© Madeline Bocaro, 2020. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
HERE ARE SOME PRETTIES (AND UGLIES) FOR YOU!
‘Beauty and the Beast’ appears on Bowie’s 1977 album “Heroes”. Bowie was in the midst of his Berlin phase. The Jungian lyrics to this song about the positive / negative duality of human nature is in the cut-up style of Bryon Gysin/William Burroughs.
Listen – 2017 extended remaster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8eZvn42710
Here is my story all about Bowie’s song “Heroes”
The Rolling Stones released ‘Beast of Burden’ on their album Some Girls in the summer of 1978, and soon after as a single. The cover art was by Peter Corriston, who also designed Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti cover. It was modeled on vintage ads for wigs. The die-cut cardboard featured members of the Stones in drag beside female icons – all with Warholized red painted lips. The divas contested the use of their images. This resulted in a court case; The Stones vs. Bridget Bardot, Doris Day, Farrah Fawcett, Lucille Ball, Raquel Welch, and the estate of Marilyn Monroe! Alterations were made with the statement, ‘Pardon our appearance – cover under reconstruction’. The cut-out designed was revived on the CD version using the Stones’ heads instead of the female legends.
‘(Oh No!) Not the Beast Day’ is by the wonderful Marsha Hunt, mother of Mick Jagger’s first child Karis. This is a cool and funky song, but I can’t find her incredible live performance anywhere on YouTube anymore, so I’ll just include the audio.
And here is Marsha’s cool version of ‘Desdemona’ by John’s Children – the band which featured Marc Bolan before he formed T. Rex.
Watch ‘Desdemona’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbNexaMw1U8
A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1919. It was the theme song of the Ziegfeld Follies showgirls. The song is featured in the iconic 15-minute long wedding cake musical scene In the 1936 film The Great Ziegfeld. This was the most elaborate and impressive musical number in cinema. The “wedding cake” set featured 200 performers on a gigantic rotating cake with spiral steps which cost the equivalent of $4 million today. The song later became popular as a theme for the Miss America beauty pageants.
A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you night and day,
Just like the strain of a haunting refrain,
She’ll start up-on a marathon
And run around your brain.
You can’t escape she’s in your memory.
By morning night and noon.
She will leave you and then come back again,
A pretty girl is just like a pretty tune.
Listen – Al Jolson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCJjgE8zca4
‘You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby’ was a hit single by Bing Crosby in 1938. Music and lyrics were by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer. It was later featured in the movie Hard To Get, sung by Dick Powell. It was also recorded by its writer, Johnny Mercer, Tommy Dorsey, Perry Como, by Bobby Darin in 1961 and The Dave Clark Five in 1967 amongst others.
Listen – Bing Crosby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk-wTeDXJCk
Listen – The Dave Clark Five: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q942IJxgqAU
Bo Diddley’s 1955 hit ‘Pretty Thing’ (written by Willie Dixon) inspired the name of British band The Pretty Things who also covered this skiffle tune on their debut album a decade later in 1965.
Listen – Bo Diddley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4tfmk6SW6M
Listen – The Pretty Things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZlNaakuJP8
The 1957 musical film West Side Story featured the song ‘I Feel Pretty’ sung by Natalie Wood’s character Maria who is head-over-heels in love. It was composed by Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). The song has been covered by many female artists, and by Little Richard in 1996 on The Songs of West Side Story tribute album on RCA. Elton John did a cover version as well.
‘Pretty Woman’ released in the summer of 1964 is one of Roy Orbison’s biggest hits.
The Pretty Things from England took their name from the 1955 Willie Dixon song ‘Pretty Thing’ (see above). They morphed from garage band to R&B to psychedelia, releasing a rock opera in 1968 titled S.F. Sorrow.
‘Midnight to Six Man’ is by The Pretty Things (1964). The title was used as the opening lyric to ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ on the debut album by The Clash. Bowie covered The Pretty Things songs ‘Rosalyn’ and ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ on PinUps, his covers album of British bands he loved.
(R.I.P. Phil May – May, 2020)
Listen: ‘Midnight To Six Man’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3qJ-KPlt4M
Listen: ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxyah_W7J6U
‘Oh You Pretty Things’ is from David Bowie’s 4th studio album Hunky Dory released in 1971. This was covered by Peter Noone (with Bowie on piano) who had a bit hit with the song that same year.
Listen – Peter Noone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-D7F0P-cxI
Listen – Bowie 2015 remaster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccMYgiSC_eQ
One year later, perhaps in response to his new mentor and producer’s song mentioned above, Iggy Pop wrote ‘Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell’ for The Stooges’ 1972 album Raw Power, infamously produced by David Bowie. I would be really impressed if Revlon used ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’ to sell their age-defying makeup!
My Story – Raw Power: Bowie’s mix vs. Iggy’s
The Sex Pistols included ‘Pretty Vacant’ on their one and only studio album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols in 1977. It was also the 3rd single from the album. There’s nothing pretty about this, but it is brilliant!
‘Pretty Baby’ is on the third album by Blondie, Parallel Lines released in 1978. This is one of Debbie Harry’s sweetest and purest vocal performances. The song title and lyrics refer to the film of the same name, starring child actress Brooke Shields, whom Debbie had befriended.
Blondie’s great album Eat to the Beat (1979) has a fun reggae song called ‘Die Young, Stay Pretty’.
I love the line, “Deteriorate in your own time.”
This song ‘Pretty Please Me’ isn’t really about beauty, but I would do anything to work this into a playlist. I LOVE The Quick!! In 1978, ‘Pretty Please’ was championed by Rodney Bingenheimer’s Rodney on the ROQ radio show who played it repeatedly on KROQ-FM. However, the records were not yet available for sale. There have since been cover versions by The Dickies and by Red Kross. This song is only available on the CD of rarities and demos titled Untold Rock Stories released in 2003 in the UK by Cherry Red/ Rev-Ola Records.
The L.A. power pop band’s debut album Mondo Deco released in 1976 was produced by Kim Fowley. Earle Mankey, guitarist of Sparks (previously Halfnelson) was the engineer. The Quick are heavily influenced by British Invasion bands and by Glam rock. The band sputtered out after only three years, but this does not detract from their greatness.
Listen LIVE! This is KILLER!!!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scBGqsH5jnI
‘The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell’ is a killer track on David Bowie’s 1999 album hours. I love the use of phasing on this one.
‘Pretty In Pink’ by The Psychedelic Furs is on the soundtrack of the 1986 film of the same name. It’s on the Furs’ second album Talk, Talk, Talk. The band were big fans of The Velvet Underground, hence the main riff being reminiscent of the one in ‘Sweet Jane’ and the reference to ‘Caroline’.
Here is my interview with Richard Butler upon the band’s first USA tour:
I love this 2006 song by Dirty Pretty Things, ‘Bang Bang, You’re Dead’. It’s just on the verge of Glam!
One of my favorite bands of all time is Suede. Their album Coming Up includes ‘The Beautiful Ones’ . This is about the 1990s teen scene in the U.K.
High on diesel and gasoline
Psycho for drum machine
Shaking their bits to the hits
Drag acts, drug acts, suicides
In your dad’s suits you hide
Staining his name again
Cracked up, stacked up, twenty-two
Psycho for sex and glue
Lost it to Bostik, yeah
Shaved heads, rave heads, on the pill
Got too much time to kill
Get into bands and gangs
Here they come
The beautiful ones
The beautiful ones
La la la la la la la la…
Another great Suede song is ‘Beautiful Loser’ from their album A New Morning.
… AND NOW FOR THE UGLY
‘If You Wanna be Happy’ by Jimmy Soul was a hit single in 1963. In this very up-beat song, Jimmy gives some sage advice to men. It’s based on a 1934 tune by the Calypso band Roaring Lion from Trinidad called ‘Ugly Woman’. Some radio stations banned the song because of the lyrics, and I’m sure it will probably be banned again at some point in history.
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So, from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you…
Say man! Hey baby!
I saw your wife the other day!
Yeah, an’ she’s ugly!
Yeah, she’s ugly, but she sure can cook, baby! Yeah, alright!
The authentic swing of ‘Looks, Looks, Looks’ appears on Sparks 1975 album Indiscreet. On the swinging tune, Visconti hired a full authentic 1930s orchestra of elderly jazz musicians to accompany Russell’s vocal – The Ted Heath Orchestra -who greatly enjoyed the opportunity to reunite, also appeared with Sparks to perform the song on Supersonic amidst omnipotent bubbles). The song was also performed on Top of the Pops.
Watch – Supersonic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej1GL9_vb3o
Another wonderful outtake, ‘Looks Aren’t Everything’ was finally released in 2006 (on Sparks’ Big Beat CD) when Universal released re-masters of Sparks’ four Island Records on CD.
My favorite line is:
For the one who has made us all
Can’t be seen even if you’re tall
‘Funny Face’ by Sparks is on their album Whomp That Sucker released in 1981 It’s about the desire to be ugly instead of beautiful. Tired of being liked only for his looks finally gets his wish when he jumps off a bridge. His suicide attempt fails, but his face is destroyed in the process, and he couldn’t be happier! Watch the long-lost video which surfaced a few years ago…
‘I Wish I Looked A Little Better’ is another self-effacing tune (like their new 2020 song ‘Self Effacing’) from the pen of Ron Mael of Sparks. This is on their 12th album, In Outer Space released in 1983.
Turn out the light, yeah, the light
And I might have a chance
I guess I look slightly worse
Than the Elephant Man
Whoa, oh, oh, I wish I looked a little better
Whoa, oh, oh, I wish I looked a little better
I went to high school
And majored in looking real bad
I got a real ugly mom
And a real ugly dad
Whoa, oh, oh, I wish I looked a little bette
See my story about Sparks’ new album released in May 2020, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
Photo: Richard Creamer
‘Ugliness’ is on the 13th album by Iggy Pop, Beat ‘Em Up. This album features his band The Trolls. This song is about the ugliness in almost everything, but especially in the music industry…
You got a bunch of dumb fat guys,
In a wrestling uniform,
Trying to fake they’re playing music,
They ought to be killed.
And I’m trying to be a person,
But they all say I’m worthless.
This is my description of an ugliness…
Because the music sucks,
That’s why little kids blow up.
Everybody needs a gun,
To express feelings,
That should be expressed by a real musician…
They got the car the money house and all,
But they ain’t got no motherfuckin’ balls.
You see the cocksuckers on MTV,
And they ain’t even got a good CD…
© Madeline Bocaro 2020. No part of the materials available through madelinex.com may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated, re-blogged or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Madeline Bocaro. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Madeline Bocaro is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission of Madeline Bocaro.
2 thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast”
Madeline, that couplet from Looks Aren’t Everything stood out to me as soon as I heard the song too. Brilliant line.
Great playlist and commentary – a few newies to me too – the youtube links are most helpful … Thanks for including the majestic Quick, one of the greatest Los Angeles bands