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Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Rock Pop


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"Sorrows: Bad Times Good Times"

Sorrows: Bad Times Good Times
By Stephen Rowland 10 January 2011
Allright, I might get in trouble here. This was assigned as a capsule review, but due to my own obsession with power pop (I’ve stated before that it’s my favorite genre of music), especially the original stuff (around 1978 to, say, 1981; it’s difficult to pinpoint due to earlier, essential bands like the Raspberries, Big Star, Cheap Trick, and so forth), I don’t see any way I can condense this into 150 words or less.

In the annals of power pop, any fan knows Shoes, 20/20, Pezband, Rubinoos, Plimsouls, and our British friends like (early) Joe Jackson, (early) Nick Lowe, and anything that’s appeared on Rhino’s terribly compiled and often confusing (Fotomaker? Piper? Earthquake?) DIY series, but they probably don’t know Sorrows. In 1980, they released an absolutely imperative album called Teenage Heartbreak; Bad Times Good Times appears to be a reissue of that album, with some extra live recordings, possible b-sides and more tacked on. However, a note on the back of the liners says this is not a reissue, but a re-recording of that album. What’s so confounding is that it sounds exactly like the original, meaning they’d have to reproduce the recording in every single way; also, the guys apparently haven’t aged in 30 years. My research on the truth has proved fruitless, but the important thing is that everything on here, original, live, new, or unreleased is near perfect, and since the original album has apparently never been released on CD, this is damn good enough.

One of the gems here, and I mean gems, is the title track, which should be recognized as an anthem ranking alongside 20/20’s “Yellow Pills” and Pezband’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. The influence of Shoes is certainly there, but the melody is more straightforward. The tragedy of this song being overlooked is huge; it’s a perfect ten. “Can’t You Tell a Lie?” gives us pure rock ‘n’ roll riffs and a melodic chorus straight out of the playbooks written by the genre’s kings, recalling the Raspberries’ formula before Eric Carmen decided gooey, embarassing treacle was his desired direction. The influence of Big Star and the Raspberries is all over the place, not to mention psychedelic rock, paisley underground, and the pure rock ‘n’ roll of the 1950s. They take some serious chances, as in “She Comes and Goes”, blending the sounds of the Plimsouls and Big Star, a thing of beauty that suddenly blasts into near glam-rock but still works perfectly. “Can’t Go Back” is yet another forgotten classic, a power pop ballad with a bit of a Phil Seymour feel (and we’re talking Seymour’s debut, not his sophomore atrocity) that delivers melodies so heavenly, it’s nearly inimitable.

A big surprise is a cover of Carole King’s “Chains” (live at CBGB), a surprisingly good recording that’s raucous as hell and would’ve been glorious to see live. Actually, it was a Carole King/Gerry Goffin collaboration, written in or around 1962 for the Cookies, later covered by The Beatles, the kings (no pun intended) of stealing American music, for their ever so important Please Please Me LP in 1963. Carole went on to record it solo around 1980, and here, it is solely credited to her. However, I’d never guess in my life that it was a King/Goffin composition, taken from the performances by the Cookies, the Beatles, or King alone.

Some tracks aren’t so successful, but I’m not going to discuss them because this album (or whatever it is) is so essential that any misses are completely forgivable. The key thing is that they try new things, and are in fact one of the most versatile of all the power pop bands of the era. O, I must bemoan, I was just born too late! Bad Times Good Times most likely describes the state of the band, how it’s all up and down, how their second album is just gone, and the fact that they never achieved the status they so deserved. Nevertheless, there are no “bad times” on this disc, and even if you have the original vinyl (like I do, of course!), you need to get this now.

Oh, and for all the critics of critics out there, forgive me for not filling this review up with the band’s history, personnel, or just pulling things straight from the press kit. Here you go: they were formed out of the Poppees, a highly Beatlesque and British Invasion-influenced pop band of the earlier ‘70s. Good enough?

Sometimes you just need to toss away any imagined critical obligations and implore people to just enjoy the music—probably for the first time. - Pop Matters

"El disco del día: Sorrows"

El disco del día: Sorrows
Texto de ÀLEX ORÓ publicado el 21 ene, 2011 en la categoría El disco del día, Rockola
“Sorrows era un combo que apostaba por el power-pop, la new wave y el punk, que tenía un sonido poderoso pero amable a la vez cuyo objetivo, según declaró en su día el guitarrista Arthur Alexander, era fusionar a ABBA con los Sex Pistols”

“Bad times good times”

Texto: ÀLEX ORÓ.

Sorrows, sin el The delante, seguramente para diferenciarse de la banda sesentera del mismo nombre, fueron una de las formaciones que tocaron regularmente en el legendario CBGB de Nueva York en la recta final de los años setenta del siglo pasado. Era un combo que apostaba por el power-pop, la new wave y el punk, que tenía un sonido poderoso pero amable a la vez cuyo objetivo, según declaró en su día el guitarrista Arthur Alexander, era fusionar a ABBA con los Sex Pistols.
Estos Sorrows nuevaoleros grabaron un par de LPs a principios de los ochenta. El primero de ellos fue “Teenage heartbreak” (1980), que recibió críticas entusiastas, obtuvo unas mínimas ventas pero consiguió captar a un puñado de fans que convirtieron a Sorrows en una banda de culto. Eran tales las expectativas que habían levantado entre críticos, discográficas y aficionados que para su segundo microsurco de larga duración, “Love too late” (1981), contaron con la producción de Shel Tamy, responsable en los años sesenta de muchas de las grabaciones de The Kinks, los primeros singles de The Who, David Bowie, The Creation o The Easybeats. No obstante, esta colaboración se saldó con un gran fiasco a nivel de crítica y comercial.
Ahora llega “Bad times good times”, una colección de demos, versiones alternativas y material inédito que dan a Sorrows esa segunda oportunidad que nunca tuvieron en su día. Los dos discos citados jamás fueron reeditados, por lo que este lanzamiento –disponible en CD y vinilo– es la única oportunidad de aproximarse a un precio asequible a la banda. Pese a que en los créditos del disco se afirma que todo el material incluido es inédito y que se ha rescatado de un estudio que iba a ser demolido para construir un restaurante vietnamita, lo cierto es que “Bad times good times”, incluye las doce canciones de “Teenage heartbreak”, aunque con mezclas diferentes a las del disco original, dos demos de temas descartados y un par de canciones en directo. Composiciones como la que da título al disco, ‘Lonely girl’ o ‘ I want you’ ayudan a hacerse una idea del potencial que tuvieron estos Sorrows sin The delante que no tenían nada que envidiar a bandas contemporáneas que tuvieron mejor suerte.
- Efe Eme


After the breakup of Beatles-obsessed power poppers the Poppees, guitarist Arthur Alexander and drummer Jett Harris formed a new band, Sorrows, and while their earlier group struggled to get noticed after releasing a pair of singles for Bomp Records, Sorrows quickly caught the ear of an A&R man at Pavilion Records, an affiliate of CBS Records. Sorrows' debut album, Teenage Heartbreak, arrived in 1980. Unfortunately, the record and its follow-up, 1981's Love Too Late, sank without a trace, thanks to poor promotion by CBS, and while they earned a small cult following among obsessive fans of skinny-tie pop, Sorrows' music has been out of print for decades, making it all but impossible for pop mavens to rediscover them. Bad Times, Good Times finally gives Sorrows the second chance they've long deserved; while the liner notes are coy about the source of this material, this appears to be a remixed and reworked version of Teenage Heartbreak, featuring the same 12 songs (with the album's original producer, Mark Milchman, credited with recording) as well as two unreleased demos and a pair of live recordings. While Alexander's fascination with the Beatles had hardly worn off when he formed Sorrows, the new band boasted the sort of energy and attitude that gave their Merseybeat-influenced melodies a lot more life, and Harris, guitarist/singer Joey Cola, and bassist Ricky Street made for a much tighter and more imaginative band than the Poppees. Alexander and Harris wrote the bulk of the material on Bad Times Good Times, and they'd grown by leaps and bounds as tunesmiths since the Poppees breakup, and while that band's best songs recalled the Fab Four's middling efforts, Sorrows crafted tunes that tipped their hats to rock & roll's past while sounding fresh, lively, and original, and why "Lonely Girl," "Teenage Heartbreak," "I Want You Tonight," or "Bad Times, Good Times" didn't become hit singles can only be attributed to someone at CBS being very much asleep at the switch. The two demos confirm Sorrows had more good tunes left in them -- the rockabilly-flavored "That's Your Problem" and the arty, slightly psychedelic "Silver Cloud" should have made the cut on Love Too Late -- and the live covers of Rolling Stones and Carole King numbers confirm this band burned bright on-stage. For folks who've been wondering when Sorrows' Teenage Heartbreak would ever arrive on CD, Bad Times, Good Times isn't the next best thing, it's an actual improvement over the already fine original, and rescues one of the better pop bands of the '80s from oblivion; folks who like their rhythms peppy, their guitars ringing, and their harmonies tight will find lots to love on this collection. - AllMusic

"Sorrows - Bad Times Good Times"


Bad Times Good Times

The late ‘70s, early ‘70s were heady times for rock ‘n' roll. The musical crap from the early to mid-‘70s was summarily shot in the head and jettisoned by a younger generation tired of the stale, decrepit, leftover ‘60s music consisting of so-called "super groups," stadium rockers and burned-out hippies. Try Googling "Top Rock Bands of the ‘70s" and you'll shudder as you go down the list. (No wonder I've blocked most of that decade from my memory.)

Mainstream bands aside, DIY punk and New Wave bands popped up like mushrooms around the globe, while the genre of straight-ahead rock ‘n' roll went right down the middle, staying true to the classic American model. New York band Sorrows followed that model and built on it in their own way, not unlike the Beatles who also nursed from that musical teat of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and others. It's a teat dripping with the rich milk of human wildness. Sorrows themselves recalled a lot of their musical peers, such as The Plimsouls and Dwight Twilley, with a lot of the early Beatles sound and especially the Flamin' Groovies mixed in. They described their sound as "Abba meets the Sex Pistols." The band consisted of Arthur Alexander, Joey Cola, Jett Harris and Ricky Street. Alexander did the bulk of the writing here, with three songs by Cola and one by Street. Their music is energetic, passionate power-pop expertly executed. Most importantly, it's timeless.

Understand, this is not an album of re-releases, but previously un-released material; some of the ancient tapes were hauled from a dumpster of the defunct recording studio where they were recorded. The album is a cool 48 minutes long, featuring 14 originals and two live covers at the end. Again, the key citations here are "Beatles" and Flamin' Groovies." If you want to follow that genetic lineage back to the source of classic rock and roll, look no farther than Sorrows, who will sing you a song of good times and bad times.

DOWNLOAD: "Television", "All You Gotta Say." BARRY ST. VITUS

[Below: Sorrows then, and now. Photo of Alexander and Cola from a November show in Brooklyn; image was taken by Arnie Goodman and appears on their Facebook page. Read our interview with Arthur Alexander elsewhere on the BLURT site.] - Blurt


BAD TIMES GOOD TIMES-(BOMP)- Not to be confused with the old band The Sorrows but who am I kiddin’, I hadn’t heard of either before this cd popped into my po box. This band was a late 70’s NYC pop band (a few guys were in a band called the Poppees who had some stuff out on Bomp back in the day) who could write great tunes. It’s kind of amazing, just when you think that everything from those days has been unearthed well, out comes ANOTHER great band (that I had not heard nor even heard of). I’m sure folks like Ric Menck and Suzy Shaw have been digging them for years and well, now you and I can too. Apparently the band (led by main songwriters Arthur Alexander and Jett Harris) released 2 records for a CBS affiliate that sank without a trace so the songs on BAD TIMES GOOD TIMES are , from what I understand, different versions, demos, and a few live cuts (though one review I read said that all of the songs from their debut , TEENAGE HEARTBREAK, are included here). Ok, onto the songs…..most of them are terrific! Hook-filled, mid-tempo cuts with killer harmonies, energy, excitement, just all-around strong songwriting. There’s a strong Beatles influence here as well as Buddy Holly and other 50’s/60’s masters (ie: Chuck Berry, etc…check out “That’s Your Problem”). Honestly, there’s too many great songs on here to name but start with the title track, “Teenage Heartbreak”, “She Comes and Goes”, “Can’t Go Back”, etc. you’ll be hooked. Guaranteed! - Daggerzine


here 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.

More at the link.... - i94Bar

"Arthur Alexander - From The Poppees and Sorrows"

Arthur Alexander has had a fascinating career trajectory, the fuse was lit in the days of Beatle-Mania. His seventies new wave era, power-pop band helped to define the skinny tied, power-pop scene that thrives to this day, having played with all the American punk royals in the formative years of the East Coast punk scene...He's been produced by Cyril Jordan from the Flamin' Groovies, and shared stages with the Deadboys, Heartbreakers, Suicide, Blondie, and Ramones. No less of an authority on power-pop, than the great Frank Secish from Blue Ash/Stiv Bators/Deadbeat Poets says:

"I've always thought 'Jealousy' was the best Merseybeat record made by a group that wasn't from Liverpool! Greg Shaw played it to me in (his) office for the first time, and I was knocked out by it. Great band!"

A new album by SORROWS, called "Bad Times, Good Times", is on it's way, while his other band, the much beloved Poppees, have a sugary retrospective available now from Bomp! called, "Pop Goes The Anthology", a must-have for all fans of power-pop. If you're into stuff like the Beatles, or the Beat, you won't wanna miss this long-lost artifact from the original C.B.G.B.'s scene!....

For full read, click the link... - Punk Globe


Still working on that hot first release.




Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, during the fun-filled party days of Communism and the Soviet domination I stand over six feet tall on a milk crate, drink and smoke like a true Pole, women can't keep away from me and neither can I. After a happy childhood and six tonsillectomies (for real!), I became a musician, started a rock & roll band and in no time at all got myself thrown out of the country. But not before a refrigerator-sized Marine at the US Embassy showed me a picture of Elvis' pink Cadillac and a Fender guitar… "Wow, groovy, Amerika I go!"

And so I came, to New York City, had breakfast and my first bad experience with what passes here for a Polish sausage, oh, and the beer!... Joined the band called THE POPPEES (as in pop music, get it?) and took up residence at the New York's CBGB punk rock club, heading up the Power Pop Division of the then just emerging New Wave/Punk Rock music scene, along with The Ramones, The Heartbreakers, Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, and other misfits. The Poppees released two critically acclaimed singles on a California label - Bomp! Records, but soon after The Poppees went ‘poof!’, and it was time to move on.

Next, I founded a band called SORROWS (must be my cheerful Slavic spirit) and after two weeks of rehearsals we proceeded to relentlessly tour all of Manhattan. So full of enthusiasm were we, we failed to notice we still needed a bass player. While the band was preoccupied making our demo tape, CBS Records, taking advantage of our temporary lapse of vigilance, signed Sorrows to a worldwide multi-album contract. We found this very disconcerting as it effectively prevented us from finishing our demo - something we were told was crucial to getting a record deal. Sorrows released two albums: “Teenage Heartbreak” and “Love Too Late”, and several singles, all receiving a string of rave write-ups, as well as "pick hit", "hit out of the box" nominations from Billboard, Cash Box and others music trades. For our second album, we even traveled to London (UK, not Connecticut), to work with a ‘legendary producer’ person where, for a few minutes, we assisted in the making of his album… or was it ours?... No matter, we got to see the Change of Guards at the Buckingham Palace and the shopping was simply smashing, darling!... Luckily, in spite of all the excitement and critical acclaim, we did manage to remain CBS' best kept secret, also worldwide.

Parting ways with CBS I took a long breath, took even longer to recover from the experience, got dumped by a girlfriend, got a new one (refer to Paragraph 1), and moved to Lala Land, also known as Los Angeles.

In 2010 Sorrows saw their music re-emerge with a Bomp Records release “Bad Times Good Times” and the reception has been embarrassingly phenomenal. The band toured the East and West Coast, playing to enthusiastic audiences, and the follow-up album is currently in the works.

In the early 2011 I launched my solo project, cleverly named - Arthur Alexander. The band has been playing frequent shows in the Los Angeles area, including performances at the International Pop Overthrow Festival, and will soon embark on their first tour. An album is also currently being recorded. Look for it soon at the record store near you… if you can find one.

See you at the show….

Arthur Alexander