Sweet – Action: The Sweet Anthology [reissue]

January 01, 1970

(Shout! Factory)




This 32-song, two-CD collection plays out like a cautionary
tale, the moral being, “Don’t let would-be hipsters con you into thinking
ambition is somehow inherently better than being the best little bubblegum gum
band you can be.” For a while there, these guys were untouchable, topping
insidious pop hooks with some of the sillier lyrics the ‘70s ever knew (which
is saying a lot), a swagger that slotted in nicely with glam-rock and some of
the kitschier harmonies this side of ELO.


The first song worth a damn is track four, “Alexander Graham
Bell,” which sounds like the Move dipping into the Bee Gees’ “Odessa” for
lyrical hooks. But once they’ve come into their own on “Little Willy,” the rest
of that first disc is an embarrassment of riches, from the pre-Decemberists
history-rock of “Wig-Wam Bam” to “Blockbuster,” “Ballroom Blitz,” “Teenage
Rampage,” “The Six Teens” and “Fox on the Run.” All but that last one had come
from the songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.


But once they sold a million copies in the States with a
single they’d actually written, that was it for Chinnichap, who only earn one
writing credit on the second disc (appropriately titled “No You Don’t”). You
can hear ambition creeping in from the opening riff of the opening track on
disc two, “Action,” with its pompous prog-rock keyboards (although thankfully
the hooks and pacing place it much closer to “Fox on the Run”).  “Sweet F.A.” is decidedly tougher than
previous tracks and nearly twice as long, with yet another shot of proggy
keyboards, which combined to make the Sweet’s transition to the FM dial both
quick and painless.


But it’s all down-hill from there, with the notable
exception of their final U.S. pop hit, the bombastic yet loveable “Love is Like
Oxygen” (or maybe I just like it because it’s the first riff I learned on
electric guitar).


Standout Tracks: “Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run.” A. WATT


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