Saturday 19 March 2011

Sorrow "Let There Be Thorns"

In almost 100% of cases, I'll enjoy a group or artist's most immediate pop moments best.  It's all about instant thrills and momentary abandon, succinctness, I guess.  With Rose McDowall, however, it's a little different.  I remember as a wee boy in my pyjamas watching Strawberry Switchblade on Saturday morning kids tv and utterly adoring them: the way they looked, their voices, "Since Yesterday" and, of course, the polka dots.  When, as part of Spell, she sang on an album of dark pop 60s pop covers I lapped that up, too, especially "Terry" and "Down From Dover".  Then nothing; I just lost touch.  I was totally unaware of her group Sorrow during most of their lifetime which, according to Wikipedia, was from about '93 to '02.  Then, in July '07, Rose and her group played in the little Railwayman's church at the inaugural Indietracks and stole the festival with an unforgettable, intensely moving set of McDowall's own songs and Jesus and Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground covers.  It was then that I heard Sorrow's "Let There Be Thorns".  It's not my favourite McDowall lyric - it's maybe a little too mystical for that - but her voice never sounded better or sadder and the melody once heard is never forgotten.  When it's playing, it somehow wraps itself around you and then when it finishes you feel a little altered, a little funny in that way that psychological horror films make you feel a bit wonky for a few minutes afterwards. Truly extraordinary.  If Madonna could have a world-wide smash with "Frozen", it's not unthinkable that, had it benefitted from the same level of exposure, "Let There Be Thorns" could have been embraced and loved by a whole lot more people. 

On both the cdep and 7" version of "Let There Be Thorns", there's a more stripped-back version called "A Garland From The Moon" which is equally affecting.  Recently, Rose has been selling still-sealed copies of the cdep on ebay under the username cakeknife18.


  1. Hi Brogues (if i may) - just found your site (via the Fannies Board - post there under a different name but was at Chris and Cosey)

    Anyway, great wee record this - have you heard the demos lp "Cut with the Cake Knife" or the un-eighties produced Strawberry Switchblade material (available free on

    There's some wonderful stuff worth checking out there

    Nice blog by the way

  2. Thanks for the kind words barbelith, much appreciated. Yeah, I have that 'Cut...' cd from when Rose was selling it via her website. Really enjoyable stuff, too. It's been a wee while since I checked out that SS site but I'm gonna do it now. Cheers for the tip! I love the descriptions of early 80s Glasgow on the Switchblade site. Great reading.

    cheers, brogues