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Music / Sweet

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Clockwise from top left: Steve Priest, Brian Connolly, Mick Tucker, and Andy Scott.

Brian: Are you ready, Steve?
Steve: Uh huh.
Brian: Andy?
Andy: Yeah.
Brian: Mick?
Mick: Okay.
Brian: Alright fellas, LET'S GO!
— From the opening of "The Ballroom Blitz"

One of the most popular Glam Rock groups of The '70s, and one of the few to cross the Pond and achieve success in the United States,

Sweet was a British band consisting of Brian Connolly (lead vocals), Andy Scott (lead guitar, backing and co-lead vocals), Steve Priest (bass guitar, backing and co-lead vocals) and Mick Tucker (drums, backing vocals).

Originally called Sweetshop (they shortened their name to avoid confusion with a similarly-named band), the group quickly developed a devoted following and acquired a recording contract that partnered them with the then-unknown songwriting/production team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who ended up composing most of the group's most memorable hits.

Initially, Chapman and Chinn pursued a bubblegum pop style comparable to The Archies or the Bay City Rollers, but this didn't sit well with the group, whose self-written B-sides and album tracks showcased their Hard Rock leanings. Eventually, the production team recognised where Sweet's talents lay, and took to composing tough-sounding Glam Rock tunes which combined bubblegum melodies with fuzz guitar, thunderous drums and extremely high-pitched vocal harmonies.

Further hits followed, but the band eventually grew tired of the Executive Meddling imposed upon them and parted ways with Chapman and Chinn. Although singles like "Action", "Fox On the Run" and "Love Is Like Oxygen" proved that they could score hits with their own songwriting, they were unable to sustain their success after Brian Connolly decided to call it quits in 1978, and they disintegrated soon after.

Although they're probably less well-remembered than contemporaries such as T. Rex and Slade, they're noteworthy as one of the first rock and roll groups to combine the melodic and commercial components of pop with their hard rocking glam attack. In essence, Sweet was the first Hair Metal band, prefiguring that style by nearly a decade.

Main discography:

"I'm reaching out for something, troping nothing's all I ever do":

  • Ballroom Blitz: The Trope Namer.
  • The Band Minus the Face: They kept going as a Rock Trio after Brian Connolly left, but the three albums they recorded all bombed and they called it quits after that.
  • Big Applesauce: "New York Connection"
  • Bo Diddley Beat: "Ballroom Blitz" rattles along on one for much of its length.
  • California: "California Nights," "Santa Monica Sunshine"
  • Cover Version: The Who's "My Generation"
  • Disco Sucks: "Discophony" begins with a guy whose girl wants him to disco in order for him to have his way with her. The bridge from verse two is his answer:
    Disco ain't worth your masturbating
    Rock and roll will still keep on celebrating
  • Epic Rocking:
    • The unedited "Love is Like Oxygen" (6:57).
    • "Healer" from Give Us a Wink (7:17).
    • "Sweet F.A.," from Sweet Fanny Adams (6:15).
    • The band's cover of "The Man with the Golden Arm" by Elmer Bernstein on Desolation Boulevard is easily the best example of this, running at 8:27—with a drum solo that runs over five minutes.
  • Genre Shift: Started off as a Bubblegum band, became better known as a Glam Rock band who had undertones of Heavy Metal.
  • Glam Rock: Along with Slade, they're one of the codifiers of the heavier style of glam rock, which was a major influence on subsequent Hair Metal groups.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: One of their trademarks was all four members singing remarkably high harmonies.
  • Hair Metal: Considered one of the Ur-Examples. "Love Is Like Oxygen", past the disco keyboards, is incredibly similar to what was being done by bands like KISS and Poison ten years later, with reverberating drums, high vocals and heavy guitars on top of a "dance" beat.
  • Heroic RRoD: In the mid-1970s, Brian Connolly got into a fight and sustained injuries to his throat. While his voice did recover, he was never quite able to sing with the same strength or purity again.
  • Live Album: Strung Up, Live in Denmark 1976, Live at the Rainbow 1973.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "Healer" (7:17) is the final track on Give Us a Wink.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. They subsequently fulfilled a similar role for groups like Mud, Smokie, Racey and Suzi Quatro.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: "Sixties Man"
  • New Sound Album: The band's sixth album, Level Headed, takes a more Progressive Rock approach in comparison with the Hard Rock and Glam Rock leanings of their prior albums.
  • Revolving Door Band: The band formed with vocalist Brian Connolly, bassist Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker, and guitarist Frank Torpey. Torpey was eventually replaced by Mick Stewart, who himself was replaced by Andy Scott. This lineup stayed together from 1970 to Connolly's departure in 1979, and then the band broke up in 1982. Since 1985, Scott and Tucker reformed the band with new members, and they have had multiple new lineups of the band with many lead singers, bassists, keyboardists, and drummers (after Tucker's departure in 1991).
  • Song Style Shift: The full version of "Love is Like Oxygen". The band drops out mid-song, and it turns into an acoustic guitar/keyboard duet that starts out soft but gradually gets more intense, until the electric guitar, bass and drums all join in and finish things up. Then the electric guitar fires up the familiar Epic Riff, and we go back into the original chorus, then to top things off, they go into a disco rhythm for the fade out.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": According to their page on The Other Wiki, their name is "The Sweet", but official releases usually call them "Sweet".
  • The Band Minus the Face: After Brian Connolly's departure in 1979, the Sweet tried to continue with Steve Priest and Andy Scott sharing lead vocals; however, this version of the band finally disintegrated in 1982. The band has tried to continue since 1985 with a revolving lineup of singers in Connolly's stead.
  • Tipis and Totem Poles: "Wig Wam Bam"
  • Trope Maker: For Hair Metal. Most of the popular hair bands cited their melodicism and vocal harmonies as an influence on their own music, including Poison, Guns N' Roses and especially Def Leppard.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change:
    • "Little Willy" ends with one, shifting from E to F sharp for the final chorus.
    • Some live performances of "No You Don't" include one of these as well, shifting from A minor to B minor for the final chorus.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Brian and Steve often traded lead vocals on songs. Andy occasionally sang lead parts as well.

Alternative Title(s): The Sweet