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Hollywood - Hollywood (LP)

Hollywood - Hollywood (LP)

Price: $30.00 currently not available     
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Genre: rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Hollywood
Company: Nervie
Catalog: 008642
Year: 1977
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: minor wear
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6381
Price: $30.00

Here's another complete obscurity - good luck finding anything on this short-lived mid-1970s outfit. What little I can come up with is based on the brief liner notes accompanying their sole LP and pure speculation on my part.

Hollywood's line up was credited as guitarist Stephen Clynes, drummer Francis Cook, keyboardist Melinda Fletcher, horn player Tony Horowitz, bassist Jim Lanham, singer Larry Rust, and guitarist Stash Vagner. Cook seems to have been the brainchild behind the project; credited with arranging and producing the set. No idea how the band came together, let along how they signed to the small Nervie Records which was distributed by the tax scam-affiliate Album World label. (I have no idea if Cook was the same guy who played in Canned Heat, Bluesberry Jam, and Pacific Gas & Electric. Similarly, I don't know if bassist Jim Lanham was the same guy who played in Country Funk and Pure Prairie League.) Anyhow, even though I can't tell you much about the band, I can tell you about the ten songs on 1977's cleverly-titled "Hollywood". Musically the album offered up a mixture of covers with a couple of band originals on the second side. As a band these guys didn't have much in the way of a collective sound. In fact, because the sound was so diverse, including country-rock, and stabs conventional pop and rock, you were left with the feeling this was almost a demo project, perhaps intended to showcase the band's versatility.

- So if you were going to write a piece of schlock-rock, you'd be hard pressed to come up with anything more heinous than 'I Could Love You Better'. Opening up with something that sounded like a second rate Jimmy Webb melody, the song managed to package virtually every '70s pop cliché into three minutes. For whatever reason, the song's droning structure and plodding lyrics managed to draw out the worst aspects of the lead singer's voice. You almost wished he would have just stopped singing and talked his way through the track. Slathering the arrangement with one of those anonymous '70s arrangements that recalled a toothpaste commercial and adding lots of female backing singers didn't exactly help the situation. rating: ** stars
- After the awful first song, virtually anything would have been an improvement and even though it wasn't great, 'Sing a Song' was in fact an improvement. An upbeat, pop-flavored track, this one sounded like something Paul Williams wrote and Three Dog Night then covered. Curiously lead singer Rust sounded like he was singing through a nasty head cold. rating: *** stars
- Stephen Clynes' country-rock lead guitar provided the highlights on the ballad 'Soft Lady'. The rest of the song sounded like sub par Brad-meets-Poco. Not that it mattered, but this one didn't sound like Rust was handling the vocals ... rating: ** stars
- One of those white-guys-trying-to-sound-funky numbers, 'Suzanne' really did sound like a Three Dog Night track. Imagine 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' and you have a feel for what he track sounded like. Nice lead guitar on this one. Not very original, but probably the album's standout performance. Also interesting to note it was a Randy Newman cover. Newman penned quite a few tracks that Three Dog Night covered, including 'Mama Told Me Not To Come'. rating: *** stars
- 'Indian Summertime' was actually a nice country-rock number; very tuneful and catchy with some tasty Allman Brothers-styled twin lead guitar from Stephen Clynes and Stash Vagner, though a flat lead vocal and some shrill female backing vocals reduced its overall appeal. rating: *** stars
- Written by bassist Lanham, 'It's Not Hard' was the album's most outright pop number. While the lead vocals were a bit on the high side (think along the lines of a band like Jigsaw, with a sparkling melody and sweet harmony vocals, this one actually reminded me a bit of mid-1970s Chinn-Chapman styled English pop. Very different from the rest of the album, but very nice. rating: *** stars
- Written by keyboardist Rust, 'What Is One To Believe' was a stark, but pretty ballad. Just Rust on keyboards and vocals, this was another one that sounded like it was a demo waiting for a more elaborate arrangement. Imagine something falling between early Billy Joel and mid-career Elton John. I actually liked it just the way it was. rating: **** stars
- Another country-tinged ballad, 'I've Seen the City' had some beautiful acoustic guitar passages, but that was about it. Second rate Harry Chapin sentiments didn't help it ... rating: ** stars
- The title always makes me snicker (especially when I hear the angelic backing vocals singing the title over and over), but for the most part 'Hard On' was simply a bland slice of singer/songwriter angst. rating: ** stars
- Not sure why, but the lead vocalist on 'Wrong Exit' always reminds me of Quicksilver Messenger Services' Dino Valenti ... Not that anyone cares, but this was easily the album's strangest and most intriguing track. A stark ballad propelled by some excellent squealing fuzz guitar, this one had a true, late-1960s psychedelic edge. Shame they didn't have more stuff like this in their repertoire. rating: **** stars

Professional and occasionally mildly entertaining with two songs that had the potential for mass appeal, but all told nothing earth shattering.

"Hollywood" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) I Could Love You Better (B. Arvon) - 3:12
2.) Sing a Song (Gary Wright) - 2:19
3.) Soft Lady (S. English - R. Kerr) - 3:45
4.) Suzanne (Randy Newman) - 3:19
5.) Indian Summertime (B. Martin) - 2:49

(side 2)
1.) It's Not Hard (Jim Lanham) - 3:03
2.) What Is One To Believe (Larry Rust) - 3:18
3.) I've Seen the City (B. Momy -P. Gordon - D. David) - 2:40
4.) Hard On (S. Wagner) - 3:16
5.) Wrong Exit (S. Wagner) - 2:42
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