Share BAD TIMES GOOD TIMES - Sorrows (Alive)
There are those (presumably those who have caught the sharp end of my wit and wisdom) who assume I sit in glib delight; dreaming up barbed comments based on some sadistic urge to punish individuals whose talent exceeds my own. It's not true, you know. I accepted a huge piles of CDs to review hoping to find wonderful music; untold wonders that I would never have otherwise experienced. I have given good reviews and bad reviews based on my whim at the time. Some bands have provided me with short stabs of pleasure and I have rewarded them accordingly. Others have, quite frankly, disgusted me and I have returned my favours like for like.
The one thing I had never previously found was that bona fide stone cold classic; the disc you wanted to play again and again and again; the life changer. I don't know about you but, when I press the play button on an unheard disc, I want to be reminded of the sheer aural delight of hearing "Raw Power" or the debut albums of "Blondie", "The Ramones", "Television" or the "New York Dolls" for that very first time. I want to feel the tickle of hairs rising on the back of my neck. I want to dance around the room with a big old smile on my face. I tell you, I have hoped and prayed to the depraved gods of rock and roll; let me feel that spine tingling glory one more time. Let me hear another record that will make me wonder how I ever lived without it. Give me that old time religion, brothers and sisters! But Lo! Salvation is at hand. If I am to recommend one disc to you in my tenure as reviewer; let this be the one.
Sorrows. Bad Times, Good Times. Sounds god damn unappealing, doesn't it? I had just thrown this to the bottom of the pile in utter disinterest. I groaned as I looked at the cover. Blokes with guitars. I flipped it over and saw a seventies style hand drawn poster for a CBGBs gig. "Hmmm," I thought. How many times have I been fooled into thinking a band was supposed to be good just because they've played CBGBs? I steeled myself against some dread hard core assault. Then I was blown away by wave after wave of glorious pop treasure, just like the way great bands used to make it. This is the Flaming Groovies doing "Shake Some Action". This is the Monkees doing "Pleasant Valley Sunday". This is Blondie doing "Hanging on the Telephone", The Barracudas doing "Living in Violent Times" and the Passengers doing "Girlfriend's Boyfriend" all rolled into one tremendous sparkling package. Let me put it simply in old fashioned Australian; this album is frigging unreal. Could I give you any more urgent prodding to check this thing out? I'm running out of superlatives here. Every time you think it has revealed every gorgeous charm it could possibly possess, the songs takes a left field turn into another delight. Every time I think the next song can't live up to the promise of the last, I am proved wrong. When people talked about Big Star, this is the album I imagined in my wildest dreams.
If you ever wondered what was meant by the word "soaring" in context of vocals, harmonies or guitars, here is the dictionary definition pegged. If there ain't enough jangling guitars in your life (and how could there ever be enough), step right up. Imagine later period Beatles without syrup or copious marijuana usage. Imagine the Rolling Stones with pitch perfect harmony. Imagine the gaping hole in your record collection that this disc represents. If this is a five bottle review, how could I ever give anyone else more than a two? Five Bottles? Give this album the six pack. Give them the whole damn slab!
It seems pointless to try to point out the stand out tracks when every single note is so absolutely astounding. From the opening bars of the title track to the closing live cover of Carole King's "Chains", I can only ask "What's not to love?" I tried to find a low point on the album to single out but they allude me. Whilst the demo version of "That's your problem" may lack the production values of other tracks on the disc, it more than makes up for it with added oomph and stands head and shoulders above anything I have heard of late. Anything.
I have tried to research this band to little effect. The cover is deliberately obtuse. A note claims "this is not a re-issue of previously released tracks. In fact some of the tapes were rescued from a demolition dumpster." Some reviewers claim it is the band's early eighties album "Teenage Heartbreak" with additional demos and live tracks. Well, I can't tell you if they're dodging earlier recording contracts. (The inside sleave has a picture of the CBS logo being trampled underfoot.) I don't care. I'm merely glad to hold this in my hot sweaty hands. If there is one thing I want to know it is why the hell didn't I hear this when it first came out. What toilet bowl was I throwing up in when this band walked supreme above the Earth. I can only imagine they were somehow lost in the power pop shuffle. Can the history of Rock and Roll be rewritten immediately?
In actuality, Sorrows are soon to play their first tour of the West Coast of America. It makes you want to get on a plane. The disc is already on its fourth continual run through on my machine. It is like back in the day, when you get a new 45 and just let it hit repeat for an hour or three. Such bliss can be yours. - Bob Short
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