3
Jul 07

THE SWEET – “Block Buster”

FT + Popular72 comments • 5,675 views

#325, 27th January 1973

Sometimes you hear a flaw, a niggle in a track you love and it gradually sours you on the whole. I am worried that this might be happening to “Blockbuster”. For tens, perhaps hundreds, of plays, I had enjoyed this most wholehearted of tracks, and then suddenly, one day, I noticed that of course they’re not singing “blockbuster”, they’re singing “block Buster”. Whoever he is.

That irritates me. I won’t go into why, because I’m not even sure there is a why, but I wonder if it’s possible to somehow train myself not to notice it when I hear the thing. This is a related fantasy, I guess, to the “oh, imagine hearing it for the first time” one I sometimes have about favourite tracks that have become as worn and threadbare as an old stuffed toy.

Luckily I can remember hearing “Blockbuster” for the first time – I’d heard bits of it used here and there, the rhythm and the klaxons, but not the whole thing in its confident might. With the album charts pulling in more profits and more of bands’ and marketers’ attention, the singles charts had been left to recidivist stomp rock and to bubblegum – writers Chinn and Chapman’s big idea was to fuse them. The genius of “Blockbuster” is its easy combination of bolshy glam muscle and campy pop theatre (into which, yes, “block Buster” fits, though I don’t really want it to). The opening klaxons are an amazing headrush – the first time they’d been used like this in pop? – immediately turning the track into an event: clear the airwaves boys, this is what you want to hear. If the song had just stuck with the riff and the howls and the sirens it would be the first rave track (might be anyway), but then it starts getting teasy, flirty with you even (“Does anyone know the way?”) before stepping right into pantoland with the “doesn’t have a clue WHAT to do” delivery – and then cranking the frenzy right up again. Delicious, delirious.

9

Comments

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  1. 51
    Mark G on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Is fifty the message limit? (edit: Ooh, seems not)

    “Action” Sweet: top track

    RWakeman had long gone by the time of the Strawbs hits.

  2. 52
    Erithian on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Tom – I had a feeling this would happen. Our office, and no doubt many others, has a firewall which prevents you accessing material it deems to be of a sexual nature. Could you please retitle the page for the next entry (with apologies to Noddy) “COME On Feel The Noize”?!!

  3. 53
    Tom on 6 Jul 2007 #

    NOEZ MY ARTISTIC INTEGRITY AS A BLOGGER IS DOOMED.

    I will come up with a cumpromise solution. (ew)

  4. 54
    Tom on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Any better?

  5. 55
    Erithian on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Triffic, thanks. Will you by any chance need to do something similar in 1977? – you did hint that you might do an entry on a particular record that didn’t *officially* get to number 1…

  6. 56
    Tom on 6 Jul 2007 #

    I sort of think that blocking the word “sex” is a doomed enterprise but maybe less 90s and 00s hits have used it than I think…

  7. 57
    Waldo on 9 Jul 2007 #

    I actually think that the Old Consevatives have disappeared into UKIP rather than the nefarious BNP, who glean their alarmingly high support mostly from sons of the soil Labour people and certainly not Tories in the shires. The fact that they score highly in the Industrial North West as well as certain impoverished areas of the capital seems to underpin this. UKIP, meanwhile, are attempting to transform from a one-issue party into a catchment area for Conservatives who don’t like Cameron. This is why the next election is another gimmee for Labour, who are now everything to everybody.

  8. 58
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Jul 2007 #

    Current polls suggest that if Boris Johnson chooses to stand as Tory Mayor of London he would triumph over Livingstone on the basis of being more “fit” and “hott.” I have no idea what that means but it cannot be healthy.

  9. 59

    it’s all about dirty dronerock bo(r)is!

  10. 60
    Waldo on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Marcello – Here we see eye to eye. Boris is what our Irish cousins would call “an eejit”. He is a character whom simply could not be created by Harry Enfield or the wonderful Ricky Gervais principally because he would not be credible. The prospect of this nincompoop as Mayor of London beggars belief but probably no more ludicrous than Arnie being Governor of California.

    I’m surprised that Boris would head any poll, even over Ken. But I’m sorry to say that most young people would be able to name Boris from a photo, whilst not recognising Cameron. The man’s an oaf but a very popular oaf.

  11. 61
    Caledonianne on 18 Jul 2007 #

    The Strawbs are playing Fairport’s Cropredy Festival (near Banbury) next month…

  12. 62
    Doctor Casino on 26 Aug 2007 #

    Tom – police sirens had been used in “Indiana Wants Me” in 1971, though not as an intro.

    Just checked it, as I love the R. Dean Taylor song, and in fact sirens are the first audible thing on the record. So no go for the Sweet, although pretty much everything else about the song is pure genius, even the business about blocking Buster that bugs Tom so much. The 9 is well-deserved I think.

  13. 63
    richard thompson on 24 May 2008 #

    This period in time was my rock music awakening as from November 72 I was watching TOTP every week because the Osmonds were on there, it was Paul Gambaccini who said 73 was the nadir of the top twenty, a yank who thinks he knows everything, it depends on how old you were at the time as well.

  14. 64
    Conrad on 24 Sep 2009 #

    Just discovering the 72-75 period properly for the first time…after a few months digging around 73 seems the best year of this mid-70s era by a distance.

    Lots of cracking songs, including this one of course.

  15. 65
    Sessoms on 4 Jun 2010 #

    cool picsxx

  16. 66
    exporter on 24 Dec 2010 #

    this is a good article its great to comment here thanks

  17. 67
    exporter on 24 Dec 2010 #

    this is a good post its great to me comment here

  18. 68
    Ken Shinn on 31 Jul 2012 #

    A couple of random thoughts: Billy Smart, on 5th July 2007, commented on the “quest” feel of this marvellous song. He’s absolutely right. In fact, it links in quite nicely with the contemporary comic strip “R.A.T. TRAP” in Cor!! comic, where the evil human/rodent supervillain Doctor Rat (did William Kotzwinkle know?) carried out spectacular robberies (of cash, not girls) each week, and the defeated-yet-determined cops on the case turned to us in the final panel, asking us to write in with new plans to capture him…”There’s GOT to be a way”, indeed…

    Secondly, while he nowadays looks like Victor Lewis-Smith without glasses, Steve Priest did funny things to my pre-pubescent loins at the time! Minus that bloody pickelgruber, anyway. Cheekbones you could cut yourself on, and that hair…he was part-man, part-girl, theatrically, gleefully feral – and all-gorgeous. Ziggy Who?

  19. 69
    Lena on 5 Feb 2013 #

    Hey guys, this song’s about you! *runs away*: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/guessing-game-carly-simon-youre-so-vain.html Thanks for reading, y’all!

  20. 70
    Lena on 5 Feb 2013 #

    There is power in a union: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/if-you-want-to-defeat-your-enemy.html Thanks for reading and commenting, everybody!

  21. 71
    hectorthebat on 26 Jun 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 368
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 12

  22. 72
    flahr on 19 Jun 2015 #

    “but actually the whole time a strangely similar story — of a powerstruggle between factions, between regions, between generations, between rank-and-file and upper echelons* — was also unfolding in the ” –> this being a p^nk s. comment I was naturally expecting “NME” and was a little jolted when I continued (National Mineworkers’ Executive maybe)

    Cor!! is a spectacular name for a comic.

    Songwise – truly fab record (or perhaps FABB!! would be more appropriate).

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