The Pretty Things' "Rosalyn" 45 RPM single (U.K. release).
Once upon a time there was a London band called Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, which consisted of Dick Taylor on guitar, Keith Richards (also on guitar), and Mick Jagger (vocals). When Brian Jones joined the band, Taylor switched from guitar to bass guitar and the band changed its name to the Rolling Stones in 1962. Taylor left the band to attend the London Central School of Art, where he met Phil May. Together they formed the Pretty Things, recruiting Brian Pendleton on guitar, John Stax on bass guitar, and Pete Kitley on drums. Kitley was later replaced by Viv Broughton, who in turn was replaced by Viv Price. The band soon made an impact in England, and although they never had a hit in the United States, they became a huge influence on garage bands such as the MC5s and The Seeds. Today’s featured single is their first ever single: “Rosalyn” b/w “Big Boss Man”.
“Rosalyn” starts with a simple riff accompanied by maracas, soon joined by the band’s rhythm section just before Phil May’s hoarse vocals make their first appearance. The lyrical content doesn’t match the brilliance of some of the early British Invasion gems like “Gloria”, “Where Have All The Good Time Gone”, or “Satisfaction” – and the song doesn’t rank in my mind as a classic, although it’s fun to listen to and worthy of being remembered. Whereas the other songs mentioned can be appreciated on many levels, “Rosalyn” is basically a simple love song, with lyrics like these: Hey Rosalyn, tell me where you’ve been/Hey Rosalyn, tell me where you’ve been/All the night and all the day/Hide and seek’s the game you play/Treat me as sure as sin/Oh Rosalyn, yeah Rosalyn”. Still, May comes off as sincere when he screams the ultimately unanswerable question: “Do you really love me?” The drums and other percussion play a large role in anchoring the sound; they are loud and constitute the more obvious portion of the rhythm section. The David Bowie version (on “Pin Ups”), by the way, is excellent, and for the most part remains faithful to the original.
“Big Boss Man” is the B-side of the single and is a cover version of a blues song written by Luther Dixon and Al Smith and originally recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960. It’s a simple twelve bar blues song, and gives May the opportunity to play harmonica, which he does quite well. There is also some great laid-back guitar picking from Taylor. The song is an indictment against all bosses who have abused their authority: Yeah, you keep me working, boss man, a workin’ around the clock/I want a little drink of water, you won’t let me no drop/Big boss man, don’t you hear me when I call?/Well, you ain’t so big, kinda tall, that’s all”. Although any connection May has with the protagonist in the song may be more spiritual than actual, he sings the song with considerable energy. Again there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in this song, although the guitar solo about halfway through the song is entertaining enough.
The single (catalog #: TF 469) was issued on the Fontana label. I’m not sure what the label looked like, although it was probably the white Fontana label with the Fontana logo across the top and the band name and song title across the bottom.