had originally gone to the Kinks for.
I have a recording of the unedited version, which doesn’t appear to be on YouTube, with these lyrics just after the first chorus: “I’m not too young / I’m not too pretty / But I am gay / And there must be somebody somewhere who feels the same / You won’t feel no shame or pain / You won’t even know my name….” Fairly outré stuff for 1977, especially coupled with the gay reference in “Life on the Road.” I can imagine Clive Davis’s dismay: We can have one of these mentions, Ray, but certainly not two. Ray sings the cut lyrics in the February 1977 Winterland show, just as the album was released, but they’re gone by Pawtucket in December.
The association of queer life with vampirism, as exemplified in the works of Anne Rice and even Rocky Horror, was a narrative trope of the time.
Intro drum pattern immediately brings to mind the *Steve Miller Band in their second give-the-people-what-they-want; let’s-make-a-pot-of-money period. And it continues this similarity in the high-tenor vocal delivery, “everybody’s got problems, buddy, I’ve got mine.”
“I’m a sleepwalker. I’m a night stalker”
(SMB: Cause I'm a picker
I'm a grinner
I'm a lover
And I'm a sinner
I play my music in the sun
I'm a joker
I'm a smoker
I'm a midnight toker)
Clearly, ‘Sleepwalker,’ the song, is radio friendly and hit material. For me personally, it takes me back to cruising the roads in and about Grand Rapids, Michigan; Rockford, just north of GR, just driving around with the FM radio on, smoking weed or heading over to friend’s homes to listen to records…and smoke more weed. I literally can feel a tug of the heart and feel wistful of long gone relationships from that little bit of my life…all from listening to this song.
“Don’t go talking in your sleep, I might come in for a peep…oh, yeah.” Here Ray sings it just a little bit different with the “oh, yeah” drawn out in a suggestive sort of way.
Then, the chorus again and a guitar interlude ending with everything going down an octave (or note or whatever).
“When everybody’s fast asleep I start to creep…” Dual vocals now, with Dave singing the higher register and Ray the low end.
Guitar interlude again and this time when Ray begins to sing he’s singing low and solo and quieter, backed by a bit of perfectly placed piano, “When nighttime comes I start to creep…”
This is my favorite part of the song. Ray’s vocal and the softer, mellower, “I walk around on my tippy toes…” and then off to a rip-snorting rock guitar finish.
2 for 3 for the album and onto my playlist. Things are off to a very good start.
*My older brother introduced me to the Steve Miller Band circa ‘Living In the U.S.A.’ So I am very much aware that the SMB, too, went through at least one major variation in sound. And hit the jackpot by making the change.
Further, being a huge Free fan (and no, I don’t think they are a predecessor to Foreigner), I can spot a ripped off Free riff a mile away (a side reference to a big hit for the Steve Miller Band, not The Kinks).
But does that actually match Layla???
I really like "Sleepwalker" - a nice guitar rave up with a catchy melody. Of course, there has to be a change of pace before the final coda for variety. Maybe it's not the most sophisticated of songs but it just creeps into your brain. I definitely heard this song more on live recordings I picked up from this era (Winterland would have been the first) than the actual album version.
Songs have to be pretty good for me to overcome my aversion to what you might call mid-to-late 70s mainstream rock - so, for instance, I have problems with Kevin Ayers' albums from the same period - but, luckily, this is a good song. I still have problems with the overall sound but it's definitely a catchy number. I do think the end could have done without the oh yeahs.
Musically, I’ve always felt this song was a rewrite of Lola, maybe even born out of a jam on the Lola riff and chorus. If you listen back to the Percy all-instrumental version, it’s even more apparent, I think. So yeah, Mr Big Man may’ve been this mix of Clapton guitar, Neil Young chords and vocal dylanisms, this third song screams Kinks. New York City Kinks, maybe, but Kinks nonetheless. Myself, I’m not team “warble” nor team “shouty” – though I can appreciate both – but I’m team "tender" (the opening of Life on the Road) and team "enthusiastic", Ray doing the “so you think you’ve got ambition” bridge of Yes Sir No Sir or the unstoppable top of his lung verses of Ordinary People or Hot Potatoes. Welcome back sir, on the hysterical opening line “Ev'rybody got problems, buddy. I got mine” of this wonderful little semi-reggae jam (bits of Paul Simon in the delivery flow, foreshadowing of Madness in the back-beat piano of the second verse).
I love the opening drums, they do sound modern but who said it was a bad thing? Certainly not me. I don’t know if it sounds American or not. Yeah, I hear the (superb) Steve Miller song somewhere, I hear a bit of superstitious Stevie, I hear some Nights on Broadway BG’s (@Mark, I’m in in case you’d choose to do a Gibbs thread, someday). But it could also be a Pete Thomas Attractions beat, or an early Argybargy/East Side Story Squeeze groove (I’m well aware both bands had yet to emerge). In any case, it’s fantastic. The whole arrangement is brilliant, funny, entertaining. When the low guitar comes to anchor the riff, it’s superb. When the low voice Ray comes in too, it’s irresistible. The guitar solo is amazing, Hard Way level. On those upbeat tracks, Dave’s solos have this way of thriving on and enhancing the groove, it’s a very rare quality. And his harmonized leads at the end are fantastic too, like he shows us that the night's coming to an end and dawn is around the corner. When they slow down and the piano comes to allow the character to relish in his nightlife condition, Ray does what only Ray can do, sensual wit and tongue in cheek panache. An all-around perfect (Kinks) single.
(edit : and I love the "oh yeah"s)
Not a great deal to say about this one - it rolls along nicely with a good rocking groove, but I think it's possibly the most mundane track on the album, in that it doesn't really go anywhere. The occasional modulation up and down helps a bit, but when I'm looking for more of a memorable chorus or bridge I'm just getting more riffing and soloing. The shouted "oh yeah, oh yeah" over the outro are a foretaste of what's to come in two or three albums time. Again, it's a very well-made track that was always going to appeal to a wider audience, but perhaps it just lacks a bit of intimacy, or anything personal to me - generally the case throughout this album.
Sleepwalker gets this album back on track after the somewhat disappointing previous track - it's catchy and I can see why it did OK in the charts (OK by Kinks standards!). I like the ambiguity of the lyric - is it just a guy who can't sleep wandering around the city at night? Is he prowling about looking for trouble? Is he a vampire?
Mr Big Man
Again I am not sure what to add to all of the excellent and varied comments so far?
First off I enjoy Ray's angst when the music rises to match it and i think of this as a mood piece.
Great little lick on the keys at the start which later Dave embellished and plays around with in the song.
People have spoken about Clapton but as far as Dave's single note licks go it reminds me far more of Rory Gallagher.
Now the bizarre part of that is that in 1979 Rory released a track Called Bad Penny which to me has a number of similarities.
The main lick is in there and there are lead guitar embellishments with a similar feel.
The mood is angry and about being misused by someone that used to be close and some of it also rocks in similar fashion.
Just to get weirder this Kinks Kut also reminds me of some parts of a Jeff Buckley tune on Grace but I just can't put my finger on which but listen to Ray from 0.45 and maybe someone can put me out of my misery?
There was a lot of TV promo for this song. Mike Douglas:
Old Grey Whistle Test:
I don't really hear Layla in the song.... I can only assume folks are basing it around the lead guitar tone or something... I'm not really sure
Separate names with a comma.