Album Review: The Osmonds – Crazy Horses (1972 LP)

Today I am beginning an ongoing series under the heading of “Now for something completely different”. I will occasionally throw a curve ball out there. Just like this one.

My memory of the family name Osmond started at a young age. Growing up a child of the 70’s, and living in a religious family, the Osmonds cartoon show and Donny & Marie show was on our tv back in the day. These were shows I am sure a ton of kids watched but no one would dare admit it. The Osmonds were definitely not cool. Squeaky clean and straight laced. They almost seemed as if they were from an earlier time. Back then I hadn’t even heard of Utah or the Mormon religion, but since my tv time was limited, and I had to watch shows my parents approved of, Donny & Marie it was.

Musically though I quickly moved away from the sappy garbage the Osmond family had become famous for. They call it Puppy Love. More like Puppy Sh*t. 2 seconds into that song and I`m clicking the next button. I just assumed all of The Osmonds albums would be sappy,  early boy band garbage. Then late last year a dude I know from an Ontario metal band sent me a video by The Osmonds. Hah. Nice joke buddy. This should be good for a laugh. This was not good for a laugh though. It was just good. Great in fact. Right then and there I knew I had to search out this album, and even got a few more. I can admit it`s tough to find them in good shape. Almost as bad as The Monkees. I have only ever found one Monkees albumin decent shape. I think that bands that were owned by younger listeners tend to see more abuse.

Back in 1972, The Osmonds had already released 9 albums. The band had done whatever the studio had told them to do, and young brother Donny was already emerging as a teen sensation. The band told the studio they wanted to do a rock album in the vein of their heroes, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. The studio balked and let the band know it would never work. Probably letting them know it would go over like a lead zeppelin or something like that. I`m really glad for short time frame the band went in this direction, and that I was informed of what I was missing.

Hold Her Tight – The Mormon religion believes in chastity before marriage so maybe not too tight. Any song that begins with a Jimmy Page-esque riff, some sweet talk boxing, and a cool horn section is ok in my books.

Utah – The Beach Boys had California Girls as their tribute to their home state. The Osmonds have this song. It`s a clap happy, toe tapper that has elements of 70`s jazz, 50`s rockabilly and the best of Nashville. Weird mix, I know, but it works.

Girl – if you listed to a Leon Redbone LP at 45rpm and his voice went way  up in pitch, this would be the result.

What Could It Be – This song could have fit onto The White Album or SGT. Pepper`s and no one would have complained.

We All Fall Down – Donny was mostly cut out of this album due to his teenage voice changing, and the different direction of the band. He shows off some pretty trippy keyboard work here though.

And You Love Me – One of those mellow, 70`s Sunday morning songs to chill out, enjoy the sunlight and watch the grass grow. The song even has frogs chirping at the end to complete the image.

Time to flip the black PVC over.

Crazy Horses – This is the song that got me to rush to Discogs. Speaking of Rush, Merrill Osmond, the brother who sings the higher pitched vocals reminds me a lot of Geddy Lee. The band already had a huge female following so it wouldn`t have affected them. Donny does a wicked impression of a horse neighing with his keys. In my opinion, it is the best thing Donny ever did for the music industry. This song is not sh*t. It is THE SH*T!!! The song was banned in many countries throughout the world because censors thought it was about drug use, but it was a warning about the automotive industry polluting the atmosphere. They were not only talented rockers, they were way ahead of the curve environmentalists.  Imagine the censors trying to tell the radio industry that The Osmonds were being banned. Perhaps for Coke use. Classic Coke.

Life Is Hard Enough Without Goodbyes – Some wicked guitar work here, and Merrill`s wicked voice. The hair standing up on my arms and legs tell me all I need to know.

Hey Mr. Taxi – Perhaps Lenny Kravitz used this song for inspiration. It has more of a George Harrison guitar tone than Lenny`s ultra cool. The Osmonds were politely telling the speeding taxi driver to pull over rather than belittling a racist cab driver. No need for car horns to censor the evil curse words here.

That`s My Girl – We go back into the happy zone. The vocal harmonies, horns and string sections are really top notch.

Julie – It begins off in an almost-Little Richard like song then morphs into a doo wop number.

Big Finish – 18 seconds of Looney Tunes meets Jackson 5. Why? No idea.

Obviously from the pictures on the album cover, these 5 brothers were wanting to change their image and show everyone they were ready to rock.



Pictures aside, this is pretty damn good album. It shocked me the first time I heard it. I say give it a spin and hear for yourself. Chuck Eddy ranked this album 66 (or no. 66.6) of The Five Hundred Best Heavy Metal Albums In The Universe. I wouldn`t go that far. It was sort of metal, especially for 1972, but it was definitely the closest any Osmond has ever come to being cool.



Album Review: Sweet – Desolation Boulevard (1974, 1975 Canadian Pressing LP)

I heard the sad news today that Steve Priest(R.I.P.), the bassist most famous for being a member of Sweet(also known as The Sweet, The Sweetshop) passed away a few days ago at the age of 72. I always though he was a very underrated bassist, just as Sweet was always an underrated band. Many people consider them a bubblegum, rock-light band, that faded into obscurity with only a few hits under their belts. I say don’t judge a book by it’s cover (even if this album cover was done by Hipgnosis). Of note, there are different track listing in different countries. I will be reviewing the North American (and Japan) version here. The original 1974 UK version had different songs, and as sometimes happens when a band from one country starts to gain popularity elsewhere, the record label releases a different version with different songs.

Ballroom Blitz – Speaking of hits. This song is definitely a hit. Steve not only contributed the “..Uh huh..” after he is asked “Are you ready Steve?”, but contributed backing vocals and played his bass brilliantly. This song has been a staple on rock radio for over 45 years for good reason.

The 6- Teens – The first time I heard this song I thought the lyrics were ..’you`re allllll, part of the 60’s..”. This was just one of the obstacles we faced in the days before the internet kids. This song has definite Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie elements. In other words, it was pretty damn awesome.

No You Don’t – Brian Connolly suffered an injury to his vocal chords after being beaten up outside of a bar (which caused the band to miss out on an opening slot on The Who world tour). This forced the band to find a temporary lead singer to finish the album Sweet Fanny Adams. Luckily Steve Priest was up to the task. The first time I heard this song I thought it was a Nazareth song. Steve sounds almost exactly like Dan McCafferty, and the song has a Nazareth element to it. There are also hints that Pete Townshend (who was a huge Sweet fan) gave his approval for Sweet to borrow his signature guitar style, and The Who classic sound on this one. A real hidden gem. I say search it out.

A.C.D.C – No Australian ass kickers here. Just a song about having to share your woman with another woman. A bit of 70`s era Slade-like tongue in cheek to go along with some really cool guitar, drum and bass work. I like the original, but Joan Jett did a pretty great cover of this song.

I Wanna Be Committed – I can only figure the Ramones used this song as a springboard by replacing committed with sedated. Some Queen like vocals mixed with distorted vocals. Not an amazing song,  but still pretty good.

Now we flip the record, and we go all Sweet. The songs on side A were all penned by the songwriting duo of Chapman & Chinn. By 1974, Sweet wanted to try and move away from the bubblegum image, so they wanted to write for themselves, and rumour is that Chapman & Chinn were not easy to work with. one last difference to the UK version is that Fox On The Run, was the shorter, single version.

Sweet F.A. – I can only imagine Rush heard this song and used it to influence their early sound. The drums (Mick Turner even uses a gong) and guitar all sound sound so Rush. The vocals and bass work sound more like Queen. Not a bad combination if you ask me. Perhaps they even influenced Love and Rockets with the song title.

Fox On The Run -One of the singles from this album, and rightfully so. It is a really great song, that I am certain Prism used as inspiration for Spaceship Superstar. It has some of the elements of their previous hit Little Willy, but the keys give it a spacey coolness. Of note for me in the video below is the dude in the pimp hat, the young lass in the yellow outfit dancing up a storm and that blue suit Brian Connolly is wearing. There is photographic evidence of me and my brother wearing matching blue suits like that from the 70`s that no one ever needs to see.

Set Me Free – Covered by Saxon, Heathen, Vince Neil and others. The guitar work has elements of a early 70`s funk song mixed with a NWOBHM song. Probably the heaviest song the band ever did. It would make the list for greatest hidden gems of the 70`s.

Into The Night – Military like drumming precision mixed with some Sweet guitar work start this one off. Then the song morphs into a sort of Alice Cooper meets Queen slab of goodness.

Solid Gold Brass – If the Beach Boys wanted to go heavier, this may have been the result. It also reminds my of when a certain group of brothers went heavier for one album (which I will review one day, but I digress).

Duff McKagan considers this album as one of his all time favourites, calling it “the blueprint of rock fantasy”. I have really enjoyed re-connecting with this album after a long hiatus. Even though members of the band all went their separate ways a few years after this, and formed different versions of Sweet, this album could be seen as a high water mark for the band. Different versions of the album. Different versions of the band. I guess it is just more to enjoy. Rest In Peace Steve. You will be missed.

9.5 out of 10.