The Pretty Things coming to Rock Cafe

The band will play a much longer set than at the recent Metronome festival

UK rock band the Pretty Things is coming to Rock Cafe on Sept. 19. The band was in Prague over the summer at the Metronome festival in one of the side stages, but due to their short set time weren't able to do some of their biggest hits like “Rosalyn,” “Don't Bring Me Down” and “Road Runner.”

Another song they missed was “L.S.D.” from 1965's Get the Picture?, their second album. Vocalist Phil May told Prague.TV that now they usually do a 10-minute version of the song. “It goes into all sorts of weirdness,” May said. The song was an early example of psychedelic rock.

The band promises a proper full-length show this time, with the hits intact. “They said we could play all night,” May said.

The Pretty Things have roots going back to 1963. Phil May has been lead vocalist in every lineup, and Dick Taylor has been on guitar in almost every lineup, with a small gap in the 1970s.

Taylor, before being a founding member of the Pretty Things, was in Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys with two of his school friends: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. He was then in an early lineup of the Rolling Stones but left because the band had too many guitarists. He formed a new band with May.

May also knew Jagger in the early days. “We went to art school together,” he said. But they have not kept in touch. “We live on different planets,” he said.

Taylor saw Richards a few years ago and got a signed art book as a gift. “We had a nice reunion,” he said. “It was great to see him.”

The Pretty Things have had a revival in interest. Their boxed set of hits and classics has sold out, and they are finishing recording a new album. “We have 10 new songs. It is three-quarters finished,” May said. “We do it as live as possible.” Some vocals need to be redone for technical reasons so they can be isolated and made to stand out more. The new album follows on the heels of 2015's The Sweet Pretty Things (Are in Bed Now, of Course…).

The Pretty Things fans at Metronome were on the young side. “That's all over the world. When we go to Japan they are all young kids,” May said. “It switched from being three-quarters older and it is now three-quarters young.”

Taylor quipped that a lot of the older fans have died. “I wasn't going to mention that,” May said.

In the past, their records on vinyl were often out of print in some areas and very hard to find. But new technologies like legal digital downloads and streaming services have brought their music to a new audience.

The band has had many sounds over the years. “We never know what is going to go down best. All we can do is give a taste of 53 years of history,” May said.

Among the band's many accomplishments is the first rock album to tell a narrative. S.F. Sorrow came out in 1968, a year before the Who released Tommy, which is usually called the first rock opera.

Two of the band members are significantly younger than the others. Bassist and singer George Woosey and drummer Jack Greenwood both joined a decade ago when they were in their teens. Woosey told Prague.TV that he and Greenwood had the same record label and same management.

Taylor explained that a decade ago, some long-term members both left due to personal reasons, leaving a gap in the lineup. One member developed a sudden fear of flying. “After 48 years he said he couldn't fly. And after he left us, the next week he went on a holiday to Nice on an airplane,” May said.

Woosey had been a guitarist in an opening act. “We were touring in another band, and Dick taught me slide guitar and stuff. I'd never played bass guitar, and they asked [me to join] and I've been in this lineup 11 years,” he said.

He and Greenwood were familiar with the songs. “We were big fans. I listened to a lot of '60s garage. These guys were at the forefront of the beat invasion,” Woosey said.

The Pretty Things are well-known in the UK, Australia, Canada and parts of Europe but not in the US. “We hardly ever go to America. But in America there are a lot of garage-style bands who really love the Pretty Things. We are quite an influence. I didn't know, I didn't realize,” Taylor said. “The '60s Pretty Things were more of an influence than we knew. It was only later we knew these bands were inspired by us.”

May gave an example. “I was told when we played Akron, Ohio, that Chrissie Hynde was a [young teenager] in the front row,” he said. Hynde was later the lead singer of the Pretenders.

Among the band's fans was David Bowie, who did a cover of “Rosalyn” on his 1973 album Pin Ups.

Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Nirvana and the Libertines have all mentioned the raw sound of the Pretty Things as an influence.

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