SF Sorrow – The Pretty Things (1968)

Album no. 124/1001

Welcome along, The Pretty Things. These are some lads from London who started out playing rhythm and blues numbers, but hopped onboard the psych train. With SF Sorrow they made a case for the very first ROCK OPERA.

This is an album that follows the life of Sebastian F. Sorrow (I like to think the F is for Furry; Sebastian Furry Sorrow), born into a life of disappointment. The Who claimed that this album didn’t influence Tommy, and The Pretty Things claimed that it did.

Fun fact: Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor played bass in a very early lineup of The Rolling Stones, but quit to go to art school. What a complete turnip.

Have you listened to this album before?

NK: Never heard of it. I know Dirty Pretty Things (the movie and the band) but this mob are new to me.

CL: Sounds like a good name, so maybe it’ll be amazing and I’ll really like it.

Standout track

NK: I didn’t go for this much. It sounds kind of upbeat at times, but every time I listened to any of the lyrics I got really depressed. It’s hard to pick individual songs, as the whole thing is one story, proper rock opera/concept album style. Musically it’s kind low-rent Beatles. ‘She Says Good Morning’ is pretty good, just to pick a track. Most of the songs are fine, but overall I found this really bleak.

CL: Hmmm. I don’t really get into rock opera as a concept – I have still never heard one that I’ve liked – so this didn’t really surprise me. And GOD it’s long. Because there are so many songs it felt like it went forever. Standout track for me is probably ‘Private Sorrow’.

NK: Just to clarify, I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be bleak, so well done The Pretty Things. Mission accomplished.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

NK: If you want to know what it’s like to be born into a working class family, get a job in a factory, meet a girl and get engaged, get drafted into the army, have your fiance die in a zeppelin crash, go to war and never recover, THIS IS THE ALBUM FOR YOU.

CL: Is this what happened?! I… I must have missed that.

Why has this album been included on the list?

NK: It’s probably the most explicit and focused concept album we’ve had so far. This came out before Tommy by The Who, although The Who denied this was an influence (hmmmmmmmm). I think it’s here more for the album/story side of things rather than for breaking new ground musically.

CL: That would certainly make sense – I think musically it’s covering a lot of the same old stuff we’ve heard, particularly from The Beatles. If you’re particularly interested in hearing more about this argument between Tommy and SF Sorrow, there’s pretty detailed long read over at Tiny Mix Tapes.  

NK: I had not read that! I feel bad for The Pretty Things, it sounds like the lack of commercial success for this album really hurt their confidence.

Will you be listening again?  

NK: I don’t think so. I think it’s decent, but like Tommy I’m not convinced it will make it into my regular rotation.

CL: Nah, it’s too long and a lot of the songs do sort of sound like variations of the same ones. Not for me.

Rating

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to SF Sorrow on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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