OG Rock Opera



The Pretty Things is an English rock 'n' roll band that came of age in the mid-'60s along with its more famous peers -- Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, etc. While it began as a primitive and rowdy blues-based ensemble, the Pretty Things matured quickly and, in 1967, released the world's first-ever rock opera. To put it simply, S.F. Sorrow was born a year before the Who's epic Tommy and shared many qualities with Pete Townsend's now-famous story of the deaf, dumb and blind boy.

Recorded at Abbey Road the same year as Sgt. Pepper and Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn, S.F. Sorrow is a missing link from the dawn of British psychedelia. Following the title character from birth to his deathbed, this forgotten concept album is filled with many of the things that made English rock 'n' roll absolutely vital 30-odd years ago. I'm talking about things like rousing vocals, impassioned harmonies, gritty guitars, flamboyant string arrangements, trippy production, simple wisdom and esoteric sociopolitical commentary disguised as rock poetry.

Yes, this may sound dated when you first hear it. It will also sound vaguely familiar. Isn't that a snatch of Beatles production on the vocals? A bit of Kinks-like irony in the lyrics? Floyd-ish musicianship? Yes, yes, yes. But it isn't a rip-off as much as it was a group of young artists reflecting what was going on in their heads and hearts at a time when anything seemed possible -- even a bleedin' rock opera. Got it?

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.