Picture Book ( 6 CDs boxset ) - Sanctuary 2008
I think generally that the compilers have done a good job having chosen to put special focus on the most exciting periods in the group's career.
CD 1. Covers the earliest period and the first three albums. A lot of rare and previously unreleased tracks are to be found on this CD. A lot of these rarities a very strong and among those I would like to bring forward the rocking "Time Will Tell" and the two fine ballads "I Go to Sleep" and "This Strange Effect". The early hit-singles are logical choices, and they are all included. This has left less space for album tracks. From the first album only "Stop Your Sobbing", from Kinda Kinks only "Come on Now" ( with false starts ), from Kinks Kontroversy "Where Have All The God Times Gone", "Ring the Bells (great early ballad), "I'm on an Island" and "Milk Cow Blues" ( odd and poor choice ). This CD as a whole actually works quite well, and it clearly demonstrates the great development the band and Ray Davies as a songwriter went through these years.
CD 2. Like the first CD this has a lot of big hits, but fewer rarities. This leaves room for more albums tracks from the three excellent albums "Face to Face" (3), "Something Else"(3) and "The Vilage Green Preservation Society"(3). This was a particularly fertile period in the band's career, and especially the outtakes from VGPS are outstanding - all these were also on the deluxe version of the album.
CD 3. Continues with more VGPS songs and goes through Arthur, Lola and Percy till the first RCA album "Muswell Hillbillies". Apart from a BBC live-recording from 1968 of "Love Me Till the Sun Shines" there are no rarities on this CD, but a lot of great songs from more strong albums.
CD 4. In 1972 the Kinks' period as a hit-singles band ended with "Supersonic Rocker Ship" - the hit hit would come ten years later with "Come Dancing". This CD has some great songs from a more uneven period in their career, but most of the best songs are included - I always wonder why "Sweet Genevieve" and "Sitting in the Midday Sun" did not make the charts. From Preservation I would have like too, to see the overlooked "Where are they Now?" Maybe slso a little unfair to have only one track from "Schoolboys in Disgrace", instead of opening the Arista period with two songs from 1977s "Sleepwalker".
CD 5. Good songs continued to come, but the albums were still uneven, though I still consider "Sleepwalker" one of their finest albums. "Stormy Night" and "Full Moon" should have been included. The only two really memorable songs from Misfits are here - great. I liked "Low Budget" a lot when it was first released, but it was one of the few Kinks album that I soon lost interest in. Four songs from that album is a lot, and in fact I like the outtake "Hidden Quality" more than both "A Gallon of Gas" and "Catch Me Now I'm Falling".
Four outtakes/demos from the "Give the People What they Want" sessions are interesting, but none of these versions could have made into the album, though it sounds like there would have been potentials in "Stolen Away Your Heart". Four tracks from the album are included - all logical choices.
CD 6. This covers the longest period from 1982 to 1996. "State of Confusion" was a very solid album with great songs like "Heart of Gold", "State of Confusion", "Long Distance", "Come Dancing" ( weak alternate version here ) amd "Don't Forget to Dance" ( why was this gem left out?? ). "Word of Mouth" was uneven but not bad, which three selections here document - others could have been chosen as well. "Think Visual" is not bad either, but only "How Are You" has found its way here - "Lost and Found" with one one Dave Davies' most melodic guitar-solos should have been here as well. "UK Jive" was not very good - only one song here. Though two songs were recorded for the live album "To the Bone", "Phobia" was really their swan-song - and a very worthy one, too. "Did Ya" with its similaties to "Sunny Afternoon" could have been a nice way to round up the box - but the 5 other songs are good, too. The two final studio-recordings for "To the Bone", "Animal" and "To the Bone" are both among the finest of their post Arista career and both had deserved to be included. The demo of "To the Bone" is great too, though, and a highlight among the rarities.
A CD box will normally be addressed to convinced fans and therefore it's usually the rare tracks that will be of interest. This box is hardly any exception. The layout is not luxurious, but a well-written and informative 64-page booklet is fine complement to the music.