Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band - Andrew Matheson

Do you remember the 70's? Did you wear the tight loon pants? Did you have a silver shirt, or an afghan coat? Did you shake your elbows to tiger feet (that's right that's right I really love your tiger feet!) Did you wear a t rex feather boa, or glare like the leader of the glitter band? I did all of those and just like Andrew Matheson I played in a group, as an 18 year old, in the stormy shores of Northern Ireland. I could tell you stories about our band being chased over the border when we refused to play the "southern national anthem" (we actually did not know it!) or the night our band (Run of the Mill....have you heard of us?) continued to play when a fight broke out amongst the 200 party goers in attendance at the local Portadown Orange hall, or the evening our van broke down, coming home from a gig, and we were taken to the local police station (Banbridge) where my poor mother had to collect us at 6.00am and tow the van home!

 

But hold on I hear you say! this review is not about me!! Indeed you are correct but if you can understand and smile at the above then you will love "Sick on you" the story of the band "The Hollywood Brats" that should have made it before The Sex Pistols. The mid 70's musically was a time when  the young were crying out for something radical to happen on the music scene. There were still many creative artists about; David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Who etc but equally the charts were awash with forgettable trash....Puppy Love, (Donny Os)....Chirpy Chirpy Cheap Cheap (Middle of the Road) Me and you and a dog named boo (Lobo) and into this quagmire of unoriginality stepped The Sex Pistols a band that has been declared one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music having initiated the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspired many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Suddenly the young were dressing in torn clothes, spiked hair, inserting safety pins into body parts, and travelling to concerts where they could listen to a loud fast-moving and aggressive form of rock music. But this is nothing new I hear you say, teenagers have always rebelled...look at rockers and mods? That is certainly true but by the mid 70's a lethargic and somewhat inert music scene was presenting itself, and the time was ripe for anarchy and rebellion which The Sex Pistols, under the leadership of Malcolm McLaren, were more than happy to acknowledge and by doing so produced a generation of snaring, spitting, hostile youths openly welcoming such classics as "God save the Queen", "Anarchy in the UK" and "Pretty Vacant".......and The Hollywood Brats missed it all....

 

So what went Wrong? Andrew Matheson does an excellent of recalling how his band originally named The Queen but had to change to The Brats when the other famous "Queen" threatened to sue if they did not relinquish the name..."up walks a guy with hair like black straw and teeth like a particularly alluring camel"....The Hollywood Brats were born and spent most of their time playing gigs trying to keep four musicians together whilst consuming copious amounts of alcohol and testing/sniffing the odd illegal substance. Unbelievably in the early days they were offered a record deal by Polydor but for reasons best known to themselves refused. I loved the way these four guys dressed in tight almost feminine attire and rarely were seen in public without full makeup (possibly some would say imitating The New York Dolls)...."but try doing it in a cocktail dress, platform soles and full makeup while sporting the odd swastika. See how far you get".... They certainly had writing and playing ability; if you listen to recent cd's released you will certainly feel the raw energy produced by such hypnotic titles as Tumble with Me, Sucking on Suzie and the unforgettably named Sick on You...."You and me are through I`m sick to death of everything you do And if I'm gonna have a puke you bet yer life I'll puke on you"

 

When they finally did successfully put together a record it was too little too late. The fact that it was released in Norway meant..."it went utterly unnoticed. There was no marketing budget. We didn't even know what marketing was. The record was never advertised. It was never reviewed in print. It was never played on the radio, It came and went, shyly, politely, anonymously, with a minimum of fuss".....

 

This was a really enjoyable read and what I particularly loved was that the author bore no malice to their lack of fame. Other groups such as The Dammed  The Sex Pistols and The Clash were knocking on the door pushing The Hollywood Brats into extinction until their present day emergence...and we the public can now appreciate the energy of a group and time long forgotten. In the words of the author...."I thought the Sex Pistols were sub-standard, derivative posers and I thought Malcolm McLaren was a weak-minded, possibly insane, Fantasist"....Wonderful stuff, read the book but more importantly listen to the music, the raw energy, audacity, no holds barred approach of a great 70's punk band...let's have a big hand for The Hollywood Brats!