The Vinyl Issue: The Pretty Things
They out-stoned the Stones, partied with Led Zeppelin and helped invent garage rock, psychedelia and even punk along the way. All hail The Pretty Things – Britain’s great lost R&B band.
It’s the autumn of 1968 and The Pretty Things are convinced this is it. The London band have just finished work on their most ambitious album to date. S.F. Sorrow, a vivid song cycle that follows the fortunes of an everyman soldier from birth to death, is a masterpiece to rival The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper in scope. It is, in fact, the world’s first rock opera. The whole thing has taken nearly a year to record. Now it’s time to play it for their bosses at EMI.
Speakers are brought into the boardroom of their Manchester Square HQ. Producer Norman Smith, noted for his work with the Fabs and Pink Floyd, is along too. The band have even gone to the trouble of handing out typed sheets detailing S.F. Sorrow’s narrative, with elaborate artwork to boot. But things don’t go to plan. The suits listen in silence, perplexed and, as it turns out, resolutely unmoved. What should’ve been The Pretty Things’ moment of triumph instead becomes a non-event.