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The Pretty Things: Balboa Island

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (p.64) - "[W]hen Taylor fires up his slide guitar behind May's growl...it's easy to imagine yourself at the very birth of British electric blues. Because they were there."

Entertainment Weekly (p.130) - "[T]here's a weird beauty in the matter-of-fact way they rip through BALBOA's 13 blues, jazz, and R&B-inflected tunes....Undeniably galvanizing in all the right ways." -- Grade: B+

Q (p.105) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Here, bluesy rockers, hardfaced ballads and lyrics about death show them still refusing to go gently."

Album Notes

A problem with bands that have been on the scene for over 40 years (count 'em) is that they can sometimes still write songs with titles like "The Beat Goes On" and "Buried Alive," as if those tropes hadn't lost their edge several decades ago. On the other hand, when a band has played together for four decades its members have often learned one of rock & roll's great lessons: how to create maximum groove with minimal ingredients. So when the Pretty Things lay down a song as thunderous as "Livin' in My Skin," they do so with the ponderous grace and inexorable momentum of an elephant walking to water. They've also been around long enough to have heard some of their source material at the source, which means that they can deliver an ancient Delta blues like "Feel Like Going Home" with a certain arch authority. (And if you want more cowbell, these guys can deliver that with authority as well -- check out the raunchy period piece "Mimi.") On the downside, they sometimes abuse their elder-statesmen status to impose eight minutes of two-chord vamp on their hapless listeners ("[Blues For] Robert Johnson"), and the title track, which closes the album, does so with much more of a whimper than a bang. Not bad at all, but unless you're a die-hard fan you'll want to be a little selective. ~ Rick Anderson


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