Teenage Rampage: Listen to the ‘master tape’ of Sweet live at the Rainbow, 1973

Things could have been so different for Sweet. On the verge of escaping their bubble gum pop/Glam Rock image to showcase their real talents as a hard rock band by supporting the Who at Charlton Athletic’s football ground in 1974, lead singer Brian Connolly was kicked in the throat by three thugs outside a bar in Staines, Sussex. Connolly had stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes. He thought the trio of ne’er-do-wells were about to trash his automobile when they set on him. Some thought it an act of wanton violence. Others, including the band’s bass player Steve Priest believe it was something “much more sinister.”

“It was a set-up job,” Priest says. “He’d annoyed someone. There were three guys attacking him and one of them kicked him in the throat. Brian heard him say, ‘That should do the job.’ The only one who knows the truth is an ex-roadie of ours, and he won’t tell.”

Connolly’s vocal cords were permanently damaged by the attack. He lost his confidence and started drinking heavily and taking drugs. The band pulled out of their gig with the Who. It was the beginning of the end of the Sweet. Connolly’s drinking led him to quit the band in 1979.

Sweet was always a hard rock band, despite the evidence of their poppier hit songs. Listen to some of the B-sides like “New York Connection” or “Rock and Roll Disgrace” on their classic hit singles and you’ll get a good idea where the group’s heart truly lay. Sweet was a long-haired denim and leather band. They should have been seen like Deep Purple, Judas Priest, early Queen (who on more than one occasion sound distinctly like Sweet) or even KISS. But Sweet tied themselves into an almost Faustian deal for pop fame with songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. This meant they were packaged as bubblegum/glam rockers with songs like “Funny Funny,” “Coco,” “Wig Wam Bam,” and “Little Willy.” Not that there’s much wrong with these tracks but they’re more suited to the Archies than say Ritchie Blackmore. Chinn and Chapman got nearer Sweet’s mark with “Ballroom Blitz” and “Blockbuster,” but they’re still not the full-on rock power of the group’s own songs like “Someone Else Will”—the uncensored version with the lyrics: “If we don’t fuck you, then someone else will”—or “Done Me Wrong All Right.”

Many of their fans recognized Sweet’s true potential as a hard rocking band, as did Pete Townshend who invited them to support the Who. But a kick to Connolly’s throat put paid to that. What’s also overlooked is the quality of Sweet’s musicianship: Andy Scott’s god-like guitar playing; Steve Priest’s heavy, heavy bass; and the sheer brilliance of Mick Tucker—whose innovation and style owes more to Gene Krupa than John Bonham—on drums.

At the frenzied height of their fame, Christmas 1973, Sweet played the Rainbow Theater, London. It ranks as one of the best concerts ever put down on tape—even if Tucker’s snare drums were missing from the multi-track recording and later dubbed in. It showcases the band’s ability to play bubble gum pop for the teenybop fans and high-octane rock for the more discerning listener. The choice tracks are the band’s self-penned numbers like “Burning”/“Someone Else Will,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Disgrace,” “Need a Lot of Loving,” “Done Me Wrong Alright,” and “You’re Not Wrong For Loving Me.”

Part of this concert was released on Sweet’s double album Strung Up in 1975, before getting a full release on Live at the Rainbow 1973 in 1999. Take a listen and hear how great the kings of glam rock were as a balls-to-the-walls live band.

Set List: Intro—“The Stripper,” “Hellraiser,” “Burning”/“Someone Else Will,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Disgrace,” “Wig Wam Bam,” “Need a Lot of Loving,” “Done Me Wrong Alright,” “You’re Not Wrong For Loving Me,” “The Man with the Golden Arm,” “Little Willy,” “Teenage Rampage,” Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley—“Keep a-Knockin’”/“Shakin’ All Over”/“Lucille”/“Great Balls of Fire”/“Reelin’ and Rockin”/“Peppermint Twist”/“Shout,” “Ballroom Blitz,” and “F.B.I.”/“Blockbuster.”


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Ballroom Blitz’: The teenage rampage that inspired Sweet’s greatest hit
‘All That Glitters’: Vintage doc on legendary British glam rockers, The Sweet

Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:17 am
Rock n’ roll sex warriors: The motor-driven bimbos of Rockbitch
05:19 pm

A major element of the current rock n’ roll crisis we’re in is that contemporary bands have almost no willingness to provoke. It’s just not a Millennial impulse to shit themselves on stage or strut around arenas wearing Charles Manson t-shirts or brawl with the audience or carve their arms up with razor blades during press interviews. They just don’t wanna do it, man. And that’s a drag because every generation deserves their own Iggy, their own Lux, their own GG. How do you know where too far is unless somebody you know goes there?

They don’t make ‘em like they used to: Lux Interior letting it all hang out
We had a great run of truly berserk performers in the 80s and 90s, from the Dwarves to Suckdog, from the Genitorturers to Psychodrama, and I figured we’d reached our apex of onstage WTF when Karen Finley started shoving yams up her ass, but then Rockbitch hit the scene and blew up that notion completely.

Sex cult or rock band? Rockbitch were a little bot of both.
A (mostly) female commune/collective of like-minded British sexual warriors, Rockbitch formed in 1989. They played hardcore rock n’ roll, and they lived it, too. Their shows were a literal orgy of golden showers, scissor fights, fist-fucking, and every other extravagant live sex act you can imagine. And this was just during the guitar solos, dude. They turned the whole notion of the conquering male rock star on its head, proving female musicians were just as capable of initiating debauchery and free-flowing sexual mayhem both on and off-stage. At every show, they’d throw out a “golden condom” to the audience. The lucky recipient got to have group sex with the band backstage. You may not have started out as a libertine, but by the end of your first Rockbitch gig, you were basically Caligula. Rockbitch took it all the way.

Rockbitch in action
Naturally, they were banned just about everywhere, and mostly regulated their activities to the Netherlands, where the locals really “got” Rockbitch. The band broke up in 2002, leaving behind one album, 1999’s Motor Driven Bimbo, an eye-popping documentary, This is Rockbitch, an archival website featuring plenty of alarming photos, and a handful of pretty incredible videos. They might’ve been the last vestige of truly out-there rock n’ roll we’ll ever get unless Katy Perry or whoever starts peeing on her dancers.

See Rockbitch in action, after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre
05:19 pm
‘All Right Now’: Free rock steady, amazing live footage from 1970

Free is one of those bands who most people know from just their two hits singles “All Right Now” and “Wishing Well” and pretty much nothing else. Both tracks still receive much radio airplay and can usually guarantee gents of certain age will be air guitaring once the solos start. But for all the acclaim and enjoyment of these singles, little is ever said about how truly tight this band were live or how groundbreaking they were, setting down a style of music for other bands to follow.

Free were a hard rock and blues band consisting of Paul Rodgers (vocals), Paul Kossoff (guitar), Andy Fraser (bass) and Simon Kirke (drums). They were all young teenagers when they first started gigging in different bands. Through the guidance of legendary blues man Alexis Korner the four like-minded youngsters came together to form a group in 1968. The youngest was fifteen (Fraser). The eldest were eighteen (Rodgers, Kirke). Korner dubbed the band “Free” and so they were born.
Free spent long hours rehearsing until they were almost telepathically in tune with each other. They gigged everywhere—no place was too lowly or too small—from boozer to club to proper theaters. At a time when music was shifting from psychedelia and flower power to blues and rock, Free were a part of a new generation of bands that were ringing in the changes.

In 1968, they released their debut album Tons of Sobs—a good and powerful blues album that sounded as if it was recorded in one goose-bump, adrenaline-pumping take—with amazing interplay between Rodgers’ vocals and Kossoff’s guitar. However, it did little to raise the band’s profile. However, live they were getting the attention they hoped for and a legion of dedicated fans started turning up at their gigs.
In 1969, Free released their eponymous second album, which didn’t do as well as expected (it should have sold shedloads). It was during this point there was early signs of division within the group as Rogers and Fraser formed a songwriting partnership which dictated the direction and style of the band. It left Kossoff and Kirke feeling isolated and a tad mutinous. Guitarist and drummer considered dumping Fraser and replacing him with Mott the Hoople’s Overened Watts. Kossoff also considered joining another band and auditioned as guitarist for The Rolling Stones. While Fraser and Rodgers wondered if they should form their own band. However, this was all temporarily forgotten about with the massive success of their next album Fire and Water—a stunning record which also contained their biggest hit single “All Right Now.”

Continuing under the writing partnership of Fraser and Rodgers, Free began to create a powerful, seminal white blues/hard rock sound that other bands would have greater success in copying. They found a steady pulse in Kirke’s drumming and a prodigiously talented guitarist in Kossoff. Free gave a star performance in front of 600,000 at the Isle of Wight Festival and were considered by many in the music press to be the future of rock. They had broken the American market and were seemingly on the verge of greatness.

But a fourth album Highway, also released in 1970, failed to follow-up on the success of Fire and Water. This together with disagreements between Rodgers and Fraser, and Kossoff’s serious drug problem, caused the band to temporarily split. The NME reported:

With their current single ‘My Brother Jake’ standing high in the UK charts, Free have disbanded!

The decision to break up was taken during the group’s recent Australian tour and now the various members are planning new bands.

Announcing the split, a spokesman said: ‘The boys felt they had achieved as much together as they possibly could within their existing framework. They have now decided to pursue individual careers..’

It was thought Kossoff and Kirke would stay together and assemble a new group. While Rodgers and Fraser would form their own bands. A live album—recorded at Sheffield and Croydon’s Fairfeld Hall—was planned for release but no further singles.

As fate would have it the release of a live album in 1971 proved to be yet another big hit and personal disagreements were soon resolved and the band released their fifth album Free At Last in 1971, which put them back in the Top 10. Free At Last is a dark, brooding, deeply felt and powerful album considered by some critics as a plea by the band for Kossoff to get off the drugs. During its recording Fraser allegedly kidnapped Kossoff in an attempt to get him clean—it didn’t work.

When it came time to tour and promote the album, the reality of Kossoff’s drug problem meant he was “physically incapable of performing.” Arguments flared between Fraser and Rodgers and the band split—this time with Rodgers and Kirke staying on as Free. The band’s last success was their sixth album Heartbreaker which charted big in both the UK and US and gave the band a final hit single “Wishing Well.”

Keeping reading after the jump… it’s Free…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
01:21 pm