Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
PRETTY THINGS, The
UK R&B band formed at Sidcup art college in Kent '63 by original Rolling Stones bassist Dick Taylor, singer Phil May (b 11 Sep. '44, Kent). Taylor switched to lead to accomodate bassist John Stax; rhythm guitarist Brian Pendleton, drummers Peter Kitley, Viv Andrews, then Viv Prince completed lineup. Very much in Stones mould, from image to covers of USA R&B material, their name from a Bo Diddley lyric; had top 40 hits, near misses; after three LPs drummer since '65 Skip Alan (b Alan Skipper, 11 June '48, London) was replaced by John "Twink' Adler, Wally Allen replaced Stax on bass and John Povey (b 20 Aug. '44, London) replaced Pendelton on keyboards; they switched from Fontana to progressive new EMI Harvest label with SF Sorrow '68, a concept LP written by May and Taylor, seen as the first rock opera, inspiring Pete Townshend's more successful Tommy for the Who. Taylor left; Alan returned to form two- drummer arr. with Twink; more changes followed. Parachute '69 was acclaimed by Rolling Stone but a commercial failure; Freeway Madness '72 incl. new members Pete Tolson on guitar (b 10 Sep. '51, Bishops Stortford), Gordon Edwards on keyboards (b 26 Dec. '46, Southport). Signed to Led Zeppelin Swan Song label for polished AOR albums Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye '74-5, the only ones to chart in USA, but May's departure '76 was the end. He formed Fallen Angels with Alan; others formed Metropolis with ex-T- Rex bassist Jack Green (b 12 March '51, Glasgow), who'd sung on last LP, but they split again, Edwards joining the Kinks. In '85 May was playing pubs with young musicians as Pretty Things; Taylor played with former Leeds punks the Mekons. First two LPs were The Pretty Things and Get The Picture; Let Me Hear The Choir Sing '84 on Edsel anthologised early singles; Closed Restaurant Blues '85 on Bam Caruso portrayed them emerging from blues period and lent weight to the theory that they were several bands, with May as the only constant factor; Cries From The Midnight Circus '86 on Harvest incl. tracks from SF Sorrow and Parachute; other compilations incl. two as "Electric Banana' on Butt. Constant change kept them from a breakthrough.