Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

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Matt Wilson
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Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 13 Mar 2021, 23:34

So I just picked up the Pretties' Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky box as it contains everything I'm interested in from the band. I think I've already got everything from the sixties, but I'll look forward to hearing the post-Parachute material as well as the rarities. These Snapper boxes are outstanding (Gentle Giant, John Mayall) with a Four Seasons box coming up before year's end - and I enjoy going through them. I still think the early stuff sounds like a poor man's Rolling Stones, but I'm willing to listen with fresh ears. I'll post reviews until I get bored.

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"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby toomanyhatz » 14 Mar 2021, 00:11

$900 on Amazon. Sure hope you didn't spend that much (or even its $200+ initial retail price).

I wish someone would do an "Original Album Classics" set of their 70s-and-beyond stuff, it's not enough of an improvement on the 60s records I love to be worth getting all the others as well. I could make a decent one-CD playlist out of post-Parachute stuff, but really they cease to be a band I have that much interest in. And 80s and beyond, they're really not very good at all.

That said, if I found it for a good deal (as I hope you did), I might take a chance just in the interest of being completist.

I'd be interested in your take on the later albums, but I'd be really shocked if you got much out of them.
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 14 Mar 2021, 00:34

We'll see. If the albums begin to be terrible I might not make it through the box. Still, there's not even half of the discs here that there were in the Mayall set, so I'll be optimistic.

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The Pretty Things
This is where the sub-Stones tag comes from. The first album is fine but no great shakes. Two UK hits in Bo Diddley's "Roadrunner" and the Dick Taylor plus friends' "Honey I Need," and a bunch of other R&B/blues numbers which wouldn't seem out of place on a Stones or Animals record. The sound is there at this early date, but the songs have yet to come. Bonus tracks include the excellent "Rosalyn" and "Don't Bring Me Down" from the US version of the LP.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby robertff » 14 Mar 2021, 07:47

Got most of their albums up to Savage Eye and a couple of the later ones - Rage Before Beauty and Balbao Island - I like the later ones well enough. I'm with you on the poor man's Stones' comment, their albums just aren't as good. Saw them live once and they were pretty poor, didn't last the whole gig.



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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Charlie O. » 14 Mar 2021, 08:44

For me, their first album and contemporaneous singles are at least as good as the early Stones records (before Jagger/Richards really blossomed as songwriters) - probably better, even. Get The Picture is very nearly as good, Emotions a big disappointment with a few acceptable songs. S.F. Sorrow and Parachute are entirely respectable but ultimately just don't move me that much, and nothing I've heard after those has appealed to me at all. It's really all about '64 to early '66 for me.

So I'll probably pass on the box!
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby C » 14 Mar 2021, 10:27

Matt Wilson wrote:I still think the early stuff sounds like a poor man's Rolling Stones


To be expected I suppose as a couple of Pretties played with Jagger at school (same school as my boys)

But I guess everybody knows that




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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Mar 2021, 02:22

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Get the Picture
Their second album of 1965 is much better than the debut. Most of these are good songs and aficionados have been admiring that proto-garage rock vibe ever since. I don't know how many of these songs are certifiably GREAT, but more than half are at least very good. The liner notes make all kinds of grandiose claims for this LP. It's as good as Rubber Soul, Aftermath, Face to Face, Roger the Engineer, etc. Pretties fans are nothing if not enthusiastic. This thread on the Hoffman forum is a good example of what I'm talking about: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... g.1045268/ "They invented everything and got credit for nothing." Okay, then...
There's a part in the above thread where the OP suggests "Can't Stand the Pain" could be the first psychedelic song. Hmmmm..... The CD comes with the excellent Pretty Things on Film EP and two other great cuts.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby robertff » 15 Mar 2021, 10:29

Matt Wilson wrote:Image
Get the Picture
Their second album of 1965 is much better than the debut. Most of these are good songs and aficionados have been admiring that proto-garage rock vibe ever since. I don't know how many of these songs are certifiably GREAT, but more than half are at least very good. The liner notes make all kinds of grandiose claims for this LP. It's as good as Rubber Soul, Aftermath, Face to Face, Roger the Engineer, etc. Pretties fans are nothing if not enthusiastic. This thread on the Hoffman forum is a good example of what I'm talking about: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... g.1045268/ "They invented everything and got credit for nothing." Okay, then...
There's a part in the above thread where the OP suggests "Can't Stand the Pain" could be the first psychedelic song. Hmmmm..... The CD comes with the excellent Pretty Things on Film EP and two other great cuts.




Always liked the cover for this.


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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby pcqgod » 15 Mar 2021, 18:29

Matt Wilson wrote:We'll see. If the albums begin to be terrible I might not make it through the box. Still, there's not even half of the discs here that there were in the Mayall set, so I'll be optimistic.

Image
The Pretty Things
This is where the sub-Stones tag comes from. The first album is fine but no great shakes. Two UK hits in Bo Diddley's "Roadrunner" and the Dick Taylor plus friends' "Honey I Need," and a bunch of other R&B/blues numbers which wouldn't seem out of place on a Stones or Animals record. The sound is there at this early date, but the songs have yet to come. Bonus tracks include the excellent "Rosalyn" and "Don't Bring Me Down" from the US version of the LP.


I really like the first PT record. It's better than most of the debuts from that time/scene.
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 16 Mar 2021, 01:38

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Emotions

Difficult to know how to assess an album like this. Some fans think of it as a sell out, others appreciate the attention to melody many of the songs display. My copy in the box set doesn't have the 45 mixes of "My Time," "Death of a Socialite," and "Photographer" that my old CD does, so I guess I'll have to keep it as I enjoy the singles more than their LP counterparts. There's strings and horns here, so fans are forgiven for an initial WTF moment or reaction when they first hear the LP. As for me, I'm neither here nor there. It's better than the first record, but not as consistent as Get the Picture? "The Sun" is a standout for sure, and "House of Ten" appeals. The surrounding 45s are okay. "Progress" isn't, and "A House in the Country" isn't a patch on the Kinks version.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 18 Mar 2021, 03:18

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SF Sorrow
The first rock opera? Depends on your definition of "rock opera" I suppose. Nirvana had released The Story of Simon Simopath in '67, and The Who's Tommy had an overture, an underture, etc. in 1969. So it depends on how one defines those terms, but SF Sorrow is definitely a good album which tells a somewhat depressing tale of a man who loses his woman in a 'balloon fire,' goes to war, encounters "Baron Saturday" and grows old. A kind of psychedelic Charlie Brown, if you will. The outstanding "Defecting Grey/Mr Evasion" 45 preceded this LP in '67, followed by the almost-as-good "Talkin' About the Good Times/Walking Through My Dreams" 1968 single. Both are added as bonus tracks on the CD.

Unfortunately, the Electric Banana stuff is not included in the Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky box, so I had to order the three-disc set separately.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby yomptepi » 18 Mar 2021, 11:55

Matt Wilson wrote:So I just picked up the Pretties' Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky box as it contains everything I'm interested in from the band. I think I've already got everything from the sixties, but I'll look forward to hearing the post-Parachute material as well as the rarities. These Snapper boxes are outstanding (Gentle Giant, John Mayall) with a Four Seasons box coming up before year's end - and I enjoy going through them. I still think the early stuff sounds like a poor man's Rolling Stones, but I'm willing to listen with fresh ears. I'll post reviews until I get bored.

Image


I should have bought this when it came out, but even then it was expensive. Of course anyone with any taste knows that that early Pretty things knock the early rolling stones into a cocked hat. Those first four albums are just superb. And properly produced. And arranged. I cannot believe this set is now well over £800...
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 21 Mar 2021, 03:19

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Parachute
This is their masterpiece in my estimation - unless something released after this is as good. I've yet to hear any more recent album of theirs. Every song is good or great and Phil lets some of the other band members sing throughout. The playing is stellar and Dick isn't even present! Picking highlights is useless since the whole affair is worthy. The disc contains the surrounding 45s like "October 26/Cold Stone," and "Stone Hearted Mama/Summertime" and the "Blue Serge Blues" B-side. All essential Pretties.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby toomanyhatz » 22 Mar 2021, 06:39

Well I'm glad you agree that Parachute is the best. I'm more interested in your reaction to the next few. I like them, but they're really a totally different band. I often wonder to myself if I'd like them more or less if I hadn't heard their 60s albums first. And if you like any of them more I'll eat a vinyl album.

Just to reiterate, though, I know Matt thinks I'm crazy and I know he's not the only one, but I put their 60s album run up there with anybody's, save the Beatttles. Not necessarily better than the Kinks or Stones or Who, but not that far behind. And yes, better than the Small Faces.
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby GoogaMooga » 22 Mar 2021, 07:50

I am just going to get the run of albums. Will probably cost me less than the box by now, and that will suffice for me. I like them, but I would not rate them higher than the Rolling Stones, although they were perhaps more consistently good.
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Mar 2021, 02:21

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Freeway Madness
Their first misstep, LP-wise. An attempt to break America, this combination of hard rock with mellow sounds (something Parachute managed quite effortlessly) doesn't quite work. Although I don't hear any bad songs per se, nothing is all that good either. Wally wasn't in the band anymore, but he produced the album and sings too. Apparently, the songs worked better live - as the bonus tracks here confirm.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby trans-chigley express » 26 Mar 2021, 04:25

I enjoy Freeway Madness for what it is. Yes it's clearly a step or two down from Parachute but there are shades of Parachute on this with the lovely Peter/Rip Off Train combo and the lazy sunny vibe of Country Roads which is like a son of Grass from Parachute. Love is Good is a strong opener too. The rest of the album is middling but not bad.

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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 30 Mar 2021, 06:33

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Silk Torpedo
This one is good - and I hadn't heard a single song before. Slick production (the band was on Zeppelin's Swan Song label by this time), a slightly glam rock feel, and better songs than the previous effort make this a sort of last gasp for the '70s. The LP starts off fine with "Dream" and "Joey" (made into one track on the CD for some reason) and ends well with "Belfast Cowboys" and "Bruise in the Sky" (again, merged into one track here). In the middle are a decent collection of rockers and ballads highlighted (for me) by "Maybe You Tried," "Come Home Momma," and "Singapore Silk Torpedo," but there isn't anything here which is mediocre. You need to play it few times, but it sinks in eventually.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby toomanyhatz » 30 Mar 2021, 07:36

You like Silk Torpedo more than I do, and Freeway Madness less.

Interested in your take on Savage Eye, which might be my favorite of the three.

There is a certain extent to which they are never the same again after Parachute. I can enjoy their 70s stuff well enough as long as I adjust my expectations from 'one of my favorite bands ever' to 'a pretty decent band.'
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Re: Pretty Things - Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky

Postby Matt Wilson » 06 Apr 2021, 06:10

ImageImage
Electric Banana & More Electric Banana
The Pretty Things made a lot of music for films in the '60s & '70s for the De Wolfe agency. The music wasn't created for specific pictures, but rather used in a kind of filmic data base in a library for moviemakers to use at their discretion. These two LPs released in '67 and '68 weren't even available for public consumption as far as I can tell - but rather sent out to directors and producers in an attempt to drum up interest. They're not bad at all with half of the albums having songs with lyrics, and the other half being comprised of backing tracks for the songs on side one. "Walking Down the Street" and "Danger Signs" on the first record, and "I See You," "Street Girl," and "Grey Skies" on the second all make the grade for me. These albums aren't in the box set though - you need to purchase them separately.

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Even More Electric Banana
What do you know - this one from 1969 is my favorite. Virtually all the tracks with vocals on side one are ace Pretties tracks: "Alexander," "It'll Never Be Me," "Eagles Son," and "Blow Your Mind" should've been on an official PT album from that year and not one that they gave up the right to collect royalties on decades ago.
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Hot Licks
Released in 1973 it is, as you may have guessed, another fairly solid effort from our heroes slumming under the De Wolfe banner of anonymity. My fave three tracks here ("Sweet Orphan Lady," "I Could Not Believe My Eyes," and "Walk Away") would have been highlights on Freeway Madness from the previous year. Folks, you can get all of this goodness on the Electric Banana: The Complete De Wolfe Sessions three-disc box. It's cheap too.
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Return of the Electric Banana
The last DeWolfe album was by the same band that played on Phil's Fallen Angels album from the same year (I think). He wrote the songs with Allan Waller but credited them to his wife. Again - not bad. I have a soft spot for these Electric Banana recordings. Some of the songs are among the best the band did, and why they would give them away for a straight cash payment, not being able to collect royalties is a tragedy. This one was released in 1978.
"that 1985 NME list was a huge influence on my listening habits - and I actually feel kind of grateful to them for publishing it. It's no exaggeration to say that (indirectly) it brought me enormous pleasure over many years."
-John Coan