Jul 07

THE SWEET – “Block Buster”

FT + Popular76 comments • 8,039 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.



1 2 3 All
  1. 61
    Caledonianne on 18 Jul 2007 #

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 65
    Sessoms on 4 Jun 2010 #

    cool picsxx

  6. 66
    exporter on 24 Dec 2010 #

    this is a good article its great to comment here thanks

  7. 67
    exporter on 24 Dec 2010 #

    this is a good post its great to me comment here

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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).

  13. 73
    lonepilgrim on 28 May 2019 #

    I wasn’t (and I’m still not) bothered by the similarities of this to The Jean Genie. It’s the sirens and hyper camp interjections that lifted this to another dimension. For some reason I remember Steve Priest around this time posing in a pop magazine outside the greengrocers where he used to work, firmly grasping a pair of oranges.
    I wonder to what extent this prompted Bowie to ditch the Spiders and move on.

  14. 74
    The Popman on 2 Sep 2020 #

    Late to the party on these posts, couldn’t help but having a chuckle to myself regarding the comments about Johnson (I refuse to call him Boris, Johnson being the American slang for a dick, so apt). If only we knew what lay ahead…

  15. 75
    Andrew F on 3 Sep 2020 #

    I think that’s the case on a few things here, with the exception of Mark’s sharp eyes on Spiked (and it ages me that they’ve been going so long)

  16. 76
    Gareth Parker on 22 May 2021 #

    Don’t mind a bit of glam stomp at all to be honest, so a 7/10 from me.

1 2 3 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)

If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page