4 out of 5 Stars!
Sweet’s seventh release, Off the Record, continues in the same style as the trio of platters that immediately preceded it (Sweet Fanny Adams, Desolation Boulevard, and Give Us a Wink), featuring some slamming and glamming Hard Rock, occasionally bordering on Metal, with each track laden with the wickedly rich, layered, and trademarked background harmonies Sweet did to perfection, surpassed (perhaps) only by Queen.
Off the Record is one of the band’s heaviest albums, thanks mainly to Andy Scott’s chunky and blazing guitars, and is crammed with powerful tunes such as “She Gimme Lovin’,” “Lost Angels,” “Live for Today,” “Fever of Love,” “Hard Times,” “Midnight to Daylight,” and “Stairway To The Stars,” while the lengthier and more complex track “Windy City” (with its “Woman From Tokyo”-like riff) easily ranks in my “Top 5 List” of best songs Sweet ever recorded. Despite the “heavy factor,” the band retains its catchy pop sensibilities throughout, with the majority of choruses being of “sing-along caliber,” and for diversity’s sake, the band also includes a lighter moment on the beautiful “Laura Lee” and a heaping dosage of funk on the appropriately named “Funk It Up (David’s Song),” which incidentally is my least favorite Sweet song on this or any other album within the band’s catalogue.
Therefore, for lovers of Hard Rock who wrote off the band due to its early pop hits such as “Wig Wam Bam” or “Little Willy” and are unfamiliar with this phase in the band’s varied history, Off the Record may come as a pleasant surprise. In many respects, mid-’70s Sweet had little in common with the original version of the group—no “bubblegum rock” here, only punchy, well-performed, and melodic Hard Rock with a Glam Rock edge, plus some of the most creative and stunning multi-layered background vocals in rock ‘n’ roll history.