The selection last week was a good one. Again, not my favorite of Cheap Trick’s catalog, but still a good one. I talked with both Eugene and Jon about it this week. They’re going to try to catch up by the end of the year. I think they can do it! Listening isn’t the problem. Writing takes the most time. Oh well, speaking of writing, how about I just get on with it?
#36 – Desolation Boulevard by The Sweet.
Are you ready, Steve? Andy? Mick? Dear Reader? Well, alright, fellas… Let’s go!!! I have known, really, four songs from (The) Sweet: “Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run,” “Little Willy,” and “Love Is Like Oxygen.” Two of those tunes are on this album. The drummer from Heavens Sake was a big fan of the band and I have a greatest hits album by them because of him. So, yeah, I know of other songs, but those were the ones I listened to without skipping.
The caveat here is that this wasn’t what Eugene wanted to include in the list. It just so happened that this is really the only thing that is readily available on streaming services by the band. He felt like the band needed to be represented on the list and this is what we get. I tell you, Dear Reader, I couldn’t be happier with it. If this isn’t their best, then I have to hear the “best.”
I had never heard of “Ballroom Blitz” before Wayne’s World in 1992. Yeah, I was sheltered, I guess. I loved Tia Carrere’s version and when I first heard the Sweet version, I thought it was silly. Brian Connolly’s intro was weak and so “glam.” But, now, it’s not weak, nor is it silly. It’s very timely for when it was released and fits the entire image of that band. Because they were “glam.” They glammed pretty darn hard, actually. And, here’s the thing, “Ballroom Blitz” wasn’t really supposed to be on this album.
There were two versions of the album. There was the UK/European release on RCA Records (1974) and the US/Canada/Japan version on Capitol Records (1975), which is what we’re talking about today. The “original” UK/Euro version, considered by many as the version, didn’t have “Ballroom” and included the original version of “Fox on the Run” as well as most of the songs being written by the band. The Capital version, however, was comprised of five of the ten tunes written by the songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (who also co-produced the album) in addition to some of the material brought from the previous Sweet album, Sweet Fanny Adams (where the song “Sweet F.A. comes from). Now, what does that mean? Not much, but I just found it interesting. Chapman and Chinn, by the way, wrote a slew of hit songs that you’d be familiar with (“Mickey” from Tony Basil, “Kiss You All Over” by Exile, “Better Be Good to Me” from Tina Turner, etc.) either together or separately. Looking through the early Sweet catalog, the whole thing is a bit confusing as to what they were actually doing. Just like The Beatles with their UK vs US albums. Confusing, I say. But, I digress…
The musicianship on this album is amazing. Brian Connolly’s vocals are the “sound” of Sweet. His range is pretty wide and he’s powerful. Reminds me of Robin Zander in a lot of places. Or should I say it reminds me of what Robin Zander sounded like a few years after this? Not just his vocals but the awesome harmonies that riddle each song from all four members. That is the Sweet sound.
Andy Scott is a riff-mastering axe slinger. This use of the whammy bar, the speedy licks, the power chord madness and boxy tone is classic Sweet. I’m surprised more people don’t talk about his playing. He is also the lead singer of “Into the Night,” which he also was the lone songwriting credit.
Drummer Mick Tucker is dynamic and makes it sound effortless. Whether he’s pounding the skins or lying low with a subtle but effective march beat, he’s throwing it down and you may not even realize you’re being pelted with drumming excellence. He switches back and forth between double time and standard with very little effort.
Steve Priest’s bass work is anything shy of rudimentary and is driving. His runs are amazing and I can hear an influence, perhaps, on Steve Harris from Iron Maiden here. Not necessarily the galloping aspects of Harris’ playing but the mindset. This is especially true on “Sweet F.A.” And, Priest is the lead vocals for my absolute favorite song on the album, “No You Don’t.” I just love the tone of his voice and the melody line. It’s great!
The album is almost 44 minutes long but it goes by much quicker than that. Even with two songs coming in at five minutes plus, it zings right through. I listened to this album 12 times from last Thursday through today (three times today) and I love it. I’ll look for it on LP. To say I’m a fan of it would be a massive understatement.
Whilst I believe all the songs are great, my top faves are: “The Six Teens,” “A.C.D.C.,” “I Wanna Be Committed,” “Solid Gold Brass” and my aforementioned absolute favorite, “No You Don’t.”
Eugene, I loved this album and thank you for introducing us. I can’t wait to hear your review of this, and I really, really want to hear Jon’s. I am thinking this may be a good one for him, but then again, he’s hard to read. To you, Dear Reader, you need to hear this album. You need to own this album.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“She got girls, girls all over the world. She got men every now and then. But she can’t make up her mind on just how to fill her time. But the only way she can unwind: A. C. D. C. – She’s got some other lover as well as me. A. C. D. C. – She’s got some other woman as well as me.” – “A.C.D.C.” (Chapman/Chinn)