The Pretty Things
S.F. Sorrow


5.0
classic

Review

by tef USER (6 Reviews)
September 13th, 2013 | 23 replies | 1,295 views


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first rock opera ever. Misunderstood and underrated classic.

After releasing their third album “Emotions” as a final contractual obligation to their label Fontana, The Pretty Things, who’d only had minor commercial success with their “rough-around-the-edges” R&B up till then, were approached by EMI producer/engineer Norman Smith. Under his supervision they started recording sessions for “S.F. Sorrow” at Abbey Road studio’s. Smith was well known for engineering earlier Beatles albums as well as producing Pink Floyd’s debut album “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”. Coincidentally the Floyd was recording at Abbey Road at the same time for their second album “A Saucerful of Secrets” which Smith also produced and in yet another part of the studio complex, The Beatles were working on “The Beatles (White Album)”.
Looking back it’s safe to say that there must have been quite an inspirational atmosphere at Abbey Road at that time, and looking at the results of each band’s work there, probably also a drug-infused one…

The Pretty Things had taken a turn from the R&B path with the release of the psychedelic single “Defecting Grey” in ’67. With “Sorrow” they stuck with this choice and experimented with new studio techniques, aided by the Abbey Road engineers, as well as with newer instruments like the Mellotron and orchestral instruments.

With it’s complete storyline and cohesive musical development, the album was later on acknowledged as being the first ever “rock opera” to be released, a year before The Who released “Tommy”.

Opener “S.F. Sorrow is Born” is carried by an infectious acoustic guitar riff and sets the tone quite well for what’s to follow; basically sixties pop/rock with lots of psychedelic overtones. “Bracelets of Fingers” starts with a beautiful, almost a-cappella choral part sparsely backed by some orchestral drums and inverted reverb effects. It then continues as a more conventional 60’s pop song but with a slightly processed vocal sound, reminiscent of early Floyd. “She Says Good Morning” rocks a bit harder with great drums and double vocals. “Private Sorrow” is again lead by an acoustic guitar and processed vocals. Progressive string parts in the bridge lend this track an eerie feel. Next is one of my favourites; “Balloon Burning” is a hard rocking track driven by a great guitar riff and a sort of monotonous vocal that has a hypnotizing quality, only to be broken by the more pointy bridge part that ends in a moment of silence before the overwhelming chorus devours the listener. A frantic guitar solo completes this amazing track. “Death” ends side one; a dark, depressing track with a middle eastern feel through the (subtle) use of sitar.

We start side two with “Baron Saturday”, again a personal favourite and probably the most straightforward pop song on the album, aside from the drum solo part in the middle. It always reminds me of Bowie somehow…”The Journey” starts as a lighter, up tempo song with nice, strummed acoustic guitars and an light vocal melody. Added drums and bass make this track rock pretty hard at the end. “Well of Destiny” is an interesting, instrumental, very psychedelic track featuring all kinds of distorted and processed guitar sounds; lots of tremolo and delay effects. Nice! “Trust” is a very good track too; Here the main instruments are piano and guitar. The easy drumbeat and beautiful vocal melody make this track very reminiscent of McCartney style Beatles. “Old Man Going” starts with fast strummed acoustic guitar very much like “Pinball Wizard” of the afore mentioned album “Tommy”. Later on fuzz guitar and edgy vocals dominate this hard rocker. The album ends with a short fingerpicked acoustic song “Loneliest Person”. A distinguished ending to a grandiose album.

This album never had any commercial success. The dark and depressing lyrics and progressive musical style have been held accountable for this. Listen to this with an open mind and you won’t be able to come to any other conclusion then that this is one of the most underrated albums ever.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
KILL
September 13th 2013


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice 1

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

TheNexus100
September 13th 2013


2521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gr8 rcrd

Digging: Carrion Spring - A Short History of Decay

wacknizzle
September 13th 2013


13168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sweet, this needed a review. Awesome album

Digging: Ritual Mess - Vile Art

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 13th 2013


15997 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review, pos

Digging: Hominido - Estirpe Litica

KILL
September 14th 2013


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

check this retards

DrHouseSchuldiner
September 14th 2013


5643 Comments


sounds legit

Cygnatti
September 17th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"The first rock opera ever. Misunderstood and underrated classic."

is it?

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

tef
September 18th 2013


30 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It is regarded as the first rock opera ever, if that's what you mean.
Regarding it a classic is a matter of taste. If you're digging Janelle Monae I can imagine that this might not be your cup of tea...

KILL
January 24th 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love love love

PunchforPunch
January 24th 2014


6280 Comments


" If you're digging Janelle Monae I can imagine that this might not be your cup of tea..."

lel

Digging: Robert Hood - Fabric 39

KILL
January 24th 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea fuck her

PunchforPunch
January 24th 2014


6280 Comments


haha yeah cyg got pawned

Cygnatti
March 23rd 2014


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

smh u nigs

KILL
April 21st 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

balloon burning is so damn good

KILL
May 21st 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sitting on top of a white cloud :D

Cygnatti
May 21st 2014


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Literally no one here jams this huh?

KILL
May 21st 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah dude just us old farts

man parachute is so good lets hope jethro reviews it

KILL
May 21st 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also get the picture is so cool man this band was rly ahead of its time

Cygnatti
May 21st 2014


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And no one ever noticed. Rip

KILL
May 21st 2014


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bro this albums got over 2k votes on rym, crazy how gay we are compared



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