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The Pretty Things


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Showing 1-25 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 10, 2013 7:14:16 PM PDT
So, after many years of always hearing about them through other books on artists' like the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, I finally youtube'd a couple of their songs the other night and I'm intrigued. I've been into a British Rock phase within listening to the Kinks in particular and I really like these guys. I'm awaiting a delivery from an Amazon seller which offered the two in one combo of the Things' first two records..S.F. Sorrow is next on the list and possibly Parachute...any fans of the Pretty Things? Thoughts?

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 7:35:25 PM PDT
Parachute is my favorite album, but I like all four albums I have, The self-titled, S.F. Sorrow and Silk Torpedo.

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 7:37:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 10, 2013 7:39:32 PM PDT
The Pretty Things are the "lost" classic UK band of the 60s; their career ran very much in parallel with The Stones, Kinks, and Who but they never achieved the same success or recognition during their time together. What songs did you hear? Anyways, here's my quick thoughts on their output:

The Pretty Things, 1965: rough'n'ready UK R&B in the style of the Animals, the Stones, etc. Mostly covers. It's OK but better was to come. 3/5

Get The Picture, 1965: half of this album is fuzz-toned mod greatness in the style of "Satisfaction"; the other half pales, but it's still a great listen overall. The CD reissue is even better as it contains the stunning non-album singles "Midnight To Six Man" and "Come See Me" as bonus cuts. 3.5/5

Emotions, 1967: a left turn into lighter, Kinks-esque Britpop character sketches. These songs are good and show growth, but the original album was unfortunately smothered in conventional orchestration against the band's wishes by the producer. The ballads end up coming out the best. It's still worth a listen, and the CD reissue contains bonus tracks of the songs w/out the orchestration, which is a big plus. 3.5/5

SF Sorrow, 1968: A classic. The group went all-out psychedelic here, and created the first narrative concept album in rock, predating "Tommy" by six months. A mindblowing, trippy release that is like an encyclopedia of UK psych, with all-killer songs. 4.5/5

Parachute, 1970: Another classic, and my favorite. As with all their albums, this one is very reflective of its time--lingering psychedelia mixes with blistering hard rock, prog, and pop. Again, the songwriting and production is *superb*. A perfect 5/5

Their 70s albums "Freeway Madness", "Silk Torpedo" and "Savage Eye" were all more pedestrian although "Silk Torpedo" and "Savage Eye" both reached for a glam sound, once again reflecting the times. There's a couple of classic cuts on each, the rest didn't really catch my ear. Anyways, if you're starting off with the first two albums, then I suggest you just go in order and get "Emotions" next, then "SF Sorrow", then "Parachute". "SF Sorrow" and "Parachute" are commonly acknowledged as their high-water marks. Some of those early singles like "Midnight To Six Man" were just *killer*, too, though. Here's a little audiovisual bonus for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YYIc2RSf9Y

In 1965/66 The Pretty Things were easily the loudest, dirtiest, most aggressive, hardest rocking, longest haired, "let's out-Stone the Stones", most magnificent example of pure rock that the UK had to offer.

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 8:19:33 PM PDT
@Topper--Songs I heard...Midnight to Six Man(I've been playing repeat on this one the most), Come See Me, Don't Bring Me Down and Cries from the Midnight Circus. Although I did stream through S.F. Sorrow halfway last nite and am currently hearing songs from Get the Picture...crazy how Dick Taylor wound up constructing a band that, for a small phase, rivalled the Stones...I'm kicking myself for not having listened to these cats earlier...

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 8:41:07 PM PDT
As far as songs go, "Defecting Grey" is a must-hear imho. It's one of the dirtiest, twisted pieces of psychedelia of its era.
It's on the S.F. Sorrow CD as a bonus track.

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 8:54:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 10, 2013 8:55:06 PM PDT
@Topper...Btw, thanks as always thanks for your inputs and enlightenment..looks like Parachute is worth the time!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2013 8:56:43 PM PDT
I heard this track too, while I was scanning thru S.F. Although, I didn't think it was all that first time around...guess I should let it grow on me?

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 9:30:47 PM PDT
@Thirty-Ought Six: "looks like Parachute is worth the time!!"

Most definitely! It is the album "Cries From The Midnight Circus" is on. I would also try "Emotions" out, too, it's a bit different in feel but there's still some worthwhile stuff on it ("Death Of A Socialite", "Sun", "House Of Ten", "Children"). I found a youtube link to the full album, although unfortunately the un-orchestrated bonus tracks aren't included:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERK3aFsRsHI

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 9:39:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 10, 2013 9:42:27 PM PDT
Interestingly, while finding the "Emotions" link on youtube I came across a reunion album the group did in 1980, "Cross Talk". I'm listening to it right now. Fittingly for its time, it's in a New Wave/power-pop style and actually sounds pretty good! I'm only three songs in, I'll give more thoughts when I'm finished.

Also, check out the re-recording of "SF Sorrow" they did with David Gilmour in 1998. It's pretty great, and Gilmour is excellent with them. The recording (at Abbey Road) was filmed and here's the video for "Old Man Going":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsploxjiLkA

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 10:10:24 PM PDT
jpl says:
The Pretty Things

I like several Pink Floyd songs and had the ear-bleeding priviledge of hearing them from the floor in the seventh row.

jpl: Unfortutately, some of the members have died or committed suicide. Listen to the words of some of their songs.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 6:24:14 PM PDT
I saw The Pretty Things open for the Kinks in San Diego at a tiny venue on Broadway called The Assembly Rooms in the winter of 1976/77 and they were O.K. but just O.K. So I guess I missed out as they were really something in 1967-68. We sat on the floor and there were about 20 or so of us in there as The Pretty Things started their set, more folks kept wandering in and there was a huge crowd of about 150 people there to watch The Kinks do an amazing "Schoolboys in Discrace" show. I think The Pretty Things were on the Kinks record label at that time (Konk Records) and it was all-good for the company.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 8:35:52 PM PDT
That's cool you got to see the Kinks back then for that particular phase...I'll be receiving the Schoolboys disc tomorrow, along with Preservation Act I. It's to my understanding that Schoolboys is a prequel to the Preservation Acts as it traces Ray's Mr. Flash character back to his younger days, before the adult of Acts I&II, so I'm curious about this disc. I also read before doing Sleepwalker, that Ray was going to do a 2nd Schoolboys installment, but I think the changing of labels from RCA to Arista and possibly the influence of Clive Davis, changed this decision.

I know you replied in regards to the Pretty Things, didn't mean to go off on a Kinks rant, but I've been listening to them as well, and hearing albums like Village Green and Arthur have made me want to seek out other contemporaries of their day in the British rock scene, which is how I've sparked an interest. Too bad you caught the Things during the tail end of their career,at that point, but still good you were able to see them.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 9:48:44 PM PDT
@Thirty-Ought Six: hey, I don't think I ever found out--did you get a chance to hear "Face To Face", "Something Else", and/or "Lola Vs. Powerman And The Moneygoround Pt.1" yet? If you did, what did you think?

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 10:29:15 PM PDT
@Topper: Face to Face is on its way soon; Lola and Something Else have been in rotation as well as Arthur (currently as I type) and Muswell too...You were most correct in stressing the importance of this era first! Many Thanks...I never knew the talent, power and depth of their musical legend was really that important, amazing music I've missed out on all these years; as they say, its never too late, I suppose. BTW, I can't wait for Parachute, S.F. Sorrow and Pretty Things/Get the Picture combo discs, too...so much exploring to do, and seemingly, plenty of time to do so!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 10:30:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 10:35:18 PM PDT
Thirty Ought Six~

I heard of The Pretty Things but, I don't remember if I had ever seen one of their records ever so things like SF Sorrow and Parachute were unknown to my crowd. I still don't know that much about the band except that between 1965-1970 they are considered one of England's very best. But still I am one of very few that can say they did see The Pretty Things perform a show in America. I was there for my Kinks and again The Pretty Things (to me) was like seeing the Steve Gibbons Band open for The Who in 1976 as they didn't play or perform to leave a lasting impression...

Opening acts can steal a show away from a headliner (The Tubes did it to Led Zeppelin) and Golden Earring left me stunned as I cannot recall the next two bands that played after them. Again, I do know how highly regarded The Pretty Things are after the fact but....

"Schoolboys in Discrace" is still one of my favorite Kinks records and when I play that one I can see that show clear as a bell...The Headmaster, Flash, the slide show, Dave playing like three guys ten feet in front of me...I think that was a $6.00 ticket as my friend was complaining we always payed $3.50 a ticket at Winterland in San Francisco during those times....Man, we had it rough back then!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 11:07:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 11:09:06 PM PDT
@Philip S Wolf: $6.00 a ticket for the Kinks? $3.50 at Winterland? Of course, I was very young when Schoolboys was released, but man, you make me envious! I realize back then those ticket prices must have been "expensive"? Ha...My, how far we've come..just like gas prices, eh? I started driving when gas was 89 cents a gallon; Now its almost $4 in my area.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 11:16:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 11:29:26 PM PDT
In the summer of 1976 Bad Company arrived in San Francisco on the "Run With The Pack" tour and Bill Graham was selling $5.00 tickets for that show and my buddies were as PO'ed as I have ever seen em' and (of course) we payed the blood-money and went in and saw the show (always at least three bands) and I got to see Mick Ralphs play once more.....BUT...Five Dollars???

After the phony gas shortages in 1973 (full oil tankers sat in the middle of San Francisco Bay) while they hiked up the prices from 27 cents a gallon to about 60 cents a gallon. Before this mess I could run my little 59 Renault on a dollars worth of gas a week! That li'l car got us to some nice shows in San Francisco.

The dancing bear logo that the Grateful Dead still uses was stolen from the Simoz Bros. gas stations located in the east bay...Yup, 25 cents a gallon and a bag of weed went from $5.00 to $10.00 about that same time....Inflation really sucks!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 11:28:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 11:32:28 PM PDT
Ha. That's really interesting, Philip. It seems that you've seen you're share of where this world is heading to(nowhere, perhaps?), but I'm sure you've also seen some of my favorite artists in their prime too. Bet you've seen ELP, YES, Zeppelin, the Stones and maybe Jefferson Airplane? Just throwing out examples, but, if you were in close proximity in Frisco, man....

Just saw your last post edit...didn't know the Dead took that from a gas station logo. That's hilarious!

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 11:38:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 11:54:01 PM PDT
Emerson Lake & Palmer at Ontario Motor Speedway in March 1974 with a grand piano that did loop da' loops 30 feet above the stage. That show was called California Jam and they had like 350,000 of us on that crummy racetrack.

Never saw The Stones but my wife has been to three of their concerts.

Had tickets for Yes when they were coming to Norfolk, Virginia in 1985 and they were still in my car when the stupid ship I was stationed on went to sea for some hurricane that never came through Hampton Roads at all.

Led Zeppelin was at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park in May 1973 and The Tubes (then unknown) just about stole the show from the Zepps with White Punks On Dope, exploding televisions, Wonder Bread destroyed like World War III, girl singers (strippers) with only whipped cream on their bodies where clothes should have been.

Never saw The Airplane, but Paul Kantner & Marty Balin in a small club and lot's of Hot Tuna and Jorma shows.

Winterland, was one of my favorite places on the planet and on a good night the best shows ever played were in there.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 11:52:15 PM PDT
California Jam...Sabbath, Purple, ELP..its all fine and well to watch on video nowadays, I can only imagine if you weren't at least halfway close to that number of folks, it would've been a bit of a bummer.

I haven't really checked out the Tubes much besides She's a Beauty which I know is well past their beginnings in the early mid 70's, now I think I'll have to dig into them at some point down the road.

And Hot Tuna? Yeah, I love and prefer them over Jefferson Starship's output of the time period, different kind of music, though. Jorma and Jack are musical brothers and even the electric stuff like America's Choice, Burgers and Yellow Fever are awesome records. The Airplane I like quite a bit, though, it took me a while to "hear it". Strange, because I was a big fan of the Dead in my teens through my 20's, but I got into JA in my 30's..

Posted on Mar 14, 2013 12:04:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 14, 2013 12:11:08 AM PDT
One my friends was at the farewell Jefferson Airplane shows at Winterland in 1972 and the "30 Seconds Over Winterland" record came from that night. In 1975 the JA (they were now Jefferson Starship) came and played a free show in Golden Gate Park and I was somewhere on the other side of the Pacific.

On a summer day in 67? or was it 68? I took two AC Transit buses from the east bay into San Francisco and right as I got off the bus near the park I heard music and saw thousands of hippies and I followed the sounds and watched The Grateful Dead playing off the backs of two flatbed trucks with Pigpen playing the blues like nobody's business. I was a little rat at the time but, stuff like that changes you right on the spot as this scene in SF was crazy with hairies beating on drums and girls with no tops on and dope here, dope there, dope everywhere and I was watching this circus unfold all around me and soakin' it all in and then a girl goes up on stage and starts screamin' like the hellhounds are after her or something. So I ask this hippy chick: "Who's the girl?" and she says: "That's Janis Joplin" as I thought she was Pigpen's wife or something. Yup, strange days (and the bus was 25 cents with a transfer) I had to pay another quarter to get home after all this afternoon delite!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2013 7:08:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 14, 2013 7:12:42 PM PDT
Bernard J. says:
One of my favorite songs of theirs is 'Turn My Head'.
It's pretty rare, not many fans have heard of it, unless they've got the "BBC Sessions " album.

Posted on Mar 14, 2013 12:53:47 PM PDT
I really love the approach of the rhythm section. Just noticeably more heavy than other bands around. They really remind me of The Move in this way and other ways. The drums and bass are so heavy, really cool. Lots of great songs. Great band.

Posted on Mar 16, 2013 12:08:45 AM PDT
I found a youtube clip of the entire 1998 one-hour performance of "SF Sorrow" at Abbey Road studios, featuring all of the original band members plus Dave Gilmour and Arthur Brown (narration), for everyone's pleasure. And pleasure it will be, because this entire performance is incredible and IMO even bests the original studio album in a number of spots! Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT5DSvDb9o4 ("SF Sorrow", Abbey Road Studios, 1998)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013 9:50:51 AM PDT
Thanks so much for that link, Topper. I've been listening to S.F. Sorrow and Parachute as of late and these discs are quite extraordinary! Such a huge leap from their first two albums, which I've also listened to as well and there's so much to absorb right now. Its almost like they're two different bands within a short span given from the debut album up to Parachute. Simply and utterly amazing. The clip from '98 I'm happy to see Dick Taylor and Phil May sharing the stage again and Arthur Brown as the narrator and David Gilmour joining them is compelling. The Pretty Things are truly the great lost British Rock band of the sixties indeed!
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Initial post:  Mar 10, 2013
Latest post:  Apr 17, 2016

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