Sweet! Just in time for Christmas, fans of one of Britain’s first and foremost Glam rock bands had a chance to have their favorites on an LP. The Sweet (who sometimes lost the “the” and just went by “Sweet”) put out their debut album this day in 1971. It had the incongruous title Funny How Sweet Co-co Can Be, which borrowed from their two hit singles and of course, the band name.
The Sweet formed in the dust of a few other bands, in London in 1968. They had an ear for both the Archies and The Who and set out to make melodic, “bubblegum” hard rock, something rather new back then. The quartet of singer Brian Connolly, drummer Mick Tucker, guitarist & keyboardist Andy Scott and bassist Steve Priest played their first gig in spring of ’68 and shortly after signed to Fontana Records. However, their first single, “Slow Motion” never got out of slow motion to move onto the charts, so they were dropped and then signed to EMI Records. The label famous for having the Beatles before and the Sex Pistols (briefly) later, believed in The Sweet’s musical direction and trendy, “glam” look with coiffed hair and platform boots. They made the smart move of teaming them up with the then up-and-coming duo of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman who began to write material for them and would eventually produce them also. This worked much better than the Fontana effort, with their first single “Funny Funny” making it to #13 in the UK. Some – Casey Kasem being one – thought it was a bit too obvious a nod to the Archies and “Sugar Sugar” but the fans didn’t seem to mind. The second single, in summer of ’71, “Co-co” did better still, getting to #2 at home and actually being a #1 hit in South Africa and some continental European lands.
So, with the band on the rise, and having a few new tunes ready, it was time to launch the album. Funny How Sweet Co-co Can Be contained the two hits and a handful of other tracks which were already released plus several new tracks, mostly written by Chapman and Chinn. As well there was a cover of the Supremes “Reflections” and some later editions also included covers of classics “Paperback Writer” and “Great Balls of Fire.” However, with no brand new single released from it, the Brit fans didn’t find a lot to entice them to the checkouts and the album failed to chart there. Surprisingly, in Finland it hit #1.
However, they kept releasing singles readily and “Little Willy” soon became their next top 10 in the UK and before long, they’d break it big over here as well with Desolation Boulevard and the song “Ballroom Blitz”, another Chapman and Chinn effort.
Allmusic gave it a decent 4-stars calling it a “record of almost unholy pop pleasure” which was the “first step towards establishing Chinn and Chapman as a songwriting brand name”. They liked the singles and some of the material although they did caution listeners some of the new tracks were “a lackluster rendering of …unappealing American soft rock.”
So perhaps instead of a “sweet” dessert, …Co-co was just the appetizer!