What if the Beatles were from Kent? But they still wrote Sgt. Peppers? But nobody cared and they never got famous?
S.F. Sorrow is the fourth album by the English rock band Pretty Things. Released in 1968, it is known as one of the first rock operas ever released. Based on a short story by singer Phil May, the album is structured as a song cycle telling the story of a main character "Sebastian F. Sorrow", from his birth, through love, war, tragedy, madness, and his disillusionment with old age. S.F. Sorrow has brought members of the Who to claim that S.F. Sorrow did not have an influence on Pete Townshend or his writing of Tommy. The Pretty Things and critics disagree with The Who.
What if the Beatles were from Kent? But they still wrote Sgt. Peppers? But nobody cared and they never got famous?
Who could ever have thought, going back to the Pretty Things' first recording session in 1965 -- which started out so disastrously that their original producer quit in frustration -- that it would come to this? The Pretty Things' early history in the studio featured the band with its amps seemingly turned up to 11, but for much of S.F. Sorrow the band is turned down to seven or four, or even two, or not amplified at all (except for Wally Allen's bass -- natch), and they're doing all kinds of folkish things here that are still bluesy enough so you never forget who they are, amid weird little digressions on percussion and chorus; harmony vocals that are spooky, trippy, strange, and delightful; sitars included in the array of stringed instruments; and an organ trying hard to sound like a Mellotron. Sometimes one gets an echo of Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn or A Saucerful of Secrets, and it all straddles the worlds of British blues and British psychedelia better than almost any record you can name. The album, for those unfamiliar, tells the story of \"S.F. Sorrow,\" a sort of British Everyman -- think of a working-class, luckless equivalent to the Kinks' Arthur, from cradle to grave. The tale and the songs are a bit downbeat and no amount of scrutiny can disguise the fact that the rock opera S.F. Sorrow is ultimately a bit of a confusing effort -- these boys were musicians, not authors or dramatists. Although it may have helped inspire Tommy, it is, simply, not nearly as good. That said, it was first and has quite a few nifty ideas and production touches. And it does show a pathway between blues and psychedelia that the Rolling Stones, somewhere between Satanic Majesties, \"We Love You,\" \"Child of the Moon,\" and Beggars Banquet, missed entirely. [This CD reissue on Snapper adds four valuable songs from their 1967-1968 singles (\"Defecting Grey,\" \"Mr. Evasion,\" \"Talkin' About the Good Times,\" and \"Walking Through My Dreams\"). This version of \"Defecting Grey\" is the original, long, uncut five-minute rendition, and not of trivial importance; it's superior to the shorter one used on the official single.]
"Through dark forrrests of my myyyind" sings Phil May on I See You, attempting to enter a higher plane via excruciating vocal affect. Truly bottom of the barrel stuff and another flabbergasting inclusion on the list. I feel like I'm being deliberately tested.
Beat and easy psych vibes. This feels like pre-Beatles and doors weirdness. Very good stuff here
Imagine if the Beatles, Syd Barret-era Floyd, Wall-era Floyd, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard got together to drop acid and make a concept album. Loved it.
I wrote a very in depth review of this and forgot to save it. Psychedelic rock opera with a wild stereo mix
Cooler than I expected. Very fun listen. Lots of noises. Very sensory. Definitely one of the most creative albums I’ve listened to thus far. They really go all over the place with instrumentation
"Mom can we get some Tommy?" "We have Tommy at home." Tommy at home: [Yes I know this came out first, I still prefer Tommy]
Absolutely blown away by this phenomenal album I had not heard of until today. A blend of Sgt peppers, Early Who, Pink Floyd, the Kinks and many other bands I can't think of right now. Definitely peak 60s psychedelia. It reminds of a less pretentious Tommy with a big focus on sound.
Pete Townsend states that this album did not influence Tommy, but I’m very skeptical. Not only that, but the storyline here shares a lot with Pink Floyd’s the Wall which came out 12 years after SF Sorrow. This album seems right place right time but doesn’t seem to have the influence that Sgt. Pepper or Tommy have. After listening to it, I really am not sure why. This album is musically very interesting and combines psychedelia with proto punk, possibly proto metal, and various experimental soundscapes. Sonically, this album pushes the limits to the point where the Pretty Things had to mime the album during a live performance because it was too complex to recreate live. I’ll keep thinking about this album for a while.
Produced by a guy who worked on Sgt Pepper and cited as the main influence for Tommy? That alone would interest me, but this album is just fantastic on its own. Psychedelic and catchy AND a rock opera. I love it. The stereo panning is a bit much at many points so I definitely prefer mono but that's my only real complaint.
I AM LOVING THIS. So-so start. But She says good morning, private sorrow, absolute bops! Guitar riffs are superb.
Psychedelic rock opera that sounds like it was recorded at Abbey Road Studios during the Summer of Love (because it was). Some of the distortion-based experiments didn't work, but this is a great album that was a joy for me to discover. Best track: Bracelets of Fingers
Once you get past the far too blatant influences—there's an unfathomable amount of irony knowing their lead singer accused the Who of ripping off their record when they LITERALLY recorded "Baron Saturday" at Abbey Road—S.F. Sorrow has his moments. It wasn't gripping enough for me to really follow the overarching narrative beyond the inevitable "he's sad about a girl," and the stereo mix of the album is so distractingly terrible with its excessive panning and artifacts that the band themselves prefer the mono mix (there are parts in "I See You" that made me think my headphones were being jostled loose), but there were a handful of energetic tracks that made me take notice. Another one for the "more historically relevant than entertaining" file, but at least the Key Tracks are especially key this time. Just make sure you go out of your way and find the mono version. Key Tracks: Bracelets of Fingers, Balloon Burning, Old Man Going
Nr. 25/1001 S.F. Sorrow Is Born 4/5 Bracelets Of Fingers 4/5 She Says Good Morning 4/5 Private Sorrow 4/5 Ballon Burning 2/5 Death 2/5 Baron Saturday 3/5 The Journey 3/5 I See You 3/5 Well of Destiny 1/5 Trust 4/5 Old Man Going 3/5 Lonliest Person 3/5 Defecting Grey 2/5 Mr. Evasion 1/5 Talkin' About The Good Times 2/5 Walking Through My Dreams 3/5 Average: 2,82 Beatles - esque sound. Just lacks the elaborate songwriting you would find in an actual Beatles album
1968 Rock, eine der ersten Rockopern, nicht ganz mein geschmack
You probably need to be on acid to really enjoy this album. It's got a few decent tracks, the others are too far out there for my taste.
sounds vaguely like lsd era beatles but not as good.
I'm happy to have listened to what's considered the first concept album, but this is some lesser 60's pop rock and this list is chock full of lots of the same. My burnout of more of the same from this era is definitely affecting my rating here.
really good rock opera, comparable to the beatles
Great Album and Band.
Fun diverse album
How quickly we forget our influences, dammed to a corner, walled off from the universal march toward rapture. How wonderful it must be to experience it all at all, just for a little while.
Love this album, and relish the excuse to listen to it this evening.
Weird and good!! Beatles vibes. Low 9
this is good the segues are immaculate balance is a little weird though sometimes I can’t hear what the lyrics are
an unexpected gem. Sounds like the Beatles.
Brilliant psychedelic concept album - totally inspired Tommy and The Wall.
For ten weeks now, number three stood empty Nobody thought there would be Family laughter behind the windows Or a Christmas tree Then a couple from up north Sorrow and his wife arrived Before the sun had left the streets They were living inside
I really enjoyed listening to this album; the only comment I have is that the songs don't have a common style. I've been definitely missing out on The Pretty Things and many other 60s bands, which I am finding out about thanks to this list. The bands that an average person like me knows about are the ones that made hit songs still recognized today, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. But when it comes to albums, these guys are way better than the Beatles.
The best. By which I mean, I consider SF Sorrow the pinnacle of British psychedelia and comfortably in my top ten albums of all time. Sure, parts of it are in thrall to the Beatles, but the range, invention, ambition and imagination on display mitigates against the odd bit of borrowing. Highlights? The entire thing. It operates as an undivided whole. Sadness, madness, poignancy, absurdity - it's all here.
Exceptional, revelatory, excellent. How had I never heard of this?
Unpopular opinion, but I liked this more than Tommy. Whoops. I think it's more daring in the way that it's arranged and I like the psych rock feel more. There! Saved tracks: Bracelets of Fingers, Balloon Burning, Death, Baron Saturday, Old Man Going, Mr. Evasion, Walking Through My Dreams
Pretty fun, matched my taste well and would honestly listen again
10/10 fantastic psych-pop for 1968 very fun and creative
I'm always a sucker for a rock opera, and not only was this the first, it was an excellent one at that!
In de categorie ‘vergeten psych bangers’ is dit er absoluut één. Nog nooit van de band of het album gehoord, maar Jezus wat is dit leuk. Beatles/Pink Floyd achtig maar toch uniek. Het wordt een 5
Cool and interesting!
Great stuff! Obviously influenced everyone in British music.
I like it. I'm a sucker for a rock opera, but that's not why I like it. I find the music compelling, the lyrics not so much. It comes off kind of pretentious, but I enjoyed it enough musically to overcome that. Burning Balloon is annoyingly good, and Baron Saturday is good as well, especially the percussion section. 4.5
Geiler Psy Rock
This is the great album! The best one I never listen before for the time being! Tommy's (by The Who) structure (and sound) is really similar to this album. So, influence is obvious.
In my opinion, the only band that gets close to the psychedelic masterpiece the Beatles were.
How have I been living so long without this album in my life? Some of the most intricate songwriting I have heard on a psychedelic rock album. It's all twists and turns, mind bending.
Felt very familiar, reminiscent of the Beatles. I have to admit I was distracted by the weird stereo sound with earbuds in. Much better via a speaker. I will definitely listen again.
Ambitious, you can definitely tell how influential this album was
Some small twinges of late stage Beatles in here
Very enjoyable. A bit different but I like it
Un mix entre les Beatles et les Who. Parfois inégal sur le long de l'album.
Yeah, ok, the first rock opera! Pretty psychedelic sounding, some obvious proggy elements - I enjoyed it, especially on a second listen. Would like to hear a version with Arthur Brown reciting the chunks of text between tracks - that'd be great! Fave track - "Death", I think? "Private Sorrow" was great too...
really dig this group, some nice classic rock sounds with some beatles-like psychedelic nature
Has the grandiose story of all rock operas along with all the quirks in production and music that tends to follow with it. There were certainly compelling musical moments on this album but overall the production was too inconsistent and the vocals were too dubious to keep me from wanting to return to this. 7
8/10. I can see why people think this inspired Tommy. Certainly the albums start similarly enough, but this one manages to be even more depressing, which is an achievement in itself. I'm never as much a fan of Rock Operas that can't tell their stories too well with lyrics alone, but that doesn't entirely apply here because I am pretty sure the story is more just a series of unfortunate events with no strong connective tissue.
Mooie rock! Misschien zelfs 5 sterren waard.
Enjoyed it. Not normally a fan of the ‘concept’ album per se but this works for me, I guess because the songs stand out in their own right. A Beatlesy vibe to it too which is fine by me
Surprised I haven't heard of the band before, great album. Better than a lot of more popular rock/pysch rock from the 60s that's more famous imo
Very enjoyable psych rock album! Had not heard of this before so it was a great discovery.
Have to keep forgetting that it sounds so much like a slightly more murderous Beatles.
lots of beatles vibes but still stands on its own. classic late 60s psych vibes
Very cool, similar to The Wall. Need another listen
How have I never heard of them? Wonderful.
Rating: 8/10 Best songs: She says good morning, Balloon burning, Baron Saturday,
To me, this is the definition of an album "you must hear before you die". This album was just fun... And, although I'm going to pre-empt the significant number of people who will mention the similarities and idea taken from The Beatles, once you delve into the history of the members the album takes on a life of its own. One of the more interesting links being the members' connections to The Rolling Stones for example. I just had heaps of fun listening to this album and managed a good 3 listens over the past 24 hours with each listen becoming more and more enjoyable. Added to my ever-growing high rotation playlist!
Nice rock opera. Reminds me of the late Beatles and even Pink Floyd sometimes. Will definitely listen to it again!
Very Beatles-y, but not in a bad mimicking way. They tip strength in the psychedelic rock better than the fab 4, albeit not as catchy
Sounds like The Beatles and Beach Boys Like the psyadelic stuff V.good
Amazingly, this is the first time I've listened to this album. It sounds like so many other late 60s albums - but I suspect this was the album that invented that sound.
Muy interesante disco y aunque The Who lo niegue, muy interesante influencia a sus Rock Operas. También innegable que esta se queda corta en comparación a Tommy en cuanto a la calidad de la música. Me gustaron las voces y los temas extraños y hasta oscuros de las canciones; quizá lo que le falta es un tanto de variedad que haga mantener la atención a lo largo de todo el disco.
No conocía nada de The Pretty Things pero lo que escuché me gustó. Este disco está catalogado como rock psicodélico y rock experimental. La psicodelia está buena y lo experimental no le quita lo entretenido. No le puse atención a toda la historia que lo hace álbum concepto. Las mejores son Bracelets of Fingers y Loneliest Person.
Awesome for the sound engineering. Will keep this handy for when I test drive a new car. If it sounds wrong, that car will be wrong
I had never heard this before. I did enjoy it. It sounds very Beatles-esque.
I wasn't following the story too much, the only thing I got out of it was that "Girl died in a balloon, guy gets depressed", but I still enjoyed it a lot. It's very obviously inspired by the Beatles, but it's from 1968 so that's basically a given. Don't know if this is Spotify's fault, but some of the songs were a bit wonky quality with some fuzziness in the background. Favorite songs: S.F. Sorrow is Born, Balloon Burning, Baron Saturday, Loneliest Person
This is a pretty weird one and it seems all over the place - but in this case, that's a good thing. Usually I like my music a bit more coherent, but The Pretty Things seem to really have hit some sweet spots with this one. Just the right amount of psychedelic, just the right amount of folk, vocals just not weird enough to still be cool.
There is a definite influence here of a number of things: Cream, Pink Floyd's first album, Sgt. Pepper. The band really wears all of them very heavily on their sleeve, but somehow makes them all their own. I liked the songs each individually, but was not convinced of the actual story until I read Wikipedia. I think the Who did a better job with rock operas and had a more cohesive story. Maybe because they did it on a double album as opposed to a single album? I don't know. The music itself has a lot of good stuff going for it, I think I had heard of these guys before (with a band member called Twink you would think I would have).v SO I really did enjoy it for what it was. There are only a few live performances of this, with narration to pull the whole story together. I may go hunt that down on youtube orr something to hear all of that and maybe I will be more convinced of the story. As it is, I'd give a 3.6 which rounds up to a 4.
My co-judge said that it reminded her of the Beatles and I agree. It's interesting that the Producer of Rubber Soul and the first 3 Pink Floyd albums produced this, because the harmonies at times remind me of mid-sixties Beatles and the electronic soundscape tangents remind me of early PF. I didn't realize that this LP was (the first) Rock Opera until I had listened to most of it and even though Pete Townsend denies it's influence on Tommy, there are definite similarities, especially the way the LP closes out. I'm not usually a fan of psychedelic rock, and the first few songs which I listened to while multi-tasking confirmed this, but the sequence of 3 songs that started with Private Sorrow really caught my attention. They were definitely pushing the boundaries in 1968.
J'avais envie pour cette critique de faire hurler mon rival de toujours et pire ennemi eltrapeze (celui-ci a accordé la note de deux sur cinq à cet album). Contrairement à ce qu'il dit dans sa critique, j'ai trouvé ce disque extrêmement plaisant, et, avec ce quatre sur cinq, le mets au même niveau que d'autres albums parmi lesquels on trouve Abbey Road. D'autre part, je voulais vous partager la mésaventure qu'il m'est arrivée hier soir. Comme vous le savez, je viole l'un des commandements de Robert lors de soirées karaoké hebdomadaires, mais à l'exception de ce moment précis, je continue de respecter son décalogue à la lettre. Ce qui m'amène à vous parler de la situation délicate d'hier soir. Alors que je jouais de la guitare en compagnie d'un père de famille très sympathique autour d'un barbecue, celui-ci joua soudain quelques accords puis me demanda : « Tu connais ça ? » La mélodie ne me disait rien. « Non c'est quoi ? » répondis-je. « C'est les Pink Floyds » dit-il alors fièrement. « ... de quel album ? » lui lançai-je alors l'air inquiet avant qu'il ne réponde ce que je redoutais le plus : « C'est dans Wish You Were Here. » Problème : cet album n'a pas encore été généré et je n'ai donc pas le droit de l'écouter. « Arrête de jouer... » dis-je d'abord gentiment. « Pourquoi ? » me demanda-t-il d'un air amusé. « Arrête de jouer ou je t'en colle une » finis-je par m'impatienter. Vous vous en doutez, la soirée se termina en bagarre générale dont je sortis vainqueur.
It was pretty cool. Very atmospheric and some songs really hit like “Baron Saturday” but like overall eh. Might have to check it out again later
Never heard of them before, pleasantly surprised
I have no idea what this album will be like going in. Excited though, the album cover is very cool. S.F. Sorrow is a cool introduction song. The mix on it is fascinating to me, with respect to how the stereo effect works. Very peppy and fun. I love Bracelets Of Fingers, it's really cool from the get-go. The vocals are really selling this song for me, especially towards the end. She Says Good Morning is pretty standard, nothing too crazy in my opinion. I like it. The vocals are again really fun! Feels a bit proto-punk but I might be losing my mind. I LOVE the winds on Private Sorrow. The whole opening is stellar. Favorite song so far. Balloon Burning's less a favorite, I think the vocals are a bit less great on this one. I do enjoy the guitar work a lot though, especially around the middle and towards the end. I love Death - what a funky song. The opening and then the muted vocals really work wonders to set up a cool atmosphere. Whatever percussion element keeps beating intermittently wraps up everything in a nice bow. The drum fill on Baron Saturday is really neat. A very cool and interesting song instrumentally. Absolutely in love with it. The Journey's got a nice juicy bass part. I appreciate that. The vocals on I See You have such a really cool effect on them. I LOVE it. The other parts of the song aren't as cool as the vocals, but overall the song is fun. Well Of Destiny is weird in just the way I appreciate. Trust is pretty standard for this album as far as I can tell. It's good! But nothing that makes it stand out for me that much. Old Man Going's opening is very fun, and the vocals are really fun. I love how different the vocals sound on each song, and this is certainly a very obvious difference from some of the other songs. A much more acoustic song, Loneliest Person is a bit boring in my opinion, but it's also super short which works in it's favor. I like the instruments on Defecting Grey a LOT, especially with the backwards part. Very cool song, and absolutely SICK guitars once it really hits its groove. It's going to be hard to pick a favorite from this album! This reminds me a lot of the cover of Hotel California by The Moog Cookbook in how it keeps shifting. Mr. Evasion's intro is super fun. I don't have many thoughts about the rest of the song, but it's fun. Talkin' About The Good Times is cool. Not much to say about it. The closing song, Walking Through My Dreams, is really funky. I like the instrumentation on it a lot. It's a good wrap-up for this pseudo-rock-opera.
No clue but rather modern looking cover art for the 60’s… On the first song S.F sorrow is born in a rather folk meets psychedelic way. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was influenced by the Beatles as sgt peppers would’ve been out by this time. Yeah bracelets on fingers definitely joining in with the other big things of the 60’s it starts off with group singing backed by sitar then has these verses that sound just like psychedelic era Beatles. I like she says good morning solid rocker with a great fuzzy little guitar solo half way that gives the song a bit more personality. Private sorrow is the first song that I actually think sounds like what it should be it’s a little psychedelic army jig actually surprised by how unique this one is. Balloon burning has a cool guitar riff and it’s certainly one of the funniest ( well instrumentally) but it just feels like trend hopping of the psychedelic sound of the time. Death ends side one it’s this gloomy little thing, I think without the sitar’s it would Actually sound better ( don’t get me wrong I love the sound of the sitar) but for the 60’s there’s too much of it. The verses of baron Saturday are like what being for the benefit of mr kite would be like without all the cool instrumentation then the chorus takes a u turn and it’s now this piano based rocker with an Indian drum solo. Cool! This album is just dipped in Indian psychedelic music and it does feel that way on The journey but at least the acoustic guitar is a nice touch. I see you is a great stomping rocker kinda sounds like it could’ve been lead single and the stereo bouncing in the ears is awesome son this one! ( maybe remove the bit at the end though). Well of destiny is a short slow interlude, great stereo sounds on the ears but nothing much else ( kinda scary). Trust feels just a bit off beat which I love, it’s also great that this album has a truly acoustic pop song with no sitars. Kinda what I wanted to hear. The penultimate track old man going builds up so amazingly the song is kinda proof of how metal came out of psychedelia like the verses they’re just so metal. The album ends with loneliest person and it’s a shortie alright, very folky too and the saddest lyrics on the album. It’s a good album very good indeed but I already have better, more popular albums that fill the role of these songs so for that it’s a low 4/5.
I have never heard of this group or this, the first Rock Opera! A real surprise there… It’s hard to believe that The Who’s Tommy wasn’t influenced by this. But I don't think that takes anything away from Tommy any more than any other artist is influenced by the genre in which they work. As for the album itself, I liked it. The music great 60s stuff. I did listen to this a few times and followed along to the lyrics and started to enjoy this more. This seems like one of those really important records that this project has brought to my attention and I’m very glad for that. I'm a fan of rock operas and this is the daddy of ‘em all!
Reading the description and listening to the opening track, I had extremely high hopes for this album. I love a rock opera and the first song has all the right features: coherent introductory narrative, interesting instrumentation, singable tune. The rest was enjoyable but not quite up to the level promised at the beginning. There were moments I was reminded of The Beatles, The Who (obviously), Yes, Pink Floyd, and even The Beach Boys. Definitely worth listening on headphones for some nice stereo. Glad to know of it as a piece of rock history.
Really cool album! Apparently one of the first ever rock operas, predating the Who's Tommy (and apparently the Who dispute that their album was influenced by this one). I'll give the title to these guys for being both first and better, the Who can suck a few eggs. Yeah, I'm still bitter about all the Who albums. Musically, this one was very cool. Lots of fantastic instrumentation and melodies, and the narrative opera piece is a nice bonus because, frankly, I have a hard time catching lyrics like that on a first listen so it'd have to come to me later. Still, plenty on here worth revisiting, I really dug it. Favorite tracks: SF Sorrow is Born, She Says Good Morning, Private Sorrow, I See You, Old Man Going. Album art: Really love this one. Never seen it before, but the art style is captivating. Would not have guessed in a million years that this was the '60s, I would've assumed (and kinda did assume) it was some punk band from the '80s. Love the little splashes of color amid the mostly black and white art. Just a really great, memorable cover. 4/5
Pretty cool 60's rock, very interesting to hear an early concept album and also realize no one believes The Who denying it was an influence hahaha. 3 musically, 4.5/5 culturally
Blindsided by this. Groundbreaking. Years before other bands did anything remotely similar. Don't care immensely about the concept and singing perhaps not as musical as I'd like. (4 at least and will likely increase)
Pretty good album. The through line is not as definite, but it’s basically the first concept album so I can’t ask too much of it. Also the hard left right pan is a just a bit distracting
Really enjoyed this, very experimental sounding psych rock with in my mind clear beatles influence. Have to listen again now knowing it’s all one story.
Another band I have never heard of. A quick look online shows them to be a 60s psychedelic rock band, compared to The Beatles if they were born in Kent and were less successful. Excited to have a listen! Favourite after listening: S.F. Sorrow Is Born, Loneliest Person Overall: 8/10 I’m finding that I enjoy 60s music a lot more than I initially thought. This album is a rock opera about the life of a man called S.F. Sorrow, but is much less bombastic than other rock operas that I am more familiar with (such as Bat Out Of Hell). It is quite a strange album at time, as would be expected from a band described as psychedelic, but is still very much enjoyable. When the album finished, I had it playing again from the top within 10 minutes. Would recommend for people who enjoy the stranger genres in music.
Great start, a little meandering in the middle, and ends strongly enough. A really nice surprise.
That is so much better than Tommy! Some wonderfully offbeat moments by a band that also did some great Stones-like stuff earlier in their career.
Well damn. I got "Tommy" a couple of albums ago and was sort of disappointed in the quality but gave it an extra star for being "the first rock opera". Turns out this was out first and, in my opinion, it was better. Still not very good though, but I guess I can't rank it lower than "Tommy". 4.1 stars.
Really interesting album
4,5 det var lowkey ret godt. Lidt en krydsning af noget Stooges/80’er rock/Beach Boys Titelnummeret var godt