1. The Beat Goes On
2. Livin' in My Skin
3. Buried Alive
4. (Blues for) Robert Johnson
6. Pretty Beat
7. The Ballad of Hollis Brown
8. In the Beginning
9. Feel Like Goin' Home
10. Freedom Song
11. Dearly Beloved
12. All Light Up
13. Balboa Island
Phil May lead vocals
Dick Taylor lead guitar, banjo
Frank Holland acoustic & lead guitar, vocals
John Povey keyboards, harp, vocals
Wally Waller bass, vocals
Skip Alan, drums, percussion
Mark St John ancient Trixon drums, vocals
Scarlett Wrench, lots of great vocals & a capella
James Cheetham, piano & organ on "Robert Johnson"
Rupert Cobb, trumpet
Duncan Taylor-Jones, extra vocals on "Dearly Beloved"
Balboa Island is the legendary British Rock group The Pretty Things’ long awaited 11th studio album in a 43-year recording career. Their first CD release in over eight years, it is already regarded by many as on par with their very greatest 1960s and 70s recordings.
From the stadium sized Rock of “All Light Up” through the raw acoustic guitar blues of “Feel Like Going Home” to the Beatles / Abbey Road period style of “Dearly Beloved” – The Pretty Things have crafted a “dark” record – doomed, brooding, powerful, mysterious and full of edge.
The 13 new songs – mostly originals, but also containing an acoustic cover of an early 60s Bob Dylan song “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” – have an unmatched rawness, intensity, depth and passion.
Founded in 1964 by lead vocalist Phil May and lead guitarist Dick Taylor – who was the Rolling Stones’ original bass guitarist prior to starting the Pretty Things - “the Pretties” have always followed their own, fiercely independent path: although the huge international break-through of the Rolling Stones, the Who has eluded them, their un-compromising musical integrity has given them a cult following around the world.
Astonishingly, the Pretty Things are the only 60s “British invasion” rock groups still playing in their original 1966 line-up, only augmented by guitarist Frank Holland who joined in 1992.
The first 5,000 copies of the North American, ZOHO ROOTS label release of the CD includes original full-sized artwork by lead vocalist Phil May, making this first edition an instant must-have collectors’ item for the group’s many fans!You can preview the artwork in the PHOTO GALLERY section of this website.
October 2007 national US Tour in preparation.
The North American ZOHO ROOTS release of The Pretty Things’ Balboa Island in August 2007 is the first of a series of three CDs recorded and produced by the British production company “Cote Basque Productions”, on vintage analog / valve equipment and instruments. Look for the next two ZOHO / Cote Basque releases featuring the legendary “The Amazing World of Arthur Brown” (The Voice of Love, ZMR 200709) and the amazing young British Blues Band “The Malchicks” (To Kill A Mockingbird, ZMR 200710), to be released by Allegro Corporation on September 4, 2007.
The Pretty Things run through the body of Rock & Roll like a backbone. Fundamental yet invisible. Throughout a career lasting more than 40 years, what stands out is their strength, self-belief and indelible power - all required to sustain this great cult act that is as relevant today as it was when they first prowled the stage in 1964, sporting the world's longest hair and the worst rock & roll attitude ever seen.
Along the way they created some memorable moments:
• jailed for possession of a 12 gauge shotgun,
• banned (still) from Australia & New Zealand,
• creators of the world’s first rock opera - "SF Sorrow" - recorded alongside “Sgt Pepper's” and the Pink Floyd’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn“ at Abbey Road,
• recorded Rolling Stone Magazine's 1st 1970's Record of the Year - “Parachute“,
• were the first signing to Led Zeppelin's seminal Swan Song label....
• thru to 2006 - with the "Dirty Pretty Things" paying homage by “borrowing” (stealing?) their name.
And so it still goes on...
Throughout it all they have carried their shields and have never been less than total in their commitment to the rock music they grew up
with and the R&B that they would die for. And now, in this - their 11th studio album - The Pretties have opened their deepest vein. The power, intensity, depth and passion of this record is unmatched by any of their contemporaries. The Stones, Van, The Who - none of the class of '64 has enough gas left in the tank to make a record like this.
The sheer scale of ‘(Blues for) Robert Johnson’, and the bleak landscape of ‘Livin’ In My Skin’ slice through preconceptions like a switchblade; while “The Beat Goes On” could have been recorded in 1966, the energy is so vibrant.
Phil May’s astonishing, disturbing voice, overlooked for so long by the movers & shakers we all know & love, is a sheer force of nature - unique in its power, depth and delivery. He interprets “new boy” Frank Holland’s edgy, driven writing to the furthest edge of darkness, and beyond. And Dick Taylor, here often playing the bass that he started with in '64 in the early Stones, is like quicksilver, diving in and out of the songs, creating the break downs and the mysterious, chilling riffs that glue these heartfelt songs together.
This is a black record: doomed, brooding, powerful, mysterious and full of edge. It could just be the greatest record the Pretty Things have ever made, and maybe now they'll finally get some of the luck they always deserved but never, ever seemed to find. “If it wasn't for bad luck, they wouldn't have no luck at all.”
The darkest night of your life is... "Balboa Island" - the new Pretty
Mark St John
The "acoustic" Pretty Things - from left : Dick Taylor, Phil May, Frank Holland.
“The road to “Balboa Island” has been a long and eventful journey... Littered with car crashes and catastrophe, and taking us all way back to the very beginnings of the band... En route, precious blood has definitely been spilt and the long years of friendship we shared, have been seriously tested. The record we started recording 3 years ago was train-wrecked 13 months into the project. We watched it crash & burn in eruptions of wounded pride and volcanic egos in torment... dark déjà vu: it always ends like this.
Confused casualties reeled away from the wreckage, sensing that this indeed could finally be terminal - with myself amongst them. But, of course, it wasn’t... Just another self-inflicted wound in the battered body of “The Pretty Things”.
When the smoke finally cleared, those of us left standing found ourselves back at the Station Hotel, Dartford, 1963 - our first paid gig... back at Sidcup Art School - cloakroom jamming with Keith Richards... back in Dick’s mum’s sitting room - first rehearsals (fed by the Jaffa cakes that Mick & Keith had sampled the previous year)... All sharp flashbacks that served as signposts.
So, for the next few months we soaked up hours and hours of the raw early archive blues, that had shaped our raucous beginnings...Slowly the rehab started to work. We took the time out to faithfully record a complete set of traditional delta blues tracks for possible future release - scratchy, scruffy, littered with mistakes, but dripping with truth & commitment.
And, somewhere in there, the blues found us again, and, more importantly, we found ourselves in the blues; the new material started to flow, and an old, deep vein was re-opened… the tapes were rolling again. The Boys from The Dartford Delta were back in town, back together & back in the studio, older, non the wiser, very bloody, but (still) unbowed. Eventually we put it to bed and, out of nowhere, finished this tortured record, which may just be the best thing we’ve ever done... Or maybe it’s not... Who knows any more? Not me, that’s for sure.
And when the night-train rolled to a dead stop at the end of the line - the destination board read: Balboa Island.But we wouldn’t have made it to journey’s end without the engineer and the driver… so, thanks a million Mark, (St John, that is) - Nemesis or Savior - We’ll never know? You too, Ross, new kid on the block, old head on young shoulders… And, last but not least, to all our new, extended family - our fellow Côte Basque artists, musicians & co-conspirators, but especially you, Scarlett, we’ve got a real soft spot for you. You breathed a little of your youthful innocence into our cynical souls – I think we needed that. And lastly, for anyone still listening. We’re very proud of this, it’s still
everything and it’s still the only life for an outlaw to live - even with the invidious cancer of Blair, Bush and reality TV eating away at our freedom... So, till the next time…” Phil May
© 2007 A Cote Basque Music Group Production. Recorded at Cote Basque Studios, using only analog tape and real band performances. Produced by Mark St John. Assisted by Ross McCracken. Mastered by Dave Garland & Mark St John.
“The Pretty Things? - one of the greatest R & B bands of all time - real wild!” Van Morrison
“The Pretty Things” always made The Stones look tame, and the time has definitely come for their renaissance.” Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd
“The Pretties” were great on stage - always far more rebellious than The Stones. You could like The Stones, but if you were a real rebel, it was always “The Pretties”. Gary Brooker, Procol Harum
"I've been in awe of these guys since hearing their earliest hip- shakin' wildass r 'n b singles on Fontana in the mid-60's, import- only gems like "Buzz the Jerk", "Roslyn", and "Midnight to Six". They are the absolute Real Deal, a legendary UK 60's band who've managed to keep on pushing forward, producing an extraordinary body of work out of the British blues boom, through psychedelia, and beyond, one album of which--their trippy dark rock opera "S.F. Sorrow"-- the first and best concept album ever to emerge out of the hey-day of PeaceLoveDonovanFlowers...
And the astonishing thing is, the Pretty Things are still raging, still burning, still dreaming--some would say, at the height of their powers. I shared a bill with them in France a couple years ago and was totally overwhelmed by their live set, which took in every phase of their long and winding career, singer Phil May spitting out all their classic songs with a vengeance, Mick and Keith's childhood
friend Dick Taylor uncoiling menacing blues guitar licks and psych curlicues from their SF Sorrow circa hits. Their new album "Balboa Island" is one of the freshest,fiercest, and blues-iest blasts yet from The Band They Couldn't Kill. A lovely miracle we should all be thankful for!"