By 1977, it seemed like The Sweet’s glam pop days had passed. They had become big international stars, but their LP, Cut Above The Rest, flopped everywhere, even in their native UK. Punk had just hit big, pretty much making those early to mid 70s bands obsolete. Sweet needed a style change and fast. So they borrowed a bit of classical prog from E.L.O., some Queen drama, dressed down in t-shirts and jeans and put out the pop oddity, Love Is Like Oxygen.
Oddity, you say. Yes. It’s a weird song especially coming from Sweet. It has a melodramatic opening (you almost envision the band opening their sets with this, standing in the dark with various spotlights shining on them cued to each power chord). Then comes in with some faux-metal guitar crunches before kicking in with a staccato-piano driven chorus. Then comes the kicker is the chorus in which all 4 Sweet members espouse their wisdom on love, (which) is like oxygen. And if you get too much, you get too high. Not enough, and you’re gonna die. But then the best part – love gets you high.
Wait, what? You just said too much gets you high, and now you’re saying just having will make you high. So either I’m high or I’m dead? And how is that like oxygen? If I have oxygen, I stay alive. Maybe in your fantasy world, you take a deep breath and you get high. I suggest you put the bong down, even for 2 minutes, and feel what it’s like breathing without a buzz.
Ok, so the chorus doesn’t make any sense, but maybe they explain it better in the verses, which Brian Connolly sings over a break down of a high hat and piano, like he’s a teen idol crooner.
Time on my side. I got it all
I’ve heard that pride always comes before a fall
There’s a rumour goin’ round the town that you don’t want me around
I can’t shake off my city blues. Every where I turn I lose.
I’m not sure what to make of this. He starts off saying he’s got it all and finishes with he’s losing? Which one is it? I’m getting the feeling that he’s confusing oxygen with a tank of nitrous and it’s made him a little schizo. But now for the topper the simple yet contradicting chorus isn’t even an original idea. Hall & Oates visited this idea 3 years before in Grounds For Separation on their 1975 LP, Daryl Hall & John Oates. Listen here and fast forward to 1:20.
Ouch. And I’m sure somewhere someone before them put that coupling together. But considering the Glam look and pop sound of Hall & Oates, I’m guessing someone in the Sweet camp, heard that song and thought it was a cute bit to nick, especially when it seemed that they were out of ideas themselves. I wonder if Hall & Oates thought they same thing when they heard Sweet’s tune hit the Top 10 in 1978. After all they named their 1982 LP, H20. That would be 2 parts Hall to one part oxygen…can’t get too high.