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The Sweet -- Live Review

Anyone who loves our form of music, just has to love The Sweet. Who do people think bands like Def Leppard and Motley Crue were trying to be, when they started? The Sweet, of course. If none sounded quite like them, it's because none could sing that high, or layer that many harmonies without losing something. The Sweet did not have this problem. Everyone knows "Ballroom Blitz" of course but I've been buying all their back catalogue and finding all sorts of treasures in there. So, I was super excited to hear they were touring Australia, even though I knew two of them are dead. Turns out the lead guitarist is the only original member. The band's website boasts that they still play to sellout crowds, which is a bit disingenuous when they play small rooms that hold 400 odd people, but, for all that, those 400 people were very excited to be waiting to hear the Sweet on a Wednesday night.

We were not disappointed. The new singer does not sound anything like the original but, he can certainly sing (and why wouldn't you hire ring ins who can do the job?) Andy Scott also did a lot of secondary vocals on the original recordings, such as "We just don't know WHAT to do," in "Blockbuster," so it's a bit odd to suddenly have the band sound JUST like the record, instead of a cover band, but it was clear that Andy in particular, still has his pipes and can handle all the higher harmonies that their music requires.

The Sweet are the sort of band where it's easy to forget how many "hits" they have. Several of these were compressed in to medleys, to make them all fit in one set. Songs like "Co-co and Poppa Joe" are probably best treated that way, but I think Wig Wam Bam and Little Willy deserved a full hearing. Before the show, I spent $30 on two CDs (one new, one live) and a program. The live CD was basically their set, except they also did "Peppermint Twist" (I'm not sure why), and "Action" (thankfully, that's my favorite Sweet song).

They apparently did a cover of "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" in 1992, which, as any regular readers will know, is by my favorite Aussie band, the Angels. Rick Brewster, who wrote the song, now lives in Tasmania, so they pulled him out to do the song as an added bonus for the Hobart crowd. It was quite amusing to see they probably thought of this last minute, as no-one in the band knew the words, and Rick had to take over at one point. It was definitely an added bonus.

The new CD is mostly covers, and because some are obscure, and there's no credits on there so it's hard to know what songs were new. The songs include "You Spin Me Round" (as done by Dead or Alive in the 80s), "Because the Night" (as done by Keel in the 80s) and "Blitzkreig Bop." They did "Gold On The Ceiling" live, and I think it's theirs. It's a good song. The CD is worth getting if you get a chance.

So, I can add The Sweet to my list of bands that I've seen in their current form, although I wish I'd seen the originals.  I bought a Sweet live CD, obviously bootlegged, on Amazon, and I think they sound better now than they did back in the day... probably because they can't afford to buy drugs anymore. Either way, if you get a chance to see the Sweet, I'd say it's worth it, and if you don't own Desolation Boulevard, and Give Us A Wink (the latter almost entirely for "Action"), then you need to buy them now.

Reader Comments (14)

to say that Motley crue was trying to be The sweet is an understatement. the main riff to Kickstart My Heart is an exact copy of the beginning of a song by The Sweet that, for the life of me, I can't remember the title of while I'm at work. also, Christian, surely you don't think that "Because the Night" was originally done by Keel.
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Bob, the song who's title is escaping you, is called "HELLRAISER", & it's on the Sweet LP that also contains "Little Willy" "Blockbuster" & a ton of other greatness.

Kickstart My Heart" is a blatant ripoff.

Christian, I don't know whether you just don't know, or were mis-informed, But the "We Just Haven't Got A Clue What To Do" lines in "Blockbuster", weren't Andy Scott. They were delivered by original Sweet bassist STEVE PRIEST. (the other surviving original Sweet member) who just so happens to have his own version of "The Sweet" running around the United States.

As to why Andy's Sweet does "Peppermint Twist"? Probably because it was a big hit for the original band, & was recorded on their "Sweet Fanny Adams" LP.

As a long time fan of Sweet, If you can find the UK version of "Desolation Blvd" & "Sweet Fanny Adams", along with the near impossible to find "Strung Up", You'd have a good start on getting the meat, of The SWEET !
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Thank you ace. It was bugging the hell out of me that I couldn't remember Hellraiser! Pretty sad indeed since I consider myself a long-time sweet fanatic since the 70s...Getting old and senile I guess. :)
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Bob - the song is Hellraiser, I think you'll find. I had not spotted that, but as soon as I read that, I could hear the song in my head :-) No, I didn't think Keel wrote 'because the night', I don't think Dead or Alive wrote 'you spin me round', did they ? I was going for an 80s chain of reference.

Ace - I promise I didn't read your reply before writing the above :-) No, I didn't know that. Andy sounds EXACTLY like Steve then. You're right, I am embarrassed, I should have looked through my CDs, I had no idea they had covered Peppermint Twist, although I have the CD. I mostly play the best of for 'Action' and 'Love is like Oxygen', and Desolation Blvd.
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Hey All,
I wouldn't dream of cutting on any of you. The fact that in this day & age that Sweet is even on your radar is commendable!

This sort of confusion is one of the problems they've always had in their career. They've been on different labels in different countries and never had a unified "battle plan".

Being on RCA in one region, & Capitol in another did not help them.

The "American" version of Desolation Blvd. is a cut up collection of 2 records in Europe, "Desolation Blvd" & "Sweet Fanny Adams". Unfortunately, unless you were a hardcore fan, you'd never know a lot of great tunes. That version of Peppermint Twist is one of the ones that got left by the wayside in the U.S. , go figure. Also, Mick Tucker's drum tour de force, "Man With The Golden Arm" also remained unreleased here. The "best of" records for Sweet, really aren't their best stuff, just the radio hits. To get the good stuff, you really have to grab both the UK Desolation, Sweet F.A., and find a copy of "Strung Up". They're an amazing band, & I can't imagine having gone thru life & NOT hearing "Turn It Down", "Teenage Rampage", or "Someone Else Will". All awesome tunes left unreleased in the U.S. !

"Someone Else Will" Live '73 -

"Turn It Down" Live on MusikLaden -

"Teenage Rampage" -

"Man With The Golden Arm" -
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
I never got to see SWEET but I grew up listening and playing to death "Ballroom Blitz" and "Little Willy". And, as I have mentioned one too many times on here, I did have the privilege of going on a complete bender in L.A. in '96 with none other than Brian Connolly, the original singer and main songwriter (Ace did you know him?).

What a MANIAC! The best part was watching him throw crumpled "C" notes at the bartendresses at The Four Seasons in Hollywood only to watch them throw them right back in his face and then pour him another drink (on me, of course) without even batting an eye.

No one has mentioned it here, but I always rather liked their hit, "Love Is Like Oxygen". Very different for it's time with it's killer intro and opening guitar riff.
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Oh, and of course, "Fox On The Run", which has been covered by everyone from The Runaways to Girlschool to Madmax and then some. In high school, we used to drive around kacked and stoned (why do you think we used to call it HIGH school?, yuk-yuk) out of our gourds in Mom's Cadillac with "Desolation Blvd" (U.S. Version) cranked at full volume. What a killerific song!
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
LOL Metalboy. I hear ya my man. I think all of "elder statesmen" on here have probably indulged in some illicit substances while hammering to Desolation Blvd.back in the day. AS for Motley's ripoff, (and I agree Ace, it is BLATANT)I know that Nikki pretty much names them and T Rex as 2 of his biggest influences (along with the NY Dolls) from his younger days. Truly an underrated genius band from the 70's!!
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Awesome band - totally criminal they were not more successful (at least here in the US).
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack
Metalboy, Brian is the one original member I never got to meet.
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Go figure, Ace. When I'm out in L.A. next time (should be within a couple of months), let's be sure to get together to exchange barbs. Hey, you goin' to the Rainbow Grill's 40th Anniversary Party in April?

Gary, let's not forget Crue's other major influence (according to Nikki, Tommy and Vince) -- Cheap Trick (who site Sweet as an influence, of course, also!)
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Metalboy, Definitely look me up when you get ready to come to L.A. ! "The 'Bow" would be an essential. And yes, I'm considering going to the 40th...

One other thought on The Sweet. The comment was made about their ultra high background vocals. A lot of that came courtesy of this little wonderbox, the Eventide H910 Harmonizer:
March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Saw the Steve Priest version at Rock n' America and thought they did a wonderful job. Stuart Smith even mingled with attendees at the festival hotel, being very gracious and respectful of his place in this version of the band.

While Priest has seen better days (who hasn't?), he was animated and clearly enjoying himself. And they managed to gain some attention from an early afternoon audience who had not, in most cases it seemed, heard of them or knew any of their catalog (save for the obvious ones).

I'd be interested to know if anyone has seen both versions and how they compare.
March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHim
Loved Sweet back in the 70s with their hard rock and high harmonies. Bought the remastered CDs a couple of years back, and still love listening to them. There are two neat Sweet documentaries on YouTube:

The reunion of all 4 original members around '90 was aborted because Brian was just a shell of his 70s self after drug/alcohol abuse.
March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNigel

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