UK Psychedelia Discussion Forum

Regal Zonophone 2

General Forum
Start a New Topic 
The Pretty Things / Philippe DeBarge

"1969. SF Sorrow is done and dusted. Parachute was yet to come. The Pretty Things are at their creative peak."
That's from the back cover of this rather obscure Pretty Things album that may have passed you by until now. Hear it here:

Reissued on the Madfish label as 'Rock St. Trop' in 2017, reviewed here by Bill Kopp, at
"a truly oddball project the Pretty Things undertook in 1969, between making SF Sorrow and Parachute. Acceding to the wishes of a millionaire playboy called Philippe DeBarge, they collaborate and recorded an entire album’s worth of music as the Frenchman’s backing group. Those recordings were not released in any official manner, though somehow bootleg copies found their way into the hands of collectors.

After many years of being traded as an underground gem, those sessions got a kind of official release in 2009 on UT Records, an imprint of the music magazine Ugly Things (a fine publication for whom this author wrote occasionally, many years ago). Still not quite pristine quality, that release was sourced from the best possible tapes available, and the labor-of-love release represented a massive upgrade from the bootleg versions. But the release was low-profile, and despite good intentions did little or nothing to bring the music to the attention of a wider audience.

Fast forward nearly a decade to present day. Though it’s an indie label, Madfish enjoy greater distribution and publicity resources than did Ugly Things Magazine’s Mike Stax. So Madfish has licensed the DeBarge material, releasing the twelve tracks from 1969 plus a 2008 recording by band members Phil May and Wally Waller, a song about DeBarge called “Monsieur Rock.” The new release includes two other songs that are not part of the 1969 sessions.

Here’s the thing: despite the project’s beginnings as a sort of vanity project, this material is quite good. All of the songs were written by May and Waller, who at the time were at the peak of their creativity. The band is in excellent form, and – surprise! – DeBarge is a fine lead vocalist. There’s a version of “Alexander” here, and the other songs are nearly as good. “You’re Running You and Me,” “Eagle’s Son” and “Hello, How Do You Do” sound like hit singles of the freakbeat era.

Rock St. Trop isn’t likely to cause a complete re-assessment of the Pretty Things’ importance and place in rock history. But it’s quite good. As good, I’d argue, as the projects that book-ended it, SF Sorrow and Parachute. For anyone who appreciates one or both of those releases, this missing link is essential. For everyone else, it’s still a worthwhile curio, an example of a one-off side project that is ultimately far better than it has any right to be."

Re: The Pretty Things / Philippe DeBarge

Hi Steve in my opinion anyone who enjoys the psych side of the pretties or has more than a passing interest in the band this is a must have!! For what was basically a vanity project for someone who had the money to get the pretties to work on this it's very good indeed!! I hsve both the ugly things cd and this newer version on cd. Of course there's a couple of tracks they did for the dewolfe library as electric banana rerecord for this project with debarge at the mic. Not as heavily psych as say sf sorrow and a bit more acoustic but still has a dope filled air to it, I as you've guessed I love this and was so happy when ugly things issued the first cd as bootleg releases up to then had been very poor in sound and poor artwork!! The newer cd is even better in sound and I don't think you'll be able to improve the sound anymore than is on this. Some great photos and liners in the booklet one with a very well known and much photographed model and all around sex symbol!! For many bands this wouid be a very pleasing release but as a basic private issue and project it's terrific!!!!