With the 1975 debut of Sad Sweet Dreamer, Sweet Sensation became Manchester, England's answer to the Stylistics. And, finding themselves riding high with the trans-Atlantic Top 20 title track, ultimately turned in a neatly stylized collection of smooth pop-soul that suggests transplanting The Sound of Philadelphia to the industrial north-west of England wasn't such an odd thing to do. Certainly Marcel King lacks for nothing in the lead vocal department, his molten falsetto wraps itself seamlessly around ten generally excellent songs, while the harmonic backwash created by the remainder of the group becomes almost orchestral around him. And if the production might not be as perfect as the best of Gamble-Huff, at times, it's certainly as haunting.
"Emptiness Filled with Love" and "Sad Sweet Dreamer," which scored the band a U.K. #1, itself are minor masterpieces of aching romanticism, by whichever contemporary standards you care to measure them, while "Snow Fire", too, catches the ear with slick hooks and effervescent harmonies. "Purely by Coincidence", the UK hit follow-up to "Sad Sweet Dreamer", is another jewel -- the best of the album's more up-tempo numbers, it also indicates that, with less slavish guidance and more practiced production, Sweet Sensation could at least have drawn level with the Real Thing in the British public's estimation. (America, on the other hand, simply preferred another real thing altogether.)