Album Review: SWEET – Level Headed Tour Rehearsals 1977

SWEET - Level Headed Tour Rehearsals 1977

Angel Air  [Release date 2.06.14]

Angel Air always find a niche and an angle. They’ve done it again here by unearthing an album that captures Sweet rehearsing for one of their most important tours. As the well-researched and extensive liner notes make clear, Sweet by 1977 had changed labels and parted company with the fabled Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn hit machine.

Level Headed was to be there first album with a new, more sophisticated sound playing tracks penned by the band themselves.

So much for the back story. What about the album?

It’s a mixed bag in truth. This is a rehearsal set after all. It does show a bit. Perhaps the biggest victim of the practice environment is the overall vocal performance. Those characteristic and effervescent falsetto-spiked harmonies are a bit shaky at best and down right off-key at worst.

‘Love Is Like Oxygen’, a great track, mostly hangs together really well but for the ragged backing vocals which make it sound a bit messy. ‘Fox On The Run’ induces a little wince factor at the top end; and sadly, ‘Stairway To The Stars’ is simply painful at the crucial points.

Brian Connolly does a good job of leading the line on the vocals, but there are just a few too many rough and shouty moments. The set opener. ‘Action’ for instance.

Musically, there is a tendency for the keys swamp the guitar, particularly on the more ballsy tracks. This is a real shame because Andy Scott’s guitar playing throughout is a constant  joy, making a concerted effort to single-handedly shed the band of those persistent bubblegum rock tags.

‘Yesterday’s Rain’ is a perfect example: a great grinding riff which is overwhelmed as soon as the pomp cracks in. The solo here is thrilling though and for once the keys provide a platform – briefly – rather than stealing the limelight.

This all sounds a bit negative. This is in fact an interesting album. Some of  ‘Level Headed’’s better tracks – ostensibly a well-received AOR album – are given a sharp prog and blues twist. ‘Rainbow’s End’ is really good; and later, genuflect before the Gary Moberly’s keyboard extravaganza on ‘Done Me Wrong Alright’. Scott on guitar is again excellent here. Best track on show. ‘Set Me Free’ also features a very pumped, driving performance.

However the reliance on the new material and insistence on shunning the old highlights the patchy nature of their own stuff. ‘California Nights’ is forgettable; ‘Lady Starlight’ laboured; and the acoustic mini-set half way through seems to sap all the life from the performance.

When all said and done these tracks are culled from rehearsal sessions and it would be harsh to be overly critical. They perfectly capture a band wrestling with transition and show both the highs and lows of that process.  It’s a worthy release for collectors.  ***

Review by Dave Atkinson

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 20 March 2022 at 21:00 GMT (16:00 EST). Josh’s next session is Sunday 22 May.

Check out previous videos here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 8 May 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 3 May 2022.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Power Plays w/c 16 May 2022 (Mon-Fri)
FLOYA The Hymn (Arising Empire)
VEXES The Dream Disease (indie)
NEAR DUSK The Way It Goes (Iron Head Records)
IN SEARCH OF SUN Make Me Crazy (indie)
WALLNER VAIN Deceive Her (indie)
MARATON Non-Euclidean Heart (Indie Recordings)

Featured Albums w/c 16 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TERRA NOVA Ring That Bell (Lion Music)
12:00-13:00 FOZZY Boombox (Mascot)
14:00-16:00 MICHAEL McDERMOTT St.Paul’s Boulevard (Pauper Sky Records)

Popular (last 30 days)

This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply