Album Review: The Hollywood Stars – Starstruck

It’s fair to look with skepticism upon a revived lineup of a long-lost band from days gone by. Recapturing past glories is a worthy enough goal, but it’s one that often goes unfulfilled. The list of disappointing reunion/revival projects is quite lengthy: the Byrds, Animals and other groups from the ‘60s tried it with little success. Much more recently, sugary pop group The Cyrkle got back together (after a fashion) and managed to make a record even more saccharine and lightweight than their ‘60s hit “Red Rubber Ball.”

That set of realities does nothing to prepare the listener for Starstruck, the first new album in ages from The Hollywood Stars. That group, you may remember (or, more likely, you won’t recall or have known) was one of Kim Fowley’s early ‘70s projects, a glam rock band with which he had hoped to find success. The svengali-wannabe didn’t strike gold with the group, which is a shame, because whatever one thinks of Fowley, The Hollywood Stars stood head and shoulders above most anything else with which he was involved.

A 2019 compilation of the group’s work, Soul City is astoundingly good. And a 2020 release, Live on the Sunset Strip showed that even decades on from their sorta-heyday, The Hollywood Stars could deliver. They played those catchy, glammy songs with all the spirit and fire one could hope for.

But even that didn’t necessarily augur anything about what they might come up with new material-wise. Happily, Starstruck is a rock-solid collection of songs, any of which would have fit nicely alongside their ‘70s work. Thirteen songs (plus a couple of alt versions) are all killer and no filler. They capture and convey the essence of rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s an achievement. Right out of the gate with “Can’t Do it Right,” The Hollywood Stars make it clear that a half century after their brief moment in the spotlight, they sure as hell can do it right. Recommended.