Led by singer Dave Rowland (1944-2018), the pop-contry group Dave & Sugar was sort of a country music version of Tony Orlando & Dawn. Before going solo, Rowland was a member of Charley Pride's road show, and before that he sang in J.D. Sumner's venerable Stamps Quartet gospel group. The Dave & Sugar trio originally worked as Charley Pride's backup singers, then in 1976 they set out on a solo career. I suspect that main man Dave Rowlands must have been a hard boss to work for -- the booklet for this CD shows pictures of him with over a half dozen different lineups of the "Sugar" backup singers, one doomed set of feathered, sequined, boa-ed, tube-topped anorexics after another, and finally he made a brief stab at a solo career, which pretty much went nowhere. Anyhoo, here's a quick look at their work...
Dave & Sugar "Anthology" (Renaissance, 1999)
This is perhaps the best possible collecton of this sometimes-scary sunshine country version of the ugly-guy-flanked-by-two-glitzy-gals showbiz model set by Tony Orlando & Dawn. This 23-song best-of includes material from all the albums D&S released in the late 1970s (although it skips early '80s outings such as Rowland's snarkily-titled "solo" album, Sugar Free, from 1982). The music is pretty over-the-top, a glossy collision of perky pop-country and dancefloor disco production ideas. The vocals vary -- Rowland himself is pretty leaden, but mixes nicely into the group sound; one of the gals did a great Linda Ronstadt imitation, others sounded nearly tone-deaf. In "hick" terms, this is mostly way too pop, more useful now as a historical reminder of Nashville's excesses in the '70s than as memorable country music. There are a few exceptions, such as "Golden Tears" and "The Door Is Always Open," but mostly this stuff just ain't twangy enuf.
Dave & Sugar "Greatest Hits" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Dave & Sugar "Dave & Sugar" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
The group's first album included their first #1 single, "The Door Is Always Open," as well as a version of Shel Silverstein's "Queen Of The Silver Dollar," and "I'm Gonna Love You," which also cracked into the Top 5. They never quite topped this one, but the trio did pretty well for the rest of the decade.
Dave & Sugar "That's The Way Love Should Be" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Dave & Sugar "Tear Time" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Dave & Sugar "Stay With Me/Golden Tears" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Dave & Sugar "New York Wine Tennessee Shine" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Dave & Sugar "Pleasure" (Elektra, 1981) (LP)
Dave Rowland "Sugar Free" (Elektra, 1982)
The lone solo (and final) album by the lead singer of the "band" called Dave & Sugar, a countrypolitan version Tony Orlando & Dawn in which the female backup singers changed just about ever album. The album title seems needlessly snarky, if you ask me.
Hick Music Index