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Sweet Smoke - Darkness To Light  CD (album) cover

DARKNESS TO LIGHT

Sweet Smoke

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.66 | 22 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars These guys had to have smoked a serious amount of dope back when they were wandering around the European continent and throughout India back in the early seventies. They were sort of a cross between the Grateful Dead and the post-Magical Mystery Tour Beatles, only not as good of musicians as either of those groups. No big deal though, since their fans were likely partakers themselves for the most part and therefore probably shared in whatever it was the band heard in their own music that spoke to them.

The first Sweet Smoke album was really an innovative bit of jazz-meets-wasted-Americans-in-Berlin and consisted in Thick as a Brick fashion of just two tracks with each covering one side of the vinyl. Oh, except for one thing – they weren’t as good as Jethro Tull either. But it was decent music for the period and the long numbers made a great backdrop for weekend indulgences.

This album came close to the end for the band, after they had expanded their consciousness from Germany to India and as a result absorbed some of those influences to go along with their weird style of jazz and psych folk. It all makes for a couple of spacey numbers that stretch out like the ones on the first album. You can’t really tell how much is composition and how much is improvisation, but I don’t suppose that really matters anyway.

The difference with this album is that the band throws in a handful of shorter and more conventional tracks as well for some reason, maybe because they were actually trying to make a living at this music thing. Didn’t pan out though. The problem with the four short tracks is that they don’t gel in any fashion whatsoever. Two of them are sort of cool jazz pieces (“Just an empty dream”, “Show me the Way to the War”); another is a electric folk number with a confusing message (“I'd rather burn than disappear”); and still another (“Believe me my Friends”) sounds like a Mike Pinera blues-rock standard with a violin thrown in as an awkward nod to good taste.

The magic, if there ever was any for Sweet Smoke, seems to have faded by the time this album released. As far as I know all the members of the band ended up returning to the U.S. shortly after this released, and most of them ended up pursuing lives outside of music once their heads had cleared.

“Show me the Way to the War” is a tune that I could see getting included in late night independent college radio playlists once and a while simply because it has some cool jazz bits and the theme is one that college kids with liberal ex-hippie faculty advisors would seem to find worth putting on the air once and a while. Otherwise this one is for fans only, and therefore a two star effort.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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