Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hollywood Stars –Shine Like a Radio


Hollywood Stars –Shine Like a Radio -Last Summer Records LS1974HS (2013)

With the release of the LP only days away, here is the background on how Shine Like a Radio finally gained release as well as a track by track descriptor…

For me, It all started back in 1975. Bomp magazine not only featured The Flamin’ Groovies on the cover of the spring 1975 issue, but also a long piece written by Kim Fowley on the next big thing that never was –The Hollywood Stars. It was a tragic but fascinating story, they seemed just like the band we were crying out for at the time. This band had it all - the looks, attitude, great song titles plus the involvement of the king of Sleaze. When would I ever get to hear song like Russia, Kings of The Night Time World or Shine Like a Radio? The song titles alone promised so much, but as highlighted in the article the band was no more, but the story behind the unreleased album got me dreaming.

Last year the dream started to meld into reality. Terry Rae (drummer) left a comment on the Flamin’ Groovies post about the Dutch issue Shake Some Action (which he played on). I guess my second question to him was…do you have the 1974 recordings? The answer was positive and he sent me a CDR of the 1974 recordings along with the 1976 Neil Merryweather demos (10 cracking from the Hollywood Stars MKII), for the first time I was finally able to hear the tracks. The tape was very hissy and some intros and endings were clipped, but I was in awe. Later Ruben De Fuentes sent me a remastered version and although it was great to hear clearer versions, something was missing, the sound was too brash and trebly. Still the thought of getting the LP released was now becoming a concrete project. Later on a ¼” tape was discovered in the hands of singer of Scott Phares, and although missing a bit of top, this was the real deal and made the hairs on the back of my neck quiver.

You must remember that the album was never really finished and Scott’s tape was a collection of rough mixes they presented to the label. But I am glad these are rough mixes as the rough edges provide an urgency which may have been subdued by a proper mix.

The LP was mastered and cut at Fluid Mastering in London http://www.fluidmastering.com and it really sound perfect, loud, clear yet meaty and warm. After all these years, I am very proud to have been instrumental in finally getting these great songs and performances released.

1.    Supermen are Always Gentlemen
Loud and brash rocker with cutting guitars to the fore. It’s a great first track as it combines a rough and ready urgency with a great chorus hook with blistering lead breaks and a fine tough vocal by Scott.

2.    Kings of The Night time World

Later re-written and popularised by Kiss. The original is a great Stonesian rocker. Particularly impressive is Marc Anthony’s tight Richards-like riffing which chugs along under Ruben’s great lead. This one rocks supreme.

3.    Tough Guys Don’t Cry

A Mars Bonfire tune. It’s another tough number with crashing powerchords  underlined by a stomping piano. Note the sitar-like guitar. A real cool touch…

4.    Shine Like A Radio

Angie Bowie said it sounded like a number one hit and in a better world this would have come to pass. Kim Fowley’s own version on Automatic didn’t bring out the best in the song, however The Stars turn it into a real tour de Force. The backing vocals are a real hoot to boot!

5.    Russia

Another classic Mars Bonfire song. The production is lush and more refined. It provides the perfect backdrop to this tale of Teenage Spies and betrayal ” Bureaucrats and winter palace, army tanks and ballerinas…” A  striking stand out track

6.    Don’t Let The Kid Down

Mark Anthony’s plea to the record business to give the Kids a Chance. It fell on deaf ears, but this short and snappy statement of intent makes a great closer to side one.

7.    Escape

Some songs are built around a killer riff, such as The Move’s Do Ya, the Velvet’s Sweet Jane or Ducks Deluxe’s Fireball. This is one of the better examples  of a riff song and a classic piece of brash 70s Rock.  Alice Cooper recognised its value as he later covered the song on the Welcome To My Nightmare LP. This original version is far superior

8.    Roses and Rainbows

Roses and Rainbows was a small hit for Danny Hutton and was an inspired choice for  a cover. From the way the song emerges from Escape to the delightful backing vocals supporting Scott’s pure and crystalline vocals, this is another performance which could have provided The Stars with  bona fide hit.

9.    It’s Got To Be Today

A fine original capturing a perfect blend of outright rock with a certain Buffalo Springfield appeal. Great vocals and guitar throughout.

10.  Satisfied Electric Fingers

What this album is all about, energy, electricity and a great tune. The lyrics allude that being a guitarist in a Rock and Roll band doesn’t always guarantee being able to  hold on to a special lady. You don’t often get references to a Ringo solo effort, but you do here…

11.  Last Days of Rock n Roll

Although a bit corny at times (Glenn Miller?), the song is a heart-felt ode to loss of innocence. Nostalgia a vehicle to loss as valid then as it is now. There’s a nice off hand feel to the overall performance and the backing vocals are stellar.

12.  Modern Romance

Like Mott The Hoople giving a nod to A Day in The Life. The song is supremely dramatic with Scott’s vocal full of pathos. There’s nice line in Mellotron layering and with Ruben lead sounding just like Mick Ronson; it’s a truly majestic tour de force and a perfect album closer

Shine Like a Radio should be reaching stores at the end of this month. 1000 copies (Vinyl only!) are being split for distribution between Europe and the US.


Jacques_ said...

We talked about it at the Paris 'Cudas gig but again, how does this compare to the Arista LP from 1977, produced by Fowley ?
First track was "all the kids on the streets". I had reacted like you when reading this Bomp mag issue which I had bought because of the Groovies... When I got that Arista Hollywood Stars LP, boy was I disappointed ! Still have it btw, I will give it another listen, can't remember how was their rendition of "so blue".

Kip Brown said...

Really looking forward to this release! I was one of their original fans and saw them live a number of times at the Whisky and other area clubs! Congrats on getting this released!
-Kip Brown

Robin Wills said...

Hi Jacques The difference between the 1974 recordings and the Arista LP is really huge I must have played the 1974 recordings over 100 times now and it is all I would have wanted back in 1975 and certainly couldn't have hoped for better now

Groovyguy said...

Right Robin, these songs are totally different than what was written in 1977. The band had a different line up in 1974. Our original band came out of the glitter period of the early 70s.. The second Hollywood Stars were influenced by the big wheels at Arista. A lesson for all you bands out there ....stick by your guns. Nobody knows who you are better than you do.

Maude Lange said...

Wow! I've been waiting to hear this since 1974. Big fan, saw 'em at the Whisky & elsewhere lotsa times, etc., etc. I'm so glad this is finally seeing the light of day!

www.facebook.com/karen.danell said...

I can hardly wait to FINALLY have an album that contains their early recordings...thank you so much for making it possible!!!


Thanks Robin for the detailed review of the album !
I just received it today. It's a nice object with a gatefold cover: a labour of love!

from France

PS: Can we expect a new Barracudas' album soon ?

El Tel said...

Thanx Robin ! T'es le Real Roy !