The Hollywood Brats – Sick On You (Cherry Red)

I’ve already reviewed a previous version of this 1973 album over here, so I won’t get too long winded over it. Sufficed to say it’s a lost classic, combining influences from The British Invasion and Chess Records with decadence and rebellion, to create something that fit with the contemporary glam scene, but also resembled punk three years before The Ramones, The Clash, and Sex Pistols released their debut albums. The newest edition of this album is timed to coincide with the American release of singer Andrew Matheson’s book on The Hollywood Brats, also named Sick On You after their most electrifying song. The album’s been remastered for the first time since its original CD release in 1994, giving it the “oomph” your ears expect in 2016. The other big news is the second disc which adds 15 bonus tracks to the original 11-track album. The majority are studio outtakes from 1973-’74 and it’s great to hear a few prime-era Brats originals (“Son Of The Wizard” especially), and a handful of covers (Kinks, Chuck Berry, blues numbers) given a proper high-energy rock’n’roll throttling. There’s also a few songs from an attempted 1980 Brats reunion (they were working on an album called Hung Like Horses – classy), but they’re sterilized by overproduction. The informative liner notes include insights on the bonus material, excerpts from a 2012 interview with Andrew Matheson, top 10 lists from each band member, and great photos. My only complaint is that I miss the original album’s glammy cover photo. Sure those feather boas and teased hair made the band look like a junior division New York Dolls (accusations they’ve always had to refute) but, unlike the reissue’s cover, it was colorful and it had personality, which is pretty much the Hollywood Brats in a nutshell.

Hollywood Brats – Hollywood Brats (Cherry Red)

Hollywood Brats

It’s easy to dismiss the Hollywood Brats as just some British cheapo rip-off of The New York Dolls. Both dressed in outrageous – and frequently androgynous – clothes; both recorded debuts in 1973 (the Brats’ album getting shelved until 1980) and both played streetwise glam-rock that would prove to be a sonic precursor to punk. However, the Brats were likely just synthesizing the same influences at the same time as their NY counterparts – welding their own bad attitudes to the visceral pleasures of Chuck Berry, The Stones, girl-groups and garage rock misfits in an era of overblown stadium rock pomposity. Their only album, recorded in London’s famed Olympic Studios just a few months after the release of the first Dolls album, may not have opened many doors for them back in the day, but 40 years on it sounds amazing. “Another School Day” and a tarted up cover of “Then He Kissed Me” (with original gender roles intact) were good ol’ glam fun, but on wildly careening tracks like “Chez Maximes,” “Nightmare,” and especially the closing “Sick On You”, the band pushes the envelope as far as any other proto-punk bands of their era.

The 2014 edition isn’t remastered, has no new songs or updated liner notes – just a new layout. So, if you already own an older version there’s no need to update. However, if you’re new to the band, you should check this out immediately.