Not long before Kim Fowley pulled together and ultimately terrorized (or inspired depending on whose version of the story you’re following) the brilliant teenaged, all-female rock band The Runaways, he helped establish the nearly as brilliant, but short-lived, glam rock/power pop five piece The Hollywood Stars.
Fowley pulled in a disparate collection of Southern California musicians and went about co-writing, producing and working on his Svengali-in-training role with the group. The result, tragically cheesy moniker aside, was some stellar gigs opening for everyone from The Ramones and The Kinks to Bo Diddly, a record deal, some impressively catchy songs and then a whole lot of bad breaks. Record label issues held up the release of their debut for 39 years (not a typo), but several of the songs ended up on albums by Alice Cooper and Kiss. There were some lineup changes and in 1976 the band got to work recording 10 more tacks. And in true Hollywood Stars fashion, those songs likely would never have been heard if not for the folks at Burger Records who are finally putting out Sound City (this time, 43 years late).
There was a solid, self-titled album released in 1977 on Arista, but many of the 10 tracks here, are arguably far better than those off the debut or the 1977 release. Though clearly a time capsule of a post-prog, pre-punk mid- ‘70s rock world, have held up remarkably well. While no one would assume this record was made for a 2019 world, the glam rock vibe on songs like “Escape” and “Too Hot To Handle” is a much-needed dose of fun and unpretentiousness in the current mostly guitar-neutered music scene of today.
The band reunited for a one-night benefit concert in 2018, sadly without singer/guitarist/songwriter Mark Anthony who passed away in the early 2000s. And thanks to the long-overdue release of Sound City, the band played a show last month at Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go, their first time headlining that venue in four decades. The Hollywood Stars – Sound City/Burger Records/2019