Album: The Sweet
Emboldened by the success of the “Little Willy” single, The Sweet’s U.S. record company decided to cobble together a debut album which from what I can tell, consisted of only two songs that were on their U.K. debut, 1971’s Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be, and instead, consisted mostly of singles and b-sides that had been released in the U.K. in 1972 & 1973. And hilariously, they just called it The Sweet.
As it turned out, I discovered this album in 1974, as it was one of the glam albums that metal guy Craig from across the street owned — the other being Sladest!, — and subsequently discovered the songs that followed “Little Willy” but didn’t do shit here, like “Wig-Wam Bam,” the raucous “Hellraiser” and the gimmick-filled “Block Buster!” which used a big bluesy riff to underscore an absolutely epic amount of complete and utter silliness.
Written by the songwriting team — and Sweet’s managers — Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn, “Block Buster!” was kinda the opposite of “Little Willy” in that instead of supporting the title character’s shenanigans, this time they were opposed. And maybe even cops, as the song starts off with a real siren that gets taken over by the whole band singing “aaahh-ahhhhhhh” like a siren heading down Highway 61 before lead vocalist Brian Connolly starts singing the first verse.
You better beware, you better take care
You better watch out if you’ve got long black hair
He’ll come from behind, you’ll go out of your mind
You’d better not go, you’d never know what you’ll find
Before the second verse, the “ahhh-ahhhs” come back, adding the slightest bit of menace and danger to the second verse, but mostly to distract you from the words.
You look in his eyes, don’t be surprised
If you don’t know what’s going on behind his disguise
Nobody knows where Buster goes
He’ll steal your woman out from under your nose
And then they head straight for the chorus, still deploying weird little tricks for maximum hookage.
Does anyone know the way?
Did we hear someone say
“We just haven’t got a clue what to do!”
Does anyone know the way?
There’s got to be a way
To Block Buster!
The first trick is the incredibly camp vocal interjection by — if you believe the Top of The Pops performance — bassist Steve Priest, who is having so much fun strangling on “We just haven’t got a clue what to do!” that in the second chorus he can’t get even get it out, and in the third one, they stop the whole song for it. Which also has the extra advantage of making each chorus slightly different, even then they all end in a stop-time full-band echoing howl of “Block Busterrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”
Before that final chorus, there’s a instrumental break featuring some nice interplay between Priest, drummer Mick Tucker and guitarist Andy Scott — no guitar solos here — and after that final chorus, it’s all chaos and madness: vocal sirens, real sirens, guitar licks, and screams of “Block Buster!” every which way until the fade.
Apparently, “Block Buster!” a few weeks after David Bowie’s somewhat similar “Jean Genie,” though nobody was copying anybody — I mean, we’re talking about the same blues riffs that everybody was playing back then. And while “Jean Genie” is a better song, it stalled out on the U.K. charts at #2, whereas “Block Buster!” made it to #1 there, and was a chart-topping it all over Europe.
Here in the States, where we were more Glam-resistant for some reason, both songs stiffed big time. I only heard “Block Buster!” on that The Sweet album that metal guy Craig from across the street owned. And after the U.K. #2 “Hellraiser” stiffed here, it must have seemed like The Sweet weren’t going to blitz the U.S. charts after all.
“Block Buster!” on Top of The Pops
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