The Pretty Things were victims of release-date circumstances with their concept LP S.F. Sorrow. Sandwiched between The White Album and Beggars Banquet, it hardly stood a chance. The quality of the songs on S.F. Sorrow certainly wasn’t to blame – this is a Brit psych-rock masterpiece. Out of step with the back-to-basics approach of both The Beatles and the Stones, S.F. Sorrow still resonates with tripped-out hippy ideology. But there’s a darker edge here, too. A storyline taking in birth, love, war and death sees the titular protagonist ultimately deciding to turn against the world and resign himself to a life of depressed solitude. Raga-rock opener S.F. Sorrow Is Born morphs into the swirling atmospherics of Bracelets Of Fingers and the punchy psychedelic romance of She Says Good Morning, while the mournful folk of Private Sorrow sees the album deftly change direction as our hero heads off to battle. The striking Balloon Burning is proto prog, and the band move into uncharted territory with the wonderfully eccentric Baron Saturday, a progressively more wigged-out The Journey and downright terrifying I See You. Despite the refutations, the punchy Old Man Going surely influenced Pete Townshend to toughen up The Who’s sound. This 50th Anniversary boxset edition serves up the album in both mono and stereo incarnations, an intriguing David Gilmour-assisted Abbey Road live recreation from 1998, plus assorted singles.
Written by Steve Harnell. Released on Madfish.