The Hudson Brothers
Released: December 1974
Chart Peak: #176
Weeks Charted: 4
I've always been a sucker for groups with brothers in them. I don't know why but all those brother groups seem to have a certain spirit and drive that sets them apart from the rest of the field. Everybody from the Beach Boys, Bee Gees, and Kinks on down to my other weak spot, Beatle soundalikes like Grapefruit and the Flame. I fell for them all.
The Hudson Brothers on the other hand are not a bona fide group, but rather a trio of front men who all write, sing, and play guitar. They are in formative/organizational qualities close to modern day Bee Gees, while musically they are strictly aligned to the Beatles, early Raspberries, and the (never-to-be-forgotten) Easybeats. Brett Hudson's constant bopping, shaking, and swiveling on their summer TV series made him heir apparent to Easybeats front man Stevie Wright, and more than that, made the Hudsons America's first out and out pop group of the last half-decade. There they were singing, playing, laughing and immersing themselves in being a TV pop group -- just like they had been doing for the last fifteen years in their bedroom at home -- but this time it was for real. No -- it wasn't the Beatles again; it wasn't the Monkees; it wasn't the Archies; it wasn't even the Williams Twins. It was something new, rather fresh and uninhibited. Some may argue with me and say that the whole thing was a plasticized, packaged, and overhyped extravaganza -- maybe so, but what isn't today -- especially on national TV? And the Hudsons managed to work within that medium and make it come alive. (OK so they're not the "new Marx Brothers," but who needs new Marx Brothers anyway???)
When the Hudsons' tracks are good, like the opening "Hollywood Situation" and "So You Are a Star," they are very good, full of melodic intensity, interesting vocals, and that (ever-elusive) pop sincerity. When the're not good, like the remaining three tracks on side one, they sound rushed, choppy, and full of phoniness. These tracks are all uptempo rockres with plain melodies and lyrics, tending to base their existence on one boring boogie break. It seems obvious that the Hudsons themselves had to put this album together in lickety-split time, and some tracks were just rushed off with little thought or care regarding quality.
The second side holds together much better. The weak spot is "The Adventures of Chucky Margolis," an audio soundtrack from one of their summer shows. The skit had a hard time coming across on the tube, and without the video portion, falls even flatter here. "Sometimes the Rain Must Fall" and "Cry Cry Cry" are both nice ballad/rockers, but the standout is easily "Three Of Us," an excellently commercial autobiographical song. Along with the opening "Hollywood Situation," it shows that the Hudsons are at their best writing about themselves and their experiences together.
In short, Brett, Mark and Bill certainly have something going for them. They wrote all the songs here, and handled the production and arranging as well. For the next album hopefully the Hudsons will allocate more time for writing less fillers, varying the track-to-track sound a bit, and projecting a more unified group feel. But even with these weaknesses in mind, Hollywood Situation still remains one of the more promising American debuts of the last few years. With the enormous television exposure the Hudsons had, this album will probably sell more than all the Big Stars, Raspberries, and Pagliaro's put together. (In a way, the mass exposure alone of the Hudsnons may make the rejuvenation of the U.S. pop scene a lot easier.) If they can retain their freshness and dedication (without falling head-over-heels into becoming over-cutesy Saturday morning idols or mums and dads loveables) then the Hudsons may be a lasting and interesting success story. However if their current "Hollywood Situation" gets the better of them, they will zoom into the quicker-than-ever-has-been-oddity-file, only to emerge five years hence at some group of overweight, overaged, and overstoned members of a group called something like the Colorado Boogie Mountain Blues Band. May we all be spared from witnessing that.
- Alan Betrock, Phonograph Record, 11/74.
They also have a major problem. One of their stated goals is to combine somehow their comedy and their music. But the inclusion of a spectacularly unfunny seven-minute routine called "The Adventures of Chucky Margolis" is definitelly not the path to musicomic redemption. First, the listener is deprived of an apparent multitude of visual aspects. And second, it would still be a highly disconcerting interruption of a superb musical flow.
Still, if you take a pass on "Chucky," you've got a tremendous album. And Rocket Records has just released an album cut last year by the Hudsons which is every bit as good. It's more polished (much more time went into it), has almost no comedy and together with the Casablanca LP gives the Hudsons a clear shot at the sensation honors mentioned above.
- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 1/30/75.
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