Dick Taylor left the Stones, as bass-player, because he thought that he would have more succes with the Pretty Things… It was in the year 1962 and the band existed off;
Viv Prince (becomes a Hell's Angel, later fisherman and now he does something with oranges) - drums,
Phil May - vocals,
John Stax - bass (in '67 he moves to Australia),
Brian Pendelton - guitar,
Dick Taylor - lead guitar.
They made r&b music. Certainly isn't a walhalla for the prog rock enthusiast. Nevertheless, many musicians got their inspiration from the more rough form of R&B, which without a doubt must have been an influence on the development of prog in the seventies. And Allan Waller (or Wally Allan) and John Povey joined the group and they took some mercy-beat and psychedelics with them.
Albums from that period: The Pretty Things ('65), Get the Picture ('65) and Emotions ('67).
S.F.Sorrow was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios while in other recording rooms Sgt. Pepper's lonely Hart Club Band & The Piper at the Gates of Dawn ('67) were taped. S.F.Sorrow is called the first concept rock-opera. Harvest is their label. The music has grown to a mix of the Beatles, Kinks, The Who and a touch of psychedelic-tunes.
Twink, alias John Adler played till '70 and then he went to play with Syd Barrett and later in Tomorrow with Steve Howe and Keith West. He was replaced by Skip Alan (alias Alan Skipper).
Parachute ('70 on the Harvest Label and later as double with SF Sorrow released):
One of the gigs in Holland are taped and a album of that concert saw the daylight. Nowadays it's a collectors-item, i presume you could get about 200 US dollars or 200 euro for that rarity.
Regular albums: The Pretty Things ('65), Get The Picture? ('65), Emotions ('67), Parachute ('69), Freeway Madness ('72), Silk Torpedo ('74), Savatage Eye ('74):
Roelof ter Veld - bass and
Hans Waterman - drums.
In '98 it is time for a revival and David Gilmour played with on a radio-broadcast off SF Sorrow rock-opera. Arthur Brown was the narrator. The piece is called Resurrection ('98). And it's pressed on ceedee in a limited edition.
Phil May states:
"It's sometime after 10.30pm on Sunday 6th September '98, I'm in the artist suite at the Abbey Road Studios, London, that deceptive Victorian edifice that at some point in the mid 1960's became the second Liverpool cathedral. As the first ever live performance of S.F. Sorrow fades away down these hallowed corridors the memories kick in. Twist, Shout, Help soaked deep into the brickwork. 1967, Beatles on one side, Pink Floyd on the other and with Norman Smith as fellow traveller we are incarcerated here for almost a year in Studio 2 turning a short story of mine into the first rock opera, "S.F. Sorrow."
Fuelled on acid, night bleeding into day we worked on an idea and a direction that we hoped would give us a reason for staying on and playing on in a business that had become narrow and stale.
That's the past, the present has just happened. After the big hand has swept across 30 rainbow years, the original cast reassembled with Mark St John in place of Norman Smith plus added family and friends. Tonight we finally got through the universal communication of the internet, to dot the I's and cross the T's... scatter the seeds with Bracelets of Fingers and in front of an audience made up of a scrapbook of faces from the journey performed S.F. Sorrow live."
And Arthur Brown:
"In fact chronologies are never simple. For instance at the time of writing the concept album which became "The Crazy World" album, I was in contact with Pete Townsend who was associate producer for the project. I had the idea of a concept album for some time. When I went round to his house I found to my surprise he has also been independently working on that same idea, a piece called Rael (I believe it was about China). It became, eventually "Tommy". The fact is, we all influence each other. Certainly S.F. Sorrow preceded Tommy in time, it is, to my mind possible the first story told over the length of a rock album. Pete may well have drawn on it in his creation of Tommy. This is not to detract from his originality - he took his piece one step further and gave it seperate characters, more towards an opera. Anyway S.F. Sorrow is one of the seminal psychedelic works of English rock.
Abbey Road was where a lot of psychedelic bands of the sixties recorded. The Harvest label had its home here. EMI were always in the forefront of technical experiment and of course psychedelic bands pushed the frontiers in that erea. The Pink Floyd were, I believe the first English underground band to chart. They were around when The Pretty Things underwent their 6 month LSD experiment that gave rise to S.F. Sorrow. It is therefore fitting that the current leading light of the Floyd should join The Pretties on guitar. As for myself, I was aware of The Pretties from early times. I played on several concerts with them in 67-72. For instance we were on the bill together, along with Jefferson Airplane and Marc Bolan for the first Isle of Wight Festival in 1968."
"Resurrection" is a new album with a complete registration of the rock opera "S.F. Sorrow" played live. This album might be interesting for prog rock fans because of the presence of Floyd's Dave Gilmour. This opera tels the story of the son of a British labourer "Sebastian F. Sorrow" ("Nobody knows what the F. stands for") just before World War II.
The atmosphere of the end of the sixties is conjured up perfectly on this album, without ever sounding oldfashioned. A comparison with The Who probably comes closest, although one shouldn't automatically think of the symphonic "Tommy", but more about an album like "Live At Leeds". After all, it still are regular compact songs on "S.F. Sorrow/Ressurection", as we saw through the whole career of The Pretty Things. Although this certainly isn't an unplugged album, the performance sound very acoustic. The reason probably is the numerous use of percussion and acoustic guitar. My only critisiscm is the excess of the use of bongo's, conga's, you name it on some tracks. It's a bit overdone. The concert was recorded in the presence of friends and family and has an exuberant feel, without ever being boring or oldfashioned. Our oldies are swept up to an excellent performance. Still every now and then it's noticeable that the years are beginning to count.
Rage Before Beauty ('99);
again with Gilmour on Love keeps hanging.
Dick Taylor - lead guitar & acoustic,
John Povey - keyboards & vocals,
Wally Waller - bass, acoustic & vocals,
Skip Alan - drums & percussion,
Frank Holland - lead en acoustic guitar & vocals,
The gentlemen; Phil May, Dick Taylor, John Povey, Wally Waller, Skip Alan & Frank Holland buy themselfes a new suit and go on tour; Buddy's Bob in Disney-land Paris is one of the small-bars where they performed. And man they were great, for me they were the top-one-attraction of Disney-Paris (number 2; Honey i shrunk the Audience).They do more small gigs, such as in Verviers; The Spirit of 66 and in the Autumn of 2001 they performed with David Gilmour in London.
I was lucky to see them again: 10-10-03 in the Spirit of 66: What a great
energetic show! Clearly they're a top Rock And Roll band, but the psychedelica and blues
of the 70-ies is there and they jam and play like hell!
Songs of the past, special the S.F.Sorrow-songs were real psychedelic, Syd Barrett and even Yes came up in my mind, and songs of theire last (GREAT) album Rage Before Beauty were played even as some blues such as Hootchie Cootchie Men.
Althrough some of those men have grandchildren they Rock like young Gods, you wish one of them was your father in law.
One of theire last songs was The Route 66, Francis Geron had a big smile on his face and Skip pulled down his drumkit, happily there was no fire, demolishing of the stage and no police force with rubber truncheons.
Afterwards there was time to have a small chat with them and of course an autogram is a must have...
The Pretty Things performance of SF Sorrow At Abbey Road, which included David Gilmour helping out on guitar, has now had its long-awaited release on DVD and also a double CD.