SPV 1992 / Angel Air 2013
First studio work from reformed and remodelled glamsters gives reply to all the veterans’ detractors.
It was a long road to the studio for Andy Scott’s band. Back into the stage fire in 1986, as documented on "Live At The Marquee 1986", their creative juices took some time to ferment before the album originally known as “A” arrived. Much weightier proposition than the classic quartet’s oeuvre, it might sound slightly out of trend in the grunge-grounded climate but, with its splinters of ’80s gloss and clever cover choices, stood the test of years to have become a collector item while retaining the music’s magnetism. “The Answer” feels most appropriate a title, then, especially as it starts with the groovy “Do As I Say” that, given its teenage rhetoric, could have been recorded a decade earlier, and contains quirky anthems such “Stand Up” alongside more humorous fare.
Easy riding contemporary creations like the ballad “I Don’t Want To Say Goodnight” by PLANET 3 and the glittery rock ‘n’ roll “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” by THE ANGELS, the ensemble with former bassist Mal McNulty at the mike come hard on “Nouveau Rock Star” whose somewhat plastic slap assaults the celebrity culture of “heavy metal clones” yet, as Andy’s heroic, although deliberately ironic, pose in “Marshall Stack” shows, they’re able to mock themselves in equal measure. And here’s an instrument for this, “X-Ray Specs” which Scott’s troupe lifted from an EVENRUDE platter to add punky rampage to the song’s sharp pop edge and splice vocal harmonies with those from guitar that, with a slider caress and organ roar, grow celestial in the romantic “Natural” and “Mind” wherein Steve Mann’s piano embellishes solid rhythmic carcass.
Totally unexpected is the bluesy jive of the acronym-brandishing “Red Tape” that, otherwise, would have blended in the album context, and the acoustic flow of “When Friends Fall Out” which takes the drift to the countryside, while “Is It True” unfurls its lyricism too close to AOR, as does, in an upbeat manner “Dangerous Game” that’s shaped as generic as it’s called. But “Crudely Mott” resolves its sonic quirks in the chromatic accordion of Russian folk perennial “Korobeiniki” to bring “The Answer” to an illogical, albeit fitting end. With three alternative versions as bonuses, this reissue stands as a monument to SWEET’s tenacity 20 years later. After that, there was “Sweetlife” in 2002 and a covers collection "New York Connection" in 2012; here’s hoping it won’t take the veterans another decade for another record.