While Manfred Mann was classic ’60s British Invasion pop-rock, Sweet came along in the early-’70s and added power to the pop on the strength of slamming, goofy tunes by songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (“Chinnichap”).
The third song the pair wrote was “Funny Funny,” a takeoff on the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” which they played for a producer acquaintance of Chinn’s named Phil Wainman.
Wainman loved the song and brought it to the band he was working with, Sweet. The band had a bit of a problem with the song because, as Chapman told me, “They thought they were Deep Purple, not the Archies.”
Despite the band’s sneer, “Funny Funny” became both the band and the writing team’s first big hit, reaching No. 13 in the UK in 1971. Chinnichap’s relationship with Sweet continued through 1974, during which time they kicked out a plethora of hits including “Co-Co,” “Little Willy,” “Wig-Wam Bam,” “Blockbuster,” “Hell Raiser,” “Ballroom Blitz,” and “Teenage Rampage.”
Though shamelessly commercial and frankly silly, the best of the Sweet hits (“Little Willy,” “Ballroom Blitz”) feature internal organ-crushing power chords, sharp tunes, vicious hooks and multitracked orchestral group harmonies (soon after lifted whole by Queen) and still sound oven-fresh today.
The more “mature” Sweet drifted off into a complex, Queenish sound (Sweet copying Queen copying Sweet), of which “Love Is Like Oxygen” is the highlight.