Isn’t it amazing how a few choice words about this Roadmaster album went a long way toward putting it up on the AOR pedestal forever more!
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Sweet Music
SERIAL: VR 7804
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Stephan ‘Mac’ McNally – vocals * Rick Benick – guitars * Michael ‘Bones’ Read – keyboards, synthesizers * Toby Myers – bass * Bobby Johns – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 It Doesn’t Mean A Thing * 02 I Must Be Dreaming * 03 Ya Move Me * 04 Been Gone Too Long * 05 I’ll Be Lovin’ You * 06 The Swan Song * 07 You Come See Me * 08 Higher Higher * 09 Circle Of Love * 10 Sweet Music
Isn’t it amazing how a few choice words about this album went a long way toward putting it up on the AOR pedestal forever more! What are you talking about I hear you say? Remember the quote out of the first edition of the Heavy Metal Encyclopedia, referring to Roadmaster as ‘America’s premier pomp band.’ It went on to say ‘the harmonies will make you sweat with delight..’
And so it was, written in no uncertain terms that this was a band that became much sought after within the pomp rock/AOR genre. The question becomes after all these years: out of all their back-catalog, is this the definitive Roadmaster album? Considering there were five overall. I’m not gonna make that call, but I will gloss over the songs here.
If we transport back in time to 1978, ‘Sweet Music’ was a bit of a departure from their 1976 self titled debut. On that one, the band operated in funk rock territory, and had Abraham ‘Asher’ Benrubi as their lead singer.
Benrubi moved on, replaced by the velvet tones of Steve McNally, who’s voice would offer the band a different direction altogether. He is first heard on ‘Sweet Music’. His impact would be immediate on the album opener ‘It Doesn’t Mean A Thing’, a track that became a band staple in future years.
Elsewhere, we have a collection of superb tracks such as the title track at the end of the album ‘Sweet Music’ (one of my fave Roadmaster songs ever), the mid-tempo excitement of ‘You Come See Me’, and of course there is the synth-laden ‘Higher Higher’, especially the massive crescendo of ivories toward the end of the song. Fantastic stuff!
If I weren’t so picky, I could say that ‘I’ll Be Lovin’ You’ is a return to their funkier roots, but with a disco/orchestral layer behind the music. There are a couple of acoustic songs onboard, namely ‘The Swan Song’ and ‘Circle Of Love’ which could be construed as being a bit of filler.
Many years later ‘Sweet Music’ would be given a tribute by being one of the most bootlegged albums around. It is still debatable as to which of Roadmaster’s discography is preferred, I’ll leave that argument up to the trainspotters on this site. All of their other reviews are written about elsewhere, refer to the Roadmaster tag underneath.
It Doesn’t Mean A Thing