After a few years of outdoing the Rolling Stones at their own game, Messrs. May and Co., clearly affected by their love of swinging London nightlife and all that went with it, injected their primal R&B roots with added spice (as Mike Stax, "numero uno Los Pretty Things fan," points out in his excellent liner notes). "Can't Stand the Pain" (from the 1965 Get The Picture album) has "a remarkably effective mood with a sense of a dreamy disembodiment that foreshadows what was yet to come with the arrival of psychedelia." By April 1966, B-side "LSD," yet another controversial shot in the Pretty Things' canon, helped pioneer the "freakbeat" sound, whilst the media's attacks on the Pretties slack, druggy values were foremost to the changing times -- in fact, the record was a play on words about the English economy and not a celebration of the merits of LSD usage. However, the band was clearly well-aware of LSD and its effects, and over the coming months further musical explorations that were to steer the band away from their earlier tough R&B sound were to occur. After the rather well-thought inclusion of these two late 1965 and early 1966 tracks, the rest of this double CD focuses on output that was recorded across the 1967 to 1970 psychedelic era. Cuts from the much maligned Emotions album, released in May 1967, take on a new edge when singled out from the album's far from psychedelic brassy pop numbers. The visceral "There Will Never Be Another Day" chronicles an LSD trip, whilst "The Sun" and "Growing in My Mind" show a far more introspective side well suited to the floral times. A primer for this set is an earlier take of "Children," which crackles with raga guitar in an altogether less commercial manner than the album version. Although somewhat of an albatross around the band's neck, when intermingled with their psychedelically charged later material, the chosen cuts from Emotions certainly indicate the direction they were intending to take. The pre-S.F. Sorrow November 1967 single "Defecting Grey" was the pinnacle of not only the Pretty Things' experimentation with psychedelia, but one of the finest examples of British psychedelia. A cacophony of fuzz guitar, trippy lyrics, fairground organ, and sitar, with numerous twists and turns in tempo, mood, and thematics. Like an acid trip, "Defecting Grey" was a rollercoaster of a ride that was fun, disturbing, and overall invigorating. At last the band had conquered psychedelia. Although they would never match its lysergic quality again, the Pretties were now a bona fide "underground freak band." After a following single ("Talkin' About the Good Times"/"Walking Through My Dreams") that utilized the heady sounds of the Mellotron, the psychedelic instrument that was second only to the sitar, the band soon unleashed the song cycle that they had been working on over the past months. S.F. Sorrow displayed the darker, more theatric side of psychedelia. Based on a short story written by Phil May, the album shifts moods and textures, making great usage of Norman Smith's production techniques at the Abbey Road studios. On this set, the selected album cuts are taken out of their original context, but as Stax notes, work superbly as songs on there own accord. (Also included on this CD are three tracks that were recorded for the September 1998 internet webcast of S.F. Sorrow. These are proof that the band still has it, even 30 years on.) And as if a cohesive compilation of the band's psychedelic era wasn't enough, Snapper unleashed two previously unreleased live cuts that were recorded in Amsterdam in March 1969. "Alexander" was previously recorded for the DeWolfe Music Library as extra income for the non-hitmakers and was featured in the swinging '60s Norman Wisdom farce What's Good for the Goose, where the Pretties mimed to it in all of their hippy glory. Live, they attack the song with psych-punk venom, along with an equally powerful version of "
NR (Not Rated)
Recall Records UK
Recall Records UK
Recall Records UK
Recall Records UK
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting, but not nearly as much as CD's like "Silk Torpedo".
I heard 'bout the Pretty Things whilst reading a book about Brian Jones (Rolling Stones for you youngsters) who lived with them in the infamous house at 13 Chester St. Maybe it's the sequencing? I don't know. This just didn't do anything for me at all. I prefer the sister release "The Rhythm and Blues Years". I've been a musician for 40 years and was listening to the Rolling Stones in 1965 when I was 10 years old. In general, I like the music from 1966 and 1967 when LSD was all the rage. So it isn't a matter of taste... I just don't think this is a particularly good collection but it may have more to do with the fact that this music came off of Lps where the song sequencing was extremely important. This is also peppered with stuff recorded by a reformed Pretty Things during a live session at Abbey Road some years later. If I had it to do again, I'd just buy SF Sorrow and Parachute and skip this collection altogether.
Amazing album man
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