7-inch Singles/E.P.s Freakbeat/Garage/Psychedelic Rock/Rhythm And Blues U.K. 1960s The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down”

7-inch Singles/E.P.s Freakbeat/Garage/Psychedelic Rock/Rhythm And Blues U.K. 1960s

The Pretty Things (London, U.K.)

“Don’t Bring Me Down” (written by Johnnie Dee) A’ Side single released on Fontana Records (TF 503) in October 1964

Line-up :

Phil May – vocals, harmonica

Dick Taylor – lead guitar

Brian Pendleton – guitar

John Stax – bass guitar

Viv Prince – drums

Lyrics :

I’m on my own, nowhere to roam
I tell you baby, don’t want no home
I wander round, feet off the ground
I even go from town to town
I said I think this rock is grand
Say I’ll be your man
Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down
I met this chick, the other day
And then to me, she said she’ll stay
I get this pad, just like a cave
And then we’ll have, our living made
And then I’ll lead her on the ground
My head is spinning round
Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down
I, I, I, I, I need a lover ’cause someone new
And then to her I will be true
I’ll buy her furs and pretty things
I’ll even buy a wedding ring
But until then I’ll? settle down?
Say I’ll be your man
Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down
Until then I’ll? settle down?
Say I’ll be your man
Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down
Don’t bring me down

Don’t Bring Me Down” is a song written by Johnny Dee (road manager for British band The Fairies) and first performed by the rock band The Pretty Things in 1964. It was a number 10 hit on the UK Singles Chart for them, and reached number 34 in Canada. The song was featured on the American version of their debut album, The Pretty Things.

The Pretty Things are an English rock band, formed in 1963 in London. They took their name from Willie Dixon’s 1955 song “Pretty Thing”. A pure rhythm and blues band in their early years, with several singles charting in the United Kingdom, they later embraced other genres such as psychedelic rock in the late 1960s (with 1968 S.F. Sorrow being one of the first rock operas), hard rock in the early 1970s and new wave in the early 1980s. Despite this, they never managed to recapture the same level of commercial success of their very first releases.

Everybody’s got to have an idol, an ideal that one strives to reach and, if possible, surpass. For the Pretty Things, such an ideal were the Rolling Stones. This was really a predictable thing, though: the band was founded around 1964 by Dick Taylor, former bass player for the Stones before they actually had a recording contract. Dick quit the band because of financial troubles and personal ambitions (not content with his minor role since Brian Jones shoved him in the background), and became one of the founding fathers for the Pretty Things – but the band still kept a tight connection with the Stones. Initially, their image was supposed to be modelled after the Stones, only even more hardcore: they were even wilder, had even longer hair, and were banned from even more TV shows than the Stones ever have. At least, that’s how the legend goes. Too bad that the actual music played by the Pretties was nowhere near as enduring as the Stones’ stuff: the band was nowhere near as professional or talented, and their lead singer, Phil May, had, to put it mildly, a pretty limited vocal potential. Thus, the Pretties’ early albums are rife with filler, even if the aggressive rock’n’roll energy contained in their best stuff easily compensates for the weaker numbers.

This all began to change around the Summer of Love epoch: unlike gazillions of their even less talented and/or ambitiousd colleagues, the Pretties had time and will to jump on the accelerating rock music wagon (together with the Stones!) and drifted away into artsier, more sophisticated territory. Unfortunately, the band never really made the big time; despite a few moderate hits, their image had already been soldered as that of second-rate Stones imitators, and this, taken together with poor management and inner lineup problems, never did much to improve the band’s financial situation. And yet, it’s the late Sixties that count for the Pretties – not every band can successfully transform itself from a basic R’n’B outfit into a full-blown psychedelic machine, but that’s exactly what happened. The 1967 record, Emotions, is a minor (and thoroughly underrated) Brit-pop/psycho gem, but, of course, it’s the 1968 tour de force, S. F. Sorrow, that the Pretties are going to be remembered for, if they are going to be remembered at all: the first rock opera (or ‘rock narrative’, whatever), a cohesive and complex album with a level of twistedness and sophistication no other former R’n’B band, not even the Stones, would ever achieve. If anything, S. F. Sorrow just goes to show that the band had serious potential in them, and were actually able to realize that potential instead of always drag in the shadow of their superior pals.Too bad neither Emotions nor S. F. Sorrow hit the big time; after their failure, the disillusioned Dick Taylor quit the band, and although it dragged on for half a decade more, fuelled mostly by the energy of Phil May, and released three more LPs at least one of which (Parachute) is said to be very good, by the mid-70s it was obvious that there was simply nowhere else to go. The Pretties therefore disbanded into nothing, and despite several attempts at reunions and even some new studio output and live performances in the Nineties, they’re still a pretty dark spot in popular culture.I’m not an avid fan, of course, but one thing is obvious – the Pretty Things are more than just a potential bait for collectors of Sixties’ antiques (and while we’re at it, it is every Sixties’ antiques collector’s duty to procure the band’s catalog in its entirety, now!). They didn’t have that much talent in them, nor did they possess a particular thoughtful inspired talented creative guy; most of the band’s best compositions are group efforts. Yet they seem to have possessed a certain ‘group mentality’ that was enough for their records, at least, the 1967-68 ones, not to sound like weak pathetic clones, but instead provoke a strong and deep emotional reaction. They were trend-followers, but they didn’t follow these trends in half-measures: there’s enough soul and feeling in their music to make it likeable. They never deserve anything more than a weak two on the band rating scale, that’s for sure, but neither should they just be allowed to sink in the general mire of talentless mid-Sixties rip-offs because, frankly speaking, they were better than most. Don’t believe me? Buy S. F. Sorrow today and spin it three times in a row to see what I mean. Then slowly and gradually work your way forwards and backwards, never letting your expectations run before the actual music – and hoopla, you just might have something there…LineupPhil May – vocals, harmonica; Brian Pendleton – guitar; John Stax – bass; Dick Taylor – guitar; Viv Prince – drums. Prince dropped out, late 1965, replaced by Skip Allan. Pendleton and Stax quit, 1967, replaced by Twink (drums), Wally Allen (bass), and John Povey (percussion). Dick Taylor quit, 1968; on later Pretties lineups see different sources, or maybe I’ll get around to it when I get around to actually hearing later albums.

The Pretty Things were the also-rans of the British Invasion, a band that never got its due. Despite this lack of recognition, they were never quite ignored, cultivating a passionate cult that stuck with them through the decades — a cult that was drawn to either their vicious early records, where they sometimes seemed like a meaner version of the Rolling Stones, or to their 1968 psychedelic masterwork S.F. Sorrow. Some of their fans advocate for the entirety of their catalog, noting how the group adeptly shifted with the times. Despite these shifts in style, they rarely racked up hits on either side of the Atlantic. In the United States, they didn’t chart until 1975, a full decade after they released their rough-and-tumble debut. Back then, the Pretty Things seemed like rivals to the Rolling Stones and that was no great leap: guitarist Dick Taylor played bass in the first incarnation of the Stones, not long before he teamed up with Phil May to form the Pretty Things in 1963. Taking their name from a Bo Diddley song, the Pretty Things were intentionally ugly: their sound was brutish, their hair longer than any of their contemporaries, their look unkempt. This nastiness was evident on their first pair of singles, “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” two 45s that charted in 1964, their success helping to get their eponymous debut into the U.K. Top Ten a year later, but that turned out to be the extent of their commercial success. The Pretty Things may not have shown up on the charts but their cult proved to be influential: it’s been said Pete Townshend was influenced by S.F. Sorrow to write Tommy for the Who and David Bowie covered both “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” for his 1973 album Pin Ups. Critics liked them too but that acclimation didn’t sell records. Nevertheless, the Pretty Things were survivors, soldiering on through the ’70s, turning into a harder, heavier outfit that was rewarded with marginal U.S. success — 1974’s Silk Torpedo and 1976’s Savage Eye made the lower reaches of Billboard — cutting a credible new wave album at the dawn of the ’80s. The Pretty Things would split not long afterward but their cult remained so strong that they became a semi-active concern at the beginning of the new millennium, as they would occasional reunite for tours and recordings.

Such perseverance would’ve seemed unlikely back in 1963 when Dick Taylor and Phil May first formed the band. Taylor had been playing with Mick Jagger in a London outfit called Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys since he was a schoolboy and he later met Keith Richards at Sidcup Art School. In 1962, Taylor, Jagger, and Richards all started playing, once again calling themselves Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys, with Brian Jones and Ian Stewart aboard, and this group turned into the Rolling Stones, but Taylortired of bass and left to concentrate on art. Soon, he was convinced by fellow Sidcup Art School student Phil May to form the Pretty Things. The duo brought in bassist John Stax, guitarist Brian Pendleton, and drummer Pete Kitley; the latter would soon be replaced by Viv Prince. Bryan Morrison, who also was attending art school with Taylor and May, managed the band and helped get it signed to Fontana.

“Rosalyn,” the group’s first single, peaked at 41 in 1964 but “Don’t Bring Me Down” went to ten and “Honey I Need” topped out at 13 in 1965. These three singles helped the group’s self-titled debut reach number six on the U.K. album charts, but with success came some turbulence. Drummer Prince left toward the end of 1965 and was succeeded by Skip Alan, while the group’s 1966 album Get the Picture? showed the rough, ragged rock & roll group adopting a slight pop art stance.

More lineup changes soon followed — Pendleton and Stax left by early 1967, with John Povey and Wally Waller taking their place — and Fontana pushed the group in a softer, string-laden direction for that year’s Emotions. This wasn’t a hit and the Pretty Thingssoon lost drummer Alan and decamped for EMI’s Columbia, where they recorded what is roundly regarded as their masterpiece, S.F. Sorrow. Appearing at the end of 1968, S.F. Sorrow is by many measures the first rock opera, earning a big cult but not selling much.

Dick Taylor left in the wake of S.F. Sorrow — guitarist Victor Unitt, previously of the Edgar Broughton Band, took his place — and Alan returned to the band. This new lineup first stretched its legs supporting French playboy Philippe DeBarge as he dipped his toes into rock & roll — these recordings were long shelved; they appeared in 2010 — and this wasn’t the only way the Pretty Things made money; they moonlighted anonymously for the music library company DeWolfe, recording film music that wound up reissued under the name Electric Banana. Despite all this activity, the next big release from the Pretty Things was Parachute in 1970, which received acclaim but no sales.

The lack of success led to a temporary disbandment, but they regrouped for a new contract with Warner that was inaugurated with Freeway Madness in 1972. Next, they teamed up with manager Peter Grant — the giant behind Led Zeppelin — and were signed to Swan Song, which released Silk Torpedo in 1974 and Savage Eye in 1976. These harder, heavier records were a bigger success in America than any previous Pretty Things LP, but it wasn’t enough to keep the group together: they split up in 1976.
Freeway Madness The lack of success led to a temporary disbandment, but they regrouped for a new contract with Warner that was inaugurated with Freeway Madness in 1972. Next, they teamed up with manager Peter Grant — the giant behind Led Zeppelin — and were signed to Swan Song, which released Silk Torpedo in 1974 and Savage Eye in 1976. These harder, heavier records were a bigger success in America than any previous Pretty Things LP, but it wasn’t enough to keep the group together: they split up in 1976.
Cross Talk A full-fledged reunion teaming Phil May and Dick Taylor came in 1980 when the group recorded Cross Talk, an admirable attempt to ride the new wave that did not sell. They split again, but May and Taylor started to perform regularly under a variety of different monikers, including teaming with Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty in the ’90s. As the new millennium approached, they embarked on special projects such as a revival of S.F. Sorrow, and then they recorded a brand-new full-length album called Rage…Before Beauty in 1999. Reissues and biographies followed in the 2000s as did one more album, 2007’s Balboa Island, and the band also toured regularly.

They decided to celebrate their 50th anniversary in style, touring Europe and the U.K. in 2013 and releasing the career-encompassing box Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky in 2015. The box set found the Pretty Things looking back during a potentially dark time, as Phil May suffered a serious health scare in 2014 when he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which impacts the lungs and makes it very difficult to breathe. But after giving up smoking and adopting a healthier lifestyle, May was well enough to begin work on a new Pretty Things album with Taylor, guitarist Frank Holland, bassist George Woosey, and drummer Jack Greenwood, and late 2015 saw the bloodied but unbowed Pretties not only winning enthusiastic reviews for The Sweet Pretty Things (Are in Bed Now, of Course…), but touring Europe and the U.K. in support.

American garage band H.M. Subjects released a cover of “Don’t Bring Me Down” as a single in 1965.

David Bowie covered the song on his 1973 album Pin Ups.

The Pretty Things – “Don’t Bring Me Down” Single photo (A’ Side)

THE PRETTY THINGS DONT BRING ME DOWN 2 (2)

 

The Pretty Things – “Don’t Bring Me Down” Video file link on YouTube

The Pretty Things Band’s Page on Discogs

The Pretty Things Band’s Page on Rate Your Music

The Pretty Things Band’s Page on Spotify

The Pretty Things Band’s Page on Google Music Store

The Pretty Things Band’s Page on Apple Music

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The Pretty Things Band’s Homepage

The Pretty Things Band’s Page/Full Albums Download Links on Rockasteria Blog

The Pretty Things Band’s Page/Full Albums Download Links on Muro Do Classic Rock Blog

Pretty Things Band’s Page/Full Album Download Links on 60-70 Blog