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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 : : :

Sweet Smoke official website

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Buy SWEET SMOKE Music


Just A Poke/Darkness To LightJust A Poke/Darkness To Light
Import · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2008
Audio CD$6.22
$4.54 (used)
Live: Sweet SmokeLive: Sweet Smoke
Import · Remastered
EMI International 2001
Audio CD$6.66
$5.55 (used)
Just a PokeJust a Poke
Import
EMI Import 2000
Audio CD$88.66
$39.04 (used)
Darkness to LightDarkness to Light
Import
Eastworld Records 2013
Audio CD$16.79
darkness To Light by Sweet Smokedarkness To Light by Sweet Smoke
Eastworld
Audio CD$63.80
live LPlive LP
HARVEST
Vinyl$125.00 (used)
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SWEET SMOKE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.85 | 95 ratings
Just A Poke
1970
3.09 | 44 ratings
Darkness To Light
1973

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

3.68 | 19 ratings
Sweet Smoke Live
1974

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

SWEET SMOKE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SWEET SMOKE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

SWEET SMOKE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.09 | 44 ratings

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Darkness To Light
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.85 | 95 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Nobody could accuse Sweet Smoke of being coy or subtle about their interests - with a band name, album title, and cover art like that, you know you're in for a jam so psychedelic that you can almost smell the bong smoke. Emerging from that early 1970s era where the border between psychedelic rock and progressive rock wasn't especially well-established, the group sits on the psychedelic side of the line whilst taking ample influence from the progressive side, with jazzy touches spicing up their performance and the album consisting of just two side-ling jams.

It's very much a product of its time, but it's a pretty decent product at that. There's a bit towards the end of the side 1 jam, Baby Night, where the performers coalesce into this great little cover of the Doors' Soft Parade, which I actually think is better than the Doors' own studio rendition of the song; their loose jam band take on it reinvests it with the acid rock wildness that the rather overpolite production on the Doors album of the same name robbed the composition of. Delicious stuff.

 Sweet Smoke Live by SWEET SMOKE album cover Live, 1974
3.68 | 19 ratings

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Sweet Smoke Live
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I have the 2001 edition put out by EMI/ Electropola with the three bonus tracks from the same concert. This was recorded live in Berlin, Germany in 1973 at the College Of Music and the sound quality couldn't be better. SWEET SMOKE often get lumped into the Krautrock sub-genre because people think they are German, but these Americans moved from Brooklyn, New York in the Winter of 1969 to Germany supported by sculptor Waldemar Kuhn. The music is very jammy and they remind me somewhat of what AGITATION FREE might have sounded like if they had these long extended jams. I find the music very uplifting, filled with light and the lyrics are positive as well, kind of hippy-like. I really like the relaxed vocals as well. All six guys are credited with playing percussion during this concert.

"First Jam" opens with it sounding like they are warming up but they are grooving after 2 minutes. A calm before 5 minutes as they all but stop then they kick again. The instrumental work stops 7 minutes in as we get vocals for the first time. The music kicks back in and the vocals will come and go the rest of the way. It settles right down before 15 minutes as he starts to sing "The creator has a master plan, peace and happiness for every man" over and over. Trippy stuff. "Shadout mapes" is so uplifting with vocals and that gorgeous guitar, we get backing vocals too. It turns all-instrumental a minute in then it all stops 6 minutes in where it turns surprisingly experimental until it changes back 10 minutes in.

"Ocean Of Focus" has this trippy, melancholic sound as the vocals join in fairly quickly. It turns instrumental before 2 minutes to the end with the guitar and bass shining, such a pleasant sound. The final three tracks are the bonus songs. "People Are Hard" is a melancholic and beautiful piece of music. Love the vocals too. This becomes instrumental only with picked guitar, percussion, keys and bass as usual. Great sound! The vocals are back after 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. They are brief though but they come back to end it. "Schyler's Song" has vocals and it's very laid back and trippy. Love the instrumental closing section beginning around 2 1/2 minutes. The tempo picks up 4 1/2 minutes in but I prefer the slower pace of earlier. "Final Jam" is almost all instrumental. It starts with the singer encouraging the audience to get up and dance. This is a joyous finale where the crowd claps along. Lots of picked guitar, beats, bass and keyboards. Some spoken words before 5 minutes as they try to get the crowd dancing again. There is singing late.

Man I really enjoy so much of this, it transports me to another place where all I feel is peace. I highly recommend this live one and their first studio album "Just A Poke".

 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.09 | 44 ratings

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Darkness To Light
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

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.

 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.09 | 44 ratings

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Darkness To Light
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury 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.

 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.85 | 95 ratings

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Just A Poke
Sweet Smoke Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Hey, man! Get that crack pipe outa here!! That's not where these cats are coming from. The year was 1970 but these dudes were bringing the 60s into the new decade and this ain't no Indica Purple Kush going on with all that paranoiad head trippin' and all but this SWEET SMOKE is a nice cerebral high that only comes from sacred mother Sativa and look at those hippie chicks dance! Groovin' outa Brooklyn, NYC these cool cats really knew how to have the ultimate backyard party with their fine and fan-damn-tastic spacey, jammin' jazz fusion band. With only two tracks their first album JUST A POKE, they really know how to pull you into a groovin' vibe from the start. These cats fire you up and keep your love light turned on for the whole half hour you put into it. Don't burn out and crash! You might miss something :)

This is fun bouncy music that never for once takes itself too seriously. This is music you can zone out to while the world is spinning after too many pokes of smoke or it's music you can tune into and feel the space rock jazziness invade your psyche. "Baby Night" will really get your horn fetish fly its freak flag with a hat's off to "The Soft Parade" from The Doors and all and "Silly Sally" gets the percussion super hoppin' like a dog gnawin' on its bone. This band just knows how to keep a groove going good and smooth and i'm sure they had a help from their dealer keeping them fueled up in the process of recording! The jazzy horns mixed with the clean rhythmic guitars with the occasional tasty solo is worth the price of admission alone but the dreamy and seriously optimistic feel coupled with those cool ass recorders that sound like Native American music are icing on this cake. SWEET and smooth, sensual and satisfying. This band knows how to hide their talents behind a thick cloud of SMOKE but if you listen for a while you can penetrate the hazy brume and savor the SWEETness.

Both JUST A POKE and the second album "Darkness To Light" are now available together remastered on a single disc! Groovy!

 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.85 | 95 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.

 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.85 | 95 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.

 Just A Poke by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.85 | 95 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.

 Darkness To Light  by SWEET SMOKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.09 | 44 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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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