- The Pretty Things
Infobox musical artist
Name = The Pretty Things
Img_capt = The Pretty Things, ca. 1966
Background = group_or_band
Alias = Electric Banana
British Invasion, Garage Rock, rhythm and blues, beat, psychedelic rock
Years_active = 1964–present
Label = Fontana
Warner Bros. Records
Current_members = Phil May
John C. Alder
Roelf ter Velt
The Pretty Things are a
rock and rollband from London. They pioneered a raw approach to rhythm and bluesthat influenced a number of key bands of the 1960s British invasion, including The Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:w9ftxq85ldte~T1 allmusic Biography] ]
The Pretty Things were preceded by Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, which consisted of
Dick Taylor, fellow Sidcup Art Collegestudent Keith Richardsand Mick Jagger. When Brian Jonesjoined the band on guitar, Taylor was pushed from guitar to bass and the band changed its name to the Rollin' Stones.
Taylor (born Richard Clifford Taylor,
January 28, 1943, in Dartford, Kent) quit the Stones several months later when he was accepted at the London Central School of Art, where he met Phil May (born Phillip Arthur Dennis Wadey, on November 9, 1944, in Dartford, Kent) and they formed The Pretty Things.
Taylor was once again playing guitar, with May singing and playing harmonica. They recruited
Brian Pendleton(born April 13, 1944in Wolverhampton– died May 16, 2001in Maidstone, Kent) on rhythm guitar; John Stax (born John Edward Lee Fullegar, April 6, 1944in Crayford, Kent) on bass; and Pete Kitley, replaced by Viv Broughton (on Premier drums) and then by Viv Prince (born Vivian St John Prince, August 9, 1941, in Loughborough, Leicestershire) on drums.
The Pretty Things caused a sensation in
England, and their first three singles — "Rosalyn" #41, "Don't Bring Me Down" #10, and the self-penned "Honey I Need" at #13 — appeared in the UK singles chartin 1964-1965. They never had a hit in the United States, but had considerable success in their native United Kingdomand in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the Netherlandsin the middle of the decade. However, in the U.S. they, along with The Yardbirdsand Van Morrison's Them, were a huge influence on hundreds of garage bands, including the MC5and The Seeds.
Their early material consisted of hard-edged
blues-rock influenced by Bo Diddley(they took their name from Diddley's 1955 song "Pretty Thing") and Jimmy Reed. They were known for wild stage behaviour and edgy lyrical content; their song "Midnight to Six Man" defined the mod lifestyle. Around this time, the first of what would be many personnel changes over the years also began, with Prince the first to go late in 1965. He was replaced by Skip Alan (born June 11, 1948in London). Brian Pendletonleft late in 1966, and was not initially replaced. Stax quit early in 1967. Jon Povey and Wally Waller joined to make the band a five piece once again.
After a flirtation with mainstream pop on the "Emotions" album in 1967, they embraced
psychedelia, producing the concept album" S.F. Sorrow" during 1967-68. This album, released in late 1968, is arguably one of the first rock operas, preceding the release of The Who's "Tommy" in April 1969 by a few months. It was recorded in the legendary Abbey Road Studiossix months Fact|date=September 2007 after The Beatles' " Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and Pink Floyd's " The Piper at the Gates of Dawn". These albums share a similar late-1960s psychedelicsound, and the Floyd and Pretty Things albums were both produced by Norman Smith, who had engineered most of the Beatles' recordings until 1966.
"S.F. Sorrow" was followed by the highly-acclaimed album "Parachute", which kept the psychedelic sound and was named "Album of the Year" in 1970 by "
Rolling Stone". During this period they also recorded an album for a young French millionaire Philippe DeBarge, which was intended only to be circulated among his social circle. The acetate has since been bootlegged.
During the late 1960s, the band made some extra money by recording a number of songs for low-budget films including "What's Good For the Goose" (1969), "Haunted House of Horror" (1969),"The Monster Club"(1981)and even a couple of softcore porn films. Not intended for official release, these songs were later compiled on a number of records and released under the alias Electric Banana: "Electric Banana" (1967), "More Electric Banana" (1968), "Even More Electric Banana" (1969), "Hot Licks" (1970), and "Return of the Electric Banana" (1978). The initial releases featured one side of vocal and one side of instrumental tracks. Subsequent releases of these albums generally keep the true identity of the band secret.
By late 1970, the group had gone their separate ways due to commercial failures, and Skip Alan was in a group called Sunshine. In 1971, Alan was driving with manager Bill Shepherd when he put on a tape of "Parachute"; Shepherd loved it, and asked who the band was. When Alan told him it was his last group, Shepherd asked what had happened to them and vowed to get them back together. Within three months, Shepherd had assembled May, Povey, Alan, Peter Tolson, and Stuart Brooks, and the group signed with
Warner Bros. Records.
From this point on, the group enjoyed less in the way of commercial success, but the devotion of a strong cult following, especially with critics and other rock musicians. Their material in the early 1970s tended towards more
blues, hard rockand early heavy metal, on albums like "Silk Torpedo", released in 1974. By this time they were being managed by Led Zeppelin's Peter Grant. In fact Silk Torpedo was the first album release on Zeppelin's own label Swan Song, which Grant and the band set up to release their own pet projects. Silk Torpedo also earned the band their first US album chart entry, this despite the fact that an earlier album Parachute had been named 'Album of the Year' in 1970 by US rock mag. Rolling Stone. 1980s "Cross Talk" saw them incorporating influences of punk and new wave into their hard rock sound; like most of their records, it was not a commercial success.
With a new manager, Mark St John, they performed sporadically during the 1980s. By the end of the decade their profile had almost disappeared. May and Taylor reformed the band for a successful European blues tour in late 1990 with
Stan Webb's Chicken Shackand Luther Allison. This outfit included drummer Hans Waterman (formerly of Dutch rock group Solution), bassist Roelf ter Velt and guitarist/keyboardist Barkley McKay ( Waco Brothersand Pine Valley Cosmonautswith Jon Langfordof Mekons fame). This line up regularly toured the European mainland, playing a revitalised set that showcased their earlier, rootsy blues and R&B material, until late 1994. Phil May and Dick Taylor, together with former Yardbirdsdrummer Jim McCarty, recorded 2 albums in Chicago as The Pretty Things Yardbirds Blues Band "The Chicago Blues Tapes 1991" and "Wine, Women, Whiskey", both produced by George Paulus. By 1995, they reformed the "Cross Talk" line-up and added Frank Holland on guitar in place of Peter Tolson. Their label, Snapper Music, issued remastered CDs with many bonus tracks, plus a DVDof a live netcast re-recording of "S.F. Sorrow" at Abbey Road Studios (with David Gilmourand Arthur Brown as guest players). They played a tour of the U.S. for the first time in decades.
Original rhythm guitarist Brian Pendleton died of
lung canceron May 16, 2001. The following year ex-keyboard player Gordon Edwards died of a drug overdose.
In 1999 they released the studio album "Rage Before Beauty" and in the early 2000s, they released several compilation albums, a live album and a live DVD.
In 2003, Alan Lakey's biography of the band, "Growing Old Disgracefully", was published by Firefly. The book dealt with the long and involved history of the band, and paid special attention to the legal proceedings issued against
EMIin the 1990s. An extensively re-written version is hoped to be published during 2009 with, on this occasion, the full co-operation of the band.
In mid-2007, The Pretty Things released their 11th studio album "Balboa Island" on Côte Basque record label. The album contains a number of Pretty Things originals, as well as paying homage to their R & B roots.
Illness has caused the band to restrict live appearances in 2008 with Jack Greenwood replacing Skip Allan on drums.
*"The Pretty Things" (1965) - UK Number 6
*"Get the Picture" (1965)
S.F. Sorrow" (1968)
*"Freeway Madness" (1972)
*"Silk Torpedo" (1974)
*"Savage Eye" (1975)
Cross Talk" (1980)
*"Live At Heartbreak Hotel" (1984)
*"Out of the Island" (1987)
*"Rage... Before Beauty" (1999)
*"LT 4 CB" (1999)
*"Balboa Island" (2007)
Electric Banana was a pseudonymous 1967
albumof the band. The band recorded this album and two subsequent ones for the DeWolfe Music Library. DeWolfe provided stock musicfor film soundtracks. The Electric Banana music wound up on various horror and soft-porn films of the late 1960s, such as "What's Good for the Goose" (1969). When the album was released, the stage nameThe Electric Banana was used to hide the band's identity.;As Electric Banana (Music for Films)
* "Electric Banana" (1967)
* "More Electric Banana" (1968)
* "Even More Electric Banana" (1969)
* "Hot Licks" (1970)
* "The Return Of The Electric Banana" (1978);As Pretty Things/Yardbird Blues Band (Phil May and Dick Taylor with
Jim McCartyof the Yardbirds)
* "The Chicago Blues Tapes 1991" (1991)
* "Wine Women Whiskey" (1992).
*"The Singles A's & B's"
*amg|11:4sjn7ipjg7xr|The Pretty Things
* [http://www.forcedexposure.com/artists/electric.banana.html An Electric Banana release on the Forced Exposure catalog]
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