Top 10 Sweet Songs

Sweet Songs

Photo: By Ra’ike (see also: de:Benutzer:Ra’ike) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Chances are, if you never heard of the band Sweet, you have almost definitely heard one of the many classic Sweet Songs that the band released at the height of their career in the 1970s. The band had a long string of hits in the United States, starting out with their 1972 mega-hit “Little Willy” and ending with their late 1970s song “Love Is Like Oxygen.” In between, the band’s look and sound defined the 1970s glam rock genre. The band was initially formed in 1968 in London, England.  The release schedule of singles and albums varied between the United Kingdom and the United States. Various single-only releases in the United Kingdom would show up initially on U.S.-only albums, much in the same way the Beatles catalog varied between shores. Even though the band has continued on, they have gone through numerous lineup changes. Although key members have passed away, the Sweet songs so many of us grew up listening to in the 1970s have continued to infiltrate the popular culture of the last forty years.

# 11 – No You Don’t

Yeah, we know it’s supposed to be a To 10 Sweet Songs list. Sorry, our list goes to 11.  We felt it was essential to start out with one of our favorite Sweet songs that casual fans may have never heard. Sweet’s “No You Don’t” was one of those great album tracks that was never released as a single. Placed in the shadows of two substantial hit singles off the Desolation Boulevard album, Sweet’s “No You Don’t” defined the art of heavy glam rock with the perfect pop hook. The song may have been a little darker than most of the band’s singles, but its minor key chord changes and passionate dueling vocals will make you fall in love with this band instantly. The perfect choice to open up our (ahem!)Top 10 Sweet Songs list.

# 10 – Funny Funny

The single “Funny Funny” was Sweet’s first worldwide hit. The song was released on their first album entitled Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be. The LP arrived in record stores in November of 1971. Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman’s songwriting team wrote the song. Chin and Chapman were two of the most successful songwriting teams to emerge from the 1970s.

The duo were responsible for penning a large portion of the early Sweet catalog. Besides penning songs for Sweet, the duo of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman scored hits for artists such as Suzi Quatro, Smokie, Mud, Racey, and Exile. Their songs have been covered by famous artists such as Pat Benatar (If You Think You Know How To Love Me), Def Leppard (Hell Raiser), Marillion, KT Tunstall (Lonely This Christmas), and many others.  Sweet’s first hit “Funny Funny,” echoed the early bubble gum style sound found in the era of late 1960’s early 1970s pop rock.

# 9 – Wig Wam Bam

The great Sweet song “Wig Wam Bam,” was the follow-up to their smash hit “Little Willy.” Both songs were released as singles in 1972. At the time the band was known as The Sweet. Two years later, they would drop “The” from the name and just go by the group name Sweet. The song “Wig Wam Bam” would continue to define the bubble gum sound that the band was starting to grow unhappy with.

# 8 – The Lies In Your Eyes

The great Sweet single “The Lies in Your Eyes” was released on Sweet’s 1976 album Give Us A Wink. That album was the follow-up to Sweet’s mega selling Desolation Boulevard LP. While Give Us A Wink did not succeed like Desolation Boulevard, the LP contained some of the heaviest music of the band’s career. After years of recording songs written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the band took full writing responsibilities for the entire Give Us A Wink LP. It’s a great LP; however, finding a copy will result in great futility. “The Lies In Your Eyes” was the record’s second single and the album’s opening track.

# 7 – Action

It’s hard to watch this video and not think of the movie Spinal Tap. If you are familiar with the film, you will know exactly what I mean when watching the video. “Action” was the first single from the Give Us A Wink LP. The song was actually released by itself in 1975 a year before the Give Us A Wink LP was released. It’s one of those tough-in-your-face glam songs full of melody, killer harmonies, and lightning guitar riffs. In short, it’s perfectly titled.

# 6 -Mother Earth

If you were a big fan of the hit singles Sweet released in the early to late 1970s, chances are you would never believe this was the same band that released the song “Mother Earth.” And well, frankly, it wasn’t. The band went through many personal changes over the years, and you can hear the dramatic differences in the song ” Mother Earth.” Gone is the bubble gum rock-pop sound that most people loved about the band. “Mother Earth,” sounds more like progressive rock with it’s  Oberheim polyphonic synthesizers and lovely piano riffs. This was as progressive as Sweet had ever sounded. And it sounded good. The song was released on the band’s 1979 Cut Above the Rest album. Original lead vocalist Brian Connolly left the band during the recording of the album.

# 5 – Blockbuster

The song Blockbuster was one of the band’s most successful single releases in the U.K. The song was released as a single in 1973. It hit the Number one position in Austria, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. It was eventually released on the first American Sweet album entitled The Sweet. That album was a compilation record of the successful singles the band had released in Europe.

# 4 – Ballroom Blitz

The opening track on Sweet’s Desolation Boulevard album is one of the most popular songs of the band’s career. The excellent drum opening and campy band introductions were purely symbolic of 1970’s bubble gum pop rock culture. The lead vocal seems to borrow some of the insanity of Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa.!” The song “Ballroom Blitz,” was the first single released from the United States version of the album released in 1975. The song was initially released in 1973 in the U.K.

# 3 – Little Willy

When I was eleven years old, I heard Little Willy on the radio in 1972 when it had just been released. It instantly became my favorite song. It was just one of those amazingly catchy pop songs you could not get out of your head; It was played constantly on AM radio. It’s hard to believe that the same band released songs like Fox on the Run and Action. Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman wrote the song. “Little Willy” was the band’s most successful song of their career. It reached the number 3 position on the United States Billboard Hit 100 Music Charts in 1972.

# 2 – Fox On The Run

One of the most memorable Sweet Songs of all time has to be their 1975 hit “Fox on the Run.” The song was originally released on the European version of the album Desolation Boulevard and the 1975 United States release of the same record.  The song featured some great dynamic keyboard work wrapped around the anthemic lead and background vocals on the song’s iconic chorus. A tremendous solo guitar line in the middle of the song perfectly complimented the song’s perfect op production. It’s an instant classic that may be remembered as the ultimate Sweet song. It’s interesting as Steve Miller would use the song’s opening keyboard lick again on his mega 1977 hit Jungle Love. 

# 1 – Love is Like Oxygen

For various reasons, we choose “Love Is Like Oxygen” as the number one song on our Top 10 Sweet Songs list. The first reason was simply for the fantastic vocal performances on the song—the band’s pitched harmonies sound, unlike any other band in their genre. The song’s high-quality production was instantly evident from the sound of the song’s opening guitar riffs. The composition’s verses fluctuated between full-blown sweet metal pop and tender piano-based riffs that set up the perfect cadence for the song’s brilliant chorus. This was pop music perfection, original, memorable, and pure fun. Easily the band’s greatest musical achievement.

Updated November 11, 2023

Top 10 Sweet Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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