CATALOG CRAWL: SWEET, Part 4 (1983-1992 – including Andy Scott solo)

A combination of band malaise and record company politics killed off Sweet at the dawn of the ’80s… but few successful bands ever go away for good. In subsequent decades, the band would be revived multiple times by different members. The first out of the gate and arguably the most successful of the bunch was Andy Scott, who operated as the key songwriter when the band split from the Chinn/Chapman songwriting team. Over the years, he would become the band’s keeper of the flame and he’s the one who has released the most projects under the Sweet moniker.

This installment of Catalog Crawl captures a decade-long process that found Scott reviving the band through the prism of his creative interests. The first album collects some offbeat material he recorded as a solo artist as he tried to find his place in a new decade, the second represents a successful and engaging live revival of Sweet and the final album represents his first attempt to make a new Sweet album since Identity Crisis. This clutch of material is primarily of interest to already dedicated fans but they’ll find it offers an array of performances and new material that show Sweet remained a concept worth pursuing for Scott.

THE SOLO SINGLES – ANDY SCOTT (2013): this collects Scott’s 1983-84 solo singles, making it an interesting bridge between the classic Sweet era and the various revivals that followed. Said singles feature the familiar Scott riffing and vocals but the style is radically different, throwing out live drums entirely for drum machines and making synthesizers the basis of each track in a way that gives them a new wave (“Gotta See Jane”) or ’80s dance sound (“Face”). The production on these is a strange mix of loud, shiny synth tones with cheap, no-frills mixes that give them an “indie single” sound. They’re more interesting than good but “Suck It And See” is a catchy attempt to update Sweet-style guitar and chorus hooks for the ’80s. Some odds and ends from the ’70s are also included, the best being the obscure 1975 solo single b-side “Where D’Ya Go,” a rock-biz commentary tune done an interesting, hypnotic acoustic-glam style. It can only be found on CD here and is worth the price of admission alone for Sweet diehards.

Member: Andy Scott (guitar/vocals/keyboards)

LIVE AT THE MARQUEE (1989): this captures a 1986 reunion concert built around a core of Scott and Tucker. The guest players include ex-NWOBHM singer Day, future Uriah heep keyboardist Lanzon and McNulty, previously of German metal act Hazzard. The result is an impressive, professional unit that does justice to a well-chosen set list that mixes hits like “Ballroom Blitz” with deep catalog faves like “Set Me Free” and “Sweet F.A.,” both of which pick up an ’80s metal speed and energy here. It’s interesting to note how Day’s vocals sound like a gene splice of Steve Priest and Brian Connolly (about 65% the former, 35% the latter) and how Lanzon’s slick keyboards tease out the hidden AOR sensibility in these ’70s chestnuts: he even replaces the instrumental break from “Love Is Like Oxygen” with a rendition of the E.L.P. version of “Fanfare For The Common Man.” It’s way better than you’d expect a jury-rigged reunion live set to be, with all the killer riffs and harmonies where they should be.

Members: Andy Scott (guitar/vocals), Paul Mario Day (lead vocals), Phil Lanzon (keyboards), Mal McNulty (bass/vocals), Mick Tucker (drums/vocals)

Collector’s Note on LIVE AT THE MARQUEE: A side’s worth of new studio recordings appear on the original release, all solid AOR with big harmonies and plenty of keyboards. The best is the speedy AOR/glam crossover “Over My Head,” a rollercoaster of hooks and solos, and the weirdest is a Eurodisco-ish but still fun hard rock cover of “Reach Out (I’ll Be There).” The reissue drops the studio tracks for two extra live tunes, including a heavier, slower take on “AC-DC” that kills. Sweet fanatics will want both versions.

THE ANSWER (1992): This is a reissue of “A,” originally credited to Andy Scott’s Sweet, with a new track order and additional songs. It tries to retool Sweet with a new set of players while catering to glam metal trends, an attempt that unfortunately arrived at the time grunge had killed those trends. Songs like “Stand Up” and “Do As I Say” represent Scott trying to conform Sweet-style riffs and vocal harmonies to glam metal rather than trying to update the Sweet sound for the early ’90s. However, the band’s 70s fans will appreciate “Natural,” which brings an impressive pomp rock instrumental break into a retro acoustic-driven ballad, the cheeky way stomper “Marshall Stack” nicks its chorus melody from “T.N.T.” by AC/DC and a charming cover of the Angels’ “Will I Ever See Your Face Again.” There’s also some amusing weirdness with the glam metal critique “Nouveau Rock Star” and “Crudely Mott,” a pisstake of Motley Crue. As a comeback, it’s so-so but worked often enough to prove the Sweet concept still had some creative life in it.

Members: Andy Scott (guitar/vocals), Mal McNulty (bass/lead vocals) Jeff Brown (bass), Steve Mann (keyboards/vocals) Bodo Schopf (drums)


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