Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Sweet - Live At The Marquee

Recorded live at the Marquee club, London, 1986 With 4 bonus Studio Tracks

The Sweet 1985 L-R
Mal McNulty
Phil Lanzon
Andy Scott
Mick Tucker
Paul Mario Day   

Sweet's origins go back to 1965, with UK soul  band Wainwright's Gentlemen, which included drummer Mick Tucker and vocalist Ian Gillan. The group were limited to small UK clubs playing a mixture of rhythm and blues and psychedelia. Gillan quit in May 1965 to join Episode Six, and, later, Deep Purple. Gillan's eventual replacement was vocalist Brian Connolly. Tucker and Connolly remained with Wainwright's Gentlemen until early 1968.

In January 1968, Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker left Wainwright's Gentlemen to form another band, calling themselves The Sweetshop. They recruited the bass guitarist and lead vocalist Steve Priest of a local band called The Army, who had previously played with another local band The Countdowns. Frank Torpey, a friend of Tucker's, was recruited to play guitar. It did not take long for Sweetshop to develop a following on the pub circuit and they were signed to the Fontana record label. At the time, another UK band released a single under the same name Sweetshop, so the band changed the name to The Sweet. Their debut single "Slow Motion" (July 1968) failed to chart. Sweet was released from the recording contract and Frank Torpey left. Steve Priest in his autobiography says Gordon Fairminer was approached to play for them when Torpey decided to leave but turned the job down as he wanted to concentrate on other interests.

Fox on the Run - Live at the Marquee

SWEET 1978 - 1991
Between March and May 1978 Sweet extensively toured the USA. On this occasion, however, they had been reduced in status to a support act for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. The tour included a disastrous date in Birmingham, Alabama at which visiting Capitol Records executives in the audience were to see Brian Connolly give a drunken and incoherent performance that terminated early in the set with his collapse on stage leaving the rest of the group to play on without him. The band regrouped in England before resuming the US tour in late May supporting Seger and other acts, including Foghat and Alice Cooper, until they returned to the UK in early July. The band began work on their next album in mid-August with writing sessions at Clearwell Castle. Unfortunately, Brian's alcoholism  was steadily becoming a greater issue. Although all the Sweet members lived the extreme rock lifestyle during the 70s - with alcohol, drugs, and women, among other things - the others were not as severely affected as Connolly. Andy Scott told Mojo magazine in 2008: "I think we'd known there was a problem [with Brian] as far back as the first U.S. tour in 1975. We'd say: 'Let's try having a non-drinking day' but it was hard." However, the band left Clearwell in late September with some promising material.

In late October Sweet arrived at The Town House studio in Shepherds Bush, London to write and record new material for their next album. A number of tracks featuring Connolly were recorded but were deemed unsatisfactory and his contributions were erased from the ensuing album Cut Above The Rest. Two tracks featuring Brian on lead vocals, "That Girl" and "Stay With Me", remain from the sessions.

On February 23, 1979, Brian Connolly's departure from Sweet was announced. Publicly, Connolly was said to be pursuing a solo career with an interest in recording country rock. Sweet continued as a trio with Scott and Priest now both handling lead vocals (Scott says that Ronnie James Dio, who'd just departed from Rainbow, was approached in January 1979 to join as the group's new singer. But Priest disputes this. At any rate, Dio ended up joining Black Sabbath shortly thereafter). Keyboard player Gary Moberley continued to augment the group on stage and on record and guitarist Ray McRiner also joined their touring lineup in 1979 as well as contributing songs to their next album, Waters Edge, which was released in Europe under that title and as Sweet VI in the U.S. One more studio album, Identity Crisis, was recorded in 1980-81 and Sweet performed their last live show at Glasgow University on March 20th, 1981. They disbanded in 1982.

Ballromm Blitz - Live at the Marquee

In 1985, Scott and Tucker re-formed Sweet with new players, singer Paul Mario Day (ex-Iron Maiden, More, Wildfire), keyboardist Phil Lanzon (ex-Grand Prix, Lionheart; now with Uriah Heep), and bass player Malcolm McNulty (who is now lead singer for fellow glam rockers Slade). Priest was asked to join Tucker and Scott for a 1986 Australian tour, but he declined. Singer Day ended up marrying the band's Australian tour guide and relocating down under. He continued with Sweet for a bit, commuting back & forth to Europe for the group's tours until this proved to be too cumbersome. He departed in late 1988. As McNulty moved into the front man spot, Jeff Brown came in to take over bass early in 1989. Lanzon too went back and forth between Sweet and Uriah Heep during 1986-1988 before Heep's schedule grew too busy. Ian Gibbons (who had played with The Kinks and The Records) and then Malcolm Pearson both filled in for Lanzon until Steve Mann (ex-Liar, Lionheart, McAuley Schenker Group) arrived in December 1989 for a five and a half year term. In 1991, Tucker departed due to ill health.

With former More lead singer Paul Mario Day taking over the vocal duties from Brian Connoly, Sweet's Live at the Marquee actually stands up quite sufficiently throughout the 11 live tracks, peaking the energy levels and carrying out their hits with surprising intensity. Rockers like "Sweet F.A.," "No You Don't," "Ballroom Blitz," and "Fox on the Run" are performed with genuine enthusiasm, as both Tucker and Scott sound like they want to be there. While Brian Connoly (who passed away in 1997) is obviously missed behind the microphone, Day holds his own, especially on "Love Is Like Oxygen," which is reinforced by stone-heavy guitar riffs and dominating keyboards from Phil Lanzon(Uriah Heep). The four studio tracks, on the other hand, fail to keep the power rush alive, and the rendition of "Reach Out (I'll Be There )" is too far out of context to even be considered as novel. With drum solos and guitar segues adding to Live at the Marquee's tireless pace, the album ends up being a fine example of some well-built, on-stage rock & roll
 The Tracks
1.    Action  
2.    Sweet FA  
3.    Love Is Like Oxygen
4.    Restless  
5.    No You Don't
6.    Guitar Segue
7.    Someone Else Will  
8.    Drum Solo  
9.    Set Me Free
10.    Ballroom Blitz
11.    Fox On The Run

Studio Tracks
12.    Shot Down In Flames (Day,Lanzon,Scott)
13.    Over My Head (Day,Lanzon,Scott)
14.    Jump The Fence (Day,Lanzon,Scott)
15.    Reach Out ... (I'll Be There)


  1. Great back cover!
    worth downloading for just that.

  2. Very good summation of Sweet's career and specifically the making of this album. Live at The Marquee was at least produced well, unlike many of the Sweet bootlegs with Connolly on vocals.


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