Reforming in 1972, the Pretty Things sound was a marked change from the psychedelic pop of their early work, running headlong into radio ready hard rock.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Pretty Things
ALBUM: Freeway Madness
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: BS 2680
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: John Povey – vocals, keyboards * Phil May – lead vocals * Peter Tolson – guitars * Skip Alan – drums * Stuart Brooks – bass
Additional Musicians: Gordon Huntley – pedal guitar * Don Harper – string arrangements * Bill Reid, Johnny Van Derrick – violin * Don Harper – viola * Peter Willison – cello
TRACK LISTING: 01 Love Is Good * 02 Havana Bound * 03 Peter * 04 Rip Off Train * 05 Over The Moon * 06 Religion’s Dead * 07 Country Road * 08 Allnight Sailor * 09 Onion Soup * 10 Another Bowl?
Just who were The Pretty Things? Well for starters they beat out The Who‘s ‘Tommy’ by five months, releasing the first psyched-out rock opera ‘SF Sorrow’ in 1968 that was criminally ignored at the time of its initial release.
Despite a brace of excellent albums and overwhelming talent, they never cracked the market in a big way and think about it – how often do you hear a Pretty Things track on the radio these days? Next to never I imagine.
And yet the Pretties were a strong influence on artists like AC/DC, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury while Pete Townshendin a series of humble moments cited ‘SF Sorrow’ as a major reason ‘Tommy’ happened at all.
The first in a series of break-ups, the Pretties called it quits in 1970 following the classic ‘Parachute’ album, recording Library music and writing the scores for a couple long forgotten soft core porn films. Reforming in 1972, the bands sound was a marked change from the psychedelic pop of their early work, running headlong into radio ready hard rock.
‘Freeway Madness’ like much of their 70’s catalog has often been compared to The Rolling Stones and while that’s true to some extent, it’s still a solid album and well worth your attention. Lead off cut ‘Love Is Good’ and ‘Havana Bound’ are both unabashedly Stones influenced and great rock ‘n roll, the latter receiving much needed air play in the States.
‘Over The Moon’ brings a whole lot of The Beatles into the mix adding a charming string section for an ‘Eleanor Rigby’ effect, although ‘Country Road’ shows the band, much like Man were picking up on the good vibrations coming out of the U.S. west coast sounding very much like Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Yes the remaining tracks sort of flounder in a Jaggeresque blues based soup but ‘Freeway Madness’ was a somewhat successful record, bolstered by a first time ever American tour which from all accounts was well received.
For their next album ‘Silk Torpedo’, The Pretty Things were signed by the Swan Song label and managed by Led Zeppelin‘s larger than life mover and shaker Peter Grant.
This version of the band split in 1976 but again, numerous reformations and changes in musical style, including the 1980 new wave stomper ‘Cross Talk’ to the pub rock of 2007’s ‘Balboa Island’ have insured The Pretty Things name is kept alive with music fans all the better for it.