Sweet

Sweet was an English hard-rock/pop band from Harefield, Greater London, that released four studio albums and 18 singles on RCA between 1971 and 1976. Under the guidance of songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, they placed eight singles on the UK Top 10, including “Little Willy,” “Block Buster!,” “Hell Raiser,” “The Ballroom Blitz,” and “Teenage Rampage.”

The band wrote more of its own songs on the 1974 albums Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard, scoring a self-penned hit with “Fox on the Run.” Embracing their serious side, they moved to Polydor for a four-album run, charting with the through-composed epic “Love Is Like Oxygen” from their 1978 release Level Headed.

As one of the first acts to fuse elements of hard-rock (raspy vocals, churning riffs) with bubblegum (innocuous lyrics, singalong choruses), Sweet presaged the pop-metal boom of the 1980s.

Members: Mick Tucker (drums, vocals), Steve Priest (bass, vocals, 1968-82), Brian Connolly (vocals, 1968-79), Frank Torpey (guitar, 1968-69), Mick Stewart (guitar, 1969-70), Andy Scott (guitar, vocals, 1970-91), Mal McNulty (bass, vocals, 1985-91), Paul Mario Day (vocals, 1985-88), Phil Lanzon (keyboards, 1985-87), Malcolm Pearson (keyboards, 1988), Jeff Brown (bass, vocals, 1989-91)


Background

Sweet evolved from Wainwright’s Gentlemen, a Harefield R&B–beat act formed in 1962 as Unit 4 (no connection to Unit 4 + 2). Their original lineup featured singer Chris Wright, drummer Phil Kenton, and a guitarist named Alfred Fripp. In late 1964, Kenton cleared for drummer Mick Tucker and Wright made way for aspiring frontman Ian Gillan.

Tucker (b. July 17, 1947) hailed from Kingsbury, where he first tasted fame at a local Shadows shows as the stand-in drummer for an ill Brian Bennett. The Gillan–Tucker Gentlemen cut multiple tracks, including the Coasters–Hollies hit “Ain’t That Just Like Me.”

In May 1965, Gillan jumped ship to Episode Six, a Harrow pop-rock band with bassist Roger Glover and drummer Mick Underwood. (They cut ten singles between 1966 and 1969 and splintered into Quatermass while Gillan and Glover joined Deep Purple).

Wainright’s Gentlemen replaced Gillan with singer Brian Connolly (b. October 5, 1945), a veteran of multiple Harefield bands, including recent contenders Generation X (no connection to the punk-era band with Billy Idol). The guitar slot changed multiple hands until Tucker invited school friend Frank Torpey, recently of mod rockers The Tribe, which cut the 1966 single “The Gamma Goochie” (b/w “I’m Leaving”) on the short-lived Planet label of producer Shel Talmy (The Kinks, The Who, The Creation).


The Sweet

In January 1968, Wainwright’s Gentlemen dismissed Tucker, who formed The Sweetshop with Connelly, Torpey, and Steve Priest, the onetime bassist of Malcolm & The Countdowns (a client of producer Joe Meek) and a recent member of local mod rockers The Army. (Soon after, Wainwright’s Gentlemen dissolved when Tucker and Torpey’s replacements — drummer Roger Hills and guitarist Robin Box — formed White Plains, which charted with the 1970 Deram single “My Baby Loves Lovin’.”)

The Sweetshop made their live debut on March 9, 1968, at the Hemel Hempstead Pavilion. Producer Phil Wainman secured them a deal with Fontana Records. Just before their scheduled first single, a namesake act dropped the Parlophone single “Barefoot & Tiptoe.” (This ‘Sweetshop’ was the band moniker of A Teenage Opera producer Mark Wirtz and his wife, Ross Hannaman.)

Wainman’s boys shortened their name to The Sweet for the July 1968 Fontana single “Slow Motion” (b/w “It’s Lonely Out There”). Fontana soon dropped The Sweet, which gigged for a year with little progress.

In July 1969, Torpey cleared for guitarist Mick Stewart, a late-period member of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and a prior journeyman through multiple beat groups, including The Ealing Redcaps, Simon Scott & The All-Nite Workers, and The Phil Wainman Set. (Torpey later surfaced in Horrorcomics, a punk–metal band that cut three 1977–79 small-press singles.) The Sweet scored their second contract with EMI’s Parlophone label.


1969–70 Singles

5 Sep 1969
A. “The Lollipop Man”
B. “Time”

23 Jan 1970
A. “All You’ll Ever Get From Me” an Archies’ cover.
B. “The Juicer”

12 Jun 1970
A. “Get On the Line”
B. “Mr. McGallagher”

In January 1971, Music for Pleasure (a low-budget subsidiary of EMI) collected The Sweet’s three Parlophone singles on Gimme Dat Ding, a split record that also gathers six sides by The Pipkins, a studio novelty group known for the transatlantic 1970 comedy hit “Gimme Dat Ding.”


Chinn–Chap Era

After three non-charting singles, Stewart quit The Sweet. Meanwhile, the group reconnected with Wainman, who linked them with two aspiring songwriters: Londoner Nicky Chinn  and Australian transplant Mike Chapman.

Chinn did a recent collaboration with (ex-Manfred Mann) singer Mike D’Abo on songs for There’s a Girl in My Soup, a 1970 British comedy starring Pink Panther regular Peter Sellers and Laugh In performer Goldie Hawn. Chapman migrated years beforehand from Queensland and did guitar–vocal stints in the Downliners Sect and Tangerine Peel. The two met in 1970 and formed a songwriting partnership.

Connolly, Priest, and Tucker recorded vocals for the Chinn–Chap tune “Funny Funny” with musical backing by Wainman (drums) and sessionists Pip Williams (guitar) and John Roberts (bass). Meanwhile, The Sweet hired Welsh-born guitarist Andy Scott (b. June 30, 1949), a member of Decca psych-rockers The Elastic Band and an auxiliary player in Scaffold, a folk-comedy trio headed by Mike McGear (aka Mike McCartney, Paul‘s younger brother).

Scott’s arrival completed the classic lineup that lasted nine years. On September 26, 1970, he debuted live with The Sweet at the Redcar Windsor Ballroom.

The Sweet signed with RCA Victor. Between January 1971 and November 1974, they released twelve singles, each with the same format: Chinn–Chap a-sides backed with group-written originals.


1971 Singles

29 Jan 1971
A. “Funny, Funny”
B. “You’re Not Wrong for Loving Me”

May 1971
A. “Co-Co”
B. “Done Me Wrong All Right”

1 Oct 1971
A. “Alexander Graham Bell”
B. “Spotlight”


Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be

The Sweet released their first proper album, Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be, in November 1971 on RCA Victor.

1. “Co-Co” – 3:14
2. “Chop Chop” – 3:00
3. “Reflections” (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland, Jr.) – 2:52
4. “Honeysuckle Love” (Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott, Mick Tucker) – 2:55
5. “Santa Monica Sunshine” – 3:20
6. “Daydream” (John Sebastian) – 3:13

7. “Funny, Funny” – 2:46
8. “Tom Tom Turnaround” – 4:07
9. “Jeanie” (Connolly, Priest, Scott, Tucker) – 2:58
10. “Sunny Sleeps Late” – 2:58
11. “Spotlight” (Connolly, Priest, Scott, Tucker) – 2:47
12. “Done Me Wrong All Right” (Connolly, Priest, Scott, Tucker) – 2:57

The back cover features a mock press statement (“The Sweet was formed just over a year ago”) and Tiger Beat-style member bios that lie about their ages.


1972 Singles

28 Jan 1972
A. “Poppa Joe”
B. “Jeanie”

19 May 1972
A. “Little Willy”
B. “Man From Mecca”

1 Sep 1972
A. “Wig-Wam Bam”
B. “New York Connection”


1973 Singles

5 Jan 1973
A. “Blockbuster!”
B. “Need a Lot of Lovin'”

27 Apr 1973
A. “Hell Raiser”
B. “Burning”

14 Sep 1973
A. “The Ballroom Blitz”
B. “Rock & Roll Disgrace”


1974

In 1974, Sweet released their final three Chinn–Chap a-sides and two albums of mostly self-written material.

11 Jan 1974
A. “Teenage Rampage”
B. “Own Up, Take a Look At Yourself”

This was their final single as ‘The Sweet,’ which dropped the definite article on subsequent releases.


Sweet Fanny Adams

Sweet released their second studio album, Sweet Fanny Adams, in April 1974 on RCA.

1. “Set Me Free” (Scott) – 3:57
2. “Heartbreak Today” – 5:02
3. “No You Don’t” – 4:35
4. “Rebel Rouser” – 3:25
5. “Peppermint Twist” (Joey Dee, Henry Glover) – 3:29
6. “Sweet F.A.” – 6:15
7. “Restless” – 4:29
8. “Into the Night” (Scott) – 4:26
9. “AC-DC” (Chapman, Chinn) – 3:29

Sweet
5 Jul 1974
A. “The Six Teens”
B. “Burn On the Flame”

1 Nov 1974
A. “Turn It Down”
B. “. . . Someone Else Will”


Desolation Boulevard

Sweet released their third studio album, Desolation Boulevard, in November 1974 on RCA.

1. “The Six Teens” (Mike Chapman, Nicky Chinn) – 4:02
2. “Solid Gold Brass” – 5:33
3. “Turn It Down” (Chapman, Chinn) – 3:30
4. “Medusa”[6][7] (“Medussa”, on remastered CD editions 1999 and 2005[8]) (Scott) – 4:45
5. “Lady Starlight” (Scott) – 3:12
6. “The Man with the Golden Arm” (Elmer Bernstein, Sylvia Fine) – 8:27
7. “Fox on the Run” – 4:47
8. “Breakdown” – 3:06
9. “My Generation” (Pete Townshend) – 3:59


Discography:

  • Gimme Dat Ding (1971 • The Sweet / The Pipkins)
  • Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be (1971)
  • Sweet Fanny Adams (1974)
  • Desolation Boulevard (1974)
  • Strung Up (live, 1975)
  • Give Us a Wink (1976)
  • Off the Record (1977)
  • Level Headed (1978)
  • Cut Above the Rest (1979)
  • Waters Edge (1980)
  • Identity Crisis (1982)

Sources:

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