The Pretty Things were, if you remember, part of that initial wave of British Invasion bands which hit these shores in 1964/1965. They were, without a doubt, one of the rawest, most primal and engaging bands of the bunch. They were equal to, if not surpassing The Rolling Stones, a band which was very much in the spirit of The Pretties, probably because members of both bands were actually in both bands at one time or another. Legend has it, Mick Jagger was originally asked to join but was persuaded by Brian Jones to join his band.
And if any band could lay claim to being the most raucous, rule breaking, loud, snotty and trouble making bunch, it would be The Pretty Things. The bad boy image was the real-deal with those guys.
My first exposure to The Pretty Things was via a 45 ep import, The Pretty Things On Film. It wasn’t available in the States. It was on Fontana, and I bought it at Lewin’s Record Paradise on Hollywood Boulevard in L.A. – it was a life-changing experience and I became a huge fan ever since.
So why didn’t The Pretty Things attain massive popularity in the States? Not only did they not achieve massive popularity, they were practically ignored by the American music buying public and American radio stations. They were, if anything, overlooked.
And throughout the years – The Pretty Things have been together, in various forms and incarnations, over 50 years now. They went from rough-edged Blues to mind-melting Psych to Hard-Rock over the years, and they are still largely ignored by the American music listener.
Not so in England or the rest of Europe. The Pretty Things have always enjoyed sizable popularity and have sustained that popularity throughout all the changes in music and style. I ran one of their more recent concerts during a festival in the Netherlands a couple years ago and they’ve lost none of their edge.
But tonight it’s the early material – the first two songs are from a 1965 session (Top Gear, I think) and the third number is from their celebrated Psychedelic period, which featured some classics and the rewards of a collaboration with Norman Smith, who also did wonders for Pink Floyd early on.
So if you aren’t familiar with The Pretty Things, or missed them the first or second or third time around, pity. I would suggest you start here and crank this one up and listen to what you’ve been missing all these years. And go exploring through a sizable and treasure-laden back-catalog of some touchstone performances.