Fruits de Mer Records specialize in vinyl only releases featuring contemporary bands covering songs – many quite obscure – from the 1960s and early 1970s. And they’re coming up with increasingly interesting ideas for theme albums. The Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow, released in 1968, was a concept album based on a short story by singer Phil May. Quoting the promo sheet: The album tells the story of Sebastian F. Sorrow, from birth through love, war, tragedy, madness, and the disillusionment of old age. (With over 40 years of historical hindsight, it’s interesting to point out that The Pretty Things’ concept album was released a year before Tommy.)
Sorrow’s Children is a recreation of the entire S.F. Sorrow album, with each track recorded by a different band. Sorrow is born as The Luck Of Eden Hall open the album with a rousing rocker with ripping acidic guitar licks and gorgeous orchestral keys. I’ve heard quite a bit from these guys on Fruits de Mer releases, including some original songs and they’re really good. Sky Picnic’s Bracelets Of Fingers lull the listener with sitar, mind-bending guitar and Eastern percussion for some tasty trippy psychedelia. Sidewalk Society’s She Says Good Morning is a cool grooving, heavy rocking song. Hi-Fiction Science’s Private Sorrow is intense and spaced out, with a Can-like feel. I reviewed their debut album just days before this write-up and will be looking forward to more from them. Langor’s Balloon Burning is one of my favorites. It starts off pretty trippy, and then halfway through launches into blistering psych rock with freaked out electronics. Very cool. I gotta check out more from these guys. The Seventh Ring Of Saturn’s Death satisfies with cool Prog-Psych-Pop. Senrab Mendips’ Baron Saturday features funky groove rock. Extra’s The Journey starts off as an acoustic driven pop-psych tune with nice harmonies, but then turns into a surreal acid rocker with a Tomorrow Never Knows vibe. Earthling Society’s I See You features their trademark brand of spaced out psych rock. At almost 6 minutes this is one of the longer tracks of the set and Earthling Society really use the time to stretch out and jam. Jay Tausig’s Well Of Destiny is a big molten slab of space atmosphere. Jay is another one that I’ve been hearing more and more of on Fruits de Mer releases and it’s all very good. Another need-to-check-out-more artist. The Gathering Grey’s Trust is classic 60s pop-psych. We get intense, orchestral Prog-Pop on King Penguin’s Old Man Going. And The Loons end the album with a powerful rendition of Loneliest Person.
As a bonus we get a second Loneliest Person, recorded live in 2010 by The Pretty Things themselves and exclusive to this album (i.e., the band endorsed this project!). The Pretty Things continue to be active and apparently have a new live album in the works.
Sorrow’s Children will be a limited edition of 700 copies, housed in a gatefold vinyl package with sleeve notes by original Pretty Things members Phil May and Dick Taylor, talking about the making of S.F. Sorrow. At the time of this review the album is still a couple weeks from release, but I’ve got plenty of Fruits de Mer vinyl and can tell you that every one of them features beautiful packaging and artwork, making them standouts in any vinyl junkies’ collection.
NOTE: Act now because Fruits de Mer releases tend to sell out QUICK!! (and then they sell on Ebay for astronomical prices).
For more information you can visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at: http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz