Take 5: The Hudson Brothers
John Lennon once told The Hudson Brothers (Bill, Mark and Brett) that he considered them the “kings of Saturday morning.” But they were more than stars of their own series, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show; this band of brothers put out some terrific music in the 1970s. All of it is long out of print; none of their albums from the ‘70s has ever been issued on CD, and the lone CD compilation is also out of print; it changes hands for upwards of $70. The brothers’ musical legacy deserves better. Here are five lost classics from The Hudson Brothers.
“Mr. Kirby” from TV’s Hudson Brothers (1978) – Originally released as one of a string of singles in the late ‘60s, this psychedelic classic and nine other early Hudson Brothers songs were released a decade later by the Hudsons’ former label in hope of cashing in on the band’s success. It didn’t work, but the songs are quite good.
“So You Are a Star” from Hollywood Situation (1974) – After a solid but poorly distributed debut album (1972’s Hudson), the brothers released one album on Casablanca Records, home of Kiss. Speaking of John Lennon, the brothers never sounded more like their hero than on this slice of perfect pop. This song represented The Hudson Brothers’ commercial peak, and would be their highest-charting single (#26 U.S., #5 Canada).
“If You Really Need Me” from Totally Out of Control (1974) – This exceedingly brief single showed that The Hudson Brothers’ musicianship, songwriting and arranging skills were all top-notch, appealing to (select) audiences young and older. Both Totally Out of Control and Ba-Fa were released on Elton John’s Rocket Records, and featured production by Elton’s writing partner Bernie Taupin.
“With Somebody Else” from Ba-Fa (1975) – Presaging ELO’s hit formula sound by a year, this song is another high point in the Hudson Brothers’ catalog. After Ba-Fa didn’t set the charts on fire, the brothers shifted gears and released a disco pop album on Arista, 1978’s The Truth About Us. It’s better than you might expect.
“Afraid to Love” from Damn Those Kids (1980) – If you think that (uncredited) female duet vocal sounds like the great Linda Ronstadt, you’re right. This song is a highlight from the brothers’ final LP before the band split, showcasing another stylistic shift, this time toward new wave-ish power pop. After the group broke up, Bill (Kate Hudson’s father) went on to do some TV and film acting. Today Mark is a songwriter and producer. Brett is a documentary filmmaker and session musician.