Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week we take a look at Sweet, Andrew Ridgeley and The Graham Gouldman Songbook.
The Polydor Albums (Caroline CAROLR 076CD)
Once very successful purveyors of melodic glam rock, Sweet were out of hits by the time they signed for RCA but immediately forged a new career with a more eclectic rock style, embracing progressive, hard and synth rock styles, most notably with Love Is Like Oxygen, which became a Top 10 hit for them on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a track from their introductory (1978) Polydor album Level Headed, which is joined in this box set by their subsequent releases for the label, Cut Above The Rest (1979), Waters Edge (1980) and Identity Crisis (1982). Packaged in a clamshell box with individual albums expanded to include relevant b-sides and single edits, and housed in replica LP sleeves, its release comes shortly after a more comprehensive 9 CD box set from Sony (not submitted for review) - but if all you want is the Polydor years, this is the set to go for. Level Headed is clearly the best album on offer here, and the only one featuring the band's charismatic lead singer Brian Connolly. Continuing as a trio, the band continued to produce solid, agreeable and melodic rock, albeit less successfully, with final album Identity Crisis perhaps hinting at their slightly schizophrenic approach to their music, but is still worthy of attention with the title track and Hey Mama being particularly pleasing.
Son Of Albert (Cherry Pop CRPOP 193)
Universally panned and a commercial disaster when first released in 1990, Son Of Albert is the only solo album release from Andrew Ridgeley, who came to fame as George Michael's sidekick in Wham!. Out of print for more than 20 years, it assumes a new and poignant value as a missing piece of the Wham! jigsaw in the wake of Michael's death a little more than a year ago, and finally returns to availability in this digipack Cd edition, which adds seven bonus tracks, primarily 12-inch mixes, to the original nine. First thing to notice is how unlike Wham! it is, with the album's one (very minor) hit Shake opening with Ridgeley accompanied by a single guitar for nearly a minute before the track explodes into a high octane rock track, with brother Paul's drums very prominent. Follow-up Red Dress was an even more full-blooded rock anthem but, despite featuring George Michael on backing vocals, failed to bother chart compilers. Much of the rest is in similar vein although lacking any really good tunes - but neither is it a complete disaster, and many will doubtless be glad to see it return.
Listen People: The Graham Gouldman Songbook 1964-2005 (Ace CDTOP 1487)
Most famously a member of 10CC and half of melodic rock duo Wax with Andrew Gold, Graham Gouldman is also a superb songwriter, with an enviable track record. It is that aspect of the septuagenarian's career that is celebrated in this, the latest release in Ace's songwriter series illustrating his mastery of the form over more than half a century via two dozen songs performed by a varied selection of artists, ranging from McFly - 2005 album track I've Got You - to fellow Mancunian Morrissey, who puts his own unique spin and added lyrics to East West, originally recorded by Herman's Hermits. The neat economy and pleasing resolution of early Hollies hit Bus Stop and melodic lilt of Wayne Fontana smash Pamela Pamela typify the early work of Gouldman, and some of the more interesting covers from that period are by Americans, with Cher's 1966 recording of Behind The Door and Toni Basil's similarly disarming rendition of I'm 28, from the same year, among them. Gouldman as an artist is represented by his own take on No Milk Today, a hit he penned for Herman's Hermits; 10CC's The Things We Do For Love, co-written with fellow band member Eric Stewart; and Wax's bouncy Motownesque Right Between The Eyes. 10CC's most famous hit, I'm Not In Love - another Stewart co-write - is soulfully delivered by Dee Dee Sharp. Extensive liner notes, with a plethora of illustrations, complete an excellent compilation.