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SWEET SMOKE

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United States


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Sweet Smoke biography
Although everybody agrees that SWEET SMOKE is of an international nature, they were formed in NYC, but were most popular in Germany and Benelux. Their music is one of the most loosely arranged happy-hippy-rock, very "jammy" as well as being very jazz-tinged also. Their average tune was 20 min long with the notable exception of their second studio album where shorter tracks (some were still 12 or 13 min long) are more common and they recorded all of them in Conny Plank's studio Germany. Their short career will end with a live album (recently re-released with extra tracks) but very worthy of them since it was new non-studio material.

Highly recommended to people who love good time happy music, very danceable but very suited for more intimate moments with your partner too.
: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Just a Poke/Darkness to LightJust a Poke/Darkness to Light
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2008
Audio CD$5.87
$6.00 (used)
Darkness to LightDarkness to Light
Import
Eastworld Records 2013
Audio CD$1.53
$11.48 (used)
LiveLive
Import · Remastered
EMI International 2001
Audio CD$6.85
$10.98 (used)
Just a PokeJust a Poke
Import
Msi 2000
Audio CD$9.74 (used)
you've got to hide your love away / you don't know like i know 45 rpm singleyou've got to hide your love away / you don't know like i know 45 rpm single
AMY
Vinyl$17.99 (used)
live LPlive LP
HARVEST
Vinyl$237.00 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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1 day
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Sweet Smoke - Single - Silly Sally - Mega Rare US $18.00 [0 bids]
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V/A: Marijuana Unknowns CD 1997 THEM Renaissance SWEET SMOKE Owen B DOPE FIENDS US $15.00 Buy It Now 7 days
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Sweet Smoke Blue Columbia 1970 Krautrock 1st LP Hippie Hard Prog Psych US $50.00 Buy It Now 25 days
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SWEET SMOKE discography


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SWEET SMOKE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 71 ratings
Just A Poke
1970
2.65 | 23 ratings
Darkness To Light
1973

SWEET SMOKE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.54 | 12 ratings
Sweet Smoke Live
1974

SWEET SMOKE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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SWEET SMOKE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

4 stars Firstly, I feel compelled to take exception at a previous comment. That the performers are Jews from New York is totally irrelevant. Apart from that most of their works were recorded in the very Germany, in a musical sense it matters not if they were from the Italian fishing village of Brescia, or Kiev in the Ukraine. Short of reporting the comment, I'd welcome that person - if he/she is still with us - to edit that comment.

Now, onto the music. If you have never visited, or lived in a hippie village, it'll represent the closest you can get to impromtu jamming every other night and in numerous Cafes after dark - on a good day/night. I lived in such a place for many years and such music is something that I remain very fond of, be that coming from New York, or elsewhere. Your next door neighbour could appear and blow your head off with his skills on saxes, or backpacker "chick" doing spirited work on her congas, you'd never know what was on offer. I never forget of going to sleep on the outskirts of the village. Music wafting through the air was very comforting, indeed.

This album represents perhaps of a taste of people coming together with their various instruments and create virtually instant magic. I've also heard much better Jamming by faceless locals, never having a chance to be recorded.

This album - whilst hardly the best ever representation - remains a pretty good example of times still treasured by die-hard alternatives - like myself.

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 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by ebil0505

4 stars My friend stumbled upon this album and showed it to me and I gotta say, it's quite a treat. While not essential, this album offers several elements that prog rockers would find interesting. It's split into two long songs, the album cover is bursting with color and psychedlicness, and the music is just sweet.

I really do mean sweet because while listening to this album, one gets the impression of biting into a juicy piece of fruit. The rhythm guitar seems to be the center of this phenomenon, caressing the listener and guiding them through the many different sections of psychedelic jamming. Each song is distinguishable yet work together the same way one would imagine a Yin-Yang. Fans of jazzy/blues rhythms might favor the first, though it is hard to deny the succulent drum solo delivered in "Silly Sally" (I love that name).

Whether you need to relax or you just altered your mind in some way, this album will brighten your day and will never fail to deliver a catchy beat that just can't be hated. Not altogether progressive enough for five stars, but it would fit in well with any Prog rocker's collection next to Nektar or Pink Floyd or even many of the Canterbury bands. Definitely worth checking out.

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 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Sweet Smoke - Just A Poke (1970)

One just has to wonder; what's behind this artistic, yet provocative artwork?

Sweet Smoke is real child of it's time, playing slightly psychedelic rock tracks with long sections with improvising soloists. Along the way the band embraces some nice flute-playing, soulful lyrics, jazz influenced chord progressions, relaxing atmospheres and long rhythmical sections. The overall atmosphere is that of a serious, yet playful rock-band that explores it's boundaries. The emphasis is on the steady rhythmical section of the band.Though most passages are relaxing or highly rhythmical, Sweet Smoke also treats us on some tasteful heavy rock passages and extended guitars solo's. Some have mentioned that one can hear a hippi-mindset at work here and I have to agree on that only partially, because I think Sweet Smoke also has a intellectual way of composing the parts with lyrics. Besides that, Sweet Smoke has a very professional sound for the year of release; easily out-playing and producing Zeppelin for instance.

'Just a Poke' is short album, running for 32 minutes, but it plays non-stop. Both sides have one long track with in the beginning some composition and song-writing and a long middle/end- section with jamming and rhythmical improvisation. Both tracks 'Silly Sally' & 'Baby Night' are equally rewarding.

Conclusion. If you like the sound of seventies rock and have no problems with some improvisation this is a great record. The music never get's very psychedelic or progressive, but Sweet Smoke really proves to be a very professional and inventive rock act. If the record would have a catchier or more experimental approach I would have given it four stars, but for now I think three and a halve stars is enough.

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 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.65 | 23 ratings

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Darkness To Light
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Very enjoyable music from 1970 that is trippy and often Jazz flavoured. Two side long suites make up "Just A Poke" that clocks in at 33 minutes. Not a big fan of the vocals, but I love the jams.

"Baby Night" opens with lots of peaceful flute with drums, bass and vocals arriving a minute in. It turns jazzy before 3 minutes as flute continues. Tasteful guitar 7 minutes in as they continue to jam. The tempo slows down 8 1/2 minutes in as percussion then vocals come in. The tone of the guitar sounds great 12 1/2 minutes in. Flute and vocals lead the way for the last 3 minutes.

"Silly Sally" is jazzy with prominant sax. Jazz styled vocals after a minute. The tempo speeds up 3 1/2 minutes in with guitar leading the way a minute later. Bass solo 6 minutes in. The drumming 8 minutes in is very interesting to listen to. Percussion 10 minutes in until a full sound returns with sax 12 minutes in.

A low 4 stars for me but certainly recommended.

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 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Legionnary

4 stars Before any thing,let us speak about the case of this album which is worth glance.Very coloured,she says a lot on the contents of the disc and music there that one will find ^_^ there what they can see above has left the eyes of a Hindu godhead and underneath the palace of milles are and one night.The calligraphy of letters is typical of period at the end ' 60 and at the beginning of 70 '.

The abum is comparatively short (33min) and only composed of two pieces,few groups have the period had boldness to try to make such long pieces,result is no less than very good quality...

The 1st piece (Baby Night) starts with an air of flute,this one taking a very important place in the piece,over the beginning it contributes to give the tempo.It remains rather calm until 2'35 almost or the flute up little by little before '4 where rhythm changes suddenly,in 4'40 the flute disappears to leave place in a long stage of improvisations in any types punctuated notably with some small shouting and rather exotic muttering.In 8'45 music becomes again more calm and the voice of Marvin does again its appearance,then towards 11'35 a small solo of guitar of very short-term finds its place perfectly here,its at this instant that they really realize that a big party of the piece is rest on improvisation. At 13'25,no doubt,its a snake charmer whom one hear and who goes perfectly with the exotic and unaccustomed style of this piece. The flute does again surface and after a last rise gets lost in steam...

Silly Sally is really jazz over the beginning with an an ubiquitous saxophone and a rather light rhythm which reminds of the case of the album.Come then the evil-minded voice of Marvin and this small shouting of thrill which certain Jim had popularized some years earlier.The singer starts then a speak a language was so small place later in a solo with a guitar very distorted.They arrive finally has the party has most interesting of the piece,little before the '7 a splendid solo of battery which puts to sleep literally,they are dealing here with a pure gliding passage who is really very taking,they can determine the strange likeness that whizz this solo with noise of reactors of plane,one understand the inspiration so of or in scooped out summer for the video.Come then a party or one hear maracasses and the noise of a criquet,with voices which seem Hindu and that seem to pronounce words,hardly audible... The battery and the saxophone close this piece always on this same air of return to it,it all the same Michael Paris has a lot of breath because to hold his notes so for a long time,I take off to him to my hat!!! Last seconds are also very sought-after,very jazz and Jay Dorfman marks deliberately with time of pause what marks the end of the piece,that undoubtedly does not seem to want to end ^_^ The firsts time when I have listening this piece I was so much taken by music that I literally left myself taken. Of other one counted only this piece,the rest was equal to me,the first listenings in actual fact I was really taken a slap,its in wonders how a simple song can bring this feeling of abatement and relaxation!

Although I consider Silly Sally as being distinctly better than baby Night,Just a poke remains however a very good album,to listen in peace and without being pressed!

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 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.65 | 23 ratings

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Darkness To Light
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by 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

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 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by greenback
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This short record is only made of 2 epic songs lasting 16 minutes. There is a definite psychedelic influence, but the tracks are pretty loaded and dynamic. The songs are surprisingly progressive for 1970. The refined drums and the restless bass form a solid fusion rhythm.

The side 1 is filled with spacy flute parts that are absolutely elaborated and delightful. Some restless music parts really reach an impressive speed; the cadence progressively varies from lower levels to higher ones and vice-versa. The electric guitar sound and style are quite respectable, reminding Jimi Hendrix without the impossible wah-wah solos.

The catchy & ultra rhythmic side 2 contains a good debut & end full of excellent sax parts. The infernal rhythm is repetitive but how efficient! The lead vocals may remind Elvis Presley himself! There is a spacy jaw-dropping wah-wah electric guitar solo. The long rhythmic drum solo contains interesting krautrock echo & frequency drift effects, terminated by a joyful set of fiesta screams & carnival cowbells arrangements: the bumpless transition to the ordinary drums then is really a big success.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 71 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is a band I wish I'd have known about when I was a kid, because they have a well- constructed, fascinating early seventies psychedelic sound but unfortunately broke up more than thirty years ago. But I didn't discover them until many years after their demise, and now these disks are pretty much impossible to find, although the CD versions can be had.

Don't know a whole lot about these guys beyond what has been committed to different web sites, but it seems they were some Americans from New York who relocated to Germany and established a kind of ex-patriot Haight-Asbury communal existence, lighting up and dropping out (as evidenced by the band's name). As far as I know none of these guys are active musicians today: one is a lawyer, a couple others are IT engineers.

And speaking of Haight-Asbury, the music on this album has a decidedly San Francisco feel to it, despite the band members being from the west coast. The rhythms remind me a lot of early Santana, although of course with guitar work is nowhere near the precision of Carlos Santana's. The album consists of two sixteen-minute plus tracks, both rather similar with lengthy, jazzy instrumental jam sessions, punctuated by a recorder, saxophone, and occasional drum solos. The vocals are reminiscent of bands like Argent, Donovan, It's a Beautiful Day (the male portions), and the Pentagle (ditto). This is a great album if you want to kick back in the park on a warm summer afternoon and listen to some laid-back music and otherwise zone out. I'm not sure how popular a pastime that is today, but back when this band was around it was a perfectly acceptable way to waste the day away.

I'm guessing "Just a Poke" was meant to have at least one different letter in the title, but this was probably a compromise to censors or the label. The album cover and liner notes leave little doubt as to the kind of music the listener is about to hear. One comment about the overall sound: there is definitely some Canterbury and just general western European influences, since most similar psychedelic bands from the U.S. at this time were either much heavier, or much more bizarre. These guys are much closer to what is today known as acid folk, very smooth and calm in their delivery as opposed to their slightly more angry and stoned American contemporaries like the Doors or Jefferson Airplane.

This isn't the kind of album that gets designated as essential, at least not by me. But it is a great half-hour of warm and rather tame psychedelic riffs set behind folk lyrics, and is worth a listen if you come across it. Three stars easily, but not quite four. Recommended if you can get the reasonable CD version, but probably not if you have to shell out big bucks for the vinyl.

peace

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 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.65 | 23 ratings

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Darkness To Light
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

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.

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