An English rock and roll band from London, who formed in 1963 and are still active today. They're best known for releasing S.F. Sorrow, the first ever Rock Opera—yes, even before The Who's Tommy! In the beginning, they were a tough R&B outfit often compared with The Rolling Stones (mostly because guitarist Dick Taylor was the Stones' first bassist), although they never achieved the level of fame and success that the Stones did. Built around the core formed by Taylor and lead singer Phil May.
As noted, the Pretty Things began as a hard-edged blues-rock outfit, releasing two albums and several singles in the UK. When that scene began to decay, the band recorded a contractually-required album, Emotions, before switching labels and beginning the S.F. Sorrow sessions in 1967. The album was released in 1968 to little success, although today it is usually regarded as a groundbreaking work of art. The next album, 1970's Parachute, continued in the psychedelic/art rock vein and became Rolling Stone's Album of the Year.
Still failing to attain much popular success, the Pretties recorded a few more albums before disbanding in 1980; two of these, Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye, were originally released on Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label and were their best-selling albums in America. Since then, they've reunited several times to release further critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums. May and Taylor toured with a new lineup until their manager announced their retirement from the road in 2018, although the band intends to release at least one more studio album. Also, a group called xPT's, consisting of several former Pretties (not including May or Taylor), released Parachute Reborn (a re-recording of Parachute with a couple of bonus tracks) in 2012.
The Pretty Things' studio albums:
- The Pretty Things (1965)
- Get the Picture? (1965)
- Emotions (1967)
- S.F. Sorrow (1968)
- Parachute (1970)
- Freeway Madness (1972)
- Silk Torpedo (1974)
- Savage Eye (1975)
- Cross Talk (1980)
- Rage Before Beauty (1999)
- Balboa Island (2007)
- The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now, Of Course...) (2015)
"Honey, need your tropes, all the time, all the time":
- All Drummers Are Animals: Viv Prince, the Pretties' drummer on the earliest records, was even loonier than Keith Moon. In fact, he became so erratic and unreliable that he was fired by the time Get the Picture? was released.
- Badass Beard: Dick Taylor has had one since the 60's.
- Cool Old Guy: What May and Taylor are now.
- Darker and Edgier: Just as The Rolling Stones were edgier than The Beatles, the Pretties were even edgier than the Stones.
- EmPHAsis On The Wrong SylLAble: The title of "Photographer" is sung "pho-to-GRAPH-er".
- Genre Shift: From heavy blues to Psychedelic Rock and art-rock.
- Heavy Metal: S.F. Sorrow included some proto-metal tracks, most notably "Old Man Going", which may have been heavier than anything that came before.
- Rock Opera: S.F. Sorrow was the Ur-Example.
- Something Blues: "Blue Serge Blues".
- Starving Artist: "Photographer" is about one of these.
- Titled After the Song: In this case, Bo Diddley's "Pretty Thing". Their Cover Version ends with Phil May doing a spoken Shout-Out: "We thank you, Bo, for the name".