George Starostin's Reviews



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Mike Benesch <> (05.12.2003)

The Pretty Things still are and still will be one of the best pop groups of the 60's. Without them something would be missing. But I'm really glad that there is somebody here who is willing to write about The Pretty Things.

Seems to me that The Pretties are not so well known as I thought they would be. But I keep on hoping and will check your site often.

As for their first Album, I personally like it, it was raw and daring, even for the 60's, and I still like listening to it today. But there is one Album that I missed and that is Parachute, did you forget that.??

Keep it up, I enjoy reading it all.


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Kirill V. Nurski <> (11.03.2001)

I know what kind of new CD release of Get The Picture? you're talking about. It's an "ADA Sound Ltd." Russian "grey market" release (Cat. No. ADASD 07150), right? I purchased it not long ago and I was quite surprised when it turned out to be an enhanced CD. The video is called "The Pretty Things On Film", and it could be a promotional film for their 1966 U.K. EP of the same title. I'm not absolutely sure about it, though... because I assume The Beatles' "Paperback Writer" to be the first promotional music film ever, you know. It features the same four songs as on the EP (Fontana TE 17472) - "Midnight To Six Man", "Can't Stand The Pain", "Me Needing You" and "J.S.D.". The two latter songs are an excerpt from a live performance in "Club 100" in London. Good stuff. Phil May does outgun Mick Jagger when it comes to hip-swinging :)

The video is worthwhile, indeed, although I'm highly suspicious that it's a lip-sync rather than genuine live sounds. It is especially noticeable on "Midnight To Six Man" - the video version preserves that poor double-tracking of Phil May's vocals. In fact, all the four songs in that video sound identical to the versions featured on the audio section of the CD.

David Gould <> (26.08.2005)

Phil Taylor vs Mick Jagger?

Phil easily wins!

Listen to "im gonna find a substitute", when he sings "im gonna pick you...or her....or even you" or something like that.

No way could mick ever sound that cool!

At least not in 1965. move on a few years, to exile on main st, and Mick is on top of his game, and no one could touch him

And don't forget the hair.

Phil had hair down to his shoulders in 1965.

Beat that Mick!.


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Fredrik Tydal <> (14.04.2000)

This is the second "great lost classic of the sixties" album I've been slightly let down by in just a couple of days (the other one being Love's Forever Changes). Ok, so I had a bit high expectations, but that's only human. This isn't even really a rock opera, since there are no themes or recurring musical parts. To me, it's more like a "rock story". The term "rock opera" was probably applied to this album only after the success of Tommy. The similarities are no more striking than between, say Pet Sounds and Sergeant Pepper. It's just silly when the essay in the booklet blames The Who for ruining the Pretties' career. The album itself is quite intriguing, in fact, with some interesting musical passages. The story is quite hard to figure out on first listen, and seems rather pedestrian when you actually get it. It has no depth like Tommy. I also feel the vocals are mixed down a bit too low. But I probably end up recommending the album anyway, it does have its moments and it sure is a nice little period piece. But don't go expecting Tommy; this is just a rock story.

<> (13.12.2000)

I'm glad I got this album. It was hard to get into it at first because of the harsh sound but once you do you are greatly rewarded. It is a psychedelic masterpiece, up there with Piper. You forgot two album highlights though 'S.F. Sorrow Is Born' has a great opening guitar riff and 'Loneliest Person' is one of the most beautiful songs ever.

David Goodwin <> (03.05.2001)

Just a note...firstly, this is by far the worst produced of the legendary Abbey Road triumvirate (Pepper and Piper coming right before it) sounds tin-can-esque. That being said, there're two distinct "reissues" availible:

The common reissue CD on Snapper has the entire album in mono, with the extended 'Defecting Grey'.

The "collector's edition" gold-colored CD features the entire album in Stereo (noted ONLY on the cover, nowhere else) and has the "regular" version of 'Defecting Grey', despite not noting this anywhere on the packaging. Oh well.

Ryan Topping <> (01.11.2002)

I got the limited Gold version,a very good album right the way through even my 9 year daughter likes Twinks drumming on "Baron Saturday".

Sergey Zhilkin <> (20.11.2002)

As in case with Small Faces' Ogden's nut gone flake, this record boasts a wonderful cover - gloomy yet no cliches. Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual sound sound you realise how badly the album was recorded (probably Pretty Things didn't have enough money - even the reissue sounds simply flat). Sure, this brings some mystic atmosphere in many songs but when you need sterile and spatial sound (like in opening song) you are left with so called "tin can" effect (well, not exactly so...).

Anyway, most songs go off well, an some even leave traces in your brain - like "S.F. Sorrow is born", "Baron Saturday" and brilliant "Trust". There were only two tracks I didn't like (one of which is "Well of destiny", thing that inspired Pete Townshend to toy with the great theme of "Sparks" and create an awful "Underture"). Overall, the album leaves uncozy feeling, which is, hopefully, washed away by astonishing "Lonliest person" (shame it's so short). Bonus tracks are also good - my favourite is "Walking through my dreams", which shows Pretty Things drummer was a cool chap (but not better than Keith Moon, who is badmouthed by the booklet to this album).

Oh, and I'm not in the line of people, claiming this album is the first rock opera ever. I'm absolutely sure, it did inspire Pete Townshend to write Tommy but it was Pete who created a term 'rock-opera', so S.F. Sorrow couldn't be called rock-opera upon it's release (and even if some people say it's a rock opera now, I'm still 100% with Fredrik and his thoughts about this album being a "rock-story"). Anyway, buy both albums and draw all the conclusions yourself. As for this record - 13 is my rating.

PS. A little afterthought - S.F. Sorrow isn't a rock opera because it has nothing to do with opera - no overture or reprises, so there. On the other hand, it may be the first truly concept album, cause none of the songs here is thematically out of place.

Darren Finizio <> (25.04.2003)

it cracks me up when i see people who are obviously not qualified to critique this music write a review on it....when i say "qualified"i am talking about listening to the album as an entire piece of art as opposed to a collection of songs which may/may not have "hook" value,although in a perfect world these songs all do...i bought the mono reissue from 1998 with the bonus trks(available in scattered form on "rubble")..i grew up with this album on a cheapy reissue on vinyl and the sound quality always got in the way of this great music,tinny and distorted...if everyone here can only come up with two good songs your obviously clueless:this is atleast as good as anything the beatles were doing:yes,they take they beatles sound and inject it with a more psychedelic,more progressive,and at-times experimental feel...the production is fantastic considering the time it was recorded and the mono rerelease is an enormous leap in clarity,the mono aspect is fine since there wasn't much sterio-panning on the original release save for some of the musical flashback parts,although theres quite a bit of sterio seperation on the original release which may or not matter to you...the pretty things were hugely talented and,based on their interviews,fine blokes as dudes keep talking about some sort of anomosity the things felt towards pete townsend:there is none,phil may (the main thing)loved tommy and the who in general and was flattered that townsend liked s.f. so much,except he found it disappointing that townsend now claims he never heard the album ...its so painstakingly produced and so inspired/intense from beggining to end,every song beyond excellent...i am overwhelmed by the melodic quality of this lp,not to mention the instrumental prowess which is top-notch...its quite apparent that the groups mind was in the right place when they made this:focusing on music for musics sake rather than "catchy"songs,although to my ears this music is very memorable and,perhaps, has more depth than much of the music from that ti me:put this on the same level as floyds piper, familys dollhouse and the psychedelic beatles:its that good but even more experimental and commercialy succinct in some way(simultaneously)...words don't do the album justice so i'll repeat:listen to it then listen to it again back to back...yes,ive had this lp since '85 and maybe i really didn't fully appreciate it till now...theres alot here...this mono release is highly recommendable,really crisp,add some bass to it and your good to go...heres something anybody interested in the band should read

John Knowles <> (05.09.2003)

First of all, I think you have to see this album in the context of its period to appreciate just how extraordinary it was. Being, alas, old enough to have bought the vinyl when it was released in 1968, it struck me at the time as shattering, and it still strikes me as truly innovative and daring.

Musically, it took influences from the Beatles and Pink Floyd and pushed them into areas where neither band had thought - or possibly cared - to go, but there are also prefigurings of all kinds of later developments, from the curious folk/rock/jazz hybrid that Jethro Tull made their own, to heavy metal riffing. But the really astonishing thing about it is that it swam so hard and desperately agains the psychedelic tide: in an era when everyone else in the genre was prattling about love, peace and the beauty of life the Pretties produced a gloomy, introspective and cynical meditation on its miseries. The contrast between the medium and the message is startling.

The songs are literate, the musicianship accomplished and, in contrast to George, I contend that there's nary a clunker on it (with the possible exception of 'Well of Destiny', but then it doesn't last long enough to become truly irritating).

Regarding the production quality, I'm wondering if the fault lies in the remastering. The vinyl version sounds much crisper and clearer than the CD reissue (at least the one I've got).

Stephen Legg <> (10.01.2004)

SF SORROW by THE PRETTY THINGS is in my humble opinion a classic and underrated album which holds my attention all the way through. Avery mature album in a timeof a number of classic albums. Could it be the best British albums of the sixties.

Eric Reichter <> (07.04.2004)

Strange that I was 50 years old (Jan 1954) before I had even heard of The Pretty things.

I was driving to a local ECHL hockey game on a Sunday afternoon earlier this winter. A local FM station, on at the time, had a "Power 60s" program going on. They played SF Sorrow and explained that this was the first rock opera.

Intrigued, I ordered the cd (with the bonus tracks and 'Resurrection').

I couldn't put the cd down! Just incredible, especially when you read the liner notes and do a little research and find that it was recorded on one 4 track system.

It's one of the few "albums" that I've heard over the last 35+ years where every song is good.

Since then, I've ordered Emotions - I agree with the Pretties - thumbs down, "the psychedelic years" - interesting, the Abbey Road DVD - interesting to match to "Resurrection" - too bad Phil May had been smoking for 35+ years, and Parachute - which was back ordered and hasn't arrived yet.

Also - I really like "Deflecting Grey", one of the bonus tracks on Sorrow.

Dave Bryant <> (10.07.2004)

My name is Dave Bryant, I am 35 years old, and I live in Ontario, Canada.

I discovered S.F. Sorrow when I was 17 or 18, by a friend who has put out his own records with bands such as Shark Graffiti, and The Mind Set, as well as having one of the biggest music collections, well hell, the biggest by far I ever saw by any collector. This friend of mine put me onto S.F. Sorrow, and I am forever greatfull for that because of two things, one being obviously, that he put me onto a lost classic of some truly great songs, that somehow never really got heard. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Sgt. Pepper, as well as Pink Floyd's album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn were both released around the same time, and they buried the lesser known band. A real shame. Secondly, if I had not heard of this album till much later in life or never, I would not own a mint shape copy of the vinyl album for my record collection humbly as that collection may be in comparison to my friends (mine contains several hundred albums and discs), and discs, thoug! h I may still have got the later Anniversary Edition of S.F. Sorrow that had four bunus songs, one being "Defecting Grey", although even this C.D. as is the vinyl, are very rare indeed in Canada anyways. I got the last copy my local store had and they expected no more shipments (of the anniversary c.d.), but I bought my vinyl right after I had listened to the album, and they may have had more back then, but you sure cannot find it these days, anywhere in Canada, period

Alexey Provolotsky <> (04.11.2005)

Before I write anything about the actual album, let me first clarify some things about that rock opera stuff (if anybody is still not bored to death by that). So, my point is like this: S.F. Sorrow is NOT a rock opera. And so isn’t Simon Simopath. And (!) so isn’t Tommy. As for the latter, they state in the liner notes that the Who’s album is more of a cantata of songs than what they call a rock opera. I’m in agreement here. Sure, it all depends on what exactly you call a rock opera, but for me, the most important criterion is the sound. And Tommy’s sound is absolutely not opera-like. Jesus Christ Superstar DOES sound like a rock opera, but all the others I’ve mentioned here simply don’t. Of course, if you’re not that boring and meticulous, you might call Tommy a rock opera. Then so is S.F. Sorrow. And then so is Simon Simopath, for crying out loud. That’s my point.

I don’t like the idea of being pain in the neck, so let’s get to the music of this record. I adore S.F. Sorrow. See, it’s not very professional or grand, it’s rather a very amateurish and even sometimes clumsy (especially in the arrangement department) record, but it only wins from that. Me, I think that starting with that guitar riff of the first song, it’s all magic. As for the melodies, they are mostly incredible. “Bracelets Of Fingers” is surely the best, with its great harmonies (“love, love, love…”) and engaging hook in the verses. But both “She Says Good Morning” and “Private Sorrow” (yeah, nice flute!) are also delightful, melodic and charming. Even though the album sometimes gets unnecessarily gloomy and complex at places (notably “Death” and “Well Of Destiny”), there is nothing that prevents me from calling the album a semi-psychedelic classic. And don’t forget those gorgeous and truly tear-inducing ballads, “Trust” and “The Loneliest Person”. Really, that singing affects my heart.

My CD (frankly, I have the album taped from a CD that…) has also four bonus cuts and ALL of them are pearls, true psychedelic pearls. Chaotic, bizarre and clumsy. Catchy, also. My favourite is probably “Defecting Grey”, but they are equally amazing.

Your collection of 60’s music can’t be complete without a copy of S.F. Sorrow. Yeah, it’s THAT important. I give it a 13! Coming back to that rock opera discussion, let’s just recollect 1966 and Townshend’s “A Quick One While He Is Away” and be satisfied. It was a MINI-opera, yes…


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