Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Pretty Things: Rock Stars in The Rock Hall of Fame?

When it comes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I’m a vocal critic of how they continue to induct (& Nominate) 1960s originated rock acts. This year we've see a fair few (Steppenwolf, The Zombies, Joan Baez, etc) being nominated despite not necessarily deserving to be in the hall.

So that made me think ‘Have they ran out of credible 1960s artists to induct?’ The answer I thought would be yes, I think the Monkees deserve a nomination not an induction, but there is one act who it is amazing have not yet been inducted.

They were formed by a Rolling Stone, they were admired by David Bowie and were friends with Bob Dylan, those 3 things alone should of inducted them in the 60s-obsessed hall voter's eyes.

Photo Credit: Derek Jensen


I’m talking about The Pretty Things who were one of the best acts of the 1960s, who helped form the sounds of Psychedelic Rock, Proto-Punk and also had the first concept album in rock.


So let’s say why they belong in the hall.

Influence


The Pretty Things are neither The Beatles nor the Stones, but they were still an influential band. Probably the biggest person to name check them is David Bowie who was heavily influenced by vocalist Philip May’s vocal style.

The band also influenced a lot of UK 1970s punk,, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Faces, Roxy Music, Alice Cooper and Tame Impala have all mentioned The Pretty Faces as influences. 

Traffic are also a band who were influenced by The Pretty Things


Music


Did they create good enough music to induct them? Well let's put it like this, they created psychedelic albums to rival Love, The Doors and so many more

I’d recommend their Get The Picture?, S.F. Sorrow and Parachute albums to anyone. Each of them are fantastic moments in Rock and each are  a perfect example of either psychedelic rock or garage rock.

S.F. Sorrow their most critically acclaimed album.


However ignore their albums and you still have a discography worthy of induction. Listen to Rosalyn, Midnight to Six Man and Come See Me to hear perfect examples of the Garage Rock/Freakbeat sound they created in the mid 60s.

If psychedelic is more your taste then put on Deflecting Grey, Private Sorrow and Talkin’ About The Good Times. 

And the band is still going too, and they're putting out better albums than The Rolling Stones are at least.

The band in 2016.


Legacy


What the hell do I mean by legacy? I mean how do they hold up all these years later, but also I mean fame, credibility and also all the odd bits that aren't music or influence.

As far as fame goes they are practically unknown to the wider audience, people only know of them because they are music lovers or because of The Rolling Stones connection, however they are more known nowadays then they were at their creative peak in the 1960s, and an induction would place them rightfully in the public eye.

Despite the lack of fame, critics loved them, and they still do. Check out any sites' review of their classic albums and singles, and you'll find acclaim to be synonymous with The Pretty Things.

The band has had over 20 members over it's lifetime


So what about other bits and pieces? Well… 

They appeared in court on 27 separate occasions in 1965, and they also got arrested for pulling out a sawn off shotgun mid way through the gig.

The band even got banned from New Zealand and Australia after trying to light their plane on fire mid air. Oh and they also wore long hair far before The Beatles.

But theres also their wildcard that is there best chance, Dick Taylor, their guitarist, was a founding member of the Rolling Stones, oh yeah, Bob Dylan also name checked the band in Tombstone Blues.

Their best single

So do they belong in the hall?


Influence: 3/5
Music: 4/5
Legacy: 4/5

If you're asking me, yes.





Sunday, 13 November 2016

18 Legendary Things Leon Russell Did

Leonard Cohen, Bap Kennedy, Bob Cranshaw, Kay Starr, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Biser Kirov, Victor Bailey, Eddie Harsch and now Leon Russell. Those are notable musicians who have died this November so far.


That’s quite a few, and I would love to write a piece on each of them following each of their sad passings. But if I did, this blog would just become a musician’s obituary page. 


However Leon Russell is different. 


I mean… who else could pull of this look?


Leon Russell is possibly the most notable sideman of rock history. He played with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and many more, including artists outside of Rock, like Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, BB King and many others.



Rather than doing a standard obituary piece on one of the greatest pianists in rock history, I decided that perhaps a better thing to do would be to simply make a list of accomplishments. 

18 things Leon Russell can present to the afterlife, to prove he deserves in.

  • He was a member of the Starlighters at the age of 14, a group which included JJ Cale and was instrumental in the creation of the Tulsa Sound.

  • He studied guitar under Elvis Presley's guitarist James Burton.

His guitar teacher and his guitar teacher's boss.

  • He was a member of the Incredible Wrecking Crew, and with the assorted group of sidemen he played on such hits as Be My Baby by The Ronettes and The Little old Lady by Jan & Dean.

  • He released his first solo single in 1965, meaning he had a solo career for over half a century!

  • Was a member of the Delaney & Bonnie and Friends band in 1969 & 1970. During his time with the band he befriended collaborators George Harrison and Eric Clapton.

Russell sharing the Camera lense with Eric Clapton and Delany & Bonnie

  • Played on and produced Joe Cocker's Joe Cocker! 1969 album.

  • Wrote the song Superstar with Bonnie Bramlett. The song has been covered by artists as varied as The Carpenters and Sonic Youth. 

  • Released his first solo album in 1970, which included the song A Song For You. A Song For You has been covered by more than 40 artists including Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Willie Nelson. Elton John has called the song a "American classic."

Russell with Willie Nelson

  • Produced and played on Bob Dylan's Watching The River Flow and When I Paint My Masterpiece singles.

  • Played at George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh. Where he performed one of the highlights of the concert a mix up of Jumpin Jack Flash and Young Blood, as well as backing up Harrison and Bob Dylan's songs. 

  • Helped revive the noted blues guitarist Freddie King's career in the early 1970s by collaborating with him, and releasing his records through Shelter Records. 

The incredible song Russell performed at the humanitarian concert organised by the ex-beatle

  • Released several country and western albums under the pseudonym Hank Wilson.

  • Accordign to Billboard he made almost $3 million from his '72 tour

  • Was nominated for the 1977 Grammy for Song of the Year for The Masquerade sung by George Benson.

At the Concert for Bangladesh next to Bob Dylan and George Harrison

  • Released the album The Union with Elton John, which Rolling Stone called one of the 30 best albums of 2010.

  • The Pixies vocalist Black Francis credits Russell as a influence on his vocal style.

  • He was an active musician from 1956 until 2016.

  • Was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

With admirer and collaborator Elton John.