The late 1960s was a very interesting time in the world of music. Bands were making some very original, artistic and musical statements out there which were captivating and musically brilliant. This is technically one of those and was received as an underrated classic over time. Perceived as the first Rock Opera, this should be no doubt a different listen and an important one historically, so let’s listen and see how it sounds. The concept itself is supposedly about an English person’s life (S.F. Sorrow), from cradle to grave, so it should be an interesting listen.
We begin with S.F. Sorrow Is Born which begins with some different sounding acoustic guitar parts which jangle away nicely. Singing emerges, in a plain and clear voice that sounds different and unique. It sounds awesomely 1960s and fits the scene of the time, with many Psychedelic and sound effect based textures to take you deeply into the music. A Mellotron enters in the background, which sounds very good. An interesting song about the birth of our main character here, it sounds not unlike The Beatles psychedelic efforts, with a huge amount of brilliant musicality and effortless playing. Great start to the album here.
Next along is Bracelets Of Fingers which has some lone dual tracked harmonies singing about love, before going straight into a glorious piece of music that is very evocative of the time. A strange song, with some interesting instrumentation in the background, such as wah-wah guitar, this is very captivating listen and just sounds effortless and brilliant. Some Sitar enters in the middle of the song, along with some random sounds, before finishing up with a great electronic treatment, before launching back into the song itself. A truly impressive piece of music, this is no doubt influenced by many contemporary artists, before ending with gorgeous harmonies and pounding drum rolls. It finishes with that electronic treatment sound again. Marvelous.
She Says Good Morning arrives next, with some strange electric guitar parts and prominent bass lines, before drum rolls launch this piece into a catchy and original Pop/Rock piece. Awesome stuff, it talks almost exclusively about a lady who is interesting in intention, standing in the morning rain. Some interesting fuzz based sounds are in the middle of the song here, which are brief. Interesting lyrics and brilliant musicality power this piece along, as one holds dear an unknown lady into their mind as they rush to work. Different.
Private Sorrow is along next, and begins with some gorgeous acoustic guitar parts. It then has marching drums, some great keyboard melodies that sound like flute and a great Psychedelic feel to the song. This is very well crafted and unusual piece of music that is no doubt completely different to most music out there. The vocal harmonies, mesh of drums and melodies here sound absolutely wonderful. A gloriously fantastic tune, one of the best pieces from this album. The use of melodies, instrumentation and sounds are superb. Towards the end is a prominent organ, with some mention of soldiers killed in action, before the piece concludes. Different.
Next along is Balloon Burning which begins with some interesting sounding guitars and catchy melodies about New York and being with a lover. It’s both interesting musically and lyrically, just sounding really fine and awesome here. The musicianship here is really awesome, the guitars and drums in particular definitely sound amazing. Without warning, it launches into a brilliant chorus which has some great singing in it. The guitar solo here sounds a lot like a Jimi Hendrix inspired keyboard sound, it is just different. A very weird and highly Psychedelic piece of music, it is a great listening experience about a hot air balloon, and is a very original and awesome listen. It ends with guitar bordering on feedback.
Following that is Death which begins with some eerie string sounds, before going into some otherworldly and weird mixture of guitar playing and electronics. It launches into a song with some intentionally muffled mixed sounding singing, marching tom-tom drums and a great musical tale here. There are some interesting Sitar parts here, which keep this piece thriving. Indeed, an awesome and powerful listen, even today. A really cool listening experience, with some nicely used guitar feedback, eerie backing vocals, gong and sitar, it ends with some flickering sounds. Awesome.
Baron Saturday is next with some good singing and some excellent Rock instrumentation. Surely this is a bit of a parody here against our main character, S.F. Sorrow? All the same, it is a clever piece of music with some John Lennon styled singing and a wacky tale that is somewhat reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland set to music. There are some interesting dual tracked drum solos in the middle here, which sound very expertly delivered and reminiscent of the Psychedelic experience. Some loud and rushing tape loops then emerge towards the end, before guitars re-emerge to save the day. A brilliant piece of music that has aged very well, this album is nothing short of amazing, and this song is a mere example of that, finishing with some awesome harmonies.
The Journey begins with some beautiful strummed acoustic guitar, gorgeous harmony based singing and some lyrical Psychedelic adventures, this is awesome music. Some nice bass playing, bongos and other musical touches are here to keep the adventure going. A really fine and effortless sounding piece, this is a great piece of Psychedelic Rock that still sounds amazing today. Some crazy mixing goes on in the second half, illuminating the Psychedelic experience here. No doubt that the Hippies would have dug this sort of music, it is a wonderful piece of music here. It ends with a lone acoustic strum.
Next is I See You which begins with some distorted guitar, expert bass playing and some calm vocals. It sounds expertly done here, and continues the wonderful adventure of S.F. Sorrow. Some cut up and treated vocals are here, interspersed with brief guitar breaks. Nothing short of musically majestic and amazing, this is a really fine and top listen. There are some very trippy guitar parts here, along with some interesting singing, Mellotron and other incredible sounds here. Totally underrated and very amazing, this is very eye opening and excellent listening. In the second half, brilliant cut up and pitch-shifted vocals and guitar playing bring this to a logical conclusion. Great Psychedelic Rock, without a doubt or question.
Following is Well Of Destiny which begins with some very interesting singing and vocal treatments, with some tremolo styled piano and other odd instrumentation here, sounding completely different to anything else in music history. This is one of the most Psychedelic albums of all time here, and the array of cut up melodies and precise playing here indicate a truly musical experience for drug taking. It finishes up with furious guitar playing and delayed sounds to full effect.
Trust comes next, and has some deep singing about trust issues with humanity. It has chugging piano, gorgeous harmonies and a great groove about it. A very decent Pop music piece, this is extraordinary and clever musical listening. A good piece of music that still sounds as amazing at it did in 1968, a really fine and awesome listen about emotional despair. Very calm and majestic sounding, this is a great listening experience.
Old Man Going is next, beginning with some wonderful acoustic guitar playing that is very rhythmic, and which sounds really cool. Some chanted vocals arrive, followed by handclaps, heavy sounding guitars and some rather interesting mixing of music and melody. Strange music for strange times, but it still sounds really awesome. A pitch shifted keyboard part leads onto a weird sounding guitar solo, but sounds really great all the same. Some impressionistic and artistic lyrics here emerge, before the end of the song arrives with thunderous drums. Unique.
The last track here is Loneliest Person. It begins with acoustic guitar that is gorgeous and is a tale of sadness and isolation. A really sad sounding ending to the story of S.F. Sorrow, and relatable if you experience loneliness frequently. Great song, and a nice finish to this awesome Rock Opera.
No doubt a great album is here. The music and material here is exciting, groundbreakingly original and interesting to hear, many decades later. For those who want to hear the musical boundaries of Psychedelic Pop/Rock to be pushed to its furthest extent, you can’t go wrong with this album. Sadly, it is somewhat like The Velvet Underground’s work, hugely overlooked and underrated. However, there should be nothing stopping you from hearing this amazing release. Fans of the album will be pleased to know that there are extra tracks bundled on some releases, so be sure to check out those if you can.
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