Thursday, 14 February 2013


My closest pal in my formative musical years was George. He, I and a select group of like-minded chums would collectively take our first tentative steps into the mysterious worlds of Prog, Kraut and Heavy Rock, learn the intricacies of air guitar and spend many happy hours banging our heads in unison while resting our thumbs comfortably in the belt-loops of our flared jeans.

Initially, however, George's favourite group was Sweet and together we saw the band on four occasions. Twice at the Rainbow in the March and December of 1973, again for Brian Connolly's UK swansong at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1978 and finally, for old times sake, the three piece Sweet (sorry, couldn't resist) at the Lyceum in 1981. 

We had long-since been savvy enough to flip over every successive Sweet single, to reveal a self-composed and usually full-on rockin' nugget tucked away on the b-side. 'Man From Mecca', 'Done Me Wrong Alright', 'New York Connection', every one a gem, but at that first Rainbow gig, the show, their performance and sheer musical ability was a total a revelation to me, when compared to the exotic looseness of the T.Rex live sound that I'd experienced just 4 months earlier.

Sweet were an incredibly important band for me, George and the rest of my pals. They represented a kind of musical stepping stone, bridging the gap between the perceived frivolity of the pop and glam of our playground days and the altogether heavier, more grown-up form of rock we would go on to explore.

11 years ago today, drummer extraordinaire Mick Tucker died from leukemia aged 54 and four days ago was the 16th anniversary of Brian Connolly's passing at the age of 51. Here's a terrific pre-Andy Scott tune from 1970, featuring Brian and Mick to the fore.


Anonymous said...

That band really wanted to rock, didn't they? They jammed with Ritchie a few times. Stupidly, I stooped buying their stuff after 'Poppa Joe' (!) and they weren't one of 'my' groups through their halcyon days. I now really appreciate their big hits and the later heavy stuff. A very good band indeed. RIP, Mick and Brian.

Old Pa's Corner said...

You could not help but like some of the Sweet output....I never quite forgave them for getting to number 1 with Blockbuster and if I remember keeping Bowie off the coveted spot. I was sure they ripped the riff off Bowie....but I could be wrong. Good thaat you hav kept your old stubs....I wish I had done a few some where?

John Medd said...

'Do the first first verse and track it Phil' Wainman was integral in getting The Sweet sound. More than just a tape engineer, he got Andy Scott's guitar to sound dirty; unlike Mike Chapman who always defaulted to squeeky clean Bubblegum when recording a single. No surprise then that within a handful of years he was recording Billy Idol's Generation X.

The Swede said...

SB. They could rock all right, not 'arf, and not just later on. Check out some of those early b-sides.

OPC. I remember all the hoo-ha surrounding the Blockbuster/Jean Genie riffs. If I had been a little older, I might have come down on one side or the other, but at the time I was at the right age to love it all!

John. Spot-on Phil Wainman reference, brilliant! Good point too.

C said...

I'm afraid (as I think a certain Kolley Kibber said somewhere too!) I was more a fan of Brian's hair than anything else at the height of their success. I do remember feeling very uncomfortable seeing Steve Priest doing that "we just haven't got a clue what to do" bit on Blockbuster on TOTP - eww, he freaked me out a bit back then! (Not so good at androgyny as Brett Anderson ;- yeah I had to mention him!)
I've only really appreciated their more rock sound in retrospect, but they were still an unmissable part of my growing up.
Oh, hard to believe poor old Brian was only 51 when he died! He looked so awful in his later years - I'm guessing you saw that documentary about him from not long before he died I think, about him going out on the road again and playing Butlins? - pretty heartbreaking stuff I thought.

C said...

PS - Great reminiscences of yours too. "Learnt the intricacies of air guitar..." Love it!

The Swede said...

C. I saw some of the Connolly documentary at the time, but to be honest found it too upsetting to sit through the whole thing.

I have at least one more Sweet-related post sitting on the back-burner, which might freak you out even more than Steve did all those years ago!

David Hepworth wrote an amusing piece on his blog a couple of weeks ago entitled 'When do you hang up your air guitar?'. It's well worth a read, but what made me howl with laughter was one of the comments left after the piece from someone called backwards7, "I will give up my air guitar when they pry it from my cold dead hands. Even in death my fingers will still be frantically wriggling their way up and down an imaginary fret, like a pair of upturned beetles desperately attempting to right themselves." Utter genius!

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