Life at 33⅓: A cult classic

Pretty Things: Parachute (Harvest)

Pretty Things: Parachute (Harvest)

June 1970 was an eventful month.  Edward Heath defeated Harold Wilson in the UK general election, Brazil defeated Italy 4-1 in the World Cup final and John Lennon defeated Paul McCartney in the music press.  It was also the month of The Pretty Things’ first Harvest LP (released on Motown’s Rare Earth label in the USA), their first recordings after their rebirth as prog rockers with the concept album “SF Sorrow” two years earlier.

In 1975, critic Steve Turner claimed that Rolling Stone magazine had named “Parachute” album of the year in 1970.  It was a lie, but it stuck as people still mistake the Turner-quote for a fact.  As 1970 was also the year of “Led Zeppelin III”, “Deep Purple In Rock”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Live At Leeds”, “Cosmo’s Factory”, “After The Gold Rush”, “Layla”, “All Things Must Pass” and “American Beauty”, to name a few, “Parachute” was up against stiff competition.  But a good collection of music it is.

The old rhythm & blues-champions display some great and unexpected versatility.  There’s charming traces of whimsical British psychedelia, there’s bits of well-crafted prog, there’s tighter and harder elements bordering on hard rock – and as the icing of the cake there’s the beautiful and very Beatlesque “The Good Mr. Square” / “She Was Tall, She Was High” (so delicious it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on “Abbey Road”).  The bright and airy vocal harmonies leave a sweet smell of illegal tobacco over the proceedings.  An absolutely delightful album!

Unfortunately The Pretty Things did not take this musical direction any further as the band started to disintegrate at the end of the year.  A reshuffled line-up returned in 1972 with “Freeway Madness”, sporting a more pedestrian hard-rock approach to the music.

Released: June 1970
Produced by: Norman Smith
Contents: Scene One/The Good Mr. Square/She Was Tall, She Was High/In the Square/The Letter/Rain/Miss Fay Regrets/Cries From the Midnight Circus/Grass/Sickle Clowns/She’s a Lover/What’s the Use/Parachute

Phil May – Vocals
Vic Unitt – Guitars
Wally Waller – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
John Povey – Keyboards, Vocals
Skip Alan – Drums

First published in Pattaya Mail on