Sword! Here is yet another one of those overlooked ’80s metal gems that I love to rave about. Sweet Dreams is metal in its purest form; gimmick-free and unpretentious. A full-on scrotal assault!
Sweet Dreams was released by the Canadian label, Aquarius Records, in 1988 on LP (Q1 553), and cassette (Q4 553). Aquarius issued a CD version much later, in 1997 (Q2 553).
In 1989, on license from Aquarius Records, GWR Records (out of the UK) issued Sweet Dreams on vinyl (GWLP 45). I am not sure if GWR Records issued a CD or cassette version of Sweet Dreams.
Also in 1989 (and also on license from Aquarius Records), Roadrunner Records issued Sweet Dreams on their Roadracer imprint. In the U.S., the catalog numbers were RR 9476 (LP), RRC 9476 (cassette), and RRD 9476 (CD). In Germany, the catalog numbers were RO 9476-1 (LP), RO 9476-4 (cassette), RO 9476-2 (CD).
In 2007, Unidisc Records, a large Canadian independent label, acquired much of Aquarius Records’ back catalog, including Sweet Dreams. Unidisc re-issued Sweet Dreams on CD in 2008 (catalog number unknown). The CD cover of this version (see gallery) was slightly different from the original cover.
Gallery (click to enlarge):
- Sword formed in St. Bruno, Quebec, Canada.
- Sweet Dreams was tentatively titled The Second Coming during the recording process.
- Vocalist Rick Hughes and drummer Dan Hughes are brothers.
- After Sword, Rick Hughes wound up in the commercial hard rock/metal band, Saints & Sinners, which released their one and only album, Saints & Sinners, in 1992 (Savage Records).
- Sweet Dreams was the second and final release of Sword’s career. Their first album was 1986’s Metalized. Although Sword were by no means a household name during their career, they have not been totally forgotten. Sword’s two albums are pretty well-respected metal monuments among old school metal fans. In fact, Metalized was actually remastered and re-issued as recently as 2009 (Krescendo Records).
- I find it interesting that Sword are one of the few (modestly) revered bands of the ’80s era that have not reformed in any way since their initial breakup. (Update: They reformed in 2011!)
- Aquarius Records is a long running Canadian indie label that was founded in 1969, and still exists today. Aquarius was by no means a heavy metal based label and have released albums by such diverse acts as Corey Hart and April Wine. Sword was probably their heaviest signing.
My Worthless Opinion: They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Sweet Dreams is a testimony to Sword’s no bullshit style of straightforward metal. It showed that you don’t have to play extremely fast or sing about “wildebeests and dangers” in order to crack jaws. A standout performance by vocalist Rick Hughes provides a testosterone blast to every tune. Even though a few cuts are only average in terms of songwriting, Hughes’ vocals elevate the songs into fist-pumpers through the force of his metal conviction, and the strength of his rusty wail. The two killer tracks that standout for me are the churning title track, and the ball-smashing Life On The Sharp Edge (my favorite Sword song of all). My score: A-