The Pretty Things' first album was one of the most fun of 1965primitive tornthroat blues utilizing the same "Can I Get a Witness" beat in every song. One looked forward to this one because they are a thrillingly ragged blues band with none of the usual snobbery. What a surprise, then, to find an ultra-pretentious concept album, complete with strained "story" (A Man's Life from rural birth to Prodigal's Oliver Twist freakout), like some grossly puerile cross between the Bee Gees, Tommy, and the Moody Blues, who should be shot for what they've done to English rock lyrics: "On a dark and windswept street/The faces I see of the people I meet/With their eyes they build a shrine/That takes me back to the forest of my mind."
Yes fare much bettera fine, developing group. Their sound seems to be a mix of several of the most currently popular approaches, notably Crosby, Stills and Nash (vocally) and Vanilla Fudge (instrumentally). Unlike the Fudge, they have a sense of style, taste and subtlety, and the record is a pleasurable one, if a bit familiar-sounding. Their version of the Byrds' "I See You" is especially nice, although none of their own compositions are very memorable. This is the kind of album that sometimes insinuates itself into your routine with a totally unexpected thrust of musical power.
Because all of it is excellently done: brisk fuzz leads, whirring bass, a bit of the Beatles vocally, a touch of Wes Montgomery in the guitar solosa definitive album, in fact, in the prevalent style of "hip" groups over the past two years. The only trouble is that there are hosts of American bands (and presumably British as well) who are into the same bag with equal facility and taste. The excitement of true innovation is missingwhich may not be a valid criticism, since most rock is folk music anyway, but that's what makes albums like this one so much less arresting than many others.
(Posted: Feb 7, 1970)
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