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In the early 80s, power pop bands sprouted like weeds, thanks to the success of the Knack, major labels treated them like flowers. Most of those groups had short shelf lives, often for good reason. But that hasn’t stopped today’s melodically-minded indie labels from resurrecting their albums, demos, live shows, etc. in an endless procession of reissues that range from head-slappingly brilliant to eye-rollingly lame. Unless one is a slavish fan who’ll accept anything with three catchy chords and some harmonies, a power pop fan has to really take the time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
In the case of Sorrows, fire up the oven and get ready to make fresh bread. The band released a couple of LPs on CBS back in the very early 80s, but Bad Times Good Times doesn’t contain any of those tracks, drawing instead from demos and alternate takes that would later appear on the debut Teenage Heartbreak. Care was taken either during the original recordings or during the digital transfer, because the cuts sound great – clear and full without being slick. Of course, sound quality is a non-issue if the material sucks, which this most certainly doesn’t. Having evolved from the With the Beatles-obsessed Poppees, you’d think Sorrows would have an equally fervent Fab Four jones. But instead frontguys Arthur Alexander and Joey Cola freely mix their Lennon/McCartney stylings with bits of the Who, Badfinger, Nuggets and the R&B that inspired all those folks in the first place.
The band excels at dreamy ballads like the “Silver Cloud” and soaring pop tunes like the glorious “Can’t Go Back,” but its real forte is rockers. “Second Chance,” “Teenage Heartbreak,” “Television” and the title track practically boil over with rock & roll energy, jolting the pop sugar with caffeine strained through *Chuck Berry*’s coffee filter. Not a false note is struck nor a dissonant chord jangled. Sorrows mix salty and sweet in a most savory way, and Bad Times Good Times will be enough to satisfy even the pickiest power pop jones.
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