Half a star shy of a metal masterpiece - and here's why;
The Sweet are best known as a Glam Rock band, and so they were. However, they were the hardest rockin' badass, leather-wearing riff maestros in the business when they chose to be - and this album sets the second most obvious precendent for Judas Priest after Black Sabbath.
That precendent is set with the first track, the barnstorming "Set Me Free", a riff of awesome ferocity and power not heard since Deep Purple's "Highway Star" (only a good deal faster), or their contemporaries, Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy".
Metallica's "Whiplash", Priest's "Exciter" and a good number of Vardis songs are among those metal masterpieces that owe their very existence to this track.
The insane falsetto harmonies of the latter, which verge on screams, round off Brian Connolley's authoritative and commanding vocals, as the irresistable overdriven Marshall crunch and pounding drums featuring Philthy Animal Taylor influencing rhythms give you all the metal you're likely to hear from 1974.
It's certainly in a higher class than Kiss, more aggressive than Slade, only trumped by UFO's mighty Phenomenon album - and you might as well write off the Heavy Metal Kids self-titled release of the same year. Priest's "Rocka Rolla" is just a Black Sabbath clone in comparison.
The outro is packed with bits and pieces of metal experimentation including some astonishing whammy bar action for those who think that Eddie Van Halen did it all first.
"Heartbreak Today" is a great hard rock chugger, featuring an achingly beautiful, polished, and superbly architected twin guitar lead, with tones suspiciously like those of Brian May. It does sound a LOT like some later Priest songs though.
The outro features even more experimentation, with lipsmackingly good production - surprising given that the band themselves had a major hand in it.
"No You Don't" has a brilliant, tension-building introduction, and some great rhythm guitar experimentation with some really sensitive build-ups and amazing atmospheric effects, many reminiscent of "19th Nervous Breakdown" by the Rolling Stones, but taken to the next level.
Next up is Rebel Rouser, a Glam Rock classic, and a bit lighter weight than the previous tracks, quoting Eddie Cochran, while sounding like David Bowie on the amphetamine of your choice.
Rounding off side 1 is Peppermint Twist, an obviously derivative rock and roll party number. Great fun, if you're in the mood for it.
The title track is the most meaty song on the album, and is hugely experimental, and VERY Priest-sounding. Ripper, anyone?
Loaded with tritones and fanfares, occasionally dropping down to something altogether lighter, this is The Sweet at their most aggressive, expressive and, um something else ending in essive. Oh yes. Progressive. Really.
The multiple sections of quite disparate music conjure up the earliest Progressive Metal you're likely to hear outside of UFO and the Scorpions. Again, The Sweet go for some wild jamming following the song per se, and come up with some very interesting and influential ideas that you may well have heard many metal guitarists using - Zakk Wylde, for example.
Restless is a great chugger, spoiled only a lot by the blatant rip-off of Free's Alright Now. Or maybe I'm missing the point... there's plenty of other stuff to enjoy in this track.
Into The Night begins with that familiar "Woompah Doompah" drum beat so beloved by The Glitter Band and other Glam Rockers, but soon reveals its had as something a bit more sinister, substantial and heavy than those other luminaries. The guitar solo is a bit more of the same, but a mean punch follows it, with crashing gongs, tubular bells and seriously creepy sounds - this is one helluva dark piece. As we've come to expect, the outro is not at all short of other surprises and experimentation of a metal nature.
AC/DC is probably the least interesting song on the album, despite the outrageous lyrical content. It's got nothing to do with the band, by the way, who formed a year earlier.
This is a truly astonishing album, not least because it was largely written, performed and produced by a band who had gained a reputation for not being able to write or play. The title track is largely a response to this (not unfounded) criticism, and the venom with which it is delivered has heavy metal attitude down to its very core.
I can't recommend this flawed masterpiece enough.