England’s Snapper Records recently released the ultimate retrospective of the Pretty Things, purveyors of “thrash R&B” (to quote lead singer Phil May) and psychedelia. Featured in July ’15’s “Check This Action,” it weighs six and a half pounds and includes remastered CDs of the band’s 11 studio albums and too many extras to list here.
But the band is an ongoing concern, and its new album (with eight strong group originals and well-chosen covers of the Byrds’ “Renaissance Fair” and “You Took Me By Surprise,” penned by the Seeds’ Sky Saxon) should satisfy diehard fans and garner some new ones.
It’s fairly well known that lead guitarist Dick Taylor was a member of an embryonic incarnation of the Rolling Stones before splitting to form the Pretty Things with May in ’63. Second guitarist Frank Holland was part of May’s solo outing before the pair reattached to the Pretties in ’88. “New” members Jack Greenwood (drums) and George Woosey (bass) came onboard in ’07 and ’08, respectively.
Producer Mark St. John writes that the band set up as they would for a live gig, using their ’60s Selmer tube amps, keeping the analog basic tracks and most original guitar solos and lead vocals.
The fact that May and Taylor are in their early 70s is completely irrelevant. This provides a great, albeit unattainable, lesson for any and all fledgling rockers.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s November ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.