Sweet - Are You Ready? album review
Glam stalwarts’ golden era chronicled on seven vinyl LPs and an exhaustive biography
The inclusion of The Ballroom Blitz and Fox On The Run in film soundtracks has bestowed upon Sweet an unexpected popularity surge in their twilight years. Indeed by the time you read this the incarnation led by guitarist Andy Scott will have stepped off the glam-rock package tour circuit to support Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow at London’s O2 Arena.
Are You Ready? The RCA Era (9/10), assembled by RCA Germany (a territory in which 1974’s Sweet Fanny Adams album briefly outsold Deep Purple’s Burn), is a lovingly packaged, seven disc vinyl box that collates Sweet’s output from 1971 to ’77 and the beginnings of the alcohol related troubles that would force singer Brian Connolly’s eventual expulsion.
Sweet eventually broke free of their songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, and despite not having any hit singles the aforementioned Sweet Fanny Adams remains hard to beat as a mature, fulsome and satisfying hard rock statement of intent.
Desolation Boulevard, released just seven months later, saw them returning to Chinnichap for The Six Teens but also finally notch a self-penned hit of their own. After Fox On The Run they would never look back.
Give Us a Wink (1976) and its hit Action validated a further cranking of the decibel levels, and although Sweet had to wait until Love Is Like Oxygen (not included here) before a return to Top Of The Pops, 1977’s Off The Record is among the great underappreciated rock albums of our time.
Besides a dozen bonus tracks the box includes The Rainbow: Live In The UK 1973 as a double-gatefold for the first time.
While 70s contemporaries Bowie, Bolan and Purple attained varying degrees of immortality, such deification eluded Sweet, despite having stood toe to toe with their chart rivals; let’s not forget that 1973’s Blockbuster!, their sole UK No.1, kept Bowie’s Jean Genie off the hallowed top spot.
Also out this month, Brad Jones’s detailed illustrated biography There’s No Other Band Quite Like Us (8/10; Spangle Publishing) revisits those golden years, along the way proposing the theory that Sweet’s egotistical behaviour (they kept photographers waiting “for no other reason than they could”) contributed to their eventual fate.