Archive for the ‘Pretty Things’ Category

Status Quo live in 1975 and 1976

Status Quo live in 1975 and 1976
quo75prog1975 and 1976 were busy years for Status Quo. This wasn’t unusual, however, the work ethic of this band is outstanding; they just keep on playing. They hit the UK singles chart four times: with a live EP which featured “Roll Over Lay Down”, “Gerdundula” and “Junior’s Wailing”, then with one of my personal favourites “Rain”, then “Mystery Song” and “Wild Side of Life”. I saw the band twice at Newcastle City Hall; on 12th May 1975 and again on 9th March 1976.
From the 1975 tour programme: “”To begin with in 1971 we played for a tenner or a fiver just to keep going and retain the right to play things our way” says Richard Parfitt. “We knew it was the only way to build a future for ourselves and a reputation we could live with”. After a decade as rock musicians the Quo now have the respect and approval of a massive following who have put their seal on a band who can truly said to have succeeded by “Public Demand”. The swaying thousands who form massed choirs and wave their scarves at a Quo concert to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”…have turned the Quo into unsuperstars of the Seventies…When the critics eventually put their group hierarchy into perspective in later years it will almost inevitably be those groups who kept to basics like the Stones, the Who and Quo who will be remembered as being the heart of this Generation’s music….Quo believe in what they are doing and millions ll over the work have come to believe they are “On the Level” too.”
quotixSupport for the 1975 tour was the excellent Pretty Things, who were a big favourite of mine at the time. They had just released the “Silk Torpedo” album which saw them entering a glam / heavy rock phase. Its opening song “Joey / The Dream” is just great. Front man Phil May was as energetic as ever, the rest of the line-up had changed quite a bit since the first times I saw them in the early 70s. Quo released two albums” “On the Level” and “Blue for You”, both of which were respectable slabs of rock, although not as heavy as the “QUO” album. Andy Bown joined the band as a permanent member on keyboards. Support for the 1976 tour was Shanghai, a new band fronted by 60s rocker Cliff Bennett of the Rebel Rousers fame. These were, as always, great gigs.quoprog75Status Quo also recorded two shows at Glasgow Apollo in 1976, and released them as a live album, called simply “Live”. The record is one of the few that manages to capture the excitement and rawness of a band at the height of their powers, and documents just how great Quo live were in those days. That it was recorded at the Apollo was entirely appropriate; the great venue had, along with Hammy Odeon and Brid Spa, become a second home for the band. The Glasgow crowds really knew how to rock and got fully behind Quo. On the other side of the coin, if a Glasgow crowd didn’t like a band, they would let them know. The “Live” album was the blueprint for the recent classic frantic four line-up reunion.
Typical setlist of the period: Junior’s Wailing, Mad about the Boy, Backwater / Just take me, Is there a better Way, Little Lady / Most of the Time, 4500 Times, Rain, Roll over lay Down, Don’t waste my Time, Roadhouse Blues, Caroline, Bye Bye Johnny.
It was 1978 before I saw Quo again, when they returned to the Reading festival as triumphant headliners. I’ll write about that weekend of rock tomorrow.

The Pretty Things and Arthur Brown Newcastle Tyne Theatre 5th October 2002

The Pretty Things and Arthur Brown Newcastle Tyne Theatre 5th October 2002
prttythingslpWhen I was a kid, way back in 1968, I received some record vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Now lps were precious items in those days; I went to the local record shop and spent ages choosing which discs to spend my vouchers on. In the end I chose “Prophets Seers and Sages, the Angels of the Ages” by Tyrannosaurus Rex and “Crazy World of Arthur Brown”. Both good choices. A few months later I came across and bought a copy of The Pretty Things’ “S F Sorrow” in a second hand shop. I played those albums constantly on our new home stereo system. The Arthur Brown lp had such wonderful prog tracks as “Spontaneous Apple Creation”, “Child of My Kingdom” and (of course) “Fire” and “Fire Poem”, featuring Arthur’s manic soaring vocals and the late great Vincent Crane’s rich swirling Hammond organ. And S F Sorrow simply amazed me; with its rich mix of great pop hooks, R&B, and psych. “Baron Saturday”, “She Says Good Morning” and “Loneliest Person” were my favourite tracks.
prttytixI first got to see Arthur Brown live around 1973 at a Kingdom Come gig in Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall. That concert was spectacular, and unlike anything I’ve ever see before or since. The show started with Arthur being tied to a large wooden cross in a simulated crucifixion, featured a massive brain being chased around the hall by the pope, and concluded with Arthur being dragged from stage in a straitjacket.
arthurThe first time I saw The Pretty Things live was at Sunderland Locarno, in January 1973. Their set at the time drew heavily from S F Sorrow and also included some of their classic 60s R&B singles. Phil May had the longest hair I had ever seen, and remains to this day one of our best rock vocalists and front men. I saw them a few times after that gig, supporting touring acts at Newcastle City Hall; once with Status Quo, and with a few other bands; exactly who I don’t remember, maybe Bad Company.

So some 30 odd years later, this gig at the Tyne Theatre teamed up two of my favourite acts. Arthur was as crazy and powerful as ever, and the Pretty Things played much of S F Sorrow, featuring a line-up which reunited many of the original band members. Arthur also joined The Pretty Things for a couple of songs. Arthur signed my ticket with a weird hippy third eye, and Phil May and the rest of The Pretty Things signed a reissue copy of S F Sorrow which was on sale at the venue. A great night. Oh and David came along with me and became a fan of Arthur and The Pretty Things that night 🙂

Great British R&B Festival Colne August 26th 2013. Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson

Great British R&B Festival Colne August 26th 2013. Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson
band Marie and I spent the bank holiday Monday afternoon at the Great British R&B Festival, which is held each year in Colne, Lancashire. Yesterday afternoon’s line-up was particularly strong, featuring Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson on the International Stage which is in the Municipal Hall on the main street.
The Norman Beaker Band opened the proceedings at 2pm. Or rather the proceedings were actually opened by the crazy compare, wearing a fluorescent suit and hat. The guy did a great job on introducing the bands, changing his suit and hat throughout the day, getting more and emore outrageous as the day went on. Norman and the guys played a couple of songs before they were joined by Chris Farlowe. It’s a few years since I saw Chris. His voice was as soulful as ever, and the years haven’t diminished his energy or style. They played a set of favourites including Stormy Monday Blues; Tough on you, Tough on me; The Small Faces’ hit All or Nothing, and Handbags and Gladrags. They closed with (of course) his big hit Out of Time. The guy remains a master of R&B. Pure class and a great way to start the day.
Next up was The Climax Blues Band. Now if its a few years since I saw Chris, it’s even longer since I saw these guys in concert. In fact I think the last time I saw them was probably I the mid 70s. The line-up has changed many times over the years, with no-one remaining from the early days of the band. The current band continues the Climax traditional of recreating an authentic Chicago blues sound. We slipped out for something to eat,but got back in time to catch the end of their set, including their hit single Couldn’t Get It Right. colneprog The Pretty Things are a big favourite of mine, and they never let me down. The current line-up of the band features originals Phil May on vocals, tambourine and maracas, and Dick Taylor on guitar, along with long standing Pretty Frank Holland on guitar and mouth organ. They started the set with a couple of old R&B tunes, and the classic Cries From the Midnight Circus. Phil then explained that, although it was a blues festival, they had to play something from their classic album S F Sorrow. So next up was S F Sorrow is Born and She Says Good Morning. The three front men then switched to acoustic mode to sing a couple of old blues: Come on in my Kitchen, and Little Red Rooster, featuring some excellent slide guitar from Dick, growling vocals from Phil and great blues harp courtesy of Frank. These guy know how to sing the blues, and they just held the place spellbound. Then it was back to their old rock roots for Mona, and Midnight to Six Man. Great stuff. The Pretty Things were swiftly followed by the great Wilko Johnson. Wilko’s situation has been well documented, and his recent appearances have apparently all been joyous celebrations of his music and legend. Thankfully Wilko is still able to play and, in his own words: ‘It seems that I am still being spared the final onslaught of my terminal cancer. As the memory of the Farewell Tour recedes I am feeling again the desire to get up on stage and do my thing while health allows – so it is that I have decided to make some festival appearances during during the summer’. wilko He had asked specially to play at the festival, having done so several times in the past, and everyone present yesterday was delighted to see him. First Wilko was presented with an award for British Blues legend, he then started his set with the Feelgood’s song All Through the City, and also included the Feelgood classics Going Back Home, Roxette, Back in the Night and She Does It Right. The crowd clearly love the guy, and it was a very emotional show, with Wilko strutting his stuff back and forth across the stage, chopping away at his telecaster with those familiar riffs. Its many years since I’ve seen Wilko in concert and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to do so once more. I must also mention Norman Watt-Roy whose bass playing was simply stunning. Again, its many years since I’ve seen Norman perform, probably since I he was with Ian Drury and the Blockheads. The encore was a very emotional Bye Bye Johnny, with everyone waving Bye Bye to Wilko. The crowd were on their feet for a full 5 or 10 minutes after he finished, giving him a real standing ovation. Strong stuff.
We left after Wilko’s set, and drove back up north to pick Laura up and then return home.