Sorrows: Bad Times Good Times

Rebirth of out-of-print early-80s power-pop

The New York City based Sorrows (not to be confused with the Don Fardon-fronted freakbeat band The Sorrows) was founded by Arthur Alexander (not to be confused with the R&B hit maker who recorded “You Better Move On,” “Soldier of Love” and “Anna”) following the dissolution of the Poppees. Unlike the Poppees die-hard Merseybeat inflections, Sorrows early ‘80s releases for CBS (1980’s Teenage Heartbreak and 1981’s Love Too Late) were more in line with the power pop sounds of 1970s bands such the Motors, Records, Plimsouls and Beat. You can still hear the early Beatles influences in their chiming pop, and the urgency of melodic punk rock (ala The Undertones) also made an impression, but it was the pure pop sounds of the Raspberries, Badfinger and others that really held sway.

The band played CBGB’s, Max’s Kansas City and other key New York clubs, but their albums failed to break nationally, and by mid-decade, they’d broken up. Their official CBS-released albums remain unreissued to this day, which makes this collection so especially welcome. The sixteen tracks include resequenced versions of the twelve titles from their debut album, the non-LP originals “That’s Your Problem” and “Silver Cloud,” and live covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Off the Hook” and Goffin & King’s “Chains.” The liner notes are cagey as to whether these tracks are distinct performances from the album takes, mentioning tapes rescued from a demolition dumpster and advising “this is not a reissue of previously released tracks.”

What is novel is the sound, which is significantly better than the original vinyl. What was once thin on LP has a lot of muscle on this CD. Even with the mono introduction of “She Comes and Goes,” the abrupt cut to stereo at the 1:30 mark makes good on the band’s “ABBA meets the Sex Pistols” tag line. The collection’s non-LP demos are as good as the album tracks, and the live takes, particularly the punked-up arrangement of “Chains” gives a taste of how vital the band sounded on stage. This isn’t a replacement for a reissue of Teenage Heartbreak, but in many ways it’s actually better. Fans now have to hope that tapes of Love Too Late will be rescued from some other demolition dumpster. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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