Get The Picture?

The Pretty Things

Original Masters Records, 1965

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Although my collection of early Rolling Stones records in the Pierce Memorial Archives isn't as vast as I'd like it to be, I seem to remember it took the lads a few albums to settle down their manic sound and create a more polished tone. What's interesting is that their counterparts, The Pretty Things, had it down by the time of their second release, Get The Picture?.

After the controlled panic that was their debut album, Phil May and crew (less drummer Vivian Prince, who was out of the band by the time this album was recorded) seemed to have gotten a lot of the manic energy that made up The Pretty Things out of their system. Now, they could hone their musical skills and work on an album that would blow their previous work out of the water.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In one sense, they did; Get The Picture? is a much better album than its predecessor. I don't mean to suggest that May, Dick Taylor and crew didn't take the recording of their first album seriously, but it did have the atmosphere that made it sound like kids being turned loose in a candy store. This album, on the other hand, is much more cohesive, and flows a lot better.

The opening track alone, "You Don't Believe Me", is proof enough of this new-found focus. The band sounds tighter than they had to this point, and May's vocals are actually more powerful this time around. Tracks like "Rainin' In My Heart," "London Town," "Midnight To Six Man" and the title track all re-emphasize the suspicion that The Pretty Things should have been a bigger success than they were, at least in the United States.

Get The Picture? has one major problem with it, though - and it's a complaint I had with the first volume in this re-released set. The liner notes, while giving a lot of the band's history around this time, fail to tell me what I really want to know: which tracks were on the original release, which are bonus tracks added to the re-release, what was the band's lineup at this time. I have to sludge through stories that, often, I am not interested in in order to find information about the band's lineup - and by that time, I'm no longer interested in finding out. The liner notes to this release needed to have more concise information.

And, like the self-titled re-release, Get The Picture? seems to try to put too much Pretty Things into your hands in too short a time frame. After a while, it seems like 18 tracks (even though they're no monsters time-wise) is a lot to listen to, and it seemed like it took forever to get through portions of this disc. I'm all for inclusion of bonus materials, but sometimes it does seem like overkill.

If you have a multimedia computer, Get The Picture? includes a portion that you can watch on your system. I just haven't gotten the chance to view it yet (hey, it's hard when you have to decide between CD extras and Super Mario World).

Get The Picture? is an album that suggests that The Pretty Things did get the picture, and they created an album that was a major improvement over their first effort.

Rating: B

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Original Masters Records, and is used for informational purposes only.