Exposed to the light, long-lost glam classic is out for a stroll down the Strip.
If they were more prominent as performers, rather than writers, this group could have been huge, yet nobody really cared, and a series of misfortunes led to the shelving of not one but two of the quintet’s albums. Even Kim Fowley, who masterminded the project and found the promising, and experienced, L.A. youngsters to roll it, failed to take the LPs off the ground, whereas Bob Ezrin mined the band’s 1974 debut for a couple of pieces – “Escape” and “King Of The Night Time World” – that, once updated, landed on, respectively, Alice Cooper and KISS records. A follow-up to the Californians’ first effort, 1976’s “Sound City” may feel partially familiar, too, because half of the tracks gathered here would be cut anew for the ensemble’s eponymous release in 1977; only they always preferred the versions laid down with Neil Merryweather in producer’s chair – and now it’s easy to see why.
Although another go at the aforementioned “Escape” doesn’t demonstrate the original venom, there’s a lot of infectious clarity to “Sunrise On Sunset” – co-penned by country-rock mainstay Skip Battin – which opens this disc in a blast of optimism and not an iota of cynicism that stamped the next generation of glamsters. Still, for all the genre’s inherent stomp, the songs on offer seem quite unpretentious, their swagger reeking of blues, not of mascara, as Ruben De Fuentes’ six strings smear swampy licks over Mark Anthony’s booming voice to keep the listener hooked on the groove. Anticipating disco era, the group pour bubbly funk into “I Can’t Help It” before showing their soft, acoustically-tickled underbelly in “So Blue” where the music’s orchestral prospects are also revealed. But if the riffs of “All The Kids On The Street” or “Shotgun” sound a bit raw, albeit deliciously wild, fiddle and guitar flirt on “Too Hot To Handle” in an irresistible fashion.
Yet it’s the sharp “Habits” – shot through with Michael Rummans’ bass – and the raga-sprinkled “Houdini Of Rock And Roll” that pack the most memorable punch, while the slider-kissed, stereo-busting “Make It To The Party” is the heaviest track on display, which could pave the road for the band to enter the ’80s in a blaze of glory. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be, and it took them four decades to get back together, sans Anthony who died in 2008, to start working on a new album. Matching the energy of “Sound City” will be difficult, though.