Sweet Toothe - Testing (1975, US, fuzzpsych(rural)hardrock, RE Dominion vinyl rip, single flac + cue + splitter, DR11, artwork)
*** Reviewed by great fellow Adamus67 ***Sweet Toothe hail from West Virginia, and released their only album in 1971. Something of a mixture of pop/rock, blues and psyche, all of the songs are nonetheless excellent examples of their genre. 'Karen' is a lovely pop song to open the album, and the fuzz guitar really makes its presence felt on 'Music's Gotta Stay'. 'Wind And Water' is a jaunty little boogie, and their humour comes over with the fact that they have called one track 'Live In Concert' (when it isn't). The band show that they can play the blues with 'Just Loved Look', and the most out and out psyche track is undoubtedly 'All The Way Home' although more in the lyrical department than the music. 'In The Beginning' features a guitar duel, and 'Swamp Fox' ends the album with a down and dirty rock tune. It is not actually out on CD, although there is a vinyl re-issue which I got some months ago, and at that time there were not many left so you might have a job finding a copy. If you do manage it though, you will find that the effort is repaid with a fine 70's rock album.
Thank you so much Adam for that effort
Buying rare music is very much a crap game. Many dealers erroneously equate rarity with quality. Add to that the fact dealers are frequently trying to generate a market for their wares ... The end result is that many highly praised rarities are simply not that good. Line up something as popular and common as "Revolver" against many sky high priced obscurities and guess which one you're more likely to repeatedly listen to ... Against that backdrop, once in a blue moon dealers get it right. Here's one of those rare instances.
There are literally thousands of bands out their with stories similar to Bluefield, West Virginia's The Sweet Toothe. You've heard the plotline before - group of buddies record an album for a small private label which pressed a handful of instantly obscure copies; the band then enjoy fifteen minutes of pseudo-fame (in this case opening for a mid-'70s reunited Iron Butterfly), before vanishing into the mists of rock history. What makes these guys different (bassist Pierce Bratton, drummer Michael Chilco, lead guitarist Emerson Conley, singer Michael Hopkins and rhythm guitarist David Leedy), is the fact their sole album was actually really good.
Produced by Benny Quinn and Patrick Glossop, 1975's "Testing" was \released by the small Nashville-based Dominion Records. Interestingly, on those rare occasions it shows up on sales lists, the LP is frequently billed as psychedelic. It isn't. Sure, thanks in large measure of Conley's fuzz guitar, there were occasional psych touches, the most notable being the lyric to 'All the Way Home', but the majority of the album offered up more conventional hard rock structures. Propelled by Hopkins' attractive voice and Conley's nifty fuzz guitar, tracks such as 'Karen', 'Music's Gotta Stay', 'You Know How To Love Me and 'E.R.' sported great melodies and a sense of enthusiasm that must have made these guys a great live act. Even their isolated stab at country bar band material ('Wind and Water') was likeable. True, there wasn't anything particularly original, or earth shattering across these ten tracks, but the performances were uniformly energetic and enjoyable with some roaring lead guitar. Even more impressive, for a small private pressing, credit producers Quinn and Glossop with giving the album a wonderful, deep and full sound. Played loud on a quality stereo system, this LP rocks !!! One of my all time favorite obscurities.
- Opening up with some of the prettiest fuzz guitar you've ever heard (not a description you normally associate with the effect), 'Karen' was a breezy, bluesy ballad with some highly eccentric sci-fi-ish lyrics. I've listened to the song dozens of times and don't have a clue what it's about ... The song was also tapped as the 'A' side for a promo single. rating: **** stars
- More cowbell please ... 'Music's Gotta Stay' found the band taking a step toward being funky ! No you weren't going to mistake them for The Ohio Players, but the song actually had a enjoyable slinky feel. Conley and David Leedy turned in some fantastic dual lead guitar work. rating: **** stars
- Kicked along by some great harmonica (and I'm not a big fan of the instrument), 'Wind and Water' found the band switching musical gears, offering up a likeable slice of country-rock. Great melody that I unexpectedly find myself humming on a regular basis. rating; *** stars
- Like most mid-1970s bands, I have absolutely no doubt that these guys got screwed over royally by everyone they dealt with in the music business. Those experiences seem to be the basis for 'Live In Concert' and it's dark and cynical the-music-business-sucks narrative. Kudos to the band for including an anti-drug stance in the lyric when it wasn't a very popular thing to do, and to P.D. Bratton who turned in some amazing bass work. rating: **** stars
- Not exactly a pop tune, but buoyed by some surprisingly attractive harmony vocals (and killer lead guitar), 'You Know How To Love Me' was definitely one of the album's more commercial numbers. rating: **** stars
- 'Just Loved Look' opened side two with a hard core blues-rock number ... very Allman Brothers sounding. Great if you liked Duane and Greg, but may have been a bit too pedestrian for others. rating: ** stars
- Another change of pace, the mid-tempo ballad 'In the Beginning' was the most conventional and radio-friendly number. Pretty melody, uplifting lyrics, and it closed out with some of Conley's most energetic playing. What wasn't there to like on this one ? rating: **** stars
- I have no idea who 'E.R' was, but powered by Bratton's bass, this was one killer rock track. In fact my only complaint was the song's abrupt ending. rating: **** stars
- 'All the Way Home' offered up a likeable slice of Foghat-styled boogie rock. Another personal favorite with Conley and Leedy just tearing the studio apart and the band again demonstrating some surprisingly sweet harmony vocals. rating: *** stars
- 'Swamp Fox;' was another boogie track with a slinky edge. Fun, though the falsetto harmonies were a bit shrill. rating: *** stars
There was also a limited edition promo single. According to one of the band members, only 200 copies were pressed:
- 1975's 'Karen' b/w 'Music's Gotta Stay' (Dominion catalog number NR7224-1)
Reportedly only 1,000 copies were pressed, going a long way to explaining the high prices original copies fetch.
I'm guessing that it was a bootleg, but the album was also released with an alternative cover. Like the original, the alternate version was credited to the Dominion label under catalog number NR7360-2.
There's also a legitimate 400 pressing run by the small Void label (with altered cover art and pressed in white, red, and green vinyl). Guitarist Emerson apparently remastered the tape for the reissue project. Probably not a smart thing to tell you, particularly since I'd like to sell my original copy, but the reissue should run you about $25 (rather than my stiff, but reasonable asking price for the classic original). In case you're impressed by stuff like this, the LP is listed in Hans Pokora's 1001 Record Collector Dreams.
I've never seen a copy, but Conley apparently remained active in music, reappearing under the name 'Emerson' with a 1992 album on the small LGM label ("The Power of Love" catalog number 2222).
It's a work in progress, but the band has a small website at:
Pro-sound rural rock/hardrock similar to Short Cross and Wedge, with strong songwriting and guitar/vocals. Three or four very good tracks with psychy westcoast hints, a few others are too rootsy barrock for me. Fans might also seek out Emerson (Conley) "The power of love" (CD 1992, LGM 2222), which is hampered by a drum machine but does have some good wailing guitar blues licks. [PL]
Superb flowing dual fuzz hardrock with first rate vocals, including harmonies, and dynamic ensemble playing. The opening two tracks "Karen" and "Music's gotta stay" are especially fine melodic hardrockers. Bit of a backwoods barband edge with several songs about the music biz and life on the road. Nice bluesy restraint and the lyrics. [RM]
On those rare occasions it shows up on sales lists, the LP is frequently billed as psychedelic. It isn't. Sure, there are occasional psych touches, the most notable being the lyric to "All the Way Home", but the majority of the album offers up more conventional hard rock structures. Propelled by attractive vocals and nifty fuzz guitar, tracks such as "Karen", "Music's Gotta Stay", "You Know How To Love Me" and "E.R." sport great melodies and a sense of enthusiasm that must have made these guys a great live act. Even their isolated stabs at country bar band material ("Wind and Water" and "Swamp Fox") are likeable. Even more impressive, for a small private pressing the album has a wonderful, deep and full sound. Played loud on a quality stereo system, this LP rocks! One of my all time favorite rarities. [SB]
A2. Music's Gotta Stay
A3. Wind and Water
A4. Live In Concert
A5. You Know How To Love Me
B1. Just Loved Look
B2. In the Beginning
B4. All the Way Home
B5. Swamp Fox
Sweet Toothe "Testing" Karen 1975
Emerson R. Conley - lead guitar
P.D. Bratton - bass
Michael Chilco - drums
Michael Hopkins - vocals
David M. Leedy - guitar
[Rip and Scans by gigic2255]
Link: 223 mb/file