Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Sweet

"Little Willy" was the initial American hit for the British band the Sweet, and while this Chinn/Chapman composition was quite silly, it still had great, big guitar chords which sounded amazing over the AM Radio in the days of 70's drek. Starting as a bubblegum combo supervised by C/C (writers/producers for many similar crossover glam/pop bands), the group moved into full blown, heavy glam rock with guitarist Andy Scott becoming a masterful player and singer Brian Connolly blowing people's minds with his range while bassist Steve Priest and drummer Mick Tucker added harmonies, style and a strong backing.

This album was the first full length for America and it gives a great overview of the band as it moved from teen pop to testosterone heavy metal/glam. "Little Willy" and "Wig Wam Bam" are included, but songs like "New York Connection" and "Done Me Wring Alright" hinted at what was to come in albums like Desolation Boulevard. "Hellraiser", "Blockbuster" and "Need a Lot of Lovin'" combine the two worlds about as flawlessly as could be imagined - huge chords melding with melodic harmonies creating shades of later tunes like "Ballroom Blitz" - while "Man From Mecca" hints at Scott's later guitar heroics.

"Spotlight" has some interesting acoustic guitar backing with electric noodling over, giving it a bit of a different feel, although the incredible harmonies are still there. I like the lyrical story of the narrator being the man behind the spotlight rather than the band member in the spotlight - hardly a common theme in rock'n'roll! The vinyl album closed with the softer pop of "You're Not Wrong for Loving Me" with more acoustic guitars and harmonies that certainly influenced Queen when they arrived on the scene.

The CD version apparently has bonus tracks with some of the earliest, more mediocre bubblegum pop like "Co-Co" and "Poppa Joe" - nice to hear for Americans since these tunes weren't released in this country (that I know of), but none of them are particularly good. But the album itself is a rocker and well worth putting next to Desolation Boulevard and Give Us a Wink.