Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pretty Things start the Seventies

Contemporaries of the Stones, Pretty Things were, for many 60s garage fans an edgier, nastier band that never got the mainstream attention they deserved. Maybe that's a good thing if fame brings bloat and complacency. After briefly playing in an early incarnation of the Rolling Stones in 1962, Dick Taylor formed Pretty Things with vocalist Phil May, and promptly released a handful of garage classics like "Rosalyn", "Don't Bring Me Down", and "Road Runner" to fans eager to slam into the stage and each other in dingy dance halls. The 60's saw the Pretties release three albums before creating what most consider their definitive classic S.F. Sorrow.

Recorded at Abbey Roads Studios, S.F. Sorrow is considered one of the first concept albums, next to The Who's, Tommy. Engineered by Norman Smith, S.F. Sorrow is a blend of psychedelic and hard rock that should have sold a mint, but was lost in a year of monster releases by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Kinks. Poor management, bad promotions, line-up changes and touring mishaps did little to help The Pretties earn the commercial successes that lessor bands found. S.F. Sorrow would be their last album in a decade that produced what many consider to be Pretty Thing's best material.

I was introduced to the Pretty Things about 10 years ago by a young guy working in a now gone record store in Tempe Arizona. He also told me to "stay away from their 70s stuff."

Well, I don't always listen to advice, and had heard that their first album in the 70s, Parachute, released in 1970 is considered another forgotten classic. With a lineup that includes Phil May doing vocals, Wally Waller on bass, John Povey on keyboards, Skip Allen on drums, and Vic Unitt on guitar, Parachute is another terrific record that fell under the radar for rock fans who got fed CSN, Jefferson Airplane, James Taylor and Grand Funk Railroad instead.

Here is "Cries from the Midnight Chorus" which is the 8th track on the first side of the album.

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