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The Hollywood Brats - Sick On You: A Brats Miscellany album review

London’s first punk band finally get a deluxe reissue

Formed in 1971, the Hollywood Brats had enough front and slap to position themselves as London’s answer to the New York Dolls, brandishing feather boa wardrobe dysfunctions and a roller-coaster flamethrower loaded with full-throttle rock‘n’roll attitude. Keith Moon called them “the greatest band I’ve ever seen” as they provided an early template for every glammed-up UK wreck‘n’roll outfit to strut out in the 80s.

Lining up as Andrew Matheson (whose rollicking Sick On You was one of 2015’s most acclaimed memoirs), pianist Casino Steel, guitarist Eunan Brady, bassist Wayne Manor and drummer Lou Sparks, the Brats recorded one album – at Olympic in 1973 – which brimmed with barnstorming rockers about brothels, school and excess cavorting; wrecked Stonesy ballads, foetid covers and howling barroom angst.

This proved too much for a music biz obsessed with showbiz glam formulas, so no record deal was forthcoming until a 1975 release in Norway. By then, the Brats had bled into the London SS and some members ended up in The Boys.

The album wasn’t released in the UK until 1980, by Cherry Red, who are reissuing it with a bonus disc of out-takes, live tracks and curios (including their stinging version of The Kinks’ I Need You), plus a memorabilia-filled booklet, annotated by Matheson, which crystallises their brief existence as London’s first punk band who got to the party too early and had passed out by the time it was really getting started. Possibly the year’s most monumental British rock reissue.

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