Album review: THE SWEET – Isolation Boulevard

THE SWEET – Isolation Boulevard

Website [Release date 18.12.20]

First recordings by the revamped Sweet line-up that sees original member guitarist Andy Scott and long serving drummer Bruce Bisland joined by bassist/backing vocalist Lee Small (Phenomena, Shy, Lionsheart) and vocalist Paul Manzi (Cats In Space, Arena). Manzi has deputised for Tony O’Hara few years ago in the Sweet when they were touring Australia.

Andy Scott says of the album: “The cover artwork tips a hat to Desolation Boulevard, 1975 and the band’s first headline tours in the USA. The comparison between the old and new is obvious as they are both a compilation of the best of Sweet’s recordings, satisfaction guaranteed.”

Twelve songs, with ‘Still Got The Rock’ released as a single (the newest re-recording on here dating back to a 2015 compilation from the band) and the emphasis on the band’s heavier songs. The guitars are ramped up on ‘Set Me Free’, whilst ‘Ballroom Blitz’ has lost none its power and appeal (although a bit bizarre as the original call backs are still kept in the song). ‘Turn It Down’ is another fine piece of hard rocking Sweet style.

Of course the glam rock classics are here including ‘Blockbuster’, ‘The Sixteens’ (for me one of the few songs by them that hasn’t aged well), ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Teenage Rampage’ and the stomper of a Hello cover that is ‘New York Groove’.

Trouble is when I listen to Paul Manzi’s voice on these songs I keep thinking it is one of his previous bands Cats In Space! No band thing really as that band love the Sweet and you have to say he is a good fit for the band. With Lee Small joining Andy Scott on the band’s distinctive backing vocals it all works and sounds good.

Some fans may baulk at re-recording the band’s classic songs yet it gives the two new boys a chance to show their worth and introduce a few new fans to these glam rock legends. Hopefully this line-up will get out touring soon and who knows, maybe we can see a new album as Lee Small is a good songwriter to work with Andy Scott.  ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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