Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pretty brilliant things - review of The Pretty Things

Review by Bill Ainsworth

The Pretty Things at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, on Friday, January 27

IN my early teens, in about 1974, I bought an album called PinUps by one of my idols of then and now, Mr David Bowie. I had been brought up on my dad’s record collection, no bad thing considering that largely consisted of all The Beatles releases as soon as they came out. What PinUps did however, was to make me aware of stuff father never introduced me to from the ’60s, as it was a collection of Bowie’s covers of some of his favourite British hits from that decade. In amongst The Yardbirds, The Who etc. were the tracks Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down, which were apparently singles released by a band called The Pretty Things.

Nearly 40 years later, in my neverending quest for the greatest music ever made and having already bought Love’s Forever Changes, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and The Zombie’s Odyssey and Oracle, I finally acquired The Pretty Things’ 1968 album S.F. Sorrow last December. 

Just in time then, because it gave me a chance to get to know four of the tracks performed on this wonderful night, namely S.F. Sorrow Is Born, She Says Good Morning, Baron Saturday  and Old Man Going, all of which were rapturously received by the largest and most enthusiastic crowd I’ve witnessed at the Arlington, quite impressive considering that includes gigs by Supergrass and Dodgy!

The aforementioned seminal piece of classic British psychedelia formed only part of a set that spanned five decades. The band, named after a 1955 Bo Diddley song, now comprises original members Dick Taylor (lead guitar god!) and Phil May (vocals), Frank Holland, a member for over 20 years (second guitar/harmonica) abd Mark St John (their “Bez”;  anything shakeable, ratlleable or portably bangable) plus two 21-year-olds (yes 21, and they’ve been touring with them for four years!)m George Perez (bass) and Jack Greenwood (drums). The set also   included the previously mentioned hits covered by Bowie as well as Midnight To Six Man, Mona, Roadrunner and L.S.D. (whatever that’s about....) from their early daysm through to The Beat Goes On from their latest offering, 2007’s Balboa Island.

If you want to learn more about a band whose founding members LEFT The Rolling Stones, because they thought Mick’n’Keef et al were not wild enough, more research is encouraged.

If you missed it and love great, loud British R’n’B (R Kelly fans need enquire no further), psych and rock that has inspired all those in the know from Led Zep to The Pistols and more recently Kasabian and The Libertines (co-frontman Carl Barat even called his post-split band Dirty Pretty Things), they are planning to return to Newbury soon. Miss at your peril!

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, February 2, 2012 (with my name on it instead of Bill's! Doh!)  

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