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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Life On The Road|
|2. Mr. Big Man|
|5. Juke Box Music|
|6. Sleepless Night|
|7. Stormy Sky|
|8. Full Moon|
|9. Life Goes On|
|10. Artificial Light|
|11. Prince Of The Punks|
|12. The Poseur|
|13. On The Outside (1977 Mix)|
|14. On The Outside (1994 Mix)|
The band's Arista era began with this #21 hit from '77. The title hit; arena-ready anthems like Juke Box Music , and the rest of the original LP (with incredible sound) join the bonus cuts Artificial Light; Prince of the Punks , and The Poseur !
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In 1977, the Kinks once again became a straight rock band. Dave Davies got a chance to be a guitar hero. And, improbably, the band engineered another comeback, becoming arena rockers. Sleepwalker was a minor hit, but it propelled the band back into the limelight.
The follow-up, "Misfits", produced a huge hit (Rock and Roll Fantasy) and sold better, but "Sleepwalker" is the best LP of the Kinks' Arista years. There's not a false note on the nine tracks (although "Brother" is just a trifle slow for my taste). The rollicking self-satire of "Life on the Road" leads into the heart-breaking, beautifully written "Mr. Big Man", then to the lush and bizarre title cut. Every track sparkles with Ray Davies's brilliant lyrics and wry, knowing wit. Having dispensed with the elaborate horn arrangements of their koncept period, the band brings the attention back to the core of rock music: good songs.
These are songs you can dance to, sing along with, hum, and dream to. Great guitar playing by Dave, too! Very highly recommended.
At any rate it's a very inspired album and along with "State of Confusion" the strongest and most consistent Arista album. Davies' songwriting is varied and at his very best. Dave Davies? guitar-playing is terrific and it gives edge to the music. It's hard to bring out any specific tracks, because all are great. Personal favourites were always the classic Kinks-type of songs like "Full Moon" and "Stormy Sky", but Dave great guitar on "Mr Big Man" makes the song another favourite. A little Steve Miller inspiration on the title track??
Moreover the added bonus-tracks are also fine. Two decent B-sides "Artificial Light" ( sounds like a "Misfits" song ) and "Prince of the Punks" are fine for fans/completists, but the two outtakes are really great additions. "The Poseur" was originally thought to be the title-track, but it was eventually dropped with the change of the album title. Even more strange is it that they decided to leave out the outstanding "On the Outside", which would have been another highlight on the original album. Now it finally gets it's deserved release - classical Kinks!!
A milestone in Kinks History!
You've probably read about how Arista Records wasn't going to accept any "Preservation"/ "Soap Opera"-style concept albums from the Kinks. However, in characteristic Ray Davies fashion, he wanted to have his cake and eat it too, so he devised "Sleepwalker" as a loosely thematic album about sleeplessness/ restlessness, a theme which can be detected just by glancing at some of the song titles such as the title track, "Sleepless Night", and "Full Moon".
And this is a really solid, satisfying album. Although these years on Arista Records also tend to be referred to as the Kinks' "arena rock" years, "arena rock" really is not an accurate description for the music on this album. Granted, the group does rock out pretty hard on many of the songs here, but the group demonstrated that they hadn't entirely forgotten the concept of rocking out on the previous album "Schoolboys In Disgrace", and "Sleepwalker" is hardly a move toward Kiss-style territory.
As usual, Ray has sole writing credit for all the tracks on the album. And there are a bunch of great ones. "Mr. Big Man" is a raging rocker about a person who acheives fame and then proceeds to blow off the people who helped him get there. "Juke Box Music" has really curious lyrics about not taking music too seriously and how it's "only there to dance to", but regardless, it's an absolutely infectious rocker with a simple-but-irresistible riff, catchy melody, great Dave Davies lead guitar work, well-placed synthesized strings, and neat interplay between Ray and Dave's vocals. The bluesy "Sleepless Night" has some silly, seemingly unfinished lyrics, and Dave's lead vocals are a little shaky, but it's irresistible anyway, thanks to more great Dave Davies guitarwork, cool organ, and the sheer catchiness. "Full Moon" is a soaring, emotional song that builds up arrestingly, with Ray's vocals starting off gentle and working their way up to a wonderfully from-the-gut delivery.
There are more quality tunes as well. The album-opening story-song "Life On The Road" starts off mellow before transforming into an uptempo rocker with with some clever and funny lyrics. The title track is also fun and catchy, although somewhat underdeveloped. The album-closer "Life Goes On" is quite amusing with its sardonic lyrics about how we must carry on no matter how bad life gets, and yet the simple and memorable "life goes on and on and on" hook of the chorus is uncannily uplifting, which is seemingly what Ray was going for with the song.
Only a couple songs are considerably dull. One is "Stormy Sky"--the song does have atmosphere, but it's underdeveloped in terms of the songwriting and feels like filler. Even worse is the strained, 5+ minute ballad "Brother" which aims for a directly spiritual quality, and is loaded up with painfully predictable lyrics.
Another comment I can't help but make is that many of the songs here are strikingly similar to earlier songs. "Mr. Big Man" is extremely reminsicent of 10cc's "The Wall Street Shuffle", and some of Dave's lead guitar bits make the song very reminiscent of "Layla" as well. The title track sounds a lot like the Steve Miller Band's "Take the Money and Run" (even if "Sleepwalker" is the better song), and it also has a somewhat annoying "Dear Prudence"-style ending. The ending of "Full Moon" references the Kinks' own "Johnny Thunder". In other words, the album kinda doubles as a virtual name-that-tune fest.
Velvel Records reissued "Sleepwalker" in 1998 with great sound quality, superb liner notes, and bonus tracks. Velvel have reissued it again in 2005 in hybrid SACD format, and thankfully, the bonus tracks remain intact, because they add additional interest to the proceedings--"Artificial Light" is forgettable, and "Price of the Punks" is pretty amusing, but a bit ham-fisted and overdone; however, the moody "The Poseur" is arresting, as is the engaging ballad "On The Outside" (present in 2 slightly different versions). (Velvel have subsequently reissued "Sleepwalker" again in 2005 in hybrid SACD format with the bonus tracks intact.)
Overall, a highly satisfying disc that ranks as a must for any Kinks fan.
Well, "sleepwalker" (I'm a sleeeeeeeeeeeeeepwalker....) is a great song that is unfortunately excluded from many of their "hits" compliation.
There are also other good songs on this album there are hardly throwaways but, rather, richly melodic songs that are available to be consumed and appreciated by devoted Kinks fans.
These songs are a bit deeper and more complex from the usual Kinks gems from the decade before. The lyrics seem very personal, the instrumentation is more pronounced, the songs are longer and the production has more sheen which distinguishes this material from the more simplistic and raw sound of "You really got me", "All day and all of the night" and "Victoria". The music is no longer so riff oriented. In addition, Since the Kinks were clearly capable of penning a beautiful song as well, the pretty ones here also have a significant more complexity than "Days", "Waterloo Sunset", "Death of a Clown".
In hindsight, perhaps the Kinks were trying to add more dimension and depth to their songs in order to fit in with (the then emerging and home of cool and relevant music) FM radio. When this came out, with the Kinks being a veteran act, perhaps passed their prime, maybe they did not know how to market themselves. Music was dramatically changing with punk representing the cutting edge. The Kinks were one of the few of the "old guard" that were actually championed by the punk movement. Should the Kinks enamor themselves to a new audience or try to hold onto an old one? Do they align themselves with "album rock" or pursue a younger generation?
There is a treasure trove of material on this album.
"Life on the Road" is an excellent introduction with proof that they can still play a fun song.
"Brother" is a slow moving ballad with Ray Davies beautiful and distinguishing voice being a highlight.
"Life goes on" employs a progression where each instrument is seperately introduced a la "Smoke on the Water".
"Juke box music" is a fast paced rocker (it most resembles the conventional Kinks sound) that sounds like Davies is reflecting on himself.
I find the most interesting song is "From the Outside" which is (different for the Kinks) an organ-driven tune that takes some unusual turns. It starts out as riff oriented, then careens into a goregous chorus and then veers towards a lengthy guitar vamp with the guitar and organ trading licks. On this album you get the original and a remix with each song sounding similar yet they are also very different with each version of "From the outside" having their own virtues.
As opposed to their earlier works, where the strength of the materials was that of being a singles, this album is more deserving of being listened to from start to finish, like "Lola versus Powerman and the money ground" (although this is not as good as that seminal work). This is not a concept work but you cannot really appreciate "Sleepwalker" until you hear it as a whole.
In the 70's, this quickly went to the cutout bins but decades later, it is evident that a "weak" Kinks album is much stronger than other bands great albums.
This is a lost work that should be re-discovered by a Kink fan.