Cet article de Norman Jopling est paru dans le numéro 279 de l’hebdomadaire britannique Record Mirror, daté du 16 juillet 1966. « On ne peut pas continuer à se battre avec le monde entier », annonce Phil May. Les Pretty Things en ont marre d’être refoulés des plateaux télés, alors ils disent qu’ils ont changé, qu’ils se sont assagis, qu’ils sont prêts à se diversifier musicalement. Attention, il ne s’agit pas d’aliéner leurs anciens fans, mais ils aimeraient bien s’en faire de nouveaux aussi.
“We just can’t keep on fighting the rest of the world” said Phil May
The Pretty Things were always the wildest group around, and they tried terribly hard to live up to that image. From their hair, their walk-outs on TV shows, their parties and their records, they gave off an air of uninhibited anti-social casualness, or if you didn’t like them, scruffiness.
Now they’ve changed. They were the last of the really wild ravers and they realized, as Phil May said, that they couldn’t keep on fighting the rest of the world.
“Things reached a terrible state. TV producers just didn’t want to know, and they’re only just beginning to change their minds now they’ve heard our new record. We couldn’t get any TV plugs, which are a necessity to sell records. And after all, that’s basically what we are in the business for.”
Phil continued. “Our aim is not to alienate our R & B type fans, but to try to make new fans with a new style, as well as keeping the old ones. We try to give a good stage act. I think we do, because we’re always busy and we always play to big audiences. I think that when you go to see a group you expect to see something visual. Otherwise you might just as well go home and play the record. Now, it isn’t many groups that can duplicate their record sound, so then it’s even worse when the group doesn’t move, or give a show.
“Take Spencer Davis. They’re the best group I’ve heard on stage. They duplicate their record sound perfectly—can even improve on it. But they stand there looking miserable when they play as though they’re not enjoying it. Quite obviously they DO enjoy it, but the audiences, I’m sure, would like something to come across.
“When we were in Paris a few weeks ago we played just before the Walker Brothers. Now, I’m not boasting but we went down better than the Walkers. But nobody—nobody—wrote about us—only about the Walkers. I was despairing about it until Scott came up to me and told me that he thought that we went down better than they did. If he admitted it, I’m sure some of the press could have done. But then they don’t really want to write about us unless there’s some nastiness involved.”
Phil admitted that things had been a lot quieter since Viv Prince left the group. He also said that he misses Viv but that there were no hard feelings. In fact Viv often talks to new drummer Skip and tells him where he (Viv) went wrong.
“I’m glad we got Skip, because he’s just about the only drummer who could have filled Viv’s place—I still think that Viv is the top drummer in the country. But our ravings reached their utmost during our tour of New Zealand. Viv used to carry this dead crayfish around with him. It was so bad it could almost walk by itself. And he’d wear this hat with ‘King Of The World’ written on it. All the kids, the teenagers used to worship Viv—literally! They’d bow down in front of him and his crayfish. In the evenings loads of people, would buy him food and drink. When we left New Zealand he was having such a good time he wouldn’t come with us and we had to hire a replacement for a while.”
The Pretty Things new record is “A House In The Country” and it was written by Ray Davies, who had the Things in mind when he wrote it. As yet Phil hasn’t spoke to Ray about the song, but he’s confident about it especially when he learned that the group actually has some TV dates to plug the record.
“It used to bring me down though. Because before, when we wanted plugs we couldn’t get them, but now it’s still a big fight. The producers say ‘Will they remain under control’ and ‘They won’t start running wild, will they?’ and all this. So we have to be very careful to behave because we want to sell some more records.”
Phil has been writing a few more songs lately himself, and several of them are being included on the group’s forthcoming album, which will cater for the wilder element of their fans. But single-wise Phil says that even if the new disc isn’t a hit, they’ll try something else for future singles, rather than churn out all the old wild stuff.
The new song is all about a guy who never worries about a thing. He’s inherited his father’s money and all he has to do is spend the money—but the song is sung apparently by an embittered young brother.
And then, after telling me some things about French fans which can’t be printed Phil dashed off, to what he hopes will be a wider audience. And so do I, after writing a feature all about how much they’ve changed.
Source : WorldRadioHistory.com (PDF).