ARTICLE ABOUT Sweet FROM SOUNDS, August 31, 1974

A really good review of this band that proves that they were more than just a bubblegum hit band. Comparisons with Purple and Sabbath too – that`s really something!
Hope you like it.


Hot and nasty under the lights

Pete Makowski reports from Blackpool

Sweet want to be nasty, musically speaking of course. “The next album we make is going to be nasty, it`s going to be vicious”, said the band`s guitarist Andy Scott. This was after their gig at the Blackpool Winter Gardens last Wednesday. It was their first gig in eight months and it marks a new era in the band`s career, their transition from being just a teeny booper band to group with a little more to offer.
This was the first time I saw Sweet and it was a shame that the audience weren`t really a good representation of the band`s hard core fans… come to think of it, it was rather an odd night. The Winter Gardens ballroom is only a part of a huge building that contains many bars and a larger hall (holding three and a half thousand) where Val Doonican has been selling out every night of his Summer season.
It wasn`t obvious that the band were playing at the venue as there was only one small, inconspicuous poster advertising the affair. This could have accounted for the lack of audience, the event was no sellout. The ages of the audience varied from parents who had taken their kids (of whom some were a ridicously young age) to the 18 and 20 year olds who were there to hear the heavier elements of the band.
It`s amazing to see what kind of age group bands of this stature attract, considering the bands don`t come on until about 10 p.m. Apparently one night, the parents of the children came along to complain that their kids were being kept up too late (it was either Mud or Peters And Lee).
The stage was already set up, with a cinema screen at the back, a gong in front of it, and the whole affair was surrounded by a lavish looking light show.
An obvious Butlin reject redcoat came on to the stage saying things like `hello boys and girls, how are you kiddies` and even the youngest of the audience ignored him. He made his announcement and it was only when the lights went down that it became apparent the band were about to come on.
But before the arrival of the group, the cinema screen heralded the announcement “And now the moment you`ve been waiting for” then the `Stripper` theme blared out of the system and a rather busty young lady was jiggling her wares over the screen. There was a countdown and each number twisted round into some sort of sexual symbol, excellent bit of cartoonery.

As soon as the film finished Andy Scott was on the stage knocking out the chords to “Hellraiser”, Steve Priest appeared from the other side to accompany him on bass and Mick Tucker darted up the back to his huge double kit. Last but not least Mister Connelly appeared to the female`s whimpering delight.
Two flashing explosions from either side of the stage, gave the number the raucous atmosphere it needs. Yes, when it comes to showmanship Sweet come third to Alice Cooper and Cecille B. De Mille in extravagance.
Due to the acoustics and lack of audience the sound of the band was rather echoey, although the power of the music still managed to pierce the eardrums. The audience were definitely into this number, and one young kid was avidly clapping his hands together in metronomic style and he kept this up throughout the set, same beat. A severe case of the Gary Glitters I fear.
The next section of the set was dedicated to the band`s album “Sweet F.A.” and revealed a completely new side of the band. When it comes to rock, the band are professional in their performance, skilful in their musicianship and have some extremely good material to boot. The songs are pacey and dynamic, comparable to the songs Purple were playing in their “In Rock” days. I always found one of the magic ingredients of the band, singlewise, was the tough, solid combination of Priest and Tucker, this enhanced itself on their heavier material. Connelly`s vocals were good, but still a bit shaky. Andy and Steve harmonised with him giving strength to the output.
Andy Scott featured some tasteful soloing, especially in the second number, where he doubled his guitar with a tape recording, all very precise stuff. On the album`s title track Scott played both synthesizer and Fender Stratocaster guitar which he almost demolished at the end of the song.
“I was mad,” he said afterwards “did you hear the sound the guitar was making? I was going to smash it against the speaker, but I threw it at a roadie instead.”


One of the highlights of the night, was Tucker`s drum solo, which began with “The Man With The Golden Gun”, the stage was empty, until Tucker appeared from one side, spinning a stick in his hand. He walked up to the kit and went into one of the most explosive drum solos I`ve heard for ages. If this wasn`t enough, suddenly a film of Tucker with his kit appeared on the screen, and the real Tucker accompanied it on tympanis. Then Tucker went back to his kit and had a drum duel with the film, which was one of the most synchronised and effective bits of showmanship I`ve seen.
The end of the solo led into “Ballroom Blitz” and it was only then that the audience gave an indication of life. It seemed as if they had been stunned silent by the heavy metal material and it took that bip boppin` beat to resuscitate them.
The last quarter of the set was the obvious high spot for the crowd. A rock and roll medley was followed by an extended version of “Blockbuster” featuring the “FBI” theme with an atmospheric clip of film accompanying it.
But this was not the end of the set, oh no, the opening screams of “Teenage Rampage” and the band reappeared to take over from where the record left off. I forgot to mention that they also played their new and most acclaimed single, “The Sixties”.
At the end of the set everyone walked away peacefully, and it was clear that the whole event was a bit subdued and lacked any of that fan hysteria. I found the set very entertaining although there are a lot of sections that need ironing out and tightening up, especially an acoustic piece which was totally out of contrast with the rest of the set (also the harmonies were well out of tune).
The band have proven how competent they are, and after a good solid tour they should do well here as long as the audience are ready to accept the transformation.
Anyone who likes Purple and Sabbath will either immensely enjoy the band or accuse them of being rip offs. I`m not going to commit myself until they`ve recorded their next album and I`ve seen them after they`ve toured a lot, but even now they show strong indications of being a bloody good rock and roll band.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rod Stewart, Jim Capaldi, Ray Davies, Lowell George, Grand Funk, Bruce Springsteen, H. B. Barnum, Mike Flood Page, Denny Laine, Roy Orbison, Rufus Thomas, Badfinger, Strider, The Neutrons.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Sweet FROM SOUNDS, January 19, 1974

Some really interesting facts in this article that I just wasn`t aware of. I like it when I get surprised reading all of these older articles.


Sweet in search of respect

A revealing interview with drummer Mick Tucker by Pete Makowski

WARNING – do not ignore this page.
On seeing the name Sweet, of course, you may have decided that SOUNDS has finally sold out or you may quietly be reaching into the nearest waste paper bin. But wait – the idea of interviewing those glittering veterans of “Top Of The Pops” and “Crackerjack” isn`t as ridiculous as it sounds.
“They reek of hype”, you may say – and you`d be right. They did, and they`re the first to admit it. But `did` is the operative word. Recently, they`ve split from their management and decided to put their destiny into their own hands – so you can expect a few more rough edges from now on.
The band were clustered in their office, listening to a tape of a gig. “Listen”, says Mick Tucker listening to his drum solo, “here comes the Sandy Nelson bit – he could get that sound thirteen years ago.” Hmmm, they know their music. Then their new single “Teenage Rampage”, which is pretty much in the vein of their previous efforts, but rougher and raunchier.
They play on it too; which is more than they did on their first few.

Says Mick: “The backing track was done by session people and we put down the vocals. It sold well and Phil (Wainman their producer) obviously wanted to repeat this as it was his first chart success and session people were put on the next single.
“We were sick, but we were controlled, what could we do? We wanted a hit record. Anyway they said you`ll be able to play on the next single, but they got guys on the backing track. In the end we said, `if we don`t play on  the next record you can all fuck off, there won`t be a Sweet, we`ll disband and re-form again.`
“In the end they said we could do all the playing and the ones we played on (from `Wigwam Bam`) were the best ones and the most successful.”
You`ll remember how “Blockbuster” came soon after “Jean Genie” both having that same E, A riff (which incidently sounds identical to the Yardbirds` “I`m A Man”). Mick explained that “Blockbuster” was written much earlier but they felt their fans weren`t ready for it at that time.
The band were quite experienced before Sweet was formed, especially Andy Scott who was in Scaffold`s backing group, Mayfield`s Mule and The Elastic Band to name a few. Mick joined a band which boasted Ian Gillan on vocals. Steve Priest, the bass player, has had quite a colourful career including sessions with Joe Meek – a name associated with the Tornados.
I asked Mick why the band haven`t done many live gigs as that`s where they won their praise from the press. “We did a few but they were so badly organised, ballrooms and things like that, Niki (Chin) and Mike (Chapman) were ostensibly our managers. But they`re songwriters not managers, they don`t know anything about touring.
“So we looked around and came up with another management company who were efficient but they were the wrong scene for us. They wanted too much money, they wanted just too much of the cake. So it was a case of having a dog and barking yourselves.

“So we had to do the thing ourselves. We wanted to get a stage act together. There was no catalyst, so we had to get in and do it ourselves.”
It must have been strange for a band who were so dependant on their management to be suddenly given this freedom. “Yeh”, Mick said with a sigh of relief, “we all sat down, I remember the feeling, I never felt so free in all my life, coz it was all down to us. We weren`t tied we had a nice little record deal on the side the rest was up to us.
“We sat down and decided how to spend our money. We got the best road crew, thirteen of them, and an IESPA system (which is used by ELP and Beck, Bogert and Appice). I mean what do you need a manager for? The only setbacks were on the administration side and we`ve got an agency to get the gigs.”
In the last interview I read the band were talking about an album about the history of rock and roll they were going to release with a spectacular stage act planned to tie in with it.
“It took a long time to get together, it didn`t really come off. There was a couple of albums out like `Rigor Mortis` and another one and that was basically the same thing so we scrapped the idea.”
What about the new album? “The new album is most of our stuff, to us it`s our first album,” Mick explained. “The albums that we did in the past, well we haven`t done any really. The first one was shit, it was a pop album, all right taken at its face value. And then there was a compilation album on RCA `Sweet`s Biggest Hits` we disagree but that`s another story.”
Will they be writing all their own material? “Chin and Chapman encouraged our writing, they will still be writing our singles until we get a successful album. There has to be a time when Chin and Chapman won`t be writing our songs any more.
“At the moment the band`s going through a `fuck everybody we don`t care` phase. I suppose it`s from repression in the past.
“There isn`t any respect for us, it`s not hip to dig the Sweet.”


But how do the band expect to command any respect when they haven`t proved their virtuosity? Mick agreed but added, “If there wasn`t any talent in the band and we didn`t like playing we`d probably go `nice one Niki, nice one Ron` carry on writing for us and we`ll do anything you say.
Other plans in the pipeline include Mick`s venture to record a solo drum album and the further development of Mick and Andy`s production management. They already have a band under their wing.
“I found the band and Andy wrote the song. They`re good, like a West coast band, which is a breath of fresh air as far as I`m concerned. Nice rocking, harmony like Steely Dan, obviously the musicianship isn`t as good.”
I asked Mick what he thought of Sweet`s new single? “The flames there, it`s a monster, it`s not my personal favourite but it`s a good single. One thing that surprised me was the fact that the band are enjoying a mammoth success in the States, where they are regarded in the same slot as Deep Purple and other high class rockers?
“The first hit was Little Willy” said Mick obviously happy to talk about it. “On radio play alone it sold two million copies. We then released an album featuring all our B-sides and the reviews were really good, like `nice heavy rock band` which is amazing.
“I know with the act we`ve got when we go over we`ll kill them. I don`t mean that in a conceited way, I`m glad to say it`s what we want.” Their new album is coming out to coincide with their March tour. “God willing,” said Mick, “we have no problems with singles as we make the money for RCA, it`s a shame but whose going to give any new unestablished band forty thousand singles?
“Over the past six months that we`ve taken over management we`ve spent money and worked our balls off. We`ve got to shake off the stigma of our early hits. Nobody will respect the band till that happens.”

I asked Mick if the band were going to bury the past and pave a new road? “We`re going to stop doing TV shows. Programmes we did in the early days like `Lift Off` gave our first TV slot so we were in their debt so we went back.”
It seems logical that a band of good musicians who have been trussed up like turkey and sold to the highest bidder would revolt against it if they had any respect for their craft.
You can only take so much and this was probably Sweet`s predicament highlighting the fact that they were still in the age of the big star maker. No one apart from them knows how much they were manipulated but the fact is they do now want to make music.
We can`t judge them until they`ve displayed their goods but then again we can`t condemn them. They feel that they are stuck in the middle but feel that it`s also worthwhile: “We`re all good musicians but we could never get it together. We had to own up in the end, we`ll still have hit records. We want people to come and see the Sweet and that`s what it`s all about.”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, Bryan Ferry, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Paul Butterfield, Nazareth, Tim Hardin, Average White Band, Cozy Powell, Robin Dransfield, Andy Roberts.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


This was exciting times for The Sweet, out on tour, proving themselves as a hard rock band without the songwriting help of Chinn and Chapman in the future. They proved they could write the hits themselves with the song “Fox on The Run” from the album “Desolation Boulevard” released in November 1974.
Have a nice read, and I`m sorry for the accompanying concert photo – it looked like that in the paper, so it wasn`t me shaking my camera when I took it.


Announcement: it is now cool to say `I dig the Sweet` in mixed company

Rehabilitation by Max Bell

Rock snobbery. That`s what it is. A prevailing attitude that anything commercially successful in terms of the charts must therefore be top-twenty hype, not suitable for those who really Know About Good Music and best left to moronic boppers who actually get off on dancing and contrived, simplistic music.
Take a look at those charts and you`ll find plenty of evidence to back up such a view, the sort of records that it isn`t Cool To Like. Admittedly separating the wheat from the chaff is superficially quite easy – but just how bad is the output of bands such as Showaddywaddy, The Rubettes, First Class and The Sweet?
In fact all these groups, and probably a few more, make records which sound great on the radio and occasionally transcend the awesome and stultifying spell that Robin Nash, Blackbum and co. manage to weave in order to trivialise everything to their own special brand of bunkum.
And occasionally a classic example of the genre emerges which rightfully assumes an elevated status. Sometimes one offs having nothing to do with formula also grab the spotlight, like “MacArthur Park” or “Riders On The Storm”, but these are exceptions not norms. Excellent forty-fives are there for the listening to now, and holding the view that everything contemporary is necessarily rubbish will prove far more detrimental to rock and roll than maintaining more tolerant critical standards less clouded by blind prejudice.

In the past I`ve probably been as guilty as anyone when it comes to sneering at chart-orientated groups. I wasn`t exactly delighted at being asked to cover Sweet in Copenhagen but having done so I`m convinced that Sweet, and others like them, fill a need as relevant as that supposedly provided by artists like Rick Wakeman or ELP.
Inside the Brondby Hall are five thousand people who already have their opinion firmly entrenched and altogether they`ve paid close on thirty thousand pounds to have it reinforced.
Sweet mix their hits liberally with tracks from “Sweet F.A.” and “Desolation Boulevard” and the audience enjoys it all. It`s one thing to singalong with “Hellraiser” and “Blockbuster”, quite another to enjoy cuts like “Restless” or “Set Me Free” that indicate Sweet really do rock as hard as anyone. Mick Tucker`s drum battle against a double-screening of himself and Andy Scott`s guitar work throughout have more in common with the Spiders From Mars than The Bay City Rollers.
And that`s a fact.
Sweet`s slick presentation, volume and choice of material may not allow one to extend the comparison too far but really they`re every bit as enjoyable as, say, Slade, Queen – and a host of other bands who exist in that rarified atmosphere where their work is Taken Seriously.

When I spoke to Mick Tucker after the gig it was made abundantly clear to me that Sweet feel they are most of the way to justifying their musical existence in an arena where everyone is working towards a similar end. Sometime back they were a much despised band, accused of being just another synthetic Chinn and Chapman product. There`s some truth in that, particularly as their last two London shows (The Rainbow and Imperial College) were both unqualified disasters (owing to P.A. breakdowns which indicated a marked lack of professionalism on someone`s part).
It was therefore natural to assume that the band were inept, safe in a studio but unable to reproduce the most undemanding proof of live ability. Yet since then – with the publicised support of respected old-timers like Pete Townshend and even John Peel – the band are overcoming various barriers.
“I think we`ve achieved it in Europe, though in England there`s still a stigma that dates back to our stereotyped image of four years ago,” says Tucker. “People find it impossible to accept we have some talent even while the albums have brought that talent to the fore.
“In terms of measured success we`ve been accepted on the continent. It`s coming round now but we don`t shout `we want respect` anymore. You don`t get that until you actually lay your balls on the line and prove it.”


The factor of such a diverse age range at their concerts resulting in the presence of so many younger people, is some cause for frustration but, according to Tucker, it`s acceptable: “They are very familiar with the albums, whereas in England the act went over the kids` heads. I think our audience will change when we`ve done something in America because the English are so cynical. We`re beginning to get encouraging feedback now. John Peel had a competition playing one of our B-sides asking who it was and the answers ranged from Gracie Fields to Led Zeppelin.
“We deliberately played colleges on our last tour to bring the act to an older audience although obviously we can`t stop younger kids from coming. And we missed out by not doing Charlton when Pete asked us.”
Last year`s break with the consistently reliable Chinn-Chapman team hasn`t done Sweet any harm – if the success of “Fox On The Run” is anything to go by. Tucker sees the change as inevitable and beneficial:
“We`d been striving for our own material as our demands got greater, particularly when they became involved with other acts. When we needed a new single they weren`t around so we went in and did it ourselves, that was it. They knew there`d be a split eventually.

“See, their strength is limited, it doesn`t lie in albums, and we were getting dead lazy relying on them. Now it`s just easier if we do it and we get a truer reflection of our sound. Before, Brian (Connolly) would be under the direction of Mike Chapman and the sound wasn`t always ours. On album we told him to do what got him off and as you can see, live it`s much rougher, less clean-sounding.”
This independence is reflected in a playing competence that most people wouldn`t to witness at a Sweet concert. Their past record may have worked against them once but they no longer shout the odds:
“We`re adequate. We`d rather let people assess our talent from coming to see us – though I suppose we are pretty good. Lots of press wrote us off, turned their backs.
“We do want to drop the singles tag because it holds you to ransom. You`re only as good as your next record.”
Surely a predicament arises here in that you`ve built a reputation on singles and yet you also want to make the transition to something more adventurous. What`s wrong with making commercial records anyhow?
“Well we did get channelled and we got fed up. But I`m not ashamed of what we used to do. In fact, I`m positive it lengthened our lifespan.”

Genesis were crawling on carpets in 1975.

Genesis were crawling on carpets in 1975.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Steely Dan, Al Green, Pete Atkin and Clive James, Joe Walsh, Frank Zappa, David Allan Coe, Carla Bley, Syl Johnson, The Pink Fairies.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


For those of you not familiar with the background story of Sweet – here are some facts for you:
The “accident” the article are referring to regarding Brian happened during sessions for the album. Brian Connolly was injured in a fight in Staines High Street. His throat was badly injured and his ability to sing severely limited. The band did not publicise the incident and told the press that subsequent cancelled shows were due to Connolly having a throat infection. The band resumed playing live shows nearly a full six months after Connolly’s throat injury, with band and critics noting a rougher edge to his voice and a reduced range.
“Turn It Down” received minimal airplay on UK radio and was banned by some radio stations because of certain lyrical content – “God-awful sound” and “For God sakes, turn it down” – which were deemed “unsuitable for family listening.” This may seem like a joke now as these lyrics would only be banned at the most fundamentalist Christian radio stations today. The difference between now and then is only a little over 40 years. Just think about it…



Once Sweet were frowned upon, now they`ve become a part of pop`s heritage and now, like a lot of other labelled stars, they are finding it difficult to break away from their image. Slowly but surely people are beginning to accept the band on their own terms. The band`s guitarist ANDY SCOTT spoke to PETE MAKOWSKI about the ups and downs of being a one time teeny bop band and gives his reasons why this band won`t fade away.

“It`s really strange playing at concerts without hearing people scream `Brian, Mick, Steve` the applause dies down and they wait for the next number…as Mick said we were crapping ourselves.”
Yes, now that Sweet have ventured forth into the realms of respectability i.e. Sweet go `eavy, life has become a whole different kettle of fish. The band are currently on tour, a tour that has been postponed and delayed due to the band`s untimely transition and Brian`s accident.


I spoke to the band`s guitarist Andy Scott, in between concerts. “It`s strange playing to such quiet audiences, I found it very hard to relate to it at first. I mean when I played for The Elastic Band it was different because we were playing to those types of audiences all the time.”
The band have recently returned from Germany where they have swept the polls and notched up a gold album for “Sweet F.A.”. “There`s a bigger record market for us there than in England,” said Scott, “at the moment the heyday`s gone in England, when you could sell a million singles…which we came close to a couple of times.
“It just proves that Germany is more aware, well…I know that `The Six Teens` was a good single and it should have been bigger than it was in England. I don`t even want to talk about it.”


At the moment Sweet are going through hard times in Britain. Once their singles were riding high in charts but their last two releases have not enjoyed such immense popularity. Andy is aware of this but also knows that if the band continued in their previous mould it would have been a short lived career. “I believe that if you really believe in something and you really enjoy it, the rewards will come in the end.”
Still, the fact remains that the band`s last single “Turn It Down” barely touched the chart and to add to this the band have been banned from appearing on “Top Of The Pops”. “We weren`t all that worried about the ban but as far as the single is concerned, we never chose it anyway, as far as we`re concerned we were just laying down another album track. In context with the album (`Desolation Boulevard`) `Turn It Down` fits, but it wouldn`t have been the single if it had been our choice.”

The band have currently released their second heavy platter, “Desolation Boulevard”. “We think there`s another two singles on that album. We`re not sure what we`re going to do yet. Nicky and Mike have written a couple of things but we`re not sure after `Turn It Down`. It`s hard for us now because…all right we know it would have been a hit if it was picked and went on `Top Of The Pops` but it just proves to us that with lack of exposure nobody knew we had a single out.
“All the publicity has been concentrated on the album, which is good for us, but when you think about it Sweet have always been a singles` band. When people see a Sweet single failing they think `ah that`s it, it`s all over for them`. Well we`re not looking at it from that point of view as far as we`re concerned the single didn`t exist. So we just bypass it…it`s a hit everywhere else. It`s just one of those things that you have to take in your stride. It sold over 50,000 in Britain and didn`t even get into the Top 30…I`ll just leave it to everybody`s imagination.



“When we were in Germany”, continued Andy, “we saw some videos of us taken in 1970 performing numbers like `Co Co` and it was like looking at a different band. It is a different group…as far as we`re concerned it is. It`s four young lads who gave a lot of people a lot of enjoyment.
“At that time we weren`t slagging what we were doing and even now we won`t slag what we did. We`ve been told that the counterparts of our time now are the Bay City Rollers which is something I cannot believe. Our earlier records God rest their souls, at least they had good production, they were played well. I mean alright we feel a bit ashamed of what we`ve done in the past, when we think of some of the things we`ve done, but there are some records around today that shouldn`t be where they are in the charts.”
One person who saw a deeper potential in the band in their early years was Pete Townshend. He, in fact, invited them to play at Charlton which they had to back out of due to Brian`s throat. “We`ve met the Who, on and off, quite a few times. We were playing on the `Top Of The Pops 500 Show` and we were talking to Pete for ages in the bar. It was such a mind blower to hear someone say, `I realise there`s always been more within the band than a hit single.` He was virtually saying everything the Who did in the early days was for money, it was a contrived thing. Times change, people change…so we`ve all got a (The sentence ends like this in the paper…Blog Editor.)


Once the band were totally manipulated now they seem to have gained complete control of their affairs. I asked Andy if he felt there were any more changes to be made. “Musical changes, yeh. We`ve even thought of adding people but I don`t see the band ever adding anyone at the moment. We`ve even had ideas of saying, `let`s stop Sweet right now,` look around and generally think about what`s going on, then reform with another member and record a whole different style of album because even with `Desolation Boulevard` we`re still trying to hold onto the past, we haven`t completely let go yet.
“We`re winning in Europe, they`re accepting things a lot easier. Things aren`t going too well here. I`ll make no bones about that, we`re not filling the halls. If we did tour earlier on in the year it would have been a sell out with a completely different audience. Now we`re getting a more appreciative audience.”

Times change. Although things aren`t as secure as before, Scott seems to be a very settled and satisfied person. The band are working harder now than ever before and it`s only their total belief in themselves that keeps them going. “Everyone has to be involved with us, totally believe in what we`re doing or they`re out. Our roadcrew`s changed twice in the last couple of months. “1974 has been an eventful year for us, because we haven`t worked for nine months which I think helped to set the rot in `cause England forgets. England will always look for another Sweet.”

Kaftans were very popular at the end of 1974.

Kaftans were very popular at the end of 1974.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nico, Steve Gibbons Band, Gentle Giant, Hawkwind, David Essex, Bob Dylan, The Who, Fanny.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

Here is a duo that had a lot of success writing hit songs for Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Smokie and Mud to name the most important.
They had a fantastic run of hit singles from 1973 until 1978. Then their well run dry. This interview is done at a time when I guess they were pretty high on themselves. I am a little flabbergasted by how immature they seem and I wonder if it is their own fault or the journalist making them seem that way. Make up your own mind.

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Inside the hit factory

Sweet, Mud, Suzi Quatro – just three bands who owe their success to the team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. They talk to MM`s Jeff Ward.

Chapman: “Really, I wake up some mornings and think `I just don`t want to write a hit today.`”
Chinn: “I make him!”
Up on the sixth floor of an exclusive apartment block in London`s Mayfair – a building where you can`t get in until a uniformed caretaker comes and unlocks the plate-glass doors – resides the hit factory.
Glide up in the small lift and you should find a door with a nameplate bearing the legend “Hits Ltd.” But you don`t. There`s just an ordinary door, which is somehow a let-down.
It`s the home of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, arguably Britain`s top pop songwriting team of the moment, whose songs for Sweet, Mud and Suzi Quatro have been blitzing the charts for some time. Guitars, microphones, amps, tape recorders, a film projector and screen stand among the trendy items of furniture, new and out of “Habitat” or “Biba`s.” The production line starts here…

Morever, Chinn and Chapman believe they have just created a “first.” It seems that numbers one and two in the British charts have never before been achieved by the same songwriters at the same time. Looking at Chinn and Chapman`s successes, particularly over the last year, it seems a natural culmination.
Consider this: in the past twelve months, January to January, they`ve had twelve major hit records with the three groups for whom they write and produce.
That`s one a month. Over the past three years, all together they`ve had three number ones, four number two`s, one number three, three number fours, and one single each at five, nine and ten.
And of course, several other singles in the lower half of the top twenty.

Going by the music trade points system – 50 points scored for a number one record sliding to one point for a number 50 record – the dynamic duo have already notched up 417 points in 1974. “We`re the biggest little publishing company in the world,” laughs Mike.
Australian-born and a singer before he started writing songs seriously, that`s Mike. And Nicky, a former public school boy of wealthy parentage; they`re a personable pair.
Working and living in their flat, where their gold discs adorn the walls alongside contemporary prints and sheet music of their songs in frames, they look on themselves as perfectionists, craftsmen. Yet they play only rudimentary guitar and piano.

They are capable of working like Stakhanovites to get a song completed right. No half measures will do. Indeed, it is rigorous, demanding self-appraisal that has helped to put them where they are today – coupled with their vision of “teenage revolution.”
Of similar and compatible minds, they feel powerful enough to say they can dictate teenage fashion though up to now to the mass of kids they`ve been faceless. Oh, and they ain`t as mean an` moody as they`d have their publicity shots suggest.
There often seems to be one team of songwriters at the top in any given period who come to be labelled as a “conveyor belt” of hits, or such like.

Says Nicky: “We`re regarded by a lot of people as the Sausage Factory, a hit a month…” Before he`s got underway Mike, who`s obviously been thinking up his own flip jingles, chips in: “You can`t go wrong with a Chinn and a Chapman song! There ain`t no crap, there ain`t no chaff in Chinn and Chap!”
Nicky continues: “We do have a hit a month and the reason we have a hit a month is that we work bloody hard, we think about our songs a great deal. It doesn`t take a lot of intelligence to make a few sausages and knock `em out on a conveyor belt but it takes a lot of intelligence and a lot of thought, creativity and everything else to write songs.
“When Cat Stevens puts out an album with twelve tracks on it no one says he`s churned out twelve tracks, but he`s done as much churning out as we have.”

“Funny, that`s exactly what I was going to say,” said Mike, slumped right down in an armchair, leaning against the body of an electric guitar.
“As far as I`m concerned there`s nobody better in the world than we are. We are the best, that`s obvious to anybody. That`s not being conceited; that`s an answer to saying that we are a hit factory. Of course we`re a hit factory, we can`t help it.
“It`s our business, we`re the best at it, we`re gonna get better still. One of these days we`ll write fifty hits in one year and everybody`ll fall over backwards and give up, and say well let`s leave it to them.
“We may fall on our faces one day but really it doesn`t bother us. If we do we`ll get out of the business and do something else.
“But when you`re knocking out that many hits you`ve gotta be termed as something and I suppose hit factory is as good as anything.

“But the kids give us credit because they buy the records. They`re buying them because they like them. You put a bad record out by the Sweet and they won`t buy it, or with Suzi Quatro. We`ve proved it; with Suzi we put out `Daytona Demon,` it got to number 14.
“But her image and her song could only get her to number 14 so obviously the song wasn`t good enough. Kids are not stupid you know, they`re very clever and they only want the best.”

Sweet, however, are prone to believe – and Mike and Nicky are aware of the group`s feeling – that they could put out any record and it would be a success on the name of Sweet alone.
Of course, many groups reckon the same when they get to a certain point in their careers.
But Mike and Nicky are adamant; Mike says it`s an “unfortunate” attitude to have and that he feels sorry for Sweet if they really think like that.

Nicky says: “I`ve got an answer which I think is valid. They`re right and they`re wrong. At this moment in time they could release anything and they could have a hit purely on advance orders.
“They knock out 150,000 in the first week and they`ll go straight into the top ten. Then the kids start to hear the record and, assuming for the sake of this argument that it`s not that good, they`re not going to like it.
“And there`s a lot of difference between 150,000 and half a million which is what we generally sell with Sweet in this country. Not nearly so many kids are going to go out and buy the single in the second, third and fourth weeks.
“I will admit the Sweet could release anything and have a hit – what happens with the follow-up? Deadsville!

“No, that is a logical argument. The first was a smash because it was the Sweet, a lot of kids would have gone out and bought it without even hearing it…”
Suddenly, a cool female voice drops out of thin air.
“Twelve forty-nine” it says. Mike had switched on his speaking clock: “just checking my watch” he says apologetically. “Well, just another rich man`s toy,” he continues.
“I know they have this attitude and if it`s their attitude that they can release anything then they`ll never be hit songwriters. If we were to say to the Sweet, look, you fellers can have a hit with anything, we`ll release anything, they`d be the first ones to come to us and say `how dare you do that, it`s not good enough.`

“This is why they`d never be hit songwriters. They`re great at what they`re doing but as soon as they start talking about that sort of thing they`re out of their depth, they do not know.
“But they`ve got us around so fortunately they`ll never be allowed to do it.”
Nicky: “It`s a dangerous attitude, a pop business death. Sweet talk a lot but they don`t do quite as much as they talk. They`d love to write their own singles, I know they would.
“But if you actually asked them `OK fellers, will you write the next single `cause we ain`t got the time?` there`d be flat bloody panic. I`m serious.`

Mike said Sweet became hypocritical when they talked out of their depth. He and Nicky didn`t tell them what to do on stage, that was their business.
But every group, not just Sweet, had the attitude that once they`d made it they`d always be at the top. “We know better,” assured Mike, “We`re aware of the market, we know of the kids far better than the Sweet do.
“They may think that by being on the road they`re closer to the kids – honestly, we`re two steps ahead of the kids out there all the time, that`s why we have such big records.
“We are the people who give the kids what they want.” Nicky: “This `anything` attitude is bloody unprofessional.
“Top artists have tried to have a hit with anything. Gilbert O`Sullivan tried it with `Ooh Baby` – bloody awful – he came to his senses and wrote the next one which was `Why,` a big hit for him. He tried to have a hit with anything and he flopped.

“If the artist is enormous enough he can have one hit, then the kids will find out they`ve been conned and the follow-up will be death.”
Half a million records, said Mike, were not sold of every single to half a million kids who loved Sweet, Suzi, Mud, Slade or Gary Glitter. There were not that number of ardent fans. To sell half a million every time the imagination of an extra 400,000 kids had to be captured: “To do that is terribly difficult. Lewis Carroll did with `Alice in Wonderland,` and I defy anybody to capture a kid`s imagination like he did with that book.
“It`s not easy, kids are very clever and they need things that get their senses going. We are capable of giving them those things because we`ve learned how.”

Compare “Blockbuster” with “Hellraiser”; the former made number one and sold nearly 800,000 – but no way were there that number of Sweet fans. “Hellraiser” sold only 350,000, was a number two and the smallest record they`d had with Sweet for a long time. But what happened to the other 450,000?
The failure to catch the imagination, the dreams, of kids was the reason that so many other pop records failed.
“This is why we sweat so hard on songs sometimes and really work,” Nicky went on.
“When you think of the whole concept of a pop record, the melody, the lyrics, the production, the performance, we`ll sit for a whole day on one bloody line because we say it won`t do, it`s not good enough.

“I bet you really and truly if we bunged it in we`d get away with it, but we won`t, because we`re perfectionists. We don`t say anything will do.”
Said Mike: “Or the melodic structure might be a little bit wrong; we think it`s good but it needs a note in there that`s going to click in the kids` minds, something they`re gonna like quicker than the note that`s there at the moment.
“We`ve sweated for weeks on one note just to change a melody. And if you listen to the original concepts of the songs and the finished products you see how much our ideas have formulated and changed during the writing and how much extra thought we`ve put into it.”

Hit factory - Chinnichap!

Hit factory – Chinnichap!

However, it took them just a day to write “Teenage Rampage” because they were under pressure. It was unusually quick for them. Sweet had to be in the studios imminently and both Mike and Nicky were due to go abroad on business. Afterwards, Mike said, he slept for two days being so mentally exhausted. “As I say, it`s all down to the kids` imaginations,” Mike continues.
“Kids haven`t changed that much. Instead of reading Lewis Carroll now they listen to Sweet or Slade. But they still have imagination; remember when you were a kid, what did you want to be or want to do? People have to do something special to make an impression.”
So then, how do Mike and Nicky gauge what kids, teenagers, are thinking, feeling, what they want?

Mike: “I don`t think we do it consciously, at the moment anyway, I don`t know how long it`ll last. It`s weird really, you can`t put it into words. We are ahead of the kids at the moment, we won`t always be like it, we`ve gotta make the most of it.
“We`re on a streak. We know what the kids want and will want to hear. We listen to other people`s stuff an awful lot so we know we`ve got to be that much further advanced. We have to change the style of our acts progressively so they`ll continue to appeal to the kids.”
And by saying that they`re ahead of the kids, Chinn and Chapman imply that they know where they (the kids) are now. Where are they?
“`Teenage Rampage` really sums it all up. From the age of two they`re buying records. Believe it or not, two-year-olds are thinking like ten-year-olds now.

“Kids are learning a lot quicker and the whole feeling in the country at the moment is aggression/tension and it`s having an effect on the kids. By making aggressive records you can get the feelings out of kids, they can express themselves by dancing, they all dance now.”
Nicky: “It`s aggression but fortunately it doesn`t seem to be too violent an aggression. It`s not like the days of the teddy boys with flick knives.
“It`s a different aggression. I think kids want to get their tensions out by going to concerts and screaming, going to ballrooms and discotheques and dancing non-stop for three hours, by going home and imagining tomorrow night`s date is with Brian Connolly! The teddy boy era was violent in a different way; now it`s hysterical aggression, but not violent.
“The football scene is far more violent than the pop scene. They`re always beating each other up at football grounds, they`re not in ballrooms.”

It distressed Mike to hear people knocking kids getting rid of their emotions because kids from the age of two to 22 didn`t have much of an opportunity to do so in this country.
“What do you do – commit suicide, beat somebody up, drive a car fast? There are a few ways of doing it, all of which are bad. But there`s another way: by buying loud aggressive records, or even soft aggressive records, and listening and dancing to them.
“Certain people who knock it really are led astray I think because if the kids aren`t doing that they`re gonna be doing something a lot worse.
“Mary Whitehouse for instance is constantly knocking hit records and pop records for being violent and rude. She`s entitled to her opinion but personally I think she`s wrong.
“She`s trying to stop kids having the one form of entertainment that gives them the opportunity to unleash.

“Mike Leander and Gary, and Slade and Chas Chandler, not just us, know what the kids are all about at the moment, know what they need to get rid of their feelings and they put it all into records. And with all these crises happening in this country they`re buying more and more records.”
Nicky: “God alone knows the kids need what people like us are giving them because if they`re old enough to think and read the bloody papers and look at the country, God knows they need something to lift them up, if this is the country they`ve gotta grow up in.”
Mike had a thought that conjured up a marvellous picture: “It`s a pity the coal miners wouldn`t go and buy a few records and go dancing every night.
“Maybe then they wouldn`t be so dissatisfied. I wish they were all like that couple of miners in the charts, because they wouldn`t be trying to get more money all the time.”

Nicky joined in: “Maybe they should pipe music down the mines.”
Mike: “It could lead to their downfall, it could all fall in on them and they`d get buried! Good luck to `em!” Much hilarity. Things were getting frivolous. “They should put `Hellraiser` on and with that explosion at the beginning they`d think it was all over!”
Mike carried on: “It`s very unfortunate that grown up people are like this. I mean, we still let our feelings out. There`s a lot of people our age and Jesus, he`s 28 and I`m 26 or something, and we`re still bopping around every night, going down to Tramp`s (West End disco) and leaping about and making fools of ourselves.
“But my God it ain`t `alf good for you. You wake up the next morning feeling that much better for it because there`s no other way to get rid of your expression, feelings.
“The only other way is for me to get on the motorway in my car and drive at 150 mph.” Wasn`t their songwriting in any way a release though.

“Well, it is, but it`s not complete.” Nicky: “Because it`s a pressure in the first place to write.” Mike: “It gives us a lot of pleasure but it doesn`t give us full satisfaction, that comes after the records are made – and going to discotheques and jumping about, we`re mad keen about going to Tramp`s as a lot of people our age are.”
Nicky took a lot of his emotions out playing tennis: “I really whack that ball! I really do. Nervous energy.” Mike: “So many people have no outlet, the older people, so when they do they go on strike.
“That`s the way they get rid of their feelings. Most of them don`t want more money; somebody tells them they should have it and it`s one way to get rid of feelings. They can make themselves heard.

Mike: `Teenage Rampage` is exactly where the kids are. They are on a rampage and it is a revolutionary movement. It`s not politically revolutionary, it`s just a revolution of feelings. At last the kids can go and do what they`ve always wanted to do.
“Even in the Beatles days there weren`t half as many kids screaming as there are now.”
Wasn`t there a chicken and egg situation here though? Were the songs being written and the kids reacting, or were Mike and Nicky getting vibes from the kids and then writing?
The two know they are capitalising on a situation but at the same time they think they are part of what helped to start it all.
“Up until we came along in 1971 the music since 1967 was dead, there was nothing. It was all Engelbert Humperdinck, there was nothing for the kids. Bubblegum, what did that do? It had no feeling.
“Didn`t make you emote in any way. Then we, Slade, Gary, T. Rex, Bowie came along and all of us changed the whole pattern of the business. All the kids found out that we had something to offer them that they could laugh and express themselves with.
“Now we know it`s there and we`re leading them, we`re pulling them in, we`re getting more and more kids at it.”

Also there`s a new generation rising within the “ten year cycle” of pop fashions.
“Exactly,” agreed Nicky. “It`s strange that ten years after the Beatles really got going it`s all happening again. The difference is that opposed to there being one phenomena there seems to be about five or six.”
Mike rejoined: “1957 and 1967 were my favourite years for music and they were the last of each era. Really, 1957 started the great cavalcade of rock`n`rollers.
“Everybody was doing it. But from `53 to `57 it was the innovators, the people who made rock`n`roll music. From `63 to `67 it was the Beatles, flower power and people continued on.
“From `73 to `77 it`s gonna be excitement all the way – and `77 to `83 or `84 will be another dull period. God knows what`ll happen in `84 – Mr Thingummybob wrote all about it, I hope that doesn`t come true. 1984!”

But right now, in the present, there seemed to be a resurgence of the “teenage” syndrome.
There were currently “Teenage Rampage,” “Teenage Dream” by T. Rex, “Teenage Lament” from Alice Cooper, and latest, “Teenage Love Affair” by Rick Derringer. Ringo Starr, Clifford T. Ward, Cockney Rebel, Nazareth (with “Teenage Nervous Breakdown”), were other artists using similar imagery. What did Mike and Nicky, who had had the first “teenage” single out, think had set it rolling?
Their first reaction was that the others were copyists jumping on the Chinn-Chapman bandwagon. But Nicky added: “It implies immense recognition of the teenagers. I attribute it to the fact that there is a teenage movement.
“Teenagers are more to the forefront than they have been for many years and also they`ve got a lot more money than they`ve had for a long time. Maybe next there`ll be “Weenage Wampagne.`
“Some of them are a lot younger now. But the thing is they are making an impact, they`re doing things that are noticed and I think it is being recognised by writers and acts. But I think they`re jumping on the bandwagon a bit now.

“We didn`t know about Alice Cooper`s `Teenage Lament` and he didn`t know about our `Teenage Rampage` but the ones that have followed I`ve a feeling may have known about both.”
Mike expanded: “Each of the songs that we`ve mentioned concerns a teenage emotion. There`s a rampage, a lament, a dream, nervous breakdown and a love affair.
“So we`re dealing with teenage feelings and we the writers concerned are just pulling out different aspects and giving the kids the chance to recognise themselves in the songs, what they`re really all about.
“We`re just putting up a mirror where they can see themselves. Maybe we`re crediting the kids with something they haven`t been given credit for for a long time, like a love affair.
“They say `he can`t be in love at 15,` but maybe he can be. You can have a nervous breakdown when you`re a teenager – nobody thinks you can but you can – you can lament when you`re a teenager.”

And Nicky: “You can certainly rampage and you can certainly dream. Bolan`s saying `what ever happened to the teenage dream` but it`s very live and very real. Everyone`s saying what teenagers can do. You haven`t got to be 25 to do all that.”
“What a wonderful world it would be,” mused Mike, “If everybody acted like teenagers, if everybody had the attitude of teenagers. I don`t mean the minority, I mean the majority of them, not the ones that go around beating people up, the mugs and fools.
“I mean the ones who are expressing themselves in discotheques, the ones who are doing their bit at school, and going on to be a welder or a panel beater or whatever.
“If everybody could have all that over again…I mean, I still think like a teenager and so does Nick, you know, we live in a fantasy world, everybody in the pop business lives in one.” Nicky: “I love fantasy, it`s my whole life.”

Mike: “If everybody had the attitude of a lot of the teenagers then I think we`d all be a lot better off. Probably the country would go to rack and ruin financially but we`d be very happy wouldn`t we?”
“We`re unfortunately so involved in fighting the bloody government, going on strike,” Mike continued, `and the kids, what`re they doing? Dancing.
“And they`ve got the right idea, they`re the happiest people in the country. Without music they wouldn`t be, because they`d have no escape or outlet.
“So maybe we should all become teenagers again. I`ll write a letter to Ted Heath: `Dear Ted, I think you should be a teenager! “Well, even he plays the organ. Perhaps Chinn and Chapman should produce him.
“Oh yes you`d get a vast amount of sales among the Tory backbenchers. We could call it the Ted Heath Conspiracy.”

Mike added: “God knows what we`ll be thinking in a year`s time but I`m sure our outlook will be completely different. We keep changing all the time, things influence us.
“In a year`s time we won`t be the same people we are now, we`ll be making totally different records. Let`s hope we`ve got another 12 or 15 hits under our belts.
“What we need desperately now is another super group. We need a group to come along to us who are just so unbelievable and knock us out. That`s what we`re looking for and we`ll keep looking until we find them.
“And if they write, all the better, because our commitments writing-wise are pretty high. But if we could find the next Beatles, the next Elvis Presley, the next Bing Crosby…

Nicky: “Or the next Cole Porter. We get an awful lot of the wrong things, like someone phoned me up this morning and said he was in a group and could we go and see them and write for them? I asked what sort of group they were and he said they were like Mud.
“Well I said, on that basis, no matter how good you are, no disrespect, we cannot handle you. Cannot! We`d be fighting ourselves.
“If they`re like Mud that`s unfortunate. Maybe someone else will find them and make them stars. But at least then we`ll be fighting that someone, not ourselves.
“We`re looking, but it`s difficult to find that right thing. It`s not easy, it really isn`t. They only come along now and again.”

Deep Purple was still one of the leading rock bands at the time.

Deep Purple was still one of the leading rock bands at the time.

This number of Melody Maker also contains articles/interviews with these people: The Who, Maggie Bell, 10CC, YES, Gregg Allman, Blue Öyster Cult, Roger McGuinn, Jim Croce, Carpenters, Dr. Moog, David Ackles, Bert Kaempfert, John Ford, Zoot Sims, Peter Bellamy.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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