November 28, 2011

The Pretty Things - Private Sorrow (1968)

In early 1962, Dick Taylor, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger were in a band called Little Boy Blue & The Blue Boys. When they met Brian Jones and Ian Stewart in mid-1962, the bands merged and took on Jones’ band name, the Rollin’ Stones. By November of the same year, Taylor had left the group due to his acceptance at London Central School of Art, where he met Phil May and formed this band. Meanwhile, his old bandmates went on to become The Rolling Stones.

This song comes from S.F. Sorrow, one of rock’s first concept albums. The entire album surrounds around the life of Sebastian F. Sorrow, a character developed by Phil May in a short story. The members of The Who claim this album had no influence on their similarly themed rock opera, Tommy, but many critics have insisted it did.

The Pretty Things - Private Sorrow

The Pretty Things - Private Sorrow (1968)

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Heaven's rain falls upon
Faces of the children who look skyward
Twisting metal through the air
Scars and screams
So you might know its fury

Seashells whistle
Let your mind drift away
Seashells whistle
Let yourself hide away

Men walking tall
Looking so small
Green trees of life disappearing
Mouthing the sounds
Face, clowning the frowns
Black, the lips of command
Torn in the heart
You're playing the part
Courage, it is so demanding
Loud brass in bands
Marching through lands
Life snatching hand is near

Heaven's army falls upon
The skirts of mother Earth
And then flies skyward
Twisting wings through the air
Lift the souls
So you might know his fury

Seashells whistle
Let your mind drift away
Seashells whistle
Let yourself hide away

Dressed in white silk of rain
You marry the pain
As you kneel in a church of bright steel
A new morning arrives
You share the same skies
Umbrella’ing a land full of peace
As the memory fades
On the edge of a blade
You'll return; you're sure that you will
From the frame in your hand
A smile expands
Hangs from a thread of glass tears


  1. The Who and PT had already released conceptual records, their 3rd album being an example; plus PT had talked about extending the traditional album to incorporate associated themes well before SF Sorrow.

    1. The Pretty Things 3rd album? Emotions? I wouldn't consider that a "concept album." I see concept albums more as one entire, organized story from the first track through the last, e.g. Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Who's Tommy, or even somewhat Green Day's American Idiot.

      As for The Who, I'm not sure which album you're referring to as being conceptual before Tommy; unless you're referring to the jingles interlaced around The Who Sell Out. But that'd be a stretch. Would you mind being more specific?