The Kinks

Picture Book

Composed by Ray Davies

Song Review by

For over 35 years, "Picture Book" was one of the Kinks' most obscure songs, an album track from The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society known only to cultist fans like the Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey, who once recorded an endearingly sloppy cover. Then, in 2004, a series of commercials for digital cameras and accessories cannily used Ray Davies' charming little nostalgic ditty in contrast to some impressive computer imaging tricks; the commercials were so popular that (much as had happened to Nick Drake five years before when "Pink Moon" was used in a brilliantly evocative car ad), "Picture Book" suddenly became one of the Kinks' best-known songs. It deserves the attention, since "Picture Book" takes the skewed nostalgia of its parent album and sets it to one of Davies' best tunes of the era. The sweet choirboy harmonies of the chorus perfectly balance lyrics about "Your mama and your papa and fat old Uncle Charlie out boozing with their friends," and the arrangement, featuring an uncharacteristically bottom-heavy mix that emphasizes Mick Avory's cleverly sloppy drums and a Pete Quaife bass run that doubles Davies' rhythm guitar part for the song's primary hook, is one of the rocking ones on the relatively sedate album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Village Green Preservation Society 1968 BMG / BMG / Castle Communications 2:35
The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook 1969
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
To the Bone 1994 Guardian/Angel / Guardian
The EP Collection, Vol. 1 1998 Essential Records
The Pye Album Collection 2005 Sanctuary 2:38
Picture Book [Box Set] 2008 Sanctuary 2:37
Kinks in Mono 2011 Sanctuary
The Essential Kinks 2014 Arista / Legacy / RCA 2:35
The Best of Kinks: 1964-1971 2014 Sony Music
The Anthology 1964-1971 2014 BMG / Sanctuary 2:35
No Image 2016 BMG / BMG Rights Management / Sanctuary
blue highlight denotes editor's pick