RFI: Pretty Things

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Is S.F. Sorrow the place to start? How hopelessly large is their back catalog?

Baked Bean Teeth (Baked Bean Teeth), Friday, 25 April 2003 22:15 (twenty-one years ago) link

Not too impossible. SF Sorrow is my favorite for "Baron Saturday" and "Death" alone.

roger adultery (roger adultery), Friday, 25 April 2003 22:48 (twenty-one years ago) link

"s.f. sorrow" is the place to start. don't let anyone sucka-talk you into buying "parachute" first, "s.f. sorrow" is THE PEAK of their creativity and songwriting. there's a relatively new reissue floating around with some bonus tracks as well.

your null fame (yournullfame), Friday, 25 April 2003 23:03 (twenty-one years ago) link

but do you want another excellent psych record to throw on your pile when you could start instead with one of the comps [or the 2nd lp] documenting their mod-crucial when-they-kicked-ass-period?

mig, Saturday, 26 April 2003 01:23 (twenty-one years ago) link

SFS is a good place to start, yeah better than Parachute far as that period goes -thats good too tho - but their earlier stuff r&b punk stuff is just as good , check out the norton reissues.

duane, Saturday, 26 April 2003 02:05 (twenty-one years ago) link

sorry thats pretty much what the last poster said , i should learn to read

duane, Saturday, 26 April 2003 02:07 (twenty-one years ago) link

I just don't get SF Sorrow and all that. I must be shallow, or something. But, jeez, the early stuff is stellar. Definitely go for the first couple LPs or a decent comp thereof. Rosalyn, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut, and Come See Me, not to mention Midnight To Six Man. All great garage R&B. Like the reputation says, way tougher sounding than the early Stones.

pauls00, Saturday, 26 April 2003 02:48 (twenty-one years ago) link

SF Sorrow is the perennial pick of these. I'd opt for whichever album has "L.S.D." on it, which is my fave Pretties track.

Chris Barrus (Chris Barrus), Saturday, 26 April 2003 10:31 (twenty-one years ago) link

Another vote for SF Sorrow. Their back cataogue is indeed a mighty hill to climb.

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Saturday, 26 April 2003 10:57 (twenty-one years ago) link

SF Sorrow once again, especially the CD reissue with the extra tracks, including "Defecting Grey", one of their best tracks and one of the looniest pieces of UK psych. That said, I think Parachute is great too, and perhaps a bit underrated. The bulk of the Pretty Things catalogue was reissued on CD sometime in the last year or so, so they shouldn't be too difficult to track down.

John Bullabaugh (John Bullabaugh), Saturday, 26 April 2003 21:14 (twenty-one years ago) link

two years pass...
tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tripping.

Special Agent Dale Koopa (orion), Monday, 5 December 2005 18:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, Emotions = underrated album

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Monday, 5 December 2005 19:01 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Listening to Get the Picture, I just get the feeling that the whole heavy blues thing that followed a couple/few years later was kind of inherently lame, you know? Bigger amps just took the music from dance music to surround sound head music asceticism. And none of those guys sounded as tough as the Pretty Things did in 1965 anyway!

Tim Ellison, Saturday, 28 April 2007 19:11 (seventeen years ago) link

The recent Pretty Things compilaton Come See Me is really good, it is a full length CD that covers from the beginning of the band through the psych records. I started with SF Sorrow and got the compilation second, but both are really fine listens. Parachute is the one I will get next at some point.

If you get SF Sorrow and like that one, I'd say look up the Tomorrow self titled record. That one is also a good psychedelic record.

earlnash, Saturday, 28 April 2007 20:18 (seventeen years ago) link

the best PTs tune I know is off this Electric Banana Blows Your Mind CD I got. "It'll Never Be Me," a great blithe kiss-off halfway between the Small Faces and the Stones, I guess. I've tried to appreciate SF Sorrow and Parachute and I gotta admit I almost get there with those records, but to me they seem more like artifacts than anything all that good. Maybe I'm wrong and I should listen again. But I like the idea of this group. Saw a clip of them playing something the name of which I've forgotten, and they were all right, from the mid-'60s. Guess I will try again on the big Concept Albums--but I quite like the Banana stuff and of course "Rosalyn."

whisperineddhurt, Saturday, 28 April 2007 20:25 (seventeen years ago) link

what about the first two albums, edd?

Tim Ellison, Saturday, 28 April 2007 20:53 (seventeen years ago) link

sf sorrow and parachute are godhead to me. i adored them the first time i heard them. i like all prettys stuff pretty much though. but those two were the first i heard, and they both go on any number of best-of lists i could think of: best rock records, best 60's, best guitars, best use of percussion, best vocal performance, best rock songs, best psych, best produced/engineered/SOUNDING records...etc, etc...and i think of them together cuz that's how i first heard them. i bought the double-album set of both albums on Rare Earth used on a saturday afternoon when i was hungover at the wooden shoe bookstore in philly two doors down from my apartment in 1989. changed my life.

scott seward, Saturday, 28 April 2007 21:10 (seventeen years ago) link

nine months pass...

Anybody else out there think that Parachute is vastly superior to SF Sorrow?

Davey D, Tuesday, 12 February 2008 23:02 (sixteen years ago) link

there are a lot of wrong people in the world.

GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 05:04 (sixteen years ago) link

I like Parachute more than SF Sorrow, but I wouldn't call it "vastly" better.

Trip Maker, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 17:47 (sixteen years ago) link

I like parts of Parachute more than parts of SF Sorrow, and vice versa.

dlp9001, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 18:23 (sixteen years ago) link

one year passes...

got the unreleased pretty things/philippe debarge album yesterday. some very cool stuff on it, but the band definitely kept their best material for parachute which they would record the next year. still, this is the prettys post-sf sorrow and pre-parachute (but also post-dick taylor) and hearing 4 or 5 may/waller songs that i've never heard (along with a couple of re-worked electric banana tunes and some stuff they used to do live and which you can hear on bbc sessions) recorded during that period is enough to keep me excited for awhile. and french dude philippe does a credible enough job on vocals. they had the luxury of a cool modern studio and lots of time and money for this album, which is cool, but part of me actually likes the quickness/cheapness of the banana/dewolfe tracks better. they were crazier and they may have been dashed off in record time, but they are just so exciting in a way that these tracks aren't. still, this has my vote for reissue/excavation of the year! so far...

scott seward, Saturday, 7 March 2009 18:24 (fifteen years ago) link

what he said. it sounds soooooooooo much better than the mp3s that were floating around a few years back!

WEREWOLF CONGRESS (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 8 March 2009 06:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Ashamed to admit I'm not that familiar with their stuff, but I should be seeing 'em do SF Sorrow live at Easter.

Soukesian, Sunday, 8 March 2009 10:31 (fifteen years ago) link

six months pass...

really enjoying this

beauty of grunge = abandon (CaptainLorax), Friday, 25 September 2009 19:58 (fourteen years ago) link

They were great live - a particular highlight was seeing the guitarist cracking out amazing lead breaks while nonchalantly chatting to one of the backup singers over his shoulder.

Soukesian, Friday, 25 September 2009 20:08 (fourteen years ago) link


Trip Maker, Friday, 25 September 2009 20:09 (fourteen years ago) link


Roger Sánchez Broto (vain_bowers), Friday, 25 September 2009 21:57 (fourteen years ago) link

I heard a song from SF Sorrow playing as muzak at Powell's books today. (not a muzak version but y'know)

Nate Carson, Saturday, 26 September 2009 01:13 (fourteen years ago) link

It was "She Says Good Morning".

Nate Carson, Saturday, 26 September 2009 01:18 (fourteen years ago) link

four months pass...

first time listening to s.f. sorrow, this is awesome

am0n, Friday, 12 February 2010 02:14 (fourteen years ago) link

dude! i remember that feeling!

international slackness (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Friday, 12 February 2010 04:01 (fourteen years ago) link

can't believe i slept on this band so long

am0n, Friday, 12 February 2010 04:36 (fourteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...

'parachute' and 'emotions' too. fuck

am0n, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 15:35 (fourteen years ago) link

this comp


awesome start to finish. also there's a "the fontana years" comp that shares some tunes with this one that is really really storming

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 March 2010 15:43 (fourteen years ago) link

"this comp" refers to "the ep collection...plus"

img didn't work out

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 March 2010 15:44 (fourteen years ago) link

and now it appears. nevermind.

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 March 2010 15:45 (fourteen years ago) link

can't see it :3

am0n, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 15:55 (fourteen years ago) link

There are times when Parachute can't be beat - and those times usually fall in February or March. Bleak grey days are built for melancholy British psyche.

But the neanderthal in me loves the punk R&B stomping Pretty Things best.

Brio, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 15:58 (fourteen years ago) link

Been rocking my Vintage Years 2lp in the last week.
LOVE these fucking Sire Vintage Years sets. The Troggs one is indispensable.
But you're right about Parachute. Will have to spin that soon.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 16:02 (fourteen years ago) link

i downloaded s f sorrow after reading this thread and although i like it fine my stepfather is totally in love with it. thanks on his behalf yall.

samosa gibreel, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 16:32 (fourteen years ago) link

It's funny how divisive SF Sorrow is, some people really hate it.
I wish I hadn't lost my copy of the Mono Snapper reissue, I prefer that mix to the stereo one. I think an old roommate stole it or something.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 16:38 (fourteen years ago) link

I liked SF right off the bat - Parachute was more of a grower but it's the one I ended up listening to more over the years.

Brio, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 16:57 (fourteen years ago) link

Parachute took me forever to get into, S.F. Sorrow I liked from day one. I got into the early stuff after those two, I p. much celebrate their entire catalog.

Gorgeous Ladies Of Curling (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Tuesday, 2 March 2010 17:48 (fourteen years ago) link

"The Troggs one is indispensable."

for real. sounds so great and its just one amazing song after another.

i guess i don't get the not getting parachute thing. especially if you like sf sorrow. and i really don't get not liking sf sorrow. that just seems crazy to me. but parachute to me is just as fun to listen to as sorrow. they're both great. i first heard them when i bought the rare earth twofer of both albums years ago, so maybe that has something to do with how i feel. i played one and then the other and my life kinda changed. i needed MORE like it immediately. haven't looked back since.

scott seward, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 18:04 (fourteen years ago) link

I dunno - it's all dependent on the listener I guess - I heard the earlier stuff first and I have to admit I was a bit of a garage-rock "I hate the beatles" knucklehead for awhile there so probably wasn't the coolest listener out there when I first heard the psychedelic records. SF Sorrow seemed like it had more hooks, more (relatively) straight-ahead rock n roll to it whereas Parachute is a bit sadder, older, and proggier. In any case, both records helped me on the journey away from knuckleheadedness and for that I thank them.

Brio, Tuesday, 2 March 2010 18:33 (fourteen years ago) link

one month passes...

Just hearing Emotions for the first time and I'm really digging it. Parts of it sound like Between the Buttons era Stones or the Kinks. The Sun is stunningly beautiful...

ColinO, Sunday, 11 April 2010 01:49 (fourteen years ago) link

I had no idea that this band kept going. Released an album in 2007! How is the post-Parachute stuff (all NINE albums of it)?

FC Tom Tomsk Club (Merdeyeux), Sunday, 11 April 2010 02:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Page signed them up to Swan Song for a couple albums in the mid-Seventies, Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye, may have had something to do with wanting to compete for the audience Status Quo was drawing.

I like the latter of the two more. Savage Eye has two great songs, Remember That Boy and It's Only Rock 'n' Roll.

Gorge, Sunday, 11 April 2010 19:13 (fourteen years ago) link

That 2007 album _Balboa Island_ is pretty good actually. They still play pretty regularly, & at a London show last year they said they were going to be going to the US & doing their SF Sorrow show this year (although things don't always run to plan in the world of the Pretties, & I've heard nothing more about this since).

Wandering Boy Poet, Monday, 12 April 2010 12:56 (fourteen years ago) link

I rather liked the Swan Song releases, pretty much all the way through. The one after that [circa 1979] was kinda crappy, and I also think Balboa Island is a decent record.

ImprovSpirit, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 21:45 (fourteen years ago) link

eight months pass...

listening to S.F. Sorrow & Parachute for the last couple of days...man those were two awesome LPs! Sorrow is prolley top 10 of the decade at least...

Ned Rag & the Evil Olive Gardens (Drugs A. Money), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 20:54 (thirteen years ago) link

I need the Electric Banana stuff, the stray tracks I've heard here and there are awesome.

Trip Maker, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 20:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah it's about time they reissue the EB stuff again. Parachute has totally grown on me over the years, but apparently the new issue may either have original demos (if they can find them) or, cough, rerecordings of those demos and some of the songs from the album?

(are you sure you want to) exit the wizard (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 30 December 2010 03:05 (thirteen years ago) link

nine months pass...

I have located a copy of The Electric Banana: The Seventies in a used shop.
Is it worth thirty-five bones, though? I love Love LOVE the Pretties up through Parachute, think the stuff after that is very spotty, though. I did notice that Dick Taylor is NOT on the record.
Any opinions?

Trip Maker, Friday, 30 September 2011 18:01 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

i never listened to these dudes much before and haven't been listening to much old psych stuff recently but i'm jamming sf sorrow right now and i'm digging it

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 11 July 2013 20:48 (eleven years ago) link

Always liked SF Sorrow but then grew to love Parachute. Now Parachute and a '68-'71 singles comp are all I own/feel the need to have.

chromecassettes, Thursday, 11 July 2013 23:24 (eleven years ago) link

I really like the album they did with the French playboy Philippe Debarge, who put them up & paid them to record an album with him. Picked up the cleaned-up reissue from a couple of years ago. As you’d expect, the vocals aren’t the strongest but Phil May & the others sing harmony on quite a bit of it, and the band themselves are on fire, great versions of ‘Alexander’ and ‘It’ll never be me’ as well.

Gouty_Ted, Friday, 12 July 2013 07:47 (eleven years ago) link

Also, I only realised recently the Pretty Things are on the 'Dawn of the Dead' soundtrack! The part near the beginning where the hillbillies are shooting the zombies

Gouty_Ted, Friday, 12 July 2013 07:48 (eleven years ago) link

^^That's one of their "Electric Banana" library recordings!

Snapper repackaged the first two Pretties albums + bonus tracks in a little bound set a couple years ago that retails stateside for about $12 and is worth every penny.

Mr. Mojo Readin' (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 12 July 2013 07:59 (eleven years ago) link

SF Sorrow feels epochal to me, like it just feels like the zenith of large swaths of the art-school blues rock acid psych trajectory that made up a huge portion of classic rock.

Like it's amazing that classic rock stations aren't just bumping Good Morning or Trust or I See You on the reg

the gospel of meth (Drugs A. Money), Saturday, 13 July 2013 01:49 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

Some Social Media Maven I've Never Heard Of Did A Sorta SFW Shoot For Playboy, And This Happened...


Kenneth Without Anger (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 27 July 2016 21:24 (seven years ago) link

Surprised nobody mentioned Get The Picture by name since it's a great lp. First one that's mainly them writing and seems like a snapshot of the time.
Do love the roughness of 1st lp and all the stuff up to Parachute. Would love a physical copy of the box set.

&if people are into the 1st 2lps, the Dutch band Q65 are worth seeking out.

Stevolende, Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:24 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...

Doing a "farewell" concert in London next week with David Gilmour and Van Morrison guesting.

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 10:09 (five years ago) link


and a 1970 appearance on German tv that I just saw being circulated

Stevolende, Tuesday, 4 December 2018 11:23 (five years ago) link

six months pass...



Ambient Police (sleeve), Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:09 (five years ago) link

so great

Ambient Police (sleeve), Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:09 (five years ago) link

I imagine at least one member of the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 was a big fan of "Balloons Burning"

Ambient Police (sleeve), Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:26 (five years ago) link

october 26 is all time for me

and parachute a pretty incredible example of a band making a killer LP after the loss of a key contributor

umsworth (emsworth), Thursday, 27 June 2019 07:02 (five years ago) link

five months pass...


Stooges, before Stooges.

Pretty Things are ao fucking underrated.

nostormo, Monday, 23 December 2019 20:25 (four years ago) link

budo jeru wrote this on thread In your view, who were the greatest rock band of all time? on board I Love Music on Mar 1, 2018

it's the pretty things

budo jeru, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 19:00 (four years ago) link

sick video, thanks for sharing !

budo jeru, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 19:00 (four years ago) link

You welcome.

How can a band, who was quite mediocre before 67 and pretty awful after 1970, made such a great, versatile music between 67-70, including singles and the Electric Banana stuff?

nostormo, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 19:06 (four years ago) link


Good question.

Runcible Spoonman (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 December 2019 20:48 (four years ago) link

I don't agree with that pre 67 thing 1st lp is great as are next 2 even with the added strings on the 3rd.
Love that first lp and I thought it was a major influence on a lot of US and Dutch garage stuff. Probably antipodean too.
Get The Picture seems to catch the atmosphere of the mid 60s quite wonderfully and Emotions has songs on.it I love. Especially The Sun.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 21:03 (four years ago) link


budo jeru, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 22:50 (four years ago) link

"mediocre before 67" is a weird take for a band that gave us "rosalyn" in 19 fucking 64

budo jeru, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 22:52 (four years ago) link

Christ, Dick Taylor's playing on "Why" is in the same league with Steve Howe's playing on Tomorrow's version.

revenge of the jawn (rushomancy), Wednesday, 25 December 2019 05:44 (four years ago) link

are you referring to live hyde park '68 or live in amsterdam '69 ? haven't heard either, those recordings are hard to come by, or perhaps you're referring to something else

budo jeru, Wednesday, 25 December 2019 18:13 (four years ago) link

"mediocre before 67" is a weird take for a band that gave us "rosalyn" in 19 fucking 64


by the light of the burning Citroën, Wednesday, 25 December 2019 19:00 (four years ago) link

are you referring to live hyde park '68 or live in amsterdam '69 ? haven't heard either, those recordings are hard to come by, or perhaps you're referring to something else

― budo jeru

this one:


it was linked on the sidebar of the "reincarnation" vid. so the pretty things never recorded "reincarnation"? that's a shame, it's a good number!

revenge of the jawn (rushomancy), Wednesday, 25 December 2019 19:56 (four years ago) link

Wally Waller was one of their secret weapons during 67-70. his songwriting and husky voice are great. Sounds somewhat like David Gilmour.

nostormo, Friday, 27 December 2019 08:25 (four years ago) link

four months pass...

dang, RIP phil

budo jeru, Friday, 15 May 2020 16:40 (four years ago) link

Oh no! RIP Phil, such a cool frontman.

Frank Bough: I Took Drugs with Vice Girls (Tom D.), Friday, 15 May 2020 16:45 (four years ago) link

aw hell, RIP Phil May

Brad C., Friday, 15 May 2020 16:53 (four years ago) link

Ah damn. I was really looking forward to this new acoustic project that Mark St. John talked about in the regular PT column in Ugly Things -- but very glad they were able to do the Final Bow shows.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 15 May 2020 16:56 (four years ago) link

Bike accident..


Talented man, great band.
The man with the thousand voices.

nostormo, Friday, 15 May 2020 21:20 (four years ago) link

Aw shit

I think they were the best 60s-era band I’ve ever seen live - small club, didn’t take anything for granted, worked hard to put on a brilliant show

much as I love Dick Taylor I think the era when he stepped away from the band is my favourite? Parachute rules, and October 26 is just a brilliant brilliant single, what a vocal and what a vocalist


umsworth (emsworth), Friday, 15 May 2020 22:14 (four years ago) link

midnight to eternity man

last updated a group of five done twelve times ago (geoffreyess), Saturday, 16 May 2020 14:29 (four years ago) link

four years pass...


When we arrive at The Magic Bag's parking lot in Detroit, the Pretties are in turmoil. The modest crowds already have everyone on edge, and now, the flu is festering. Phil is drinking honey to soothe his sore throat. Skip misses his family and lucrative prosthetic limb business, not specifying which he yearns for more.

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