The Pretty Things - Alexander
So the year is 1969 and you’re in The Pretty Things, one of the UK’s seminal R&B bands of the time. You’re coming off what was, essentially, a commercial failure with the album S.F. Sorrow, and frankly you’re a little strapped for cash. You’re approached by this chap Philippe DeBarge, a French millionaire, who commissions you to record a new album. The Frenchman doesn’t place any financial or creative restrictions on the session and in fact books you into Nova Studios, one of London’s first 8-track facilities, where you’re free to experiment with the latest recording technologies and psychedelic effects. Oh right, I almost forgot there’s just one little catch: ol’ Frenchypants wants to sing.
Now, I’ve been to pubs before where patrons drunkenly shoehorn their way to the mic, convincing the band that they can indeed take the lead. But by the time those nights play out that singer is usually leaving in tears or, with a little luck, an ambulance. One might think allowing a French millionaire to croon all over your album would be a recipe for disaster, and end in a similar fate. Not so! Surprisingly this slightly frenchier version of The Pretties pump out 12 fairly stunning tracks that aren’t far from the quality we’re accustomed to. Our man DeBarge, even though he’s French, and had no previous musical experience, proves to be a more than capable vocalist. This album, The Pretty Things: Philippe DeBarge, was recorded in 1969. The Frenchmans wet dream was initially only ever pressed to acetate, and was just finally released as an album proper earlier this year.