Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Sorrows Reform - Another recent article by Pete Clemons

New from Pete Clemons - a recent article on The Sorrows - the seminal Coventry 60's 'freakbeat' band who have recently reformed.

'Freakbeat' sound of The Sorrows can be enjoyed again; YOUR nostalgia Telegraph contributor Pete Clemons charts their history and comeback, which includes dates in London and Italy so far. SEMINAL Coventry band The Sorrows enjoyed success in the Sixties with their hallmark sound. Rock fan and regular.

FOR those who may not have noticed, seminal Coventry band, The Sorrows, have regrouped and are currently playing gigs around Coventry.

Prior to the first gig at The Arches snooker club, Spon End, back in December 2011, the five musicians had been rehearsing hard for the previous three months.

And the sensational results of this comeback means that the band have been signed by London management and could well be scheduled for work on the continent that includes theatres and festivals for 2012.

There is even talk of a new album. The band's current line-up is Don Fardon (vocals) Phil Packham (bass), Nigel Lomas (drums), Marcus Webb (lead guitar) and Brian Wilkinson (rhythm guitar and harmonica).

The Sorrows were originally formed way back in 1963 in Coventry by Pip Whitcher. They gigged hard around the city at venues like The Craftsman, The Pilot, The Heath Hotel and The Orchid Ballroom. The line-up back then was Philip (Pip) Whitcher (lead guitar and vocals), Don Fardon (vocals), Philip (Phil) Packham (bass guitar), Terry Jukes (rhythm guitar) and Bruce Finley (drums).

The gained a manager in David Owen and not long after the band had recorded their first 45rpm, 'I Don't Wanna be Free' during December 1964, Jukes left and was replaced on rhythm guitar by Wez Price.

While plying their trade in the local night clubs their reputation was spreading far and wide. This resulted in the group being discovered by A & R man and Piccadilly's label manager John Schroeder.

They also gained a London agent in Maurice King. Gigs up and down the country now flowed in.

The Sorrows were now poised for greatness. They produced an album that was released in December 1965 called Take a Heart on the Piccadilly Records label which, in turn, was a subsidiary of Pye Records. The band also produced a string of singles and EPs. All original releases are now very sought after in the collectors' market. By 1966 and after gaining several top 10 chart positions on the UK Singles Chart with their releases, Phil Packham and Don Fardon left the band. Fardon went solo and, in 1970, achieved great success by having a top 3 UK chart hit success with 'Indian Reservation'.

Later on in 1966 saw the band soldiering on with Wez Price taking Phil Packham's place on bass guitar, while Pip Whitcher focusing more on vocals. Bruce, Pip and Wez were then offered a part in a major package tour in Italy. However, they urgently required a fourth member. So Roger Lomas, Nigel's brother, was drafted in and became lead guitarist. The band then relocated to Italy where they, again, received considerable success. Despite playing to huge arenas the band returned home in 1967, penniless.

However their time in Italy had not been totally in vain as it had raised the band's profile. So back they went again. This period saw the band release the excellent single 'Pink, Purple, Yellow, Red' and cut an LP entitled Old Songs, New Songs in 1968. 'Old Songs, New Songs' was a mixture of group originals and covers This version of the band continued for almost three years before eventually folding for good. Well, not actually for good because The Sorrows have reformed occasionally during the intervening years. One noteworthy comeback that I remember was a short residency at The Dive in the city centre (downstairs at the Lady Godiva pub).

This particular line-up was Chuck Fryers (guitar and vocals), Chris Smith (keyboards), Wez Price (bass) and Mick Bradley (drums).

In essence, their style of music has been a mix of beat and contemporary R&B. During the mid-60s, this brand of music was termed as 'Freakbeat'.

The band has often been quoted as 'one of the most overlooked groups of the British Invasion'. The band's hallmark sound has been described as raucous, yet controlled, vocals, fast guitar solos underpinned by heavy bass and frantic drumming. Although the musicianship was excellent throughout the band, this style of music failed to achieve the success it deserved.

It has been said that this was because 'freakbeat' was just too far ahead of its time.

After The Sorrows Roger Lomas became a record producer for his own company, ROLO productions, and produced for bands such as The Specials, The Selecter and Bad Manners. In 2003 he produced the Grammy Award winning album, Jamaican E.T. for Lee "Scratch" Perry.

Wez Price joined Indian Summer and Pip Whitcher joined local band The Eggy with both Nigel and Roger Lomas. Both are now, as I understand, retired from music but both have seen the latest reincarnation of the band. Bruce Finlay was, apparently, last heard of living in Alaska.

Already lined up for a major London date in April, along with some work in Italy, let us hope that 2012 continues strongly for The Sorrows and brings them the overdue success they so fully deserve.

Friars Promotions - Recent article by Pete Clemons

There is a post also on Hobo - Coventry Discos / Venues etc on Friars Promotions with various cards and photos here

This is a new article by Peter Clemons from Coventry Telegraph.
If it's not readable when you enlarge the graphic here, you can read it on line here -

" In the above article - Pete, a regular Telegraph contributor and member of Coventry's Wall of Fame steering committee, recalls the city's Twang Dances of the 1960s."