Thursday, July 10, 2008

Artist Profile: The Pretty Things

Have you ever heard of the Rolling Stones? I'm going to assume for the sake of brevity that you indeed have. When I first started to listen to rock music again during high school I downloaded a whole bunch of music from the big time names in music (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Who, Black Sabbath, etc.) thinking that was all the best stuff. I still feel that way about most of those bands, but one I have gotten over and have since decided is overrated is the Rolling Stones. The reason I feel that way now? The Pretty Things. (And the Rolling Stones did some disco songs. Disco!)

I first heard the Pretty Things on Nuggets, Vol. 2: Original Artyfacts From the British Empire & Beyond. They have three songs on the compilation. Two of them, "Rosalyn" and Midnight to Six Man" completely dismantled any notion that the Rolling Stones were the best rock 'n' roll band from the 60's.



Their song "Walking Through My Dreams" could not be a more perfect example of psychedelia. Things are going all over the place. Guitars play backwards. Colorful lyrics float on a cloud of harmonies, piano and drums. The whole thing just swirls around and around amazingly. So I find out it was the single from a record called S.F. Sorrow.

After initially being a R 'n' B based band doing Bo Diddley covers, the later 60's brought with it changes in music and the Pretty Things added their own touch. First came movie soundtrack work, much of which is hard to find. Then they began working with Beatles' engineer Norman Smith as producer (his first producing job) at Abbey Road, S.F. Sorrow became the first rock opera. It is now my second favorite record (behing the Beatles' Revolver). Elsewhere on this site, I have described it as a bizarro Sgt. Pepper's. Like Sgt. Pepper's the record incorporates different instruments and recording techniques to create an interesting sound. However, where Pepper is generally a happy, light-hearted record, S.F. Sorrow is depressing and heavy. I would write a bunch more, but over at Chris Goes Rock you can get a great overview of the record and a preview (complete with bonus tracks). And there are not really any good videos of songs from the record. Here is a decent one a fan made way after the fact.

Another single, "Deflecting Grey," shows what stylistic differences they have with other bands of the same era.


Their next record, Parachute, followed along the same lines. Also produced at Abbey Road, it does the whole tracks-run-together like on the B-side of the Beatles' Abbey Road. Although not as good as S.F. Sorrow, Parachute holds its own and is vastly underrated.

But my favorite Pretty Things song remains "L.S.D." Not really because I'm into drugs (like, at all, really). It is just that the song has some real power! And this cool video to boot!


Good Records to Check Out
The Pretty Things:
Preview
Buy

Get the Picture?:
Preview
Buy

Emotions:
Preview
Buy

S.F. Sorrow:
Buy

Parachute:
Preview
Buy

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