Now that’s an album cover! We were originally shown the line art version of Frank Suchomel’s stunning sleeve and I was mightily impressed by that, but the full-colour version is something else altogether. I believe it will be released as a gatefold sleeve with various interesting bits of information in the centrespread, including an interview with members of The Pretty Things about S.F. Sorrow, the album that inspired this one.
So, once again I find myself trying review an album that is right out of my immediate (and relatively small) sphere of knowledge. Until now I was vaguely aware of the name of The Pretty Things and totally ignorant of S.F. Sorrow. And I guess that’s one of the great things about Fruit De Mer, i.e. that I find myself listening to music and bands that would otherwise have passed me by.
Sorrow’s Children, the Fruits De Mer tribute to The Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow, is due out around mid-April and will be strictly limited to a run of 700 vinyl albums (with no downloads, CDs or repressings). According to the blurb accompanying the review copy, it took a year to pull together the right bands to do justice to an album that FdM’s Andy and Keith both share a passion for, and I think it is fair to say that they succeeded on every level, in that the album flows as well as the original, with the contributing bands’ versions of the songs complementing one another flawlessly.
Enthusiastic, varied, exciting and reverential are adjectives that spring to mind with regard to the individual performances, and as a result it has been an absolute pleasure to sit down and review Sorrow’s Children.
And speaking of the bands there are a number that have appeared on previous FdM releases, plus a few that are totally new to me:
SF Sorrow is Born – The Luck of Eden Hall
Bracelets of Fingers – Sky Picnic
She Says Good Morning – Sidewalk Society
Private Sorrow – Hi-Fiction Science
Balloon Burning – Langor
Death – The Seventh Ring Of Saturn
Baron Saturday – Senrab Mendips
The Journey – Extra
I See You – Earthling Society
Well of Destiny – Jay Tausig
Trust – The Gathering Grey
Old Man Going – King Penguin
Loneliest Person – The Loons
Loneliest Persion – The Pretty Things (live at The 100 Club)
The concept behind this rock opera – one the first and arguably the inspiration for Pete Townsend’s Tommy – is variously obvious and elusive; some of the songs clearly reflect the themes of birth, ageing and dying, whereas others have an altogether more subtle link to themes of love, loss and war. Apparently the narrative originally existed in notes between the lyrics on the inner sleeve, so I suppose my apparent inability to fully decipher the story is forgiveable, at least until I buy a copy of the original.
Musically S.F. Sorrow comes across as being ahead of its time, both in terms of the sound and also the quality of the recording, and Sorrow’s Children manages to capture that same timeless appeal. Listening to both now, side by side, they respectively sound neither dated nor retro, and this speaks volumes about the care that has gone into getting Sorrow’s Children just right.
Currently posessing only a CD-R review copy, I am loathe to go too deeply into the finer details of the sound quality, but there is every indication that it will equal FdM’s last release (Keep Off The Grass) in its excellence and consistency.
Sorrow’s Children represents more than just a portal into the past – it’s worthy of its own place in any collection as another landmark release for Fruits De Mer (seriously, how long can they keep this up?) and also a great album in its own right.