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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sweet

Desolation Boulevard

Review by Gary Hill

Sweet were one of those second or third tier bands. They had a solid following a few huge hits, but were never the “household” names of the big players. This is one of their classic discs and I suppose in simplest terms you could say it’s “Nazareth meets Queen.” Still, to really get it you’d need to add in some Mott the Hoople, David Bowie and a bit of prog rock alongside some bubble gum. That comes pretty close. However you classify it, though, this is still a strong disc and really shows how much these guys were an influence on a lot of music that came later (especially 1980’s “hair” metal).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ballroom Blitz
One of the all time classic rock numbers, this opens with percussion and a check to see if all the members of the band are ready to rock. This feels quite a bit like old-school Alice Cooper with some David Bowie and the Kinks in the mix. It’s a cool rocker and holds up quite well. It’s darn hard not to sing along with this one.
The 6-Teens
The sound that leads this off is not far from metal. They drop it down to a killer glam rock goes balladic mode. There’s a touch of a Latin feel on this and the whole motif is just “oh so tasty.” The chorus here is interesting. The first part is based on an acoustic guitar, almost folky mode with some crunch over the top. Then it explodes out into metallic fury as they carry on. This is diverse track that is still somehow quite catchy. It’s one of the highlights of the disc.
No You Don't
This stripped down rocker has a lot in common with the music of Nazareth. Add in some of the “wall of sound” vocals Queen epitomized and you have a good idea of what this is like. There’s a great dramatic drop back mid-section that eventually gives way to a revitalized core song. They add in a neat little “pull the pick up the guitar string” thing on this.
A.C.D.C.
Take a pretty basic rock and roll jam, give it the Sweet hard edged, glam meets Nazareth approach and you’ve got most of the picture. Throw in some lyrics about a bi-sexual girlfriend and the image is complete. This is OK, but not up to the level of the rest of the disc. That said, a bluesy slide guitar solo helps.
I Wanna Be Committed
A weird introduction with echoey processed chanting feeling like a monastery starts us off. A voice (still processed) speaks the title a few times. They launch into a hard rock meets Queen approach. There’s actually a Yesish non-lyrical vocal section and a short prog rock kind of progression after later in the track. This is one of the most dynamic numbers on show here, running through a number of intriguing changes and alterations and variations. They drop it back into weirdness for a short instrumental section.
Sweet F.A.
The main riff that drives this is extremely tasty. The cut is another that reminds me quite a bit of Nazareth. The vocal approach has more of that Queen element and there’s an almost prog rock instrumental segment on this. This also includes some extremely smoking guitar soloing. There’s a section that actually reminds me of Judas Priest’s “Sinner.” This song is one of the highlights of the disc. 
Fox On The Run
In many ways this is a bubble gum pop song – particularly the chorus. Yet, these guys throw in enough glam and near metal stomping to elevate that concept. This was one of their biggest hits and for a good reason – it’s a great tune. 
Set Me Free
Here’s a powerhouse, high energy rocker. This is very much in keeping with the rest of the disc, but turbocharged and nearly metal at times. Some of the melodic guitar soloing on this makes me think of Iron Maiden.
Into The Night
The percussion intro here somehow makes me think they are going to launch into “Ballroom Blitz” again. Instead this is a rubbery sort of jam that’s very much in keeping with the rest of the disc. This is a good tune, but sort of average and doesn’t really stand out.
Solid Gold Brass
The riff that drives this is very Zeppelin-like. Beyond that this track is not all that different from the rest of the music here. It’s a good tune, though. I wouldn’t think of it as a highlight, though. And that makes it a bit of a let down in the closing slot.
 
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