Totally Sweet: Reconstituted 1970s glam-metal band heads back out on the road

Two of them are dead, namely drummer Mick Tucker and vocalist Brian Connolly.

Guitarist Andy Scott has his own version of Sweet prowling around Europe. And now bassist (and let’s be fair — original member, hugely contributing songwriter, backup singer and occasional lead singer) Steve Priest has reconstituted this seminal glam-metal band of the ’70s for select dates in the U.S. and Canada.

“Long story short,” says the affable but droll LA resident, “I haven’t been playing for a long time, although I’ve been mucking around with studios and writing etc.. But I went and saw Eric Clapton at the Staples Center and thought, ‘I’ve got to get back on stage again.’ So, I got back together with an old friend of mine named Stuart Smith, who I’ve known since I’ve lived in Los Angeles (since ’86, before that New York since ’79), and he had a friend who’s a very good drummer, who I’ve also worked with off and on, and we put a band together with a singer and a keyboard player, and we’ve been rehearsing for the last few months. We’ve got enough for an hour and a half at the moment.

“And yes, you’re right, Andy’s still doing Andy Scott’s Sweet, and he’s been trying to do it for a while. But I’m afraid our musical differences and just our personalities have gone too far apart for
us to tread the same boards — let’s put it that way.”

So are we talking about a personal falling out here?

“Not particularly; nothing where I can actually say, ‘Oh, that happened and that happened.’ It just happened.”

In any event, it will be cool to hear these songs again on a live stage. I mean, “Ballroom Blitz,”
“Fox On The Run,” “Action,” and “Love Is Like Oxygen” were roller-rink staples in the mid-’70s, and then there’s a whole tier of secondary hits, not to mention (actually quite heavy) glam rockers from the very early ’70s like “Wig-Wam Bam” and “Little Willy.” But yes, in North America, Sweet was essentially best known for the Desolation Boulevard album in ’75 and Give Us A Wink in ’76. Skipping 1977’s ignored Off The Record, the guys saw a bit of a positive blip again with ’78’s On The Level.

“Oh, they’re all quite fun, actually,” muses Steve, asked which Sweet chestnuts really get the band up and running. “We’re even doing ‘Teenage Rampage,’ something right back to the early ’70s. But it’s all quite fun, because somebody new is singing it, so it’s a different slant on the same idea.

“The basic concept of the band was to have really heavy backing — heavy guitars and drums — but three- or four-part harmonies,” continues Priest, asked about Sweet’s distinct sound. “When Queen came along, for some unknown reason — it’s timing, I’m sure — they were accepted doing exactly the same thing that we were doing. You know, they had strong backing guitars, and three- or four-part harmonies.”

A conclusion that might be drawn however, is that Sweet was lumped into the whole glam thing, causing the critics to dispense with them as pop posers, a stance underscored by much of the band’s earlier material having been written by the Chapman/Chinn songwriting team.

“Oh, I never used to read critics,” laughs Steve. “Mick and Andy did, and they used to always get upset, and then start writing or producing the way the critics wanted. And it’s like, ‘No, no, no. Have you got any… you need some strong gonads, dear. Ignore them! And write the way

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