Sweet 2012 / Angel Air 2015
Working up a covers paradox, the English faction of glam splinters go Transatlantic. Block-busting it ain’t.
Nowadays, there are two versions of SWEET: the UK one fronted by guitarist Andy Scott and the US one lead by bassist Steve Priest. None of the two original members can steer their group towards the glitter of the days gone, yet they try hard – more on-stage than in the studio – and while the latter delivered a live album, the former keep the competition with this collection of covers. Choosing cuts primarily on the titular criterion, the quartet stamp their trademark stomp on American songs, most impressively on ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN’s glitzy spinner “It’s All Moving Faster” and THE BLACK KEYS’ handclapping jiver “Gold On The Ceilings” with its “Jean Genie”-via-“Blockbuster” riff, but the overall sensation is of professionalism prevailing over zip.
SWEET come too close to rendering “Blitzkrieg Bop” a bore even though a guitar quote from – what else? – their own “Ballroom Blitz”, one of many in-jokes here, gives THE RAMONES’ smash additional color. In such context, “New York Connection,” originally a B-side of 1972’s “Wig-Wam Bam,” shines brighter, too. The same can’t be said of other British chestnuts: of the same year’s “Join Together” by THE WHO that hints at all those supplementary specks like Jay-Z’s “Empire State Of Mind” in the listless – but great in acoustic form on the album’s reissue – opener “New York Groove,” written by ARGENT’s Russ Ballard, and of THE YARDBIRDS’ “Shapes Of Things” which everybody, including Jeff Beck, fails to do justice to. With bassist Pete Lincoln as main singer, other players take their spot at the mike as well, keyboardist Tony O’Hora excelling in setting tension in Patti Smith’s “Because The Night,” and DEAD OR ALIVE’s dancefloor filler “You Spin Me Right Round” getting gloriously energized to the champagne level, especially when its “Fox On The Run” (r)elation spills over to a bonus live version on “Plus.”
At the same time Scott’s heroic stance reveals all the urban tinsel of Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” to bring it to the ground, and “On Broadway” dies a psychedelic death in the scintillating iron hands of the veteran glammers who strip the tune of its inherent sensuality and bright-eyed delight. Surprise factor in full swing, this album lends the band’s music a new, interesting angle yet the joyful aspect is underplayed now. Quite un-SWEET-like.