Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Pretty Things- Don't Bring Me Down

British R&B seems to be on the menu for me at the moment, and one of the great protagonists of that sound and a band who were seriously underrated were The Pretty Things. It's also relevant as they are currently in Australia touring and the shows have garnered critical acclaim, they also have performed in New Zealand their first concerts there since being banned from the country in 1965. Their genesis was closely linked with that of The Rolling Stones, guitarist Dick Taylor had played with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in Little
Boy Blue and the Blue Boys in 1962 before joining the Stones in early 1963 but he left after a few months. Taylor then met singer/harmonica player Phil May at the London Central School of Art and they formed the Pretty Things. Throughout their history they had a fairly fluid line-up but the most significant line-up included Brian Pendleton on rhythm guitar, John Stax on bass and Viv Prince on drums.

Don't Bring Me Down was their second single release of 1964 and reached #10 in the U.K giving them their biggest hit single. It also reached #34 in Canada and was a minor hit in Australia, where the band toured the following year. It's another defining document of the early days of the British R&B scene and an influence in the garage sound that emerged in the U.S the following year. The song has a sharp Bo Diddley influence with heavy percussive sounds and stop times in the verses before the band winds up in the chorus. Prince's drums especially his snare sounds like it's been baked in an oven it's that tight. The Pretty Things were never able to commercially capitalise on this early success, the following year on an Australasian tour Viv Prince set fire to a bag of crayfish on an internal flight in New Zealand which led to the band being banned from the country.

In 1968 they recorded the revered S.F Sorrow concert album which has been acknowledged as the first rock opera, pre-dating The Who's Tommy by about 6 months. It's commercial failure led to Dick Taylor leaving the band in 1969, the band briefly splintered before re-uniting. In 1974 they came under the management of Peter Grant and were signed to Led Zeppelins label Swan Song and their two releases on that label Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye both reached the U.S charts. The current line-up touring Australia has both Phil May and Dick Taylor with a young rhythm section, unfortunately I didn't get the chance to see them play.

No comments:

Post a Comment