This album was 36 years old the first time I heard it. And literally within two or three listens it rose to somewhere in my top ten favorite LPs ever. If I could distill this album into a single concise description I would, but it escapes my effort. All I can say is that it is a cohesive unit, a soundscape that never fails to set a mood when I listen.
It was recorded at EMI's Abbey Road studios and produced by Norman Smith of early Beatles fame. And like the Beatles' album named for that studio, it has a deep rich sound. And it also borrows some of that album's novel structures - a couple of song suites, and a couple of heavy rockers that are years ahead of their time. Here are the opening tracks that set the stage for the side 1 story of the pitfalls of life in the city. The bottom drops out when the story line descends into a dark back alley in tracks 7 & 8 but that will be a post for another day.
- Scene One - a prelude that sounds nothing like anything the Pretties had produced up to this point. "Stone spires rise high, lacerate warmer skies, iron laced populations, beneath molten fields"
- The Good Mr. Square - the Pretties are not the Hollies or Beatles when it comes to harmony singing, but their effort here is top notch. Lovely! Mr. Square could very well be the social hermit from Waterloo Sunset. The linkage to the next track is seemless.
- She Was Tall, She Was High - Ah that opening is so Beatle-worthy! More stellar harmonies.
- In the Square - The beginning of another song suite, with a breathtaking acoustic guitar and harpsichord-like mellotron accompaniment.
- The Letter - An upbeat melody hides the pain as the protaganist learns that his girlfriend has bailed to move out to the country
- Rain - a gradually building rave-up that starts acoustic and ends in blue-hot heat.