S.F. Sorrow - Columbia 1968
"Emotions" showed that the band possesed excellent songwriters in Wally Allen, Phil May and Dick Taylor. Unfortunately the production of that album was not too successful; at least at the time it was considered as some kind of a "disaster".
This is not the case with the follow-up album "S.F. Sorrow". The sound is great and Norman Smith's production captured the new psychedelic sounds and trends of the late 1960's perfectly.
"S.F. Sorrow" is a concept album, which tells the sad story of the life of S.F. Sorrow. The idea of doing rock concept album was very new at this time. And Pretty Things were among the very first to come up with a rock album; but in my opinion this is not what makes "S.F. Sorrow" a classic album. The album's strength is clearly the music; though the story is quite interesting too.
The catchy "S.F. Sorrow", driven by great acoustic guitars, gives the album the perfect start. The song almost has hit-record potentials. The musically more complex "Bracelets" follows. It's a song in the same vein as their great "progressive" 1967 single "Defecting Grey". The song did not make it to the charts, but I remember that it got some airplay here in Denmark in 1967-68. The song is featured here as a bonus-track.
"She Says Good Morning" indicates that the Pretty Things were also inspired by the Beatles' "Revolver" album. "Private Sorrow" is another great track - the flute and the acoustic guitars almost sounding like Jethro Tull The dramatic "Ballon Burning" tells the dramatic story of the "Hindenburg" crash in which Sorrow's girlfriend dies. "The mysterious "Baron Saturday" enters the story in the song of the same title. Great Beatle-like vocals.
Musically some of the last tracks are obviously songs that serve to tie the story together and not meant to stand alone. 2 tracks stand out, though. "Trust" and the sad but very beautiful finale "The loneliest Person" featuring only an acoustic guitar and Phil May's vocals.
The 4 bonus tracks are 2 Columbia singles released in 1967-68. All good songs and musically fitting perfectly into the rest of the album. This album is a milestone in the Pretty Things' career!