Trying to categorize the band called Sweet is a bit like trying to hold down an air bubble trapped under plastic. Thereâ€™s the bubblegum outfit that had hits like â€śFunny Funnyâ€ť and â€śLittle Willieâ€ť from 1968 to 1972. Thereâ€™s the glam-rock group that had a series of 13 top ten international hits during the mid-'70s, although few of these releases made any mark in the states.
Then Sweet dropped the glam trappings and went for a heavier sound and image that carried it until its last chart success in 1978, â€śLove is Like Oxygen.â€ť Then the group broke up in 1982. While producers, personnel, and the roles each played changed dramatically over the years, the classic line-up was unquestionably the group listed in the roll call in the opening moments of 1973â€™s â€śBallroom Blitz.â€ť These were lead singer Brian Connolly, bass player Steve Priest, guitarist Andy Scott, and drummer Mick Tucker. Connolly died in 1997 and Tucker in 2002. Along the way, the two surviving members went their separate ways and led two different versions of Sweetâ€”Priest in California, and Scott in the U.K.
Itâ€™s the Priest version of the group that was recorded live at the Morongo Casino in California on August 30, 2008, to a comparatively small crowd. Along with Priest providing background vocals and bass, the American incarnation of the new Sweet included Stuart Smith (vocals, guitar), Joe Retta (vocals, acoustic guitar), Stevie Stewart (vocals, keyboards), and Richie Onori (drums). Naturally, the purpose of such gigs is to give fans recognizable renditions of the songs they remember. This ensemble does a reasonable job at this, but it isnâ€™t Sweet. It's a Sweet tribute band. Nutra-Sweet, perhaps.
Of course, one can take this stuff too seriously and that would miss the point. AM hits like â€śFox on the Run,â€ť â€śLittle Willie,â€ť and â€śBallroom Blitzâ€ť werenâ€™t designed to be creative monsters to begin with. Still, songs like â€śWig Wam Bam,â€ť â€śWindy City,â€ť â€śSweet F.A.,â€ť and â€śHell Raiserâ€ť are derivative pop montages. â€śBlockbusterâ€ť is only different from David Bowieâ€™s â€śJean Genie in its lyrics. The guitar middle section was clearly taken from The Shadowsâ€™ â€śFBI.â€ť