My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Tracks 1-13 are the original album
Brief Background: S.F. Sorrow was recorded at Abbey Road Studios through 1967 and 1968. It was released in the UK in December 1968 and the US in August of 1969. S.F. Sorrow is the first rock opera and concerns the life of S.F. Sorrow from birth, love, his time as a soldier, decent into insanity and subsequent loneliness.
What I think: When listening to albums for this project, I have a strict policy of not reading anything about the artists or albums before putting them on. Because of this, I had no idea this was a concept album, but it does make sense a little more in that vein. I also wasn’t surprised to read that is was recorded at Abbey Road studios, as it really has a Beatles feel to it throughout. This comes across mostly in the atmospheric, hyper-pop and layered vocals. It is also present in the sound of the instruments.
On a personal level I kept going back and forth throughout the album as to whether is was just ok, or if it was a masterpiece. I’m not a huge fan of those atmospheric vocals (The Beatles get a pass on a lot of things I wouldn’t let others get by on), but the instrumentation and tight song structure is really enchanting. My favorites are “She Says Good Morning” and “Baron Saturday” (which really sounds like it has a voice that resembles John Lennon shouting in the background), but the repetitive guitar/bass part in “Balloon Burning” is the real highlight of the album.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I’m waffling as to this albums brilliance, but I think it should be here. For better or worse, this is the album that paved the way for Tommy, The Wall and American Idiot (Edit: I read the 1001 albums write-up after doing my own and found that the writer said almost the exact same thing about these albums. I guess I’m starting to write like a true critic).
Rating (Out of 5): 3.5
Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (103/128)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 80%