Stairway to the Stars: Live and Rare

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How sad it is that the words "live" and "rare" have become so devalued over the years, until their mere presence in a CD title is sufficient to send you running for cover. And how sad that the memory of the Sweet has been so besmirched by a flood of tawdry compilations and re-recordings, that their "new" releases, too, leave the heart unmoved. All of which renders Stairway to the Stars: Live and Rare the kind of album that only the most desperate fan could really be expecting miracles from, and he ought to have most of its contents already. Rounding up over 30 tracks, the bulk of every other "live" and "rare" Sweet CD to have appeared since the late '80s, Stairway offers a workmanlike selection of marginally alternate takes, B-sides and offcuts, all dating from the latter part of the band's '70s career, and sometimes even later. The in concert selections are stronger, beginning with highlights from the show first released as Ballroom Blitz 1973, but unless you really need to be bludgeoned by their heavy metal ambitions, even that's a dispensable treat.

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