Blockbuster Alternate Takes

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A compilation of Sweet rarities, outtakes, and live/TV performances, Blockbuster ought to be a shambles. Instead, it stands proud among the best of the many Sweet compilations out there, not because it offers an alternate view of what they did, but because it also shows off what they wanted to be. It is no secret, after all, that the group spent most of its career chaffing against the success which came from following the formula laid down by their songwriters (Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman); no secret, either, that the moment they broke free of that noose, their chart placings nose-dived straight to hell. But catch the band in the raw, even at the height of their top pop puppet success, and they were making some surprisingly crucial and decidedly metallic noises. It's just a shame they never let anyone hear them till now. An effectively subdued (demo?) unplugged "Fox on the Run," a presciently punky "Action," and a rockin' version of Queen covering "Baba O'Reilly," "The Lies in Your Eyes," all get the blood pumping, no matter how many times you've heard the original versions. A live U.K. TV performance of "Blockbuster" is furiously riff-sodden and raucous, and six-plus minutes of "Love Is Like Oxygen" really aren't too many, even if you do have to question whether that really is Brian Connolly on curiously unconvincing vocals. The album packaging is strangely silent on that subject, preferring to dwell on the Sweet's golden years -- which, of course, we all do, really. But like it or not, even at the end, the Sweet were an important band, an exciting band, and a furiously independent band. There are plenty of hits packages out there which will tell you all you want to know about the band. Blockbuster is the first to give you what you need. Really.

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