AllMusic Review by Mark Deming [-]
Though they were little known in the United States (where none of their recordings were ever released), the Sorrows were one of the more interesting acts to rise from the British Beat scene of the 1960s.With their unabashed force, the Sorrows were in a league with the Kinks and the Pretty Things, playing tough, menacing, R&B-infused rock with a suitably resonant vocalist in Don Fardon and a wiry but incisive guitarist in Philip "Pip" Whitcher. They also had a very unusual career trajectory -- their star began to fade in England after their 1965 hit "Take a Heart" ran its course, but they went on to have a second act in Italy, where they became stars singing phonetically. The Sorrows made more than their share of great records between 1963 and 1969, and all of them are included on Pink, Purple, Yellow & Red: The Complete Sorrows, a four-disc set that, as the title suggests, brings together their entire recorded output, as well as some previously unheard material. From a historical standpoint, the sheer depth of this set is welcome, as it tells us all there is to know about the Sorrows, and a bit more.
However, as a listening experience, this bogs down the program, with enough chaff to thin out the wheat. The first two discs tell the story well, featuring their run of singles for Pye's Piccadilly label, their debut album (1965's Take a Heart), and the Italian and German-language singles that led to their popularity in Europe. Disc three opens with the band's second LP, 1969's Old Songs New Songs, recorded in Italy near the end of their run and finding them devoting as much time to covering Traffic and Family as their own material, as well as inadvertently proving they were much better playing R&B than embryonic prog rock.
The disc is rounded out with Italian single sides and post-Sorrows recordings from the Eggy and Renegade, while disc four has an album-length demo that features the flaws of Old Songs New Songs in magnified form, and closes with a potent 11-song recording of a 1980 Sorrows reunion show, which is mostly good enough to overcome its iffy fidelity, but not always. Pink, Purple, Yellow & Red has been assembled with obvious love and care, and the liner notes from David Wells are a complete and well-written history of the band, and the deep dive into the material would be ideal if this band had been more consistent in their latter years. Pink, Purple, Yellow & Red: The Complete Sorrows is a treat for fans obsessed with the group; for those who are less loyal, play the first two discs and save the others for a day you're feeling generous.