Kinks – Picture Book

The guitar riff to this song is one to remember. When I heard Green Day’s song “Warning”I knew where they got the inspiration for their song.

Ray Davies wrote this about the nostalgic feel that comes from looking through photo albums. The song was originally written for a planned Davies solo project, but he  relented and let The Kinks take a shot at it. It was recorded in May 1968 and released that November  The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

Davies, who also acted as producer, wanted the sound of the album to reflect its old-fashioned themes. He wanted it more low-fi.

The song was an album track but The song gained a new popularity when it was used on a Hewlett-Packard 2004 commercial promoting their digital cameras and printers that featured numerous “Pictures Of You” superimposed with each other.

Dave Davies: “Halfway through ‘Picture Book,’ I was trying to do a bit of jazz improvisation like Jo Stafford,”  “You can almost hear Ray mimicking or singing across it, ‘scooby-dooby-doo,’ poking fun at what I was saying. That was quite a spontaneous album.”

From Songfacts

Along with Village Green‘s closing track “People Take Pictures of Each Other,” this song uses photography to drive home the album’s concept about holding onto and appreciating the past. “There’s more value in an old picture than there is now on iPhones,” Ray Davies told Rolling Stone in 2018. “I know a guy. He’s homeless and I chat with him sometimes in the street. He’s got a picture of his family in his pocket, and he’s always got a picture with him, he says, ‘For when things get really low'” (pause) “It’s all gotten cheaper because of iPhones.”

The vocal harmonies for the Village Green Preservation Society album were worked out by Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Pete Quaife round the piano. Dave Davies has fond memories of creating the sweet choirboy vocal harmonies to “Picture Book.”

Picture Book

Picture yourself when you’re getting old,
Sat by the fireside a-pondering on
Picture book, pictures of your mama, taken by your papa a long time ago.
Picture book, of people with each other, to prove they love each other a long ago.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Picture book.
Picture book.

A picture of you in your birthday suit,
You sat in the sun on a hot afternoon.
Picture book, your mama and your papa, and fat old Uncle Charlie out cruising with their friends.
Picture book, a holiday in August, outside a bed and breakfast in sunny Southend.
Picture book, when you were just a baby, those days when you were happy, a long time ago.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Picture book.
Picture book.
Picture book.
Picture book.

Picture book,
Na, na, na, na na,
Na, na, na, na na,
A-scooby-dooby-doo.
Picture book,
Na, na, na, na na,
Na, na, na, na na,
A-scooby-dooby-doo.

Picture book, pictures of your mama, taken by your papa a long time ago.
Long time ago,
Long time ago,
Long time ago,
Long time ago,
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The Kinks – Give The People What They Want…Desert Island Albums

This is my eighth-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 8- PICK 4- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KINKS- GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

In 1981 I remember hearing Destroyer on the radio and was confused..Wait…is this a new version of All Day and All of the Night? I wanted that song so I bought the album. Give The People What They Want combines different styles. Punk, Rock, and a little New Wave was thrown in on a few of the songs. I had bought singles and a greatest hits by the Kinks but this was the first new Kinks album I purchased. It’s not considered among their best but I think it’s been underrated and the album still stands up today.

It didn’t get the recognition that their next album “State of Confusion” received because it didn’t have a huge hit single like Come Dancing. Songs like Better Things, Around The Dial,  and Destroyer did get radio play though.

Two years after I bought the album I saw the Kinks live at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. They opened with “Around The Dial,” the opener off of this album.. Ray started to write songs that played well in arenas during this time. The concert was right up there with The Stones concerts to me. I was lucky to see the Kinks while they still were still releasing new albums.

Their energy was off the charts. They were approaching middle age but they had more energy than their opening band (The White Animals) who were in their early 20s.

The album opener… Around The Dial is a song that I totally can relate to today because of pre-programmed radio shows. It’s about corporations taking over radio and getting rid of the free form local DJ’s who played songs that their audience actually wanted to hear. This was starting to get popular in the late seventies…now it’s standard.

The song Give The People What They Want is my favorite song off the album. While writing Low Budget, their previous album, Ray was watching American TV including “That’s Incredible” where people did dangerous and insane stunts. He writes a fair statement about the viewing public…now and then. Parts of it are crude but is true to life.  When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane, But still we watch the re-runs again and again, We all sit glued while the killer takes aim…

Ray borrowed his own riff from All Day And All Of The Night and repurposed it for Destroyer. He also revisits Lola in the song. Destroyer reached #3 on the Billboard Rock Top Tracks chart and #85 on the Billboard 100.

Better Things has a  new wave feel to it and one of the few optimistic songs on the record. It’s the closing song on the album and changes the dark cynical tone of the album to a little more hopeful.

I finally brought an album to the island that wasn’t released in the 60s or 70s. This 1981 album rocks. It’s probably the hardest rock album that the Kinks ever produced…but it’s still unmistakably Ray Davies.

  1. Around The Dial
  2. Give The People What They Want
  3. Killers Eyes
  4. Predictable
  5. Add It Up
  6. Destroyer
  7. Yo-Yo
  8. Back To Front
  9. Art Lover
  10. A Little Bit Of Abuse
  11. Better Things