Still as unbowed and unwashed as ever...
Daryl Easlea 2007-09-07
You have to hand it to the Pretty Things. If trophies were distributed for tenacity alone, their cabinet would be overflowing. The original hellraisers, the group were peers of the Stones (guitarist Dick Taylor was the Rolling Stones' original bassist) and influenced David Bowie and many others.
Recorded on aged analogue equipment, their 11th studio album, Balboa Island is probably the best record you're going to hear from artists 40 years into their career. Although its budgets may be considerably smaller than some of their remaining peers, the album's ambitions are suitably widescreen. Lead vocalist and lynchpin Phil May (the man of whom Bowie once wrote 'is God') could really milk his role as time-ravaged troubadour (say, like on "Livin' In My Skin"), but he stays just the right side of cliché throughout.
"The Beat Goes On" is a fantastic statement of intent; it sounds as if it could have been recorded in 1964. With its autobiographical content and nod to the Dirty Pretty Things it shows that age has not mellowed the outfit one jot. "Buried Alive" is proto-metal; in fact, this is business as usual. "Pretty Beat" is an amusing 60s pastiche.
Now all bedecked in their black suits, white shirts and black ties, May and Taylor lead this band of Reservoir Dogs with a jaded flamboyance. I seriously recommend you grab them next time they rampage through your town.