Reimagining their cult classic, former PRETTY THINGS fortify it in the process to take far beyond the original concept.
In 1970, when Phil May-led hairy bunch delivered their fifth LP, it sounded like a relic from a couple of years before but it was meant to be that way - a wail for the sunshine dream falling to pieces as reflected through acoustic lace, silky harmonies and some riffs. Four decades on, four musicians who played in the band at the time of "Parachute" release decided to try and land the album somewhere else, yet primary vocalist May, having given his blessings and additional lyrics, bailed out. Perhaps, for good as rougher pipes of Wally Waller whose bass carried the original carcass and keyboardist Jon Povey give a "Reborn" cut the edge which was only hinted at initially, with an abbreviation of the "ex-PRETTY THINGS" moniker quite fitting to the compacted ensemble.
Such maturity suits them, and the material, fine, "The Good Mister Square" acquiring the seasoned, rather than simply nostalgic, solemnity to rise spiritually from folky strum to the bluesy roll courtesy of Pete Tolson's guitar, while "Sickle Clowns" sounds so dirty as to pack a heartbreaking threat that only a life lived can bring forth. Now, years in the wilderness turn into expanded heavy roar-cum-chant through the organ-moisted "Cries From The Midnight Circus" and "What's The Use" which has been elongated by good six minutes and given a delicate, if muscular, six-string acoustic solo. And if "In The Air" reveals previously well-hidden sensual textures in its muggy midst, a sitar-like coating and newly fashioned boogie piano line make "Miss Fay Regrets" jollier than ever. All this lends the album monolithic quality and a valorous panache. Waller's bass comes to surface only on the neatly orchestrated "Grass" that's certainly greener this side of the rock century, and the luxurious harmonies of "Parachute" underpinned with Skip Alan's moving drum-work show the veterans' youthful zip in all its glory - as does the catchy "She's A Lover".
It's what inspired the group to not only build on the classic foundation but to add to it a couple of new songs, brimful of optimism. One of these, "Here We Go Again", spiking airy drift with a pinch of reggae, gives a hope there can be more from this band. Welcome back, then.