The Pretty Things

Phillipe DeBarge

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The Pretty Things' career was rife with peculiar episodes, and none was more peculiar than the unreleased album which makes up the bulk of this bootleg. In 1969 the band recorded eleven original songs with an unknown French singer, Phillipe DeBarges, taking the place of Phil May. May and Pretty Things bassist Wally Allen produced the record, which was never released. It's quite similar in nature to the Pretties' own late-'60s psychedelic recordings, though more pop-oriented than S.F. Sorrow, sounding more like the soundtrack items that ended up on Electric Banana; in fact, three of the songs ("Alexander," "Eagles Son," and "It'll Never Be Me") were done as authentic Pretty Things tracks on Electric Banana as well. It's pleasant if usually slight pop-psych, often utilizing chunky guitar strums of the kind that Pete Townshend used (possibly due in part to the Pretties' influence?) on Tommy. Some of these songs were probably too strong to donate to DeBarges, though, like "Alexander" (one of their best late-'60s cuts), "Running You & Me" (with opening guitar chords quite reminiscent of the Tommy style), the swinging mod-like "You Might Even," and "Eagles Son." Sound quality is good, although as it's been taken from an acetate, there's some surface noise. The disc is made all the more enticing to Pretties fans via a generous 13 bonus tracks. All are taken from 1965-69 television and BBC appearances, including performances of the hits "Honey I Need," "Don't Bring Me Down," and "Midnight to Six Man," as well as uncommon items like BBC versions of "Sitting All Alone" and a few songs from S.F. Sorrow; quality on these is only fair, but listenable.

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