David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 67: Sorrows (I Don't Like It Like That)

July 2, 2020

It's hard enough being an obscure rock and roll band from the past, but when your name is too close to a slightly more popular band, it is even tougher.  Take the New Wave band Sorrows who in 1980 released Teenage Heartbreak. Pretty much ignored by the public and as far as I know lost to the darkness of time, the band is difficult to find through Google Search. "Teenage Heartbreak" is going to lead you down too many unwanted rabbit holes about 15-year old girls with broken hearts; The search term "Sorrows" won't get you much better.

The problem is you can't use "The Sorrows" because then you get the 1960's band The Sorrows, who at least cracked Top 40 radio in the United Kingdom in 1965 with "Take A Heart." In fact, "The" Sorrows released half a dozen singles between 1965 and 1967. Sorrows in 1980 almost certainly had to drop the "The" to be able to use the name.  (Come to think of it, maybe The The dropped "Sorrows" later in the 80's. But I digress.)

The only reason I knew about Sorrows is that they were on a CBS sampler album, Exposed or maybe Exposed II. I don't really remember. All I know is that the sampler album in the late 70's and through the 80's led me to discover a lot of acts I never would have heard of anywhere else.

Truth of the matter, Sorrows were trying to swoop in on the heels of The Knack, pushing power pop chords behind a British Invasion look and a punk attitude. Unfortunately, that was a barren landscape at that time, as even The Knack couldn't break back into Top 40 radio with But The Little Girls Understand in 1980 or Round Trip in 1981 (yes, there was a third Knack album; I have seen it and knew someone who had it).

Teenage Heartbreak still had a few pretty cool songs, my favorite being "I Don't Like It Like That," a title that also eludes Google Search. The original The Sorrows had "Don't Do That," so if you could only remember pieces of the title, you might end up in the wrong decade again. "I Don't Like It Like That" relies heavily on the guitars and the yelped vocals, halfway between Doug Fieger misogyny and Johnny Rotten venom, characteristics defining too much of the first wave of music coming after punk.

Dissension and alienation rule the lyrics: "I tell you once more and I tell you for good/there's one thing you misunderstood/I don't like it like that." A little later, we're told, "keep away you're no good for my head." The frenzy builds up to the demanding chorus: "I don't like it like that/I don't want it like that/I don't need it like that/I don't like it like that."

During the bridge, the song is stripped down to the bass and drum march that has been the backbone of the song. This in formation drumming hearkens of military maneuvers, which aligned with a "I don't like it, don't waste my time you stupid . . . ," sirens, and an explosion, probably doomed the song, even before the listener might get to the ripping finale where the snarled singing throttles through guitar gunfire and the closing drum fill. Even if you are not listening to the song really closely, there is just something a little unsettling, which is too bad.

Who knows if the public could have liked Sorrows? There's just not much like that on the Top 40 charts that year. The attitude was being more embraced with Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," while the alienation had been cornered by Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall, Part Two." Heck, people were much more on board with Captain & Tennille telling us to "Do It To Me One More Time" than some Knack-ish lookalike telling us how not to do it.

The sad thing (dare I say "sorrowful") about Sorrows is the thought that there may be (probably are) thousands of other Sorrows out there, bands who had something but were never known much outside of their home town. Are there even sampler CDs out there anymore to introduce people to today's Sorrows?

"I Don't Like It Like That." Teenage Heartbreak. Sorrows. Pavillion. 1980. Link here.

Day 66: Anathema "Internal Landscapes."

Day 68: Fleetwood Mac "Silver Springs."

See complete list here.