Saturday, 8 April 2017

Glam/Power Pop - Hollywood Stars - Shine Like a Radio: The Great Lost 1974 Album (2013

While they never earned more than a tiny cult following outside their home state of California, the Hollywood Stars became heroes to glam and power pop fans with their tight, hooky, guitar-driven music, which emerged at a time when prog rock and singer/songwriters were dominating the rock scene. The Hollywood Stars sprung from a brainstorm by noted producer, songwriter, and idea man Kim Fowley, who decided in 1973 that rock & roll was ready for a new band that combined the energy and excitement of mid-'60s pop and rock with the crunchy guitars and attitude of hard rock; Fowley described his concept as a West Coast version of the New York Dolls, and he set out to find musicians who would fit the bill. Fowley's first recruit was drummer Terry Rae, who had been in the Palace Guard with Emitt Rhodes, drummed with Jamme, a psychedelic pop band whose sole album was produced by John Phillips, and was recording with the Flamin' Groovies when he got the call from Fowley. Setting out to find musicians who looked and sounded right for the gig, Fowley and Rae filled out the lineup with lead singer Scott Phares, lead guitarist Ruben de Fuentes, guitarist and vocalist Mark Anthony, and bassist Kevin Barnhill, and the new band took up a busy rehearsal schedule, with Fowley and Mars Bonfire contributing songs along with the members of the group.

Soon the band was regularly headlining Los Angeles' leading rock clubs, including the Troubadour and the Whisky A Go Go, and they scored a deal with Columbia Records. Before the band's debut album was released, however, the label discovered someone had charged studio time to the band's account without authorization, and the confusion led to the Hollywood Stars being dropped. The original lineup splintered, but a second edition of the group soon came together, with Anthony on lead vocals, de Fuentes on guitar, and Rae on drums alongside new members Steve DeLacy (guitar), Michael Rummans (bass), and Bobby Drier (percussion). The new edition of the Hollywood Stars was able to pick up where the previous lineup left off, and signed with Arista Records. However, by the time the Stars' album finally emerged in 1977, punk and new wave were on the rise in L.A., and the over-production of the album robbed the band of any hip cachet. The Hollywood Stars toured in support of the album opening for the Kinks, but between disappointing sales, poor promotion, and conflicting egos inside the group, the Stars were on their last legs by the time they arrived home, and by the end of 1977, the band broke up. In 1978, Ruben de Fuentes put together a third version of the Hollywood Stars with Rummans, Drier, singer Al Austin, and guitarist Bryce Mobray, but the more hard rock-oriented lineup attracted little interest and soon dissolved.

Over the years, the Hollywood Stars developed a cult following, especially among power pop fan intrigued by the press coverage the original band had received, and when blogger and superfan Robin Wills discovered that Terry Rae had a reel-to-reel copy of a rough mix of the unreleased album for Columbia, he arranged for it to be remastered and released. The album appeared under the title Shine Like a Radio: The Great Lost 1974 Album in 2013. Four years later, Blank Records released the band's version of "King of the Nighttime World" -- which became a huge hit for Kiss in 1976 -- as a limited-edition 7" that included two previously unreleased songs ("Too Hot to Handle" and "Habits") from 1975.(

Great thanks to Robin Wills, the man who made possible the release of this long lost gem. Very nice album with a lot of really great songs. Highly recommended if you like Glam with a little Power Pop.
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