Until a sudden fascination, I'd oddly not been very familiar with Sweet earlier ( but swiftly altered that), but I did know 'Love Is Like Oxygen' and always loved it. It was written by guitarist Andy Scott and Trevor Griffin and was on the album 'Level Headed', becoming a big hit in 1978 ( I can never understand why some people thought this was ELO, as no one sounds like Jeff Lynne but Jeff Lynne, or Sweet but Sweet, although many have tried). 'Love Is Like Oxygen' is a superb composition in every way, a rock masterpiece. The full length version of the song, with the progressive instrumental passage in the middle, is the one that really must be heard to fully appreciate this song.
This was the last album with the classic four-piece line-up, as lead singer Brian Connolly would depart afterwards. Listening to this album, one notices a change of direction; it's a softer and more romantic record, different from the previous one 'Off The Record', which was very hard rock, but which also had variation in the styles of songs (and which I probably should have written about before this one). 'Level Headed' showed a further maturity of the band's sound and songwriting (although every album was a progression), a more sophisticated touch with Renaissance and classical elements on some of the songs (Anthem No. 1 Lady of the Lake and Anthem No. 2 are very beautiful). They sound as if they were bursting with creativity and could set off in many different directions, but this does not reflect negatively on the record, it gives variety and interest. One can only imagine what further excellent music could have been made if Brian Connolly could have carried on; yet there were three more worthy albums afterwards, with a three-piece Sweet, (with Steve Priest singing most of the lead vocals) and a keyboardist or two.
All the band members were/are highly talented, being masters of their instruments, and all having very good voices (which is not a common skill in most bands). I like hearing the songs with Steve Priest and Andy Scott singing lead vocals, and of course Brian Connolly was a great lead singer, and Mick Tucker on drums and backing vocals. There was something extra special about when the four were together, as their harmonies were glorious. How wonderful it would have been if we could have had another decade or two of more music from this talented band, who could really play anything (and their harder, livelier songs, which show them at their best, are among the most exciting you will ever hear).
There are various different clips of them on television miming to the shorter, half-length version of 'Love Is Like Oxygen', but this one is my favourite (on German television show Disco, which I hasten to add was nothing to do with disco music) because of the obvious amusement going on:
Here are two more promotional videos of top songs from Level Headed, the first being 'California Nights' with bassist Steve Priest on lead vocals:
and 'Fountain', with Andy Scott on lead vocals, and a lovely harpsichord ending:
The other songs are the pretty 'Lettres D'Amour' and 'Dream On', 'Silverbird', the funky 'Strong Love', and the mysterious and progressive 'Air On 'A' Tape Loop. There were also two songs for B-sides recorded: 'Cover Girl', and 'Show Me The Way', a sizzling tune left over from the previous album. I found a little video of it, which I'm featuring here because it is not on the record or cd and only available as a 45 rpm B-side. There should really be a new expanded edition of this album on cd, including the B-sides and rarities, any Sweet fan would be delighted with that.
Do seek them out and listen!
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