Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Essay Question

The Pretty Things, 1966: The poor man's Rolling Stones or the first great garage band?


I actually saw these guys back in 1974, when they were signed to Led Zep's label and were touring Silk Torpedo (which despite the sub-Spinal Tap title is actually a very nice record). Of course in those days, the music they were making was glam-rock verging on prog, not the, shall we say, rough hewn stuff in the clip above.

As for their early stuff, I still haven't made up my mind; hence the theme of today's post.


Anonymous said...

they are marginally pretty, as opposed to the Stones who rivaled the Animals for being, say, different-looking. I vote garage.

Unknown said...

A poor man Rolling Stones with a better drummer

cthulhu said...

I'd say that Midnight-to-Six Man and LSD are firmly in the Sonics / Wailers garage rock aesthetic. But I don't think I would rank the Pretty Things above those bands (especially the Sonics).

Gummo said...

The Pretty Things, 1966: The poor man's Rolling Stones or the first great garage band?


steve simels said...

A better drummer.

Than Charlie Watts?

I don't think so.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

This clip and the song itself, MIDNIGHT TO SIX MAN (which is really good), is closer to the Stones than garage, but I find it to be closer still to the pop side early Eric Burdon/Animals songs such as BOOM BOOM and BABY LET ME TAKE YOU HOME.

And yes, Silk Torpedo IS a nice album. But will someone please tell me why S.F. Sorrow is trotted out as a landmark album? Is it because it was a story-album by a band with no high-art pretensions?

Dave said...

Reminds me a little of Them, albeit with a less distinctive lead singer.

Dave F.

Anonymous said...

First great garage band or poor man's Rolling Stones? I'd say neither. But I really like this band in a warts and all kind of way. Plus they had an original self-destructive drummer, Viv Prince, that was so out of control that Keith Moon copped stuff from him.

If they'd only done Rosalyn and Don't Bring Me Down it would have been enough to cement their legend. But they did much more. Their rawness was palpable. It was roots blues & R&B on Drinamyl.

Their management was insane for not booking them on a US tour in the mid-60's. All we got was a few filmed appearances on Shindig. And man did Phil May have long hair! Christ it was longer than Dave Davies'. Unseen at the time.

Hard to believe that this band never even had a single in the Billboard Hot 100. They never even bubbled under! What?!?!

However, they cracked the Top 30 in my hometown Berdoo with Don't Bring Me Down. All of their singles got airplay out here. They were a favorite of DJ John Ravenscroft (Peel) who even played their British sides. Get a Buzz comes to mind. It was the flip of the UK Cry To Me 45. I loved dancing to it in my bedroom mirror so much that I called KMEN to figure out where they got the tune. I bugged my mom and dad till they took me to Lewins where I could score the import with my chores money. I bought it for the B-Side. Never cared much for their take on Cry To Me.

The last thing I remember KMEN playing was the Come See Me/ LSD single. Ravenscroft used to do a weekend show where he would play the top hits in Britain. I dug that single with its Everybody Needs Somebody To Love meets the Animals and Mitch Ryder. Bad ass quickie guitar solo is a tone monster. We all thought the flip was about acid because we were stupid American teeny boppers and the drug was all the new rage in SoCal at the time (though still a trips virgin, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some of that candy). The DJ's helped perpetuate that misunderstanding.

Never saw the band till they played the Whisky in 1973 on the Freeway Madness tour during my senior year in High School. It was a schizophrenic mix of oldies and the newer CSNY style harmony stuff. Saw them again when they opened for Blue Oyster Cult at the Shrine early 1975. But my favorite show of theirs was in the early 2000's at the Whisky where they did a one-nighter and gave the devoted what they wanted.

BTW, even though I didn't hear it until years later, Defecting Grey, is a pretty outstanding psychedelic single. And I think it can be argued that S.F. Sorrow is a better album than Satanic Majesties, not that I feel that way.

The Pretty Things are much more than the first garage band. They were one of the primary influences of garage bands in my area. They were also much more than a poor man's Stones. In fact, the Stones sound refined up against the likes of the Things.

Vickie Rock

Does anyone really know what the lyrics to Don't Get Me Down are? Regardless, it's perfectly mumbled and makes me wanna writhe in the dirt of their cave.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"SF Sorrow" is right up there with "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn", and "Sgt Pepper" as the best Psychedelia of the time. In that case The Rolling Stones aren't the poormans Pretty Things or a great garage band.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'd rather watch the drummer in this clip than stoic, sour Charlie Watts.

Anonymous said...

BBJ: I'm with you on Floyd's Piper. That opening one-two of Astronomy Domine & Lucifer Sam really smokes the eyelids. But you forgot The Soft Machine. I fuckin' love that first album! Just the thought of it makes me crave some 270 mic candy.

Vickie Rock