Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sweet Surprises

I remember the date very well. It was June 2nd, 1977 and I was 14 years old, spending the night with a friend. Up until that time my musical experience had been limited to the Beatles, Jethro Tull and Cat Stevens, as well as the local easy listening station. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Beth was a metal head. I guess in these days you wouldn;t call her a metalhead anymore than you'd call Led Zeppelin and Queen Heavy Metal, but that's how they were known then. Now I guess they'd just go by the label hard rock. Anyway. Beth started playing me music out of her collection. And blown away doesn;t begin to describe how I felt. I guess considering my listening history it would not have been out of order to suppose I'd hate the stuff she played me, but I loved it. I felt my blood pounding with the guitar and the drums. I felt alive and awake in a way I never had before. And it sure didn;t hurt that most of the guys on the album covers were wearing very tight clothes and were extremely good looking.

She saved her favourite band, Sweet, for last. She really wanted me to like them because a lot of people in our country didn't at the time: they were seen as a cheesy mix of Led Zep and Queen or an ex-bubble pop band trying desperately to make its own way without talented songwriters. But I loved them quite as much as Beth had hoped I would and ended up being obsessed with them for the next few years, even to harbouring a massive crush on their guitar member (incidentally, the only member of the band still playing and one acknowledged as the most talented).

Sweet did start as a bubble pop band. Remember the dreadful "Little Willy?" That was one of theirs. So was the odious "Wig Wam Bam." Both were written by the team of Chinn and Chapman (or Chinnichap) for the up and coming band. If most people think of Sweet they think of those songs, or of the later "Love is like Oxygen," which, though written by my darling Andy Scott, I think is a terrible song. But between the Chinnichap era and the time of the album Level Headed (or Leather Headed, as we called it then) Sweet was one of the rockin'est hard rock bands out there and also one of the most underrated. All anyone really knows of them is "Fox on the Run" and "Ballroom Blitz," and while both those numbers are good in a catchy poppy sort of way, they don;t capture the drive and energy of "Done me Wrong Alright" or "Sweet F.A." or...well anything else that the band wrote themselves during that brief period when they were known for their thundering guitar riffs, rapid staccato drumming and layered vocals.

I once owned the entire Sweet catalog on Vinyl, but years of poverty driving me to sell my most prized possessions soon relieved me of the burden. Now, I've been wanting to hear some Sweet again for years, but all I could find were compilations of their early stuff (ironically called "The Best of Sweet---eughh!). But today I did an Amazon search and found...yes, almost the whole catalog released on CD, Imports and all. Oh to hear "Midnight to Daylight" and "Action" again! What did I do? I bought the whole thing, of course. Even though I couldn;t really afford it. I mean, what are credit cards for?

I can't wait for these discs to come. I'll be ripping them out of the plastic and blasting the house down with the sounds of one of my favourite bands--the only way to listen to Sweet is REALLY REALLY LOUD!!!! And if the neighbours don't approve....too bad!

Now, does anyone have a copy of Strung Up that they're willing to part with?

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