During the summer of 2005, Sweetwater finally released their three albums on cd! Sweetwater fans all over the world waited a long time for this. I got mine on Ebay, but you can also visit Sweetwater's site and get them via their label. I think this makes the story below even more interesting. Before 2005, if you wanted to hear Sweetwater's music from their albums, you had to buy those albums and convert them to cd. Out of 28 songs, there are 12 here which aren't on Cycles.
Musically, the sound is crisp and each and every instrument is heard clearly. If you've heard the album version, you'll hear pieces of music that you didn't pick up earlier. A stronger drum beat carries the rhythm on all three cd's. The artwork and liner notes are colorful and informative. Now I hope Sweetwater releases a few live shows from that era!
Sweetwater is a magical 60's band and one of the coolest secrets of that era.They were the first band to play at Woodstock - right after Richie Havens.Sweetwater released three LP's. What makes Sweetwater so cool? First, the music.Sweetwater's three albums present an impressive body of work anddefine the term hippy music for me. Its a mixof different sounds with a psychedelic twist and lyrics that could only have beenwritten during the late 60's. Sweetwater was a forerunner in many ways - a femalesinger and six guys, a multi-cultured group of seven people, a true collaborative effortand not the work of one or two and music that rocksbut isn't guitar-based.
Sweetwater is the band that almost got away. When you see the movie, you'llknow how and why. Luckily, the promoters of Woodstock 2 in 1994 looked them up.I first heard about them when I started to collect Woodstock. I saw the name there but none of their songs were on any of the Woodstock cdsor movies. I bought Cycles, a terrific compilation of their 3 LP's + one new song,on Ebay.
Then it hit me - why not get the original LP's and convert them to CD?? I bought all 3 LP's on Ebay (they go for $10-$30 each). While I'm great at listeningto music, I'm not much of an audiophile, much less a sound engineer. I posted a messageon Janglo, a Yahoo Group for English speakers living in Jerusalem (I'm an Americanwho is living in Israel since 1988). I got a reply and called a man on the phone.It wasn't until I dropped the LP's off at his house that I realized that he wasblind. A month later, I picked them up. I created and printed artwork for the cdsbased on the album covers and added them to my music collection. Its a great story - a blind man in Jerusalemconverted my Sweetwater LP's to CD.
Go for it - buy these 3 LP's and have someone turn them into CD's. You'll be openinga treasure chest that hasn't been opened in over 30 years. Its over a generation sincethese songs were played on the radio. Sweetwater's music gets lots of play on mystereo and always will!! What a cool quest!
Sweetwater's first album. The LP artwork is hippy-mystical. If I had to pick afavorite Sweetwater album, this is it. From the opening notes of Motherless Childto the groove on Why Oh Why, it flows and leaves colorful trails behind!
Just For You
Sweetwater's second album. In addition to the LP, I found a promo version -the kind they give to radio stations. I also found the single that came out ofJust For You - Just For You on the A side and Look Out on the B side. Just For Youis a great tune - it should've been on the charts (as with Motherless Child and JoinThe Band). Day Song and Song For Romeo are reflective. Just For Youends with the song Look Out. Look Out asks something of us - I want youto remember my face. I did and am enlightened by your music.
Sweetwater's third and final album opens with Get It When You Can. Lots of songs herewhich aren't on Cycles. The unknown songs are really cool to listen to - youknow you're listening to something that few people have heard in a longtime. The last song on the last album is called Join The Band. It reminds meof The Who's Join Together in a good way.
Cycles is a compilation of songs from Sweetwater's three cd's. There are three bonuses here - a live version of What's Wrong from Woodstock, a Christmas tune and a new song recorded in the 90's, Home Again. Before Sweetwater's music was released on cd in 2005, Cycles was the only way to hear songs from the original albums. Since the cd's have come out, Cycles is important for those three bonus songs, especially What's Wrong from Woodstock. I hope they one day release their Woodstock set.
Live At Last
Alex Del Zoppo, of Sweetwater, was kind enough to answer a few questions. Here's what he saysabout Live At Last:
"The LIVE at LAST CDs are available at Tower Records, Amazon.com, andpossibly still SouthlandCD.com - I'm not sure about that.The Rhino Records release (Sweetwater Cycles, the Reprise Collection)containing the best of our original three Warner Brothers albums ('68through '71) is now found at Collector's Choice Records. The VH1 movie isnow out of print, but still showing periodically on various stations aswell as being available for rent in the U.S. and many countries. I found(and purchased) a new few sealed ones on Ebay. There are now a few usedones on Ebay."
My take on it.. Live At Last opens with a rockin' Look Out. From the first note you feel the energyof this band. In A Rainbow really shines - I like the ethereal sound that Sweetwater paints their songs with.Just For You rocks - the rhythm kicks in and the vocals remind you of the original LP. They sound incredible!
Day Song is a cool lullaby and again Sweetwater does justice to their original albums. Day Song becomes Sailin' Away.Nice flute. Motherless Child!! The first song on the first album. The new members of Sweetwater add depth to the music -you can hear it on Motherless Child. My Crystal Spider is one of my favorite psychedelic songs. I like the spacey effectsduring the solo. What's Wrong is one of the best rebellious songs from the 60's. Hearing this version reminds me of when TheWho play My Generation or The Kids Are Alright live - now the kids have kids and the cycle is moving on. Live At Lastends with Heroes and Ladies, a gracious and mature closing.
The cd artwork has pictures of each member of the band, a list of the songs played and a link totheir site.
According to Alex Del Zoppo, "The Mini Refill was a self produced EP that we had completed justbefore VH1 did the movie on us (when all hell broke loose) - we released it(and named it) when we embarked on what we called our "Refill Madness" tourin '99 - which is a play on the old Americanfilm about the dangers of marijuana use called Reefer Madness a titlewhich was to be taken seriously at the time, madness being more akin to madcow disease than fan mania. We were just having fun with the words."
"The songs on that are alternate versions of some of the same songs. Forinstance Nobody's Home is a completely different feel and groove than theone we did live, mainly because it evolved into a more funky thing overtime."
"Come in From the Cold is pretty close to the version we did live, as isHome Again. However, Without Me was a song that I wrote way backaround 1969 or so and wanted to sing, but Albert won the coin toss, andsang it on our Just For You album. One night we were fooling around withdrum loops and started playing Without Me, with Nancy singing it in anunderstated way, like a tea kettle waiting to boil over at the chorus.You'll note that we added a fuller chorus section than on the originalrecording as well. The result is the version that is on this recording,however, we faded the end, but the drum loop still continues as theaudience noise grows at the end. We did that intentionally only to makepeople wonder how we did it. We had the crowd and drum loop on separatetracks, so we could manipulate it to our liking and decided to just let itgo on at the end as a mind blower."
Its always fun to listen to alternate versions of songs that you like - The Who's Odds & Sods,the new version of The Beatles' Let It Be. Mini Refill fits the bill. A colorful cd - in terms of music and artwork. WithoutMe is the most powerful song here, it'll grab your attention.
If you want a copy of Refill, send an emailto Alex Del Zoppo - there are still a few left!
Sweetwater - A True Rock Story
If you weren't sold on Sweetwater until now, the movie will convert you! I collectall sorts of 60's music - The Who, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Pink Floydand lots more. I've seen every rockumentary out there. Sweetwater's storyis the missing link! Its a real story - one you'll identify with. And its inspirational.Sweetwater played its role in the 60's. They disappeared off the face of the earthand reappeared in the 90's. The three remaining band members had been through a lot,but they found their peace. And they got their band back! And now more peoplethan ever listen to their music and know their story.
I hope you enjoyed the above! If you want to read more about Sweetwater,the band has a great website.I leave you with a few posters, playbills and pictures ofSweetwater..
The bottom photo is from Woodstock and I'd like to thank Derek Redmond for snapping the photo and letting me use it a generation later!