Top 10 Sweet Songs
Before we get into our list of the Top 10 Sweet Songs, allow us to place them in the proper context in rock history. Say the words “glam rock” to some and they think of Poison or Motley Crue. They would be wrong! The hairspray brigade of the ’80s was another creature entirely. True glam was a child of the early ’70s and, more or less, came in two distinctly different camps: the art school roll call of David Bowie, Roxy Music and Cockney Rebel, and the mutant spawn of bubblegum pop and hard rock displayed beautifully by such greats as Slade, Mud and our men of the hour, Sweet. For many, glam rock was a fleeting wad of high calorie, low protein ear candy, while for some of us, it has remained a thing of pure joy for over 40 years. Take away the glitz and glamor, and you will find some killer records underneath. The outfits made the papers, but the music made you move. It still does! So, we must ask…are you ready readers? Well alright fellas (and gals) let’s dive into our list of the Top 10 Sweet Songs!
Triumphant power chords open this rocking stomper that manages to merge the riff power of early Who with the more pure pop moments of the Monkees. Solid gold AM radio action here friends, as that unstoppable riff slides its way into your heart and soul. This 1972 hit sailed effortlessly to upper regions of pop charts worldwide, hitting No. 3 in the US. After hearing this top Sweet song, it should come as no surprise that the group started life as a pure bubblegum act called the Sweet Shop in 1968.
‘Love Is Like Oxygen’
By 1978, Sweet had pretty much fallen off all but the most ardent fan’s radar. Then, much to everyone’s surprise, they scored one of their biggest hits ever with this riff rocker near the decade’s end. ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ sounds like prime Sweet, but with, shall we say, a more ‘mature’ air. Many of the trademarks remain, but this time around they sport a certain sophistication not fully utilized before, with elements of 10CC and Queen lingering in the air. Written by guitarist Andy Scott, the record became a Top 10 hit worldwide in early 1978 and remains on of the band’s best known tracks.
‘The Six Teens’
One of the many highlights on the band’s 1975 LP ‘Desolation Boulevard,’ ‘The Six Teens’ tells the tale of troubled youth dealing with the life ahead. In a way, it comes off like a cross between a Shangri-La’s teen drama mixed with ‘All The Young Dudes.’ The band are on fire here and deliver one of their finest performances. It’s another ultra-catchy chorus with those “hooks in ya” vocals arrangements. This is a classic Sweet song all the way!
‘Set Me Free’
The Sweet were not just a bunch of pretty faces playing dress up for bubblegum symphonies, they were one fierce hard rock and roll band as well. A two-sided coin if ever there was one, while the band were making a name for themselves delivering top flight pop records on their A-sides, the flips were usually left to the band to do their own thing, which in most cases meant cranking up the volume. After a long string of hit singles the previous two years, 1974 saw the band flexing their muscle more. ‘Set Me Free’ was the lead track on the band’s ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ LP, issued in the spring of 1974, and it’s a heavy riffing scorcher. Blistering lead guitar, pounding drums and forceful vocals drive this one home. Still very recognizable as glittering, but with more emphasis on the straight ahead rock action.
A No. 2 hit in the UK, ‘Teenage Rampage’ was in many ways the culmination of the true glam-era Sweet. It was issued in late 1973 as the follow up to the massive ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and the band were clearly still on quite a roll. While this would be the last of the Chinn & Chapman hits, it was at least a barn burner to go out on. From here on out, the band would take what they had learned, while putting more of themselves into the mix.
By the time of the band’s 1976 LP ‘Give Us A Wink,’ most any traces of lingering bubblegum were gone, replaced by their true love of hard driving rock and roll. Though somewhat similar in style to ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and other Sweet hits, ‘Action’ has a decidedly heavier riff at its core. Twiddling synthesizers roam freely throughout, and of course those signature Sweet vocal arrangements are in full force. Another one written by the entire band, this hit Top 10 in the UK and Top 20 in the States, we’re thinking it should have been an even bigger hit!
‘Wig Wam Bam’
Sounding like an update on the 1910 Fruitgum Company’s gum-tastic hit ‘Indian Giver,’ ‘Wig Wam Bam’ stomps its way into our hearts with a mighty riff and vocal hook that is pretty damn unbeatable. Cheeky, smart and sassy, Sweet shine in full color here. And if you are thinking, this is not a high brow, serious artistic statement pondering the future of the universe and exploring the ruins of mankind through the ages while touching on issues within the Nixon administration, well, you’re right. It’s bubblegum rock and roll that was glossed up for teens and pre-teens to consume. Consume we did, and this gum has lost none of its flavor!
In 1972 and 1973, Sweet were on a roll, issuing a strong run of singles, with each one trying to top the previous. Issued in January of 1973, ‘Blockbuster’ was another step toward that definitive Sweet sound. Like many of their singles from this period, it was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, a pair of songwriting producers who lent their magic to a long list of acts of the era. It was with Sweet, however, that they really made their mark, writing seven Top 10, million sellers in a row for the band. ‘Blockbuster’ takes a sexy shuffle groove and plasters it with crunching guitars and effervescent vocals. The record strengthened the already durable bridge between ’60s bubblegum and ’70s glam rock.
‘Fox On The Run’
Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to loud guitar, pure pop rock and roll. From the opening synthesizer swirl to the stomping, riff-heavy verse to the insanely catchy chorus, this is Sweet at their best. Written by all four band members, the song first appeared on the British version of their 1974 album ‘Desolation Boulevard,’ but was re-recorded in different (and stronger) form for single release. That’s the version that would end up on the US release of the album in 1975 and the one that became a worldwide Top Five hit. It’s a dynamic, supercharged rock and roll record that just glows with life to this day.
The definitive Sweet record, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ is a steamroller slice of rock and roll. Released in 1973, it became a Top Five hit all over the world. Though not released in the US until 1975, it still shot to No. 5 on Billboard. Musically, the song is based on an early ’60s rocker called ‘Let’s Stomp‘ that was recorded by Bobby Comstock, but was a live favorite of many of the early Beat groups. The driving beat of the song mixed with the always dynamic vocals of Brian Connoly and the manic vocal break provided by bassist Steve Priest, ‘Blitz’ remains one of the most exciting records ever made. Another gem written by Chinn & Chapman, it was tailor made for the Sweet. It’s non-stop energy has transcended the years and still sounds fresh as ever when blasting out of a radio near you. Now please…turn it up LOUD!