A very brief snippet is all that there is of this very cool cover of the 1966 British hit song "Sorrow" by The Merseys, as sung by George and it appears towards the end of this track. This cover comes in at about 4 minutes and 14 seconds of the George-penned song. Just the words "with your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue" and they are repeated twice by George.
The Merseys single had been issued in Canada in 1966 on the bright red Mercury label as M.72582. The song was produced by Kit Lambert who also produced The Who at that time. And the record was itself a cover of a 1965 track by an American group, The McCoys.
The group was formed from the ashes of The Merseybeats, a Liverpool beat group formed in 1962 and named after Liverpool's iconic local pop newspaper. In 1966, members Tony Crane and Billy Kinsley formed a duo and kept part of the name. The Mersey's version of Sorrow reached number 4 in the British charts in the spring of 1966.
The Merseys recording of Sorrow did not chart in Canada and copies are very hard to find.
The Merseybeats had only two singles on Fontana in Canada before 1966 but there were a number of records issued in Canada credited to the Merseybeats.
Fontana F.1513 - The Merseybeats - It Would Take A Long Time / Don't Let It Happen To Us
Fontana F.1532 - The Merseybeats - I Love You, Yes I Do / See Me Back
Mercury M.72582 - The Merseys - Sorrow / Some Other Day
Several LP recordings were issued on the ARC Records label between 1964 and 1967, however, it has not been confirmed whether these recordings were in fact made by the Merseybeats or perhaps some other Liverpool "covers" group under this split name (eg "Mersey Beats"). More information would be appreciated.
ARC 830 - She Loves You etc. - The Mersey Beats Of Liverpool
ARC 834 - England's Best Sellers Volume 1 - The Mersey Beats Of Liverpool
ARC 837 - England's Best Sellers Volume 2 - The Mersey Beats Of Liverpool
ARC 641 - A Hard Day's Night - The Mersey Beats Of Liverpool
ARC 749 - England's Super Hits '67 - The Merseybeats
ARC 850/8050 - Liverpool A Go Go - The Merseybeats
The Merseys version of Sorrow was in fact a cover of the song recorded by The McCoys as the flip side to their top-40 hit "Fever" which had entered the USA Billboard chart in October 1965. The song was credited to Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer. These three songwritres were based in new York City and they also had their own group called The Strangloves. That group scored a big hit with their own song "I Want Candy" .. which sounds very much like "Mona" by Bo Diddley. The team also wrote 'Night Time" which was recorded by the Blues Project and a song called "Cara Lin" which was oddly recorded by a British garage group called The Sorrows!
The song also appears as the third track on Side 1 of their first album: LP "Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys - Bang BLP-212 (Allied Record Corp./ Roulette Records)
A Canadian garage-band covered the Merseys version of the song in early 1967. The British Modbeats were covering a song from the British charts as they had some success when they had previously covered L.S.D. by The Pretty Things. The British Modbeats issued Sorrow as one side of the following single on the great Canadian sixties label Red Leaf:
The British Modbeats also included the song on their only album. It appears as the second song on Side 2 of their LP called "Mod Is".
Although The British Modbeats recorded and issued their version of Sorrow in 1967, it is very doubtful that George Harrison had ever heard their version before he incorporated part of the song into his "It's All Too Much". Nevertheless, it is worth a listen as it is a nice interpretation.
David Bowie recorded his cover of The Merseys version of Sorrow on his great album "Pin Ups" from October 1973. That album was recorded, of course, well after The Beatles had broken up.
George Harrison must have really liked the version by The Merseys, and it was his unique tribute to his Liverpool colleagues to include the musical and lyrical reference on the Yellow Submarine soundatrck LP in early 1969. It was a great song to pay tribute to.
Special thanks to Andre Gibeault for his excellent book "Canadian Records" which was published by Underworld Publishing, Montreal in 1987. A book that is highly recommended. The book includes a discography and images for The British Modbeats.
Rock on Andre !