The Pretty Things announce their retirement

by admin  18th Apr 2018 Comments [0]

By Mark St John

 

As I write this, the snow is banked up across roads all over the country, the military are air-dropping supplies to rural areas and power is off across half the country. Right now, the weather in England is the coldest on record since 1963—the coldest winter on British record, and, coincidentally, the year that the Pretty Things were formed and set out on the long journey that has kept them on the road right up to this year—and into this freezing winter, 55 years on, it’s like nothing has changed…

Except—it has.

Fifty-five years after their first live performance, 50 years after the milestone that was SF Sorrow, and 30 years after I formally began to manage them, the Pretty Things are retiring from live performances as an electric band. Phil’s health, the gruelling tour schedules, the long, long travel days, the disappearing venues, the toll of time, and the disappearing landscape of the old school rock n roll industry have finally hit deep into the heartland of the greatest real rock band in the world, and our long-standing heroes. And, after a lot of soul-searching, they have called “Time” on a phenomenal roller coaster of a career and a mythological life of music, mayhem and magnificence…

I can’t say too much about this, apart from fulfilling the job of messenger. Most of you reading this will have your own point of view, your own memories and your own feeling about our war-worn heroes… most of you are believers. I’ll leave you to take this news in and, maybe, write to Mike with your feeling and let the guys know what this means to you, I know what it means to me. You guys are the first “real people” to be told, but, for the record, this is the press release, that will be going out to all the agents, promoters, venues, clubs, festivals and long-time working partners that we have, in our live performance world. This is the party line…..

 

Goodbye The Pretty Things – Press Release, 2018.

After 55 years of performing, the Pretty Things—the iconic, first wave, R&B cult heroes, formed by ex Rolling Stone Dick Taylor, and singer Phil May—will retire from electric performances at the end of this year.
Serial under-achievers, and the greatest band you never heard of, the Pretty Things have been a massive critical success and a huge influence on artists as diverse as David Bowie, Aerosmith, the Ramones, Bob Dylan, the Sex Pistols, the White Stripes, Kasabian and many, many more—who cite their outrageous behaviour, incandescent stage performances and astonishing catalogue of remarkable recordings as fundamental in the creation of their own work.
With a huge catalogue of musical and cultural “firsts” at their core—longest hair in the world, first ever rock & roll drugs bust, most arrests of any band, first ever ‘garage’ single, first ever rock opera, first UK band to win Rolling Stone Record of the Year, arrested for discharging a sawn off shotgun, first band to gain control of its entire recorded catalogue and on and on…—they are an indelible part of the fabric of popular music and the social influence that it has created.
Still making significant front-line records and with such influential work as their ground-breaking masterpiece and world’s first rock opera SF Sorrow, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, in their catalogue, they remain a hugely significant artistic and creative force; with no artists save the Rolling Stones, from the first wave, outselling their frontline recordings and probably no artist at all out-performing them.
It should be compulsory for anyone with the slightest interest in popular music and the social revolution of the 1960s to see the Pretty Things before they hang up their guns at the end of this year. They will be back in the groove until then, hitting every working room on the circuit and finishing up with a huge farewell show in London at the end of the year, with guest appearances from some significant old friends and old school gunslingers to make sure they go out like they came in—with all guns blazing and taking no prisoners.
The Pretty Things are waving goodbye. Be there to wave back…

26th February, 2018.

 

So there it is—The King is Dead, but there’s no Long Live the King… This is an end to that monarchy and we’ll be the last generation to live within it, and the old nemesis the Rolling Stones are out this year too, also very possibly for the last time. And then the grass will grow over the hill and only those of us who were there will know…

OK—enough, we’ll all think about this in our own way, and I’ll get on with the business of the day.

So… The 55th Anniversary, what is that going to bring? Well a great new album (probably the last…), a phenomenal vinyl box of SF Sorrow, a “yet to be decided” digital Sorrow release, and a LOT of shows… In our favorite countries, in our favorite rooms, in our favorite places and with our ever-lovin’ favorite audiences. Some big deal stuff by our standards, too. We’re performing a stripped down, totally psych, live version of Sorrow in The Big Top Stage on the funky late afternoon slot at the Isle of Wight Festival. It’s the 50th Anniversary of the IOW, and (predictably) the only guys still standing who graced the first Festival, back in ’68 are… the Pretty Things. It’ll be a great show and, a quick hop down the road for Dick, a long-time resident of that little island.

The end of the year will bring a very special “Farewell” Concert. It will be held at the Roundhouse or the Royal Albert Hall and our good friends, dear David Gilmour and Bill Nighy have agreed to join us (Bill’s shooting schedule permitting). And we’ll be looking to add to that tally. Serge from Kasabian is on our list, with a few others—I’ll keep you in the loop. A lot of other old friends have agreed to attend (if not perform), so expect to spot a few famous and significant faces sharing the air with us all, It will be a celebration of the whole life of the band, so more than just a Sorrow show—much, much more. It will, I’m sure, be a fit tribute and it will be recorded and filmed and available for all, sometime next year.

The year will be very, very busy and between recording the new album, rehearsing the psych Sorrow outing, routining our guests for the Farewell show and rehearsing a full scale, “history of” performance for the big show, and fulfilling the busiest touring schedule for years (as we show respect to our fave venues, everywhere) there will be no time left for any of us for much else than the Pretty Things. I hope Phil holds up…

So, that’s pretty much all I have to say right now, really. I know it’s not my longest Gospel and there is a lot more news n stuff, but the scale of this announcement and the way it affects all of us, and many of you, you’re all family, makes saying anything more, redundant.

Phil May, my greatest friend, Frank Holland, my oldest friend, Dick Taylor, my most informed and informing friend. George Woosey and Jack Greenwood—I’ve managed them since they started and George was about 13, my youngest, true friends. That’s a life, right there.

And so, the end of a life, the end of an era. Be sure to dig down deep into 2018, it’s going to be a year to remember. Don’t let it pass you by…

Enough now, I’ll sign off while my eyes are still dry. I’m going to miss them so much…. Please God they find some way back, in any way possible… Where there’s life…

God bless you guys, keep the faith.

 

Mark St John

In the snow, the Dartford Delta, where it all began.

 

 


JOHNNY FARFISA – The Sky is Falling: The Best of Johnny Farfisa (Munster) LP

by admin  18th Apr 2018 Comments [0]

Hot on the heels of Matteo Bocci’s fine piece on Johnny Farfisa in UT#44 comes this stellar compilation of the musical exploits of one Andy Cahan a.k.a. Johnny Farfisa. Having previously been represented only by a Moxie EP from 1980, this collection rights many musical wrongs by making most of this material available to the public for the first time.

The first grouping of tracks by his outfit the Individuals is represented by not one but four fine versions of “She’s Gone Away,” all of which kick mightily. Set amidst a frantic pace, stop-start Farfisa breaks and screams that could only come from the most monstrous of burgeoning sex drives, this track is a primitive ride through all that is right and honest in the world.

The monstrous “The Sky is Falling” bears all the unmistakable earmarks of the East Coast sound and a strong nod the Rascals with its soulful delivery and knuckle-dusting backbeat. Apart from the fact that it rocks righteously, it has no problem with throwing in some unexpected breakdowns which I find irresistible.

The haunting “Monkey on My Back” is a gloomy cautionary tale that seems odd coming from kids of this age but it’s enthralling nonetheless as we follow the protagonist down the dark alleyways of addiction.

The pimply fun continues on into Andy’s next outfit from ‘68, the wonderfully named Euphorian Railway. There is a revamped version of “The Sky is Falling” which somehow manages to top the Individuals take by leaps and bounds, adding some much needed backups and an extremely busy bass line that propels this track somewhere else. “She Showed Me” and “I Thought I Knew You” echo the Youngbloods earlier material with the loose but propulsive groove, dual vocals and the underlying moody folkiness; the latter showcasing a staggering lead break. “On My Way to the Sun” sounds like a glorious mix of the Rascals and the Vagrants with a suitably trippy mid-section, while the astonishingly great “Nothing and No One” is a beautiful, faintly psychedelic number that just drips with emotion and contains a wonderfully bizarre tempo change.

Add to the mix a full color booklet/insert and liner notes by Mike Stax and you have one enticing proposition. (Eric Reidelberger)

Order here.


Snakes Unwrapped

by admin  18th Apr 2018 Comments [0]

By Hunter Bennett

 

The article below is an online-only sidebar to “SNAKE WRAP: The Definitive (and, Thus Far, Only) Account of Washington, DC’s Funniest HarDCore Band,” which appears in Ugly Things #47. The introduction to “SNAKE WRAP” reads:

Like John Cheever’s idea of a punk band, the Snakes were a pair of whip-smart, clean cut, well-heeled teenagers who amused themselves by writing snarky songs about summering in the Greek Isles, lusting after Russian royalty, and, most of all, the quirks and foibles of those around them. But they were also the quintessential Washington, D.C. punk insiders. Championed by Henry Rollins, produced by Ian MacKaye, and closely affiliated with Rites of Spring, the Snakes released a charmingly ragged Lp of silly, melodic punk tunes on the venerable Dischord Records — smack dab in the midst of that label’s remarkable 1980s run of harDCore punk classics, including Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, and Fugazi. The Snakes’ story spans nearly 50 years and is inextricably entwined with the histories of both harDCore and Dischord. It also offers a glimpse into the world of Washington WASPs.

If you think the sidebar is entertaining, you should buy the magazine and read the article.

http://webstore.ugly-things.com/ugly-things-47-p399.php

 

We asked the Snakes (i.e., Michael Hampton and Simon Jacobsen) to tell us what their songs were about. They did the best they could:

I WON’T LOVE YOU ‘TIL YOU’RE MORE LIKE ME LP

 

She’s Got It Now – An uncharacteristically earnest rocker with an infectious four-note riff.

MICHAEL: Not sure. It’s a pretty early song. Definitely a Simon riff. I think that’s a Simon song.

SIMON: I wrote that when I was a sophomore in high school. I had a very bad prom date that stood me up. The thing that makes that song is that little riff. Ian [MacKaye] picked up on it, too. He said “This song is nothing without that thing.” And so he just kept having me play it [throughout the song].

https://snakes.bandcamp.com/track/shes-got-it-now

 

I Won’t Love You ‘Til You’re More Like Me – A narcissist’s kiss-off to his significant other featuring the immortal line “You say, ‘I love you.’ I say, ‘I do, too.’”

MICHAEL: That’s self-explanatory. [Laughs].

SIMON: That [line] cracked us up. We didn’t drink. We didn’t smoke. We didn’t do anything cool. We just sat on the edge of the bed and in a chair and played these very loud, amplified instruments and we would just laugh and laugh and laugh.

https://snakes.bandcamp.com/track/i-wont-love-you-til-youre-more-like-me

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