Sunday, 3 March 2019

Sweet - Desolation Boulevard (1974)


Released November 1974

After earlier in 1974's proto-punk bubblegum rock of "Sweet Fanny Adams", Sweet returned with another album that attempted to show off their credentials as a "serious" rock band, not just a vehicle for those great Chinn/Chapman-written glam rock hit singles. Again, it was certainly not a bad effort and is a credible solid rock album, full of heavy riffs but with those trademark hooks as well. The album gained The Sweet a huge following in Germany and Scandinavia, who treated them seriously, whereas in the UK, it was their singles that characterised them in people's minds, and their many "Top Of The Pops" appearances.


1. The Six Teens
2. Solid Gold Brass
3. Turn It Down
4. Medusa
5. Lady Starlight
6. The Man With The Golden Arm
7. Fox On The Run
8. Breakdown
9. My Generation                                        

"The Six Teens" was a hit single. It is a glorious, singalong rock anthem with an absolute killer of a chorus. It was one of only two Chinn/Chapman songs on the album. "Solid Gold Brass" was written by the members of the group, and it is an  impressive rocker, with some cute guitar/drum interplay in the middle. As with the rockers on the previous album, it had big hints of Deep Purple about it. The other Chinn/Chapman track was the riffy rock of "Turn It Down". It was actually an unsuccessful single in the UK, the first in God knows how many singles not to make the Top Ten. I am not quite sure why, because it's great.

The slightly proggy rock of "Medusa" had a great bass line and a bit of a feel of The Who to it. It features some convincing guitar soloing that you wouldn't necessarily have associated with Sweet. "Lady Starlight" had echoes of Noddy Holder of Slade in the chorus vocals, otherwise its verses were a bit dreamy and lacking in punch. It sounds like a typical glam rock, band-penned, seventies 'b' side to me.

"The Man With The Golden Arm" was an Elmer Bernstein number from 1956. Sweet's cover here lasts over eight minutes and fuses hard rock, some Deep Purple-style falsetto vocals and big band brass backing rather in the way that Alice Cooper did on "Grande Finale" from his 1971 "School's Out" album. There is some impressive drum soloing from Mick Tucker, presumably to show just how rock" they could be, but it does smack a little of indulgence, to be honest. The band were looking to split from Chinn/Chapman and duly did so around this time. "Fox On The Run" was their first band-penned single and it was a big hit. It is a big riff-heavy rocker but with an irresistible chorus.

The riff attack continues on "Breakdown", a solid enough non-glam rocker. The final track on the original album was a cover of The Who's "My Generation". It is done convincingly enough and suits The Sweet. The sound quality on this remastered edition is excellent and there are some bonus tracks, including the non-album glam rock single "Teenage Rampage" and several 'b' sides.


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