||MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
THE SWEET: LIVE AT THE MARQUEE 1986 PLUS INTERVIEW WITH ANDY SCOTT
The Sweet were one of the most successful glam rock bands of the seventies with thirteen Top Twenty hit singles to their name and later became a major influence on the American hard rock scene of the mid eighties.
The Sweet disbanded in 1981 after singer Brain Connolly left the band for a solo career. Guitarist Andy Scott reformed the band five years later with original drummer Mick Tucker and they were joined on vocals by Iron Maiden's first ever singer Paul Mario Day, Phil Lanzon (later of Uriah Heep) and Mal McNulty (more recently seen in Slade).
This live album was recorded at the legendary Marquee Club in London's Wardour Street over three hot n' sweaty nights.
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The band are on fine form, as are the audience who can be heard loud and clear. Most of the tracks on this album are self penned numbers including many gems from the 'Sweet... Fanny Adams' album.
Familiar numbers such as 'Action' and 'Fox On The Run' are real belters whilst 'Love Is Like Oxygen' is drawn out into a rocking progathon.
Originally released in a different cover on vinyl many moons ago this new release has now been bolstered by two extra tracks recorded on the night in the gender swinging 'AC/DC' and the old B-Side favourite 'Burn On The Flame' available for the first time ever.
A fascinating insight into a forgotten era of the band.
MetalTalk's Mark Taylor recently got on the phone to speak to Sweet's long standing guitarist Andy Scott at his studio in Wiltshire.
Hi Andy, you've just released 'Live At The Marquee 1986'; what are your memories of those nights?
"Yes, well we never had played at the Marquee Club, but I used to be a regular at the venue and I got to know the people down there like the owner Jack Barrie, although I had played there with my own band the Elastic Band and after the Sweet with Paddy Goes To Holyhead but the offer was there so I said to Mick Tucker 'Come on, this place is moving soon so we better get a move on', so Jack got back to me and offered us three nights in midweek and we sold them all out which made us enough money to film the shows for a video and to make the live album."
That footage is great, the singer was Paul Mario Day who was the original singer in Iron Maiden.
"Yes he was the original singer in the band, there was Phil Lanzon who was in a band called Grand Prix at the time, Mal McNulty who was in a band called Weapon who I was producing at the time and he had a great high range voice which was like a third above a normal singer and he could play bass as well but we got him in for his voice and there was Mick Tucker and I. We were hoping that Steve Priest would come back into the band, but he didn't at the time."
Did you see many bands at the Marquee as a punter, because it was such a great venue.
"Yes I did. I'd often bump into the guys from Status Quo and various other bands just hanging out. There was a VIP area where you could see the bands through the glass but I was also producing around the time and I was always hanging out to see if anyone was worth doing anything with which is where I got involved with Weapon and I produced a band called Stinky Pete who I nicknamed The Jocks. That was a great time around then."
You recently released the album 'New York Connection' where you re-recorded old Sweet favourites and mixed them with modern day pop songs. It worked extremely well. Where did the idea for that come from?
"Well, we wanted to do a studio album and I was feeling tortured as a writer where it would've taken me an age, so we started to fiddle around with a couple of tracks and my son who is a DJ started playing around with a loop and he put in the Who's 'Join Together' and it sounded fantastic so I put the idea to the rest of the band and then we got cracking on it.
"Then we got asked to appear on a German TV show and we wanted to play something new and they said sure as long as we did some of the hits as well so we put in 'Join Together' and they loved it and asked 'Where can we buy it?' and we thought 'well, you can't!' so we got on with it and we did 'New York Groove' with 'Empire State' and once we got into and we knew it had to sound like Sweet with all the harmonies so we started to throw a lot of the old stuff in as well. It's brilliant"
It is a great album. I often play it at home when I have guests around and I don't tell them who it is at first, and they are always amazed when I tell them it's The Sweet.
"Yeah, a lot of people have said to me they listen to it when go exercising."
You've also recently released a brand new live recording of the 'Sweet... Fanny Adams' album. Why was that?
"We had a guy in Germany who said many bands are doing live shows of their classic albums like Lou Reed and Love which had gone well. We didn't do the whole of the album every night because we didn't want it to be 'showbiz', but we did three tours for that and I will let you into a little secret here. We lifted the live album from all three tours but it shows what a great timer our drummer is."
The original studio album is rightly regarded as a classic and has become a major influence on the American hard rock glam scene especially Motley Crue, and when they did 'Kickstart My Heart' you must have thought 'Hang on a minute, I've heard that riff before somewhere.'?
"Oh! The Hellraiser riff you mean! You know when they were touring and I was in Sweden at the time and the guys in the band Europe called me up and said 'You've got to come to this gig at the Globe and see how Motley Cure start their show, because they had seen the show the night before in Gothenburg and they said to me that I must come along as I will be amazed and that we were not going to be hanging around in the bar and I must be sitting in my seat right from the start.
"Well first there was this short introduction film followed by the soundtrack of the 'Stripper' music and then that riff that went into 'Kickstart My Heart' and that was exactly how we used to start our show. I though 'Wow!' It was mind blowing."
Chinn and Chapman wrote some of your biggest selling songs including songs such as 'Ballroom Blitz' and 'Blockbuster'. I believe one song they offered you first was 'Dynamite' which was a massive hit for Mud. Did you ever record a version of that song? Is there a version hiding somewhere in the vaults?
"At the time we wanted another 'Blockbuster' or 'Hellraiser' type of song so they offered us 'Dynamite', but for some reason it just didn't feel right, it felt like a step backwards, so they come back with 'Teenage Rampage' which was more like it and they were at one of our gigs at the Rainbow and they heard the kids going 'We want Sweet... We want Sweet' so we added that to it and gave it a more manly feel. We never did record a version of 'Dynamite', no."
There's a fantastic clip I often watch on YouTube of the Sweet doing a live version of 'The Sixteens'. Do you remember from what show that was recorded?
"Yes that was absolutely live... I think it was Geordie Scene up in Newcastle, but I'm not sure."
You're touring again later this year later with Slade, but once again you're not doing London?
"Oh no, I'm a bit miffed about that; I'm not sure why that is. On previous tours we have done the Palladuim and the Fairfield Halls, but it gets to me, but we may get with Slade or something on our own and hopefully do somewhere like the Shepherds Bush Empire."
Def Leppard had a big hit with a version of 'Action'. Is there any other cover versions of Sweet songs you like?
Yes I do like the Leppard version very much, that was quite startling and rewarding. I interviewed Joe Elliott once about ten years ago on my radio show and he was more than gushing which I really liked. One that does spring to mind is Biff Byford's Saxon's version of 'Set Me Free'.
You played at the Sweden Rock Festival this year, how was that?
"Yes, we have played there a few times but this year the promoter asked us to play on the opening night, Wednesday, and I wasn't too sure about it, but he assured me that if he could could put the right band on it would give him the right audience and even though Kiss were playing on the Friday we still pulled about 10,000 people to the show... It was fantastic."
Steve Priest has got his version of the Sweet in the States, how is your relationship with him these days?
"I don't think there is much any more is there? I just don't know why, if I could understand why he came out off the woodwork to do that then I would most probably have a different head on here but I don't and the few of the few things he said do not sit well with me."
What are the legalities? Can you tour the USA yourself?
"Well, I have trademarks and all kinds of stuff in Europe. It's something that I would've done with him if he had come back into the band, but I don't think there was ever any intention with him on wanting to get back in the band when I was getting the band back together in the 80s, so why come out of the woodwork now when your 61 years of age in 2008/09 and think that the world will just open up say 'My God, Steve Priest is back', you know, that ship has sailed, it's not easy out there, I mean I've been now touring first with Mick and now on my own since 91 for like 28 years and it counts for something."
Sadly we have lost Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker. When you have a quiet moment to yourself, are there any memories of them that put a smile on your face?
"Always, they were the two chick magnets, there's a lot of things I could tell you about them but I won't! Brian used to have us in hysterics half the time. I think that he is a great loss. I think he lost it a little bit as the band musically progressed. It was our manager that pointed it out that he wasn't on our level any more, he was much better when the pop singles were being bandied around like song's such as 'Blockbuster'. He wanted to carry on what he had always done like shaking hands with the girls down the front. We wanted him to muscle up a little like a Roger Daltrey kind of thing."
What has been the proudest moment for you in the history of The Sweet?
"When I was being nominated for an Ivor Norvello award for 'Love Is Like Oxygen'. When I listen to it on the radio though I do think it could've been done a little bit better on the mix."
You've been playing Rock Against Cancer, a charity festival, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
"Johnny, a mate of mine, works for Paul McCartney, he is his sound engineer on stage, and we couldn't believe it, we both got diagnosed with prostate cancer in the same year and we thought 'Blimey, this is it' and we had been talking to the landlord of this field for two years before saying he should have this festival.
"So from the original idea, once we got the health and safety etc sorted and through Johnny's connections we got Brain May with Kerry Ellis, Mike and the Mechanics, SAS Band with Tom Robinson and Midge Ure and Madeline Bell and it was really good, so for this year we thought we better top it so we got in Roger Taylor, Kiki Dee, Dr Feelgood, 10CC, Georgie Fame and Roger Taylor brought along Jeff Beck all in this tiny field in Wiltshire behind a pub!"
Will this be a yearly event now?
"Yes it will be, thankfully both Johnny and I have both been given the all clear. For the first year the money raised was given to places like where we had been treated but this year we gave half of it to the Teenage Cancer Trust and the other half to the place where we got treated in Bristol."
What advice can you give to anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation?
"Well for me, if you have any kind of feeling that something isn't quite right, then go straight away and do something about it. It doesn't take long to get a quick PSA test. Because it's kind of slow a yearly check is good to do."
You have sold millions and travelled the world over, who is most famous person in the world you have met?
"Depends on how you look at it; when I was in The Elastic Band we supported Jimi Hendrix up in a Northern club, I think we went down better than him because I don't think the audience knew what to make of him at the time.
"I've shared tables with Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. In the Drake Hotel in New York once my manager was good friends with Tony Bennett and one day I was walking out and my manager said 'Oi Andy come here'... So I popped my head around the corner and Tony Bennett said 'Hi' and this other voice is the corner said 'So what you having? A Scotch?' I looked over and it was Frank Sinatra."