The Pretty Things
On The Record
A new Pretty things album?? Yes please – time for JLTT to catch up with Phil and Dick for the lowdown on ‘The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed now, of Course )…
Phil May –
JLTT: Phil, I’ve been playing this new album of yours and In The Soukh has this real Bo Diddley 6/8 beat but the song is something else, mystical, apocalyptic
PM : It’s that mood we were after…yes, a bit unusual
And Dirty Song, the closer..it sounds like it should open a film ..about a train robber gang or something
(Laughs) Well I’m glad you like it, anyway! Again atmosphere, isn’t it?
Sky Saxon – You Took Me By Surprise….your version is on here. The Seeds had their moments, didn’t they?
(Emphatic) They did! The whole thing about is when he died, his widow wanted to do a tribute album featuring several bands and artists, I think to fund some kind of idyllic wildlife situation or project..I never really got to the bottom of it all. Anyway we recorded a couple of things for it and it must have gone belly up however we were pleased with both the songs that we had completed and as a nod it did seem appropriate to stick one on the new album
Yes on the album the cut Turn My Head sounds terrific, it could almost be off Parachute….y’know whenever we’ve met before you said Parachute is city music, reflecting city life and concerns..moments of great beauty, but you couldn’t mistake it for rural music
I’m very loath to put or to post information into things that people hear, because in essence, I think what it means to you is what it means to you..it’s not right to interfere, y’know..best you interpret it your way rather than have your take in it changed because of something I say…when you drop the needle down on the record, your experience starts..that’s your moment..a choice that you make when you listen to something..if someone says, say this song reminds me of my dad I just say fine, great that’s what it’s bringing to you…I’m not going to say no. it wasn’t about that
And if you and I were staring together at a painting in the Hayward, you might get something out of it that I don’t, or vice versa
Exactly! Once you make a record..Parachute was very much interwoven with our lives at that point..it was mainly Wally’s and my record, a lot of it was done in Westbourne Grove and Terrace initially and reassembled on the floor of Abbey Road…with everybody contributing at that stage..so once you get it out there, all you can do is ask or hope that people listen to it..maybe you are hoping it’s going to stir some memories or thoughts..something perhaps in their lives that they can resonate to
I don’t know of a better sound picture – whether I am picking up the ‘right’ vibes or not – than the Soho portrait of Cries Of The Midnight Circus..and this Hogarthian range of folk that you and I know are out there in late night London
When we’d finished playing in that area, we would just go down and drink with the hookers, y’know til four or five in the morning..it was great, they’d show you pictures of their kids back in Prague that their mum was looking after, or their gran and I felt we were kind of doing the same thing…. we were selling ourselves..to me, they were perfect company
When I came down to see you play at Cranleigh, we were chatting in the break and I gently reminded you that your version of the Byrds’ Renaissance Fair hadn’t made it on to a PT record..and here it is, a kind of magic about it
(Laughs) Fantastic, Pete – we found an eighteen-minute version of it..Mark came across it on some tapes, but it must have been a live on stage one
You did play it at what was Ewell Tech…
Yes and we used to do Why (Byrds’ Eight Miles High flip – PS) too which went on for ****ing half an hour !
You just can’t wrap it up..happens to me on Pushing Too Hard! What are your overall thought about this new record, Phil?
It’s funny for me, because we were working on the box set and Mark suddenly said how about a studio album ? Seems Repertoire were really keen for the current lineup to release something ..I don’t think any of us had really thought with the box set coming out ….part of the reason I think that with us going through the material on the 51 year history we realised that Jack and George who have really energised the group hadn’t got anything out there of theirs…this has blown them away, they now have their own first Pretty Things album
The bass playing is cool and the drumming absolutely ferocious -e.g. Greenwood Tree!
He’s brilliant – and the idea of putting a drum solo on a record..who would have thought it would ever happen again? used to be obligatory, didn’t it ?
I knew Ed Cassidy of Spirit and he could make the odd drum solo musical, not many could though
(Warmly) Well I am pleased you like the new set, Pete
Aha! Apparently we are huge heroes of The Strypes..they recorded where we did Balboa Island and the guy that runs it said they couldn’t believe that we’d recorded there ..they’re only young..that’s very cool,isn’t it?
Dick Taylor –
(I have been talking favourite blues tracks by other artists with guitarist Dick Taylor when we switch to the new PT album – PS)
JLTT : Talking of drums, Dick – Jack Greenwood plays up a storm on this new PT album!
DT : ( Laughs) It’s probably the only album in thirty years on the rock side, anyway with a drum solo ! He and bassist George Woosey are living their dream and playing out, so Phil and I can kind of sit on top of that…but yeah, having all that youthful energy, it really does help. Pete – live and in the studio. This release means that they have their name on a new record which really is only right and we are happy to make it happen for them
And Renaissance Fair is here…
Yes.. now we used to do that live and it used to twist off into all sorts of things ..but we thought we’ d so a version that was pretty crisp for this album…Greenwood Tree came out sort of psychedelic..just take off and see what you can do ..very much what we did late ’66 to ’69, in spirit
As did the Dutch band Golden Earring
Oh yes! And we used to do Why..these songs are very good vehicles to go to places you don’t know where you’re going ! It’s just good to have a platform to do that at some points..they tend to solidify as you play into something that has a shape to it
It’s the essence of Miles Davis – the theme you take somewhere and back
Yep – heading somewhere different when you play that piece – somewhere you may never go back to, as well..when we started out there was a lot of free jazz around the scene, not in the mainstream but we heard it ….so there has always been some of that in what the Pretty Things do..when we want to
The MC5’s Rob Tyner put me on to Sun Ra..new colours and ideas
And then you’re though a new door……
Verbals: Pete Sargeant
Visuals: per Alan Robinson, Indiscreet
The Pretty Things new album ‘The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now, of Course )’ is out now on Repertoire Records. For more information visit: http://www.theprettythings.com/home/
(Thanks Alan R at Indiscreet and of course to Phil and Dick)