Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Sweet Smoke

Psychedelic/Space Rock

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sweet Smoke Darkness To Light album cover
3.12 | 62 ratings | 10 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Just An Empty Dream (4:20)
2. I'd Rather Burn Than Disappear (4:15)
3. Kundalini (13:25)
4. Believe Me My Friends (4:29)
5. Show Me The Way To The War (5:30)
6. Darkness To Light (12:51)

Total Time: 44:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Rosenstein / guitar, percussion, vocals
- Marvin Kaminowitz / guitar, vocals, percussion
- Jeffrey Dershin / piano, percussion, vocals
- Rochus Kühn / cello
- Michael Paris / sax, flute, percussion, vocals
- Andrew Dershin / bass, percussion
- Jay Dorfman / drums, percussion

- Puppa Kuhn / flute (6)
- Peter van der Locht / alto sax(6)
- Marty Rosenberg / percussion (3,4)

Releases information

Artwork: Puppa Kuhn

LP Harvest ‎- 1C 062-29 471 (1973, Germany)

CD Harvest ‎- 1C 062-29 471 (1995, France)
CD Eastworld Recordings ‎- EW0095CD (2013, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy SWEET SMOKE Darkness To Light Music

More places to buy SWEET SMOKE music online

SWEET SMOKE Darkness To Light ratings distribution

(62 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SWEET SMOKE Darkness To Light reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Just a Poke", the band's first LP was a kind of cult album during my students days and I can remember the situations when I used to play it for several times in a row on my old turntable. Subsequently I came across this one and, must admit, was quite dissapointed! Instead of side-long jams, "Darkness to Light" brings even 6 tracks. While that was not a problem itself, the quality of these clearly falls short in comparison with the first LP. The shorter tracks bring more acoustic instrumentation and if the overall music is surely pleasant to listen, the tunes are not enough catchy or powerful. The album is filled with Hippie/Indian ideology too much and listening to it 30 years after sounds a bit naive and outdated. "Darkness to Light" is recommended only to SWEET SMOKE fans, while other listeners should stick with excellent "Just a Poke" and equally stunning "Sweet Smoke Live".
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars If you are a Fan of Just a Poke , this one can surprise you but it is definitely in the line previous one. The shorter numbers have not the same feelings as on the previous album , some even have jewish folk flavour to it , but nothing upsetting or weird. However the title track and Kundanili are 12+ min numbers in the same mould as the Poke album and just as exhilarating and certainly make this worth a spin. I have recently seen this one and the previous released on one CD so try to get that one because for mid-price.
Review by loserboy
3 stars So let me acknowledge right away that "Darkness To Light" is not as complete an album as "Just a Poke" , but on its own merit is for me a great little album. I will try not to spend this review in sharp comparison to "Poke" but will offer that the magic of Conny Plank is likely the element that made the difference here. "Darkness To Light" finds its creativity is blending their jazz-rock elements with folk and Eastern tinges. The end result is a raga-like structured album based on 6 songs of which 2 are over 10 mins. The longer songs get into the "classic" "Sweet Smoke" form with improvisations and extended passages.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Made in India

Sweet Smoke recorded just two studio albums, this the second one being released in 1972. After finding some success in Europe with their first album "Just a poke", the band expanded from a five piece to seven members and spent some time in India before recording a follow up album. As a result, Indian influences are clearly perceptible on "Darkness to light", which is a more diverse collection than their first release.

This album consist of two of the more familiar longer pieces, plus four short song based numbers. The opening "Just an empty dream" is a reasonably commercial melodic ballad, with similarities to early CHICAGO, and perhaps even a nod to CROSBY STILLS AND NASH. "Believe me my friends" is similar in structure, but more upbeat, almost country at times, the predominant violin offering comparisons with the music of KANSAS.

There are two longer tracks, both lasting around 13 minutes. "Kundalini" is the most vivid illustration of the Indian influences which the band picked up while there, with sitars and Hari Krishna type vocals. As the track develops, it becomes a more orthodox jazz number, with scat singing plus freeform guitar and sax.

"Darkness to light" which closes the album is a rather uninspired affair, which moves through solos by various instruments and chanted renditions of the title. The track is altogether just a bit too loose, and lacking in direction. The other two tracks, "I'd rather burn than disappear" and "Show me the way to the war" are slightly more rock orientated, with starker vocals. They are dull though, with little to distinguish them in either rock or jazz terms.

The diversity of this album is in some ways its downfall. While "Just a poke" was a reasonably well focused jazz rock based album, "Darkness to light" is a crude concoction of unrelated influences, which do not sit together all that well.

Best avoided.

The two Sweet Smoke studio albums, "Just a poke" and "Darkness to light" are now available together on a single remastered CD.

Review by ClemofNazareth
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.


Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars After their debut album "Just A Poke" these American musicians who were living in Germany decided to take a year off and go to India.That experience comes through on this follow up record "Darkness To Light". The Jazz flavour is all but gone now, and to me this album just doesn't compare to their debut.

"Just Another Empty Dream" is a pleasant tune with vocals. Acoustic guitar, flute and sax all take part. "I'd Rather Burn Than Disappear" is the most memorable track on here. It's a Folk song that tells a story. "Kundalini" is over 13 minutes long and is clearly influenced by their stay in India. The first part is tough going for me with the monotonous vocals. Violin before 4 minutes. It's when the sax comes in before 6 minutes that I start to like what i'm hearing. After 8 minutes it sounds more traditional as drums, bass and guitar arrive. It becomes very trippy after that. Vocal melodies are good. So I really like half of this song.

"Believe Me My Friends" is country flavoured with violin. Don't like it at all. "Show Me The Way to War" is the most interesting song. Samples of gun fire and explosions with lyrics that are anti-war. The chorus is catchy. Some nice sax late. Good song. "Darkness To Light" is the almost 13 minute closer. I really don't like the way this song is arranged during the first half of it. Themes are repeated. I like the guitar after 10 minutes as it becomes jazzy. Some vocal melodies and sax late.

It has it's moments, but too few of them to give it 3 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars After a totally groovylicious debut album that to my surprise I found to be a whole lotta fun, SWEET SMOKE officially disbanded not really taking their efforts too seriously despite there being a lot of interest in their stylistic approach. These guys were true flower children of the 60s and went as far as moving to Germany to form a commune near the city of Emmerich near the Dutch border. After disbanding the group decided to drive all the way to India to find a spiritual guru and also spent considerable time volunteering at a refugee camp helping casualties from Bangladesh's independence movement. It wasn't until they met some German tourists who told them of the success of "Just A Poke" that the band finally realized that they might have a chance in the crowded musical world of early 70s. They returned to Europe and recorded their second album DARKNESS TO LIGHT. The band took on extra two musicians adding violin, cello and piano to their previous bass, guitar, drums, sax and recorder sound.

Right away this album sounds different from the debut. The band clearly spent time practicing when they were out and about on their journeys. The musicianship is a whole lot tighter and more serious this time around. The Indian experience has clearly left its impression most obviously on "Kundalini" musically, which in a way sounds like a good mix of their old hippie style and a good old traditional Indian campfire song if such a thing exists! This album is a bit eclectic as the songs don't sound much alike for the most part. Many say that is the weakness, but for me a plus. Despite them feeling a little disjointed, individually I find the majority melodically pleasing and musically interesting. This is still very much feel good music but there is also some seriousness in the sarcasm as in "Show Me The Way To The War." The first couple of tracks are very folky in an American style but the music has eclectic moments where different moods and sounds burst in at unexpected moments. Perhaps not a perfect album but it is one that to my surprise I actually like quite a bit. Something about this band hits a note with me unlike any other. The title track is also a fine lengthy proggy jam that evolves the sound from the first album. This band just has a special energy about them and there is a lighthearted approach to the music of SWEET SMOKE that appeals to me with an underlying darker side.

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT is available remastered with the debut album on a single CD. Groovy music that is highly recommended for lovers of progressively leaning jamming sessions that throw in interesting twists and turns.

Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

4,5 stars really !

Judging by the average PA rating, this forgotten gem deserves a proper review.

Sweet smoke first LP 'Just a poke' - a big classic, famous even beyond prog circles- was in the psychedelic jazzrock vein, 'Darkness to light' is its logical following: instead of two long pieces in a jam style, we have here shorter and well structured pieces, a more progressive approach in style with a mystical indo-prog influence, similar to QUINTESSENCE.

The instrumentation is rich (piano, sax, flute, cello, sitar, to name a few) and the lyrics are inspired and spiritual. Vocals are mellow and you can expect as well some wonderful psychedelic guitar parts, of course. There's no weak piece but two highlights stand out from the rest: 'Kundalini' and the eponym title track 'Darkness to light'. Two impressive pieces, with many changes and progressions, excellent sax parts reminding of GONG and giving a slight canteburyan edge to the album.

Talking about the sound quality, I think that this album been originally well recorded and produced but there's unfortunately no successful good-sounding CD transfer available yet, to my knowledge.

I currently own the Eastworld EW0095 CD release which is not too bad but suffer from muddy lows , a lack of air in the mid-highs (depending on the system playback quality) and some harshness. Nothing to do with a first-pressing vinyl, as usual.

It's strange that this excellent album receives such a tiedous welcome on PA'is it due to the CD release's poor quality? Or PA audience is turned off by the hippy/mystical side of the record? Anyway, lovers of QUINTESSENCE and GONG (trilogy era) should be captivated by this underrated gem.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The second Sweet Smoke album is a bit of a gear shift from the first, the band having moved away from their previous focus on tripped-out side-long jams and overt weed references to present a more carefully composed set of actual, coherent songs.

The band hadn't just grown musically. In true hippy style, the gang had gone on a spiritual retreat to India after releasing Just a Poke - in fact, they didn't realise that it had become a minor hit until partway through the voyage - but on the strength of its success they were able to sign a contract with EMI when they got back. Thematically, Darkness to Light seems to draw a lot on the band's spiritual interests in general and their Indian voyage in particular., with Kundalini in particular incorporating various chants (I am not enough of a linguist to know whether they are invented or borrowed from their India experiences, I am afraid) and the title track also having overtly religious lyrics.

With each side consisting of two shorter songs and a longer jam, the band seemed to find a nice balance between the new compositional discipline they had learned and the freer, longer-form playing that was still part of the group's identity. I suspect that at the time of release, this must have seemed rather dated - whilst the band had been keeping the peace and love dream alive, the music world had moved on during their journeys, and the heavily psychedelic style of progressive rock they play here had long since given way to a more polished and technical and professionalised approach. Still, the passing of time has been kind to it, and the album represents an oasis of psychedelic sunshine and spirituality amidst the cynicism of the 1970s.

Latest members reviews

5 stars The underrated "Darkness To Light" is SWEET SMOKE's last studio album. This one has some shorter tracks but I think it's closer to progressive rock genre than their first. The music is more diverse, complex and thoughtfully composed. However, in some parts it still ratains the jazz-rock elemnt ... (read more)

Report this review (#30400) | Posted by terramystic | Friday, January 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of SWEET SMOKE "Darkness To Light"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.