Robin Wills is the guitarist for the English band, the Barracudas, who scored a UK hit with their pogo-inducing 1980 single, “Summer Fun.” In 2006, during downtime from the Barracudas, he started the blog, PUREPOP. Over eight years ago, Wills uploaded two mysterious tracks he had acquired. He was able to identify one of the tunes as having been originally recorded by an obscure glam band, and had some other information, but no group name. Taken from a partially labeled acetate, both songs are snotty as fuck—positively glamtastic examples of proto-punk perfection.
Wills recognized one of the songs, “All Night Long,” as he knew the tune had been recorded by little-known L.A. glam act, Shady Lady. Their version was included on Raving Mad, a vinyl-only collection of Shady Lady’s unreleased studio sessions from the early ‘70s. Though it’s now out of print, it’s well worth looking for, especially if you’re one who likes to search out forgotten glam bands drenched in ahead-of-their-time punk attitude. I see there are a few copies of Raving Mad currently available on Discogs.
Wills knew that in 1973, Shady Lady guitarist John Christian went to London, taking “All Night Long” with him for his next project, which would feature model/actress Valerie Hunter on lead vocals. In his original 2008 post, Wills asked if anyone knew the name of the Christian/Hunter group. It took nearly nine years, but we finally have an answer.
Turns out, Hot Rocks is the name of the Christian/Hunter band (not to be confused with this Hot Rocks). By providing scans of some Hot Rocks promotional materials to Wills, it appears a PUREPOP reader by the name of Bob Stannard has solved the mystery (I’m pretty sure this is him). From their bio, we learn Hot Rocks was spearheaded by Hunter, who co-wrote their tunes with Christian, so it’s safe to assume they wrote the other song on the acetate, “Down on 42nd St.” The unit was rounded out by two session musicians, John “Insect” Weir on bass, and Graham “The Kid” Waxman on drums. On both cuts, the group nails the New York Dolls’ swagger, and Hunter’s vocals resemble Suzi Quatro—if she was from Manhattan, instead of Detroit. At the end of their bio, we get a window into what this presumably short-lived band was like as a live act (with a dose of press kit hyperbole, perhaps):
Hot Rocks has now played numerous gigs in London clubs and their visual attractiveness and driving music have provoked screaming encores. It is impossible to sit back and relax at a Hot Rocks gig. Their goal is to move an audience, make them come alive, participate. And they do.
If the two songs on their once-mysterious acetate are any indication, maybe that was how it truly went down. Okay, I’m sold! If only I could go back in time and witness it for myself…Ah well, let’s all be thankful for what we’ve got.