The Pretty Things: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — September 4, 2022


572) The Pretty Things — “Talkin’ About the Good Times”

You’ve heard of power pop — well, this is power psych. The ’68 A-side by the ugliest pretty things you’ve ever seen is magnificent (see #82, 94, 153, 251). Oh, and listen closely at the one minute and one second mark — I could swear I hear Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”! Couldn’t be — Zep never stole a thing!

David Wells muses that:

Palpably influenced by the slow motion, otherworldy ambience of Strawberry Fields Forever, the magnificent Talkin’ About the Good Times was . . . laden with hallucinatory sitar and Mellotron fills, staggering guitar lines and some soaring group harmonies on what was an almost transcendental chorus. . . . [Yet] it became the fourth Pretties single on the bounce not to reach the British Top Fifty.

Record Collector: 100 Greatest Psychedelic Records: High Times and Strange Tales from Rock’s Most Mind-Blowing Era

Tim Sendra says the song “fully embrace[s] the sonic possibilities of psychedelia without sacrificing any of the band’s aggressiveness or ability to write big hooks.” ( And Lenny Helsing adds that:

Chosen as a single in spring ’68, the life-affirming ‘Talkin’ About The Good Times’ and ‘Walking Through My Dreams’ . . . are two of the most psychedelic creations to ever bear The Pretty Things’ name. The essence of the genre is captured in a perfect blend of organic and studio-devised dexterity, while an ever-widening range of sounds accompany the vicariously opulent vocal harmonies. . . .

The Pretty Things need no introduction, but here is one anyway by Stephen Thomas Erlewine:

Musically, the Pretty Things were one of the toughest and most celebrated artists to rise from the Beat/British Invasion era, and among the very best British R&B bands of the ’60s. Commercially, they were often seen as also-rans, more talked about than listened to, especially outside Great Britain, since many of their most important albums were never released elsewhere until decades after the fact. Their cult was drawn to either their vicious early records, where they sometimes seemed like a meaner version of the Rolling Stones or or to their 1968 psychedelic touchstone S.F. Sorrow. . . . Taking their name from a Bo Diddley song, the Pretty Things were intentionally ugly: their sound was brutish, their hair longer than any of their contemporaries, their look unkempt. Their first two singles, “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” charted in 1964, and their eponymous debut LP made the U.K. Top Ten a year later, but that turned out to be the peak of their commercial success. The Pretty Things may not have shown up on the charts, but their cult proved to be influential: it’s been said S.F. Sorrow inspired Pete Townshend to write Tommy . . . .

And Lenny Helsing:

For a few months in the late ’60s, the Pretty Things ditched their successful R&B template and embraced the blooming influences of psychedelia. So wholeheartedly in fact, that they ended up pioneering a new sound and redefining British rock forever. . . . They were arguably Britain’s most dangerous and uncompromising rhythm ’n’ blues group, but The Pretty Things also helped instigate the transformation into new, uncharted musical territory. With their mainstream profile in slow decline, strong foundations and a survivor’s instinct made them hunger for change. . . .

Live at the BBC:

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