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Hollywood Brats - Sick On You

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 30 / 9 / 2016

Hollywood Brats - Sick On You
Label: Cherry Red Records
Format: CD X2


Extended re-release of the only album by the Hollywood Brats, the once-lost London glam-rock band that some argue was the UK’s first punk band and who have recently emerged from forty years of obscurity

The long lost Hollywood Brats’ first and only album 'Sick On You' has been rereleased on Cherry Red Records, a dirty time capsule from the early ‘70s era of snotty pre-punk glam rock. The obscure London band was formed in 1971 by 17-year-old singer Andrew Matheson with the help of 'Melody Maker' ads. Inspired by Marc Bolan, the Brats – Andrew on vocals, Brady on guitar, Casino Steel on piano, Lou Sparks on drums, originally Wayne Manor on bass (and eventually Mick Groome) - looked like a more macho version of the New York Dolls as well as every hair metal band to follow. Brady writes in the liner notes: “Clothes were a drug. Thrift shops were scoured for unusual gear. Women’s blouses, girls’ jackets, scarves, flamboyant jewellery, anything that glistened or sported a frill was fair game.” Despite Who drummer Keith Moon’s insistence that the Brats were the greatest band he had ever seen, no record companies were interested in 'Sick On You'. Audiences outside of a London club or two were also unimpressed. Andrew likes to gleefully describe how they were frequently booed offstage and included a live version of Chuck Berry’s 'Sweet Little Sixteen' on the bonus CD 'A Brats Miscellany', complete with audience boos at the end. After failing to secure a record deal, the band sneaked into the offices of their imploding management company World Wide Artists to steal back their own tapes. Andrew kept everything they rescued - acetates, live tapes, and other Brats memorabilia - long after the band broke up in 1974. 'Sick On You' was eventually released on Mercury Records in 1980 in Norway only, selling only 500 copies. The band resisted Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s overtures to reform a few years later, disappearing into rock legend. The eleven tracks of 'Sick on You' are sleazy, energetic, and unapologetically raunchy with moments of disdainful anger and country-tinged regret. Their sound is precise and well-honed, with Brady’s and Casino’s musicianship more than making up for Spinal Tap/Steel Panther lyrics. Andrew’s wholly unreconstructed, up-for-it, ladies’ man leer is never far from the surface, most exuberantly in the open invitation 'Tumble with Me'. Opener 'Chez Maximes' is the celebratory story of successful hooker-turned-heiress-turned-madam in Monaco. She’s in good company with other fallen females on the album: the gold-digging escort (“the girl with the dollar sign eyes”) in 'Courtesan', the “just a little too old” aging groupie in 'Nightmare', and another professional in 'Southern Belles' (“Come on darlin’ you got something to sell/Come on and bring it back to my hotel”). Their tongue-in-cheek cover of the Crystals’ 'Then He Kissed Me', outrageous at the time and delivered with straight-faced sincerity and fuzzy guitar, is absolutely wonderful. The completely believable howl of teenage angst, 'Another School Day' would have fit in well among the first punk records in 1976-77, as would have the 'Sick On You', with the sneering lines “I’m gonna be sick on you/Down your face and your dress and your legs and your shoes.” 'A Brats Miscellany' contains snippets of studio banter and hilarity and scrapped originals like 'Borgia Street' about an aptly named desolate and depraved neighborhood and 'Trucker’s Lament', a stab at country rock carried along with incredible piano and vocals harmonies. There are entertaining cover versions, most notably the Kinks’ 'I Need You', Dean Martin’s 'Little Ol’ Wine Drinker', and Jimmy Reed’s 'I Ain’t Got You'. There are a few clunkers too: Brady throwing up, the almost Dr. Feelgood-sounding 'Hootchie Cootchie Man' coming off the rails with ad-libbed lyrics (“got a switchblade for a cock”), and 'Suckin’ On Suzie', a lewd Bloodhound Gang-type part-monologue, as though Tommy Tutone’s 'Jenny/867-5309”'suddenly took a terrible turn. The CD booklet contains lyrics, an interview with Andrew, blurbs about the outtakes, their Top 10 Influences, and original photos, including magnificent shots by incomparable rock photographer Gered Mankowitz. The rerelease is a welcome companion piece to Andrew’s acclaimed 2015 autobiography #Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of the Hollywood Brats'.

Track Listing:-

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