Book review: Decades – THE SWEET in the 1970s by Darren Johnson

The Sweet in the 1970s Decades

Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 20.07.21; 24.09.21 US only]

Reviewing a book by a fellow GRTR! writer, ooh tricky one but luckily Darren Johnson has written a short, concise, informative and entertaining book on 70s glam rock icons the Sweet.

Sweet were a massive success in the early to mid-70s with a strong of hit singles, many written by the Chinn and Chapman songwriting team and the band always had their own, usually much harder rocking, songs on the B-sides.

Darren has certainly looked wider into the band and how they fitted into the 70s music scene (including low – Sweet – and high glam – Bowie). His album and single appraisals are fair and it certainly comes across in his writing the love of the Sweet’s music he had back in their heyday and still has to this day.

By the mid-70s the band were leaving RCA for Polydor and although UK & European sales were declining, in the US they were on the up and up. Sadly though fate got in the way with vocalist Brian Connolly’s drinking issues hitting the band, leading to cancelling a planned US tour supporting Aerosmith.

The band’s first album for Polydor was ‘Level Headed’, which is certainly a change in musical direction for the band, less hard rock and more progressive/AOR as the author discusses in the text.

Connolly died in 1997 fronting his own version of the band, whilst Steve Priest and Andy Scott toured their own versions of the band. Scott is last man standing after Priest passed away last year, and he still tours and records with the Sweet.

Reading this book you see that Sweet could have been much bigger, especially in the US, as their influence on bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crue and The Darkness is clear to see. Indeed, there were abortive attempts at a reunion in the 80s which were again hit by Connolloy’s health issues. If they had managed to reunite they could have rode on the success of 80s glam metal I am sure.

An excellent overview of The Sweet, appraising the band’s 70s output and tracking the band’s ups and downs during that decade. Well researched and referenced too, with the final part of the book giving a whistle stop tour of what the band did from 1980 to the present day.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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