Block Buster! The True Story of the Sweet
"Block Buster! The True Story of the Sweet" by Dave Thompson (Cherry Red Books)
Comprised of lead singer Brian Connolly, guitarist Andy Scott, bassist Steve Priest and drummer Mick Taylor, the Sweet were many different things to many different people. Rising to prominence in the early seventies, the British band mounted the European charts with tunes like "Funny Funny," "Co-Co," "Little Willy" and "Wig Wag Bam" that snapped, crackled and rippled with sugar-coated bubblegum seasonings. Attired in frilly feminine blouses, make up, satin pants, platform shoes and shag hair cuts, the Sweet also projected a genuine glam rock image, endearing them to an audience of teenyboppers.
But that's not what the band was about. Weaned on a diet of the Who, the Yardbirds, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, the Sweet was actually a lot heavier than their hit records indicated. Certain album tracks may have captured their progressive instincts, but management ruled the roost and was in total charge of what they put to vinyl and what was released as singles. Right from the beginning, the Sweet were at odds with what was going on, resulting in serious creative frustration. Nevertheless, they plugged on and continued cranking out catchy winners.
The Sweet eventually gained some control over their work, which is covered in depth in this book, and in 1975 they assaulted the American airwaves with "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox on the Run" that rocked mean and hard, but still contained shades of the their past pop expressions. Now holding court as one of the biggest bands on the planet, the fame was definitely deserving. Peddling a sound that was edgy, powerful and stuffed with mammoth harmonies and razor sharp hooks, the Sweet screamed with appeal. But they were not content and still felt their material did not represent their true nature. Brian Connolly was especially sensitive to such matters, and drowned his sorrows in drink and pills.
He resigned from the band in 1979 and although the Sweet marched on, they were basically yesterday's news. Brian Connolly's attempt at going solo was a bust, and his health suffered, as he experienced a series of strokes and heart attacks. He departed to rock and roll heaven in 1997, and in 2002 Mick Tucker succumbed to cancer.
"Block Buster! The True Story of the Sweet" is an excellent book, jam packed with not only reams of information and revelations, but photos, tour dates and discographies. Interviews with the band members is an added plus. Dave Thompson is a great writer and his knowledge of the Sweet, and music in general, is amazing. From start to finish, "Block Buster! The True Story of the Sweet" is a satisfying read.
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