Saturday, November 5, 2011

CD Review: “Are You Ready” by Sweet–Live!


Are You Ready: Sweet Live

Celebrating 40 years since the founding of one of the greatest bands to come out of England in the ‘70s, Steve Priest, the bass player of course and founding member of Sweet, assembled an all-star cast to bring the bands music back to the fans.

Sweet was formed in 1968 and had their first hit in ‘71 with Funny, Funny, a bubblegum classic. The b-sides of their bubblegum pop singles, however had more to do with hard rock, ala the Who. These became the more requested tunes in concerts and Sweet evolved into one of the greatest Glam Rock bands of the ‘70s with the signature high pitched back vocal styles which was a left over from their bubblegum days when they had emulated the vocal harmonies of fellow Brit stars, The Hollies. The other eponymous band from the era that used this style was of course, Queen, putting Sweet in good company.

They had thirteen Top 20 hits in the U.K alone during the ‘70s. Following on the success of "Block Buster!" (1973), followed by three consecutive number two hits in "Hell Raiser" (1973), "The Ballroom Blitz" (1973) and "Teenage Rampage" (1974). Their first self-written and produced single "Fox on the Run" (1975) also reached number two on the UK charts.

Fox On The Run

From 1976 on their impact started to decline with their last Top Ten Hit, “Love Is Like Oxygen” in ‘78. After that the band started to fragment and finally called it quits in ‘81.

This excellent CD was recorded live in 2008 after original vocalist and bassist Steve Priest finally bowed to the demand of the fans and assembled a band that could not only do justice to, but even improve on the original sound. He called up an old friend and fellow Brit, classically trained guitarist Stuart Smith (of Sidewinder and Heaven On Earth), drummer extraordinaire and Stuart Smith’s band mate from Heaven On Earth, Brian Onori. The ‘keys’ fell to ex-Crow Stevie Stewart and on lead vocals he nabbed front man Joe Retta. The results were excellent, to say the least.

Their first gig was at rock mecca, the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood in June. they burned the place down and took the show on the road playing festivals far and wide. Moondance Jam in Walker, MN; headlining at the Rock 'n' Resort Festival in N. Lawrence, OH; London, Ontario's Rock The Park; another headlining gig at Peterborough's Festival of Lights; the Common Ground Festival in Lansing, MI; and a benefit concert for victims of California's wildfires at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA. this set was recorded live by the geniuses at Westwood One Mobile Recording Unit at the Morongo Casino in California. Then the tapes went for mastering by Brad Vance at Red Mastering.

After all that effort, what we have is maybe the best live recording of the year. It is an updated sound by The Sweet, and yet true to the hits of the ‘70s. We can only hope to hear more from Steve Priest and Sweet in the future.



The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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