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The Sorrows

Idioma disponible: inglés
A British band of the 1960s, the Sorrows had a short run of success in the United Kingdom before they experienced another burst of fame in Italy. The Sorrows started out playing tough, moody rock & roll with an R&B accent, and like many bands of the Beat era, elements of freakbeat and psychedelia would find their way into their music as the decade wore on, a process aided by the frequent personnel turnover during their later years. Though they only scored one major hit in the U.K., "Take a Heart," they would go on to enjoy a cult following that outstripped that of many of their contemporaries as their music retained a fresh approach. The group's sole album, 1965's Take a Heart, is a superior Beat era long-player, and 2021's Pink, Purple, Yellow & Red: The Complete Sorrows is an exhaustive summary of their full recorded legacy. The Sorrows first came together in 1963 in Coventry, a city in the British West Midlands. The band was formed by lead guitarist and singer Philip "Pip" Whitcher, rhythm guitarist and singer Terry Jukes, and bassist Philip Packham, all of whom were veterans of the Coventry music scene. Looking for a lead vocalist, they recruited Don Fardon, who has been frontman with a combo called Rocking Lord Docker & the Millionaires, and with the addition of Bruce Finlay on drums, the first edition of the Sorrows was complete. The band spent weeks trying to come up with a suitable stage name for Fardon; he was briefly billed as Will Pity and Don Maughn before he decided to use his real name. After making a name on the local club circuit, in time-honored fashion the Sorrows honed their skills playing a month-long engagement in Germany, where the punishing schedule of playing as long as ten hours a night made them an estimable live act. Eager to make a record, the Sorrows recorded some sessions with legendarily idiosyncratic producer Joe Meek, but the material was shelved, not seeing a belated release until decades after they split up. They had better luck when John Schroeder, an A&R Man with Pye Records, saw the Sorrows in concert and quickly signed them to a deal with Pye's subsidiary Piccadilly Records. Their debut single, "I Don't Wanna Be Free" b/w "Come with Me," was issued in January 1965, and led to several television appearances and more live work, though sales were slim. However, rhythm guitarist Terry Jukes, recently married and looking for a more dependable career, parted ways with the Sorrows, and Wesley "Wez" Price, formerly of the Autocrats, joined in his place. The second single from the group, "Baby" b/w "Teenage Letter," was another disappointment, but the third time was the charm; "Take a Heart" b/w "We Should Get Along Fine," issued in August 1965, became a chart hit, in large part thanks to extensive pirate radio airplay, and topped out at Number 21 on the U.K. singles charts. In October 1965, the Sorrows followed up their hit with "You've Got What I Want' b/w "No, No, No, No," a strong release that nonetheless failed to live up to "Take a Heart"'s success, peaking at a disappointing chart placement of Number 47. However, the success of "Take a Heart" led to Piccadilly releasing an album of the Sorrows, also titled Take a Heart, that appeared in stores in time for Christmas 1965. The album stiffed on the charts, and after another two singles came and went without notice, bassist Philip Packham resigned, and vocalist Don Fardon soon followed. The rest of the group soldiered on; Pip Whitcher became lead singer as well as guitarist, Wez Price moved over to bass, and Bruce Finlay continued as drummer. As the Sorrows plotted their next move, good fortune came their way; the group had recorded phonetically translated German and Italian versions of "Take a Heart," and the latter belatedly became a hit in Italy in June 1966, bolstered by a much-talked-about appearance at the Cantagiro Song Festival. The group was offered an extensive Italian tour, and they hit the road as a quartet, with the addition of second guitarist Roger Lomas, who was known in Coventry for his work with the R&B outfit the Clouds. RCA, who handled the Sorrows' recordings in Italy, was enthusiastic about the band, and they soon brought them into the studio to cut a pair of tunes for a movie starring Anita Ekberg, Come Imparai Ad Amare Le Donne (aka How I Learned to Love Women) in 1967. They would also appear onscreen in a youth-oriented feature, I Ragazzi Di Bandiera Gialla (aka The Lads of the Yellow Flag). The band continued to cut material for Italian and British release, but things were not going well; Pip Whitcher missed British life and opted to go home, while Roger Lomas, after telling his bandmates he was heading back for a short visit, surprised Wez Price and Bruce Finlay when he sent them a letter announcing he wasn't coming back to Italy and asking them to sell his gear and send him the money. As the Sorrows had paying gigs booked in Europe, Price and Finlay needed to round up replacement players pronto, and through a friend they found a pair of British musicians staying in Italy, guitarist Chuck Fryers and bassist Geoff Prior, who had been working with a group called the Warren J. Five. With Price moving back to rhythm guitar and taking on lead vocal duties, the band did live work and cut a single issued only in Italy, "Zabadak" b/w "La Liberta Costa Cara." They were reduced to a trio again when Geoff Prior moved on, and in early 1968, they returned to England, where they located a new fourth man, Chris Smith on keyboards and vocals. They demo'ed a handful of new songs written by Chuck Fryers for Pye, but the label wasn't impressed with the tracks, and the Sorrows were cut loose from their contract. Once again free agents, the Sorrows -- with Pip Whitcher returned to the lineup and drummer Mick Bradley replacing Bruce Finlay -- headed to Milan and signed with an Italian label, Miura. The group would cut a pair of singles for Miura, one of which, "Per Una Donna … No!," would fare well on the Italian charts, and the label asked for an album. 1969's Old Songs New Songs lived up to its title as a mix of new material, covers, and new versions of tunes from their back catalog. However, by the end of 1969, constant personnel changes and diminished interest in the Sorrows was taking its toll, and after honoring commitments for a handful of European nightclub engagements, the band finally called it a day in January 1970. Roger Lomas would go on to record with a group called the Eggy, and Lomas and Pip Witcher would work together in the band Renegade. Lomas later enjoyed success as a producer, working on releases by the Specials, the Selecter, Bad Manners, and Desmond Dekker. Various labels devoted to documenting the British Beat scene of the '60s would bring out reissues of the Sorrows' material in the 1980s and '90s, and in 2021, Grapefruit issued Pink, Purple, Yellow & Red: The Complete Sorrows, which gathered their entire recorded catalog (along with unreleased studio and live material) in one four-disc box set.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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