Album: Desolation Boulevard (U.S.)
. . .
Alright, so lets start with this: “Fox on the Run” isn’t just my favorite Sweet song, it’s been one of my favorite songs by anybody quite literally from the moment 13-year-old Jim heard it on KYNO-AM in late 1975. I know all of the objections: the superfluous synth squiggles, the simplistic song structure, the stoopid & slightly sexist lyrics. And I just don’t give a fuck; I love this song beyond all reason, and because of most of that stuff, as well.
“Fox on the Run” was also important to The Sweet’s career: after having eight straight top 10 U.K. hits from 1972-1974 that were written by Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn, it was their first single written by the band itself. Of course, 13-year-old Jim knew none of that, all he knew was that was beyond thrilling to be listening to the radio and to have that Andy Scott synth ascending from the center of the earth and exploding into the Mick Tucker drum-driven fanfare which only quieted down so that Brian Connolly could sing the reverb-laden opening verse over a basic Chuck Berry lick. All together now!!
I don’t wanna know your name
‘Cause you don’t look the same
The way you did before
Okay, you think you got a pretty face
But the rest of you is out of place
You looked alright before
There’s all kinds of crazy awesome shit happening here: the echoes on “I” and “Okay”, the build on “the way you did before”, and, of course the ridiculous “be-for-ore-ore-ore!!!!” at the end of the verse. And that’s all great, but it all leads to an all-hands-on-deck chorus, with Tucker double-timing his snare to give it urgency.
Fox on the run
You scream and everybody comes a-running
Take a run and hide yourself away
(Foxy on the runnnnnn)
Fox on the run
And hide away
I’m not sure what any of this meant: if the pretty girl was on the run from other people, why would she also scream to have everybody come a-running to her as well? That always puzzled me, even as I was singing loudly along to every word, especially Steven Priest’s “foxy on the runnnnnnnn”) solo interjection.
I guess it’s a groupie song, based upon the second verse, where he accuses her of name-dropping the other musicians she’s been with, but again, I didn’t pay that much attention, because I just wanted to get back to that glorious chorus. And I wasn’t the only one, because, minus an Andy Scott guitar solo, that chorus pretty much dominates the second half of the song, so we can all sing “fox on the run” until the end of time. Or at least until the fade. Whichever comes last.
“Fox on The Run” was as big of a hit in the U.S. and the U.K. as “Ballroom Blitz.” In fact, it was exactly as big of a hit: #2 in the U.K. and #5 in the U.S, as well as being a top ten single pretty much everywhere. Good job, everybody!!!
Something I discovered when I was going back and listening to some early Sweet albums in prep for writing these posts: they recorded two versions of “Fox on the Run.” It was originally a longer and heavier track, recorded for their third U.K. album, Desolation Boulevard, released in late 1974. Their second U.K. album, Sweet Fanny Adams, was released in early 1974.
Like their first U.K. album, Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be, Sweet Fanny Adams was never released in the U.S. Or at least at the time. Instead, their meddling record company, Capitol, took the best cuts from the U.K version of Desolation Boulevard (thankfully leaving out their misbegotten cover of “My Generation”) and Sweet Fanny Adams (like the now maybe problematic “AC-DC”), and combined them with the two killer singles that bookended those records, ending up creating a pretty great mid-1970s hard rock album. Which I totally missed at the time, stupid me, even though I know it existed.
Anyways, “Fox on the Run” is another one of those songs that seems to have lasted through the ages, having been covered many times, and of course got a big Guardians of the Galaxy bump — and nobody was happier than I was to see that the Replacements covered it — or tried to cover it, I should say — on their 1986 live album, because of course they did!!
“Fox on the Run” Official Promo
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