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The Hollywood Stars - Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue

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The Rock Pile yields up a couple of interesting titles featuring vintage material as we listen to a "lost" album from the Hollywood Stars and a compilation from Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue.

The Hollywood Stars - Sound City
A couple of years before he worked with the Runaways, impresario Kim Fowley put together another L.A. band called the Hollywood Stars. The band had their successes on the Sunset Strip, touring with the Kinks, and having their songs covered by the likes of KISS ("King of the Night Time World") and Alice Cooper ("Escape"). Like many bands though, a lack of record label support caused their albums to hit the cut-out bin prematurely. Hollywood Stars have always had a cult following though, and those longtime fans will be among the major cheerleaders for Sound City, a lost album from 1976 that is seeing release this year for the first time ever. The band has a sound that often dips into the glam realm, noticeable here on opening cut "Sunrise on Sunset," the ELO-like "So Blue" and "All the Kids on the Street," but poppy rock cuts are more the order of the day. Highlights abound, ranging from the catchy KISS-like "Habits" to the funk-infused rocker "I Can't Help It" to the aforementioned "Escape," a bright cut with ringing guitars and plenty of cowbell. "Too Hot to Handle" is a speedy cut that gives the five-piece a chance to boogie a bit while "Make it to the Party" tunes in to a groove the Faces knew well. Sound City definitely has a '70s vibe and as such may not be appreciated by all. But those who dig the era will find an unexpected gem here.

Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue - The Collection
The Collection brings together two Reale albums from the late '70s, 1978's Radioactive and an unreleased follow-up called Reptiles in Motion. While singer and bassist Reale may not have wide name recognition, members of Rue Morgue do; drummer Hilly Michaels (Sparks, Ian Hunter Band) and guitarist G.E. Smith ("Saturday Night Live" band) played on Radioactive while Reptiles in Motion features Michaels and guitarist Mick Ronson (David Bowie). Reale has a voice not unlike that of David Johansen and Radioactive's opening cut "High Society" would fit nicely in the New York Dolls repertoire as would much of the offering. A Willy DeVille-style vocal flavors a cover of "Rescue Me" and "Kill Me" is appropriately enough a manic freak-out; the record ends with a very cool take on the Troggs' "I Can't Control Myself." Reptiles in Motion shows Ronson's influence not only in the guitar work but also in the overall tenor of the effort; "Radioactive" for example is (understandably) Bowie-esque while "No Secrets" presages the grunge sound that would begin making a name for itself half a decade later. Definitely less rough around the edges than its predecessor, Reptiles in Motion hints at where Reale would have taken Rue Morgue had the record been released in its time, giving the band a chance at the big time in the anything-goes '80s. Some gems, no clinkers, all fun.

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