Linus of Hollywood, stage name for Los Angeles musical polymath Kevin Dotson, has distilled a unique blend of 1960s/1970s influenced poprock on his four albums and various singles since 1999. And he has a voice that is often a dead ringer for Squeeze frontman Glen Tilbrook. The album catalogue might look a bit thin, but that’s just because he’s in such constant demand to do music for television and movies and produce and write songs for other people’s records to pay the bills. But what he has managed to put out is quality stuff, fully deserving of stratospheric success.
1999’s Your Favorite Record evidences his mastery of different musical styles, from the clever soft poprock stylings of “Say Hello to Another Goodbye,” or the acoustic swing of “The Man Who Tells the Crazy People What to Say”, or the musical hall-ish “Everybody’s Looking Down.”
By 2001 the hooks are even sharper on Let Yourself Be Happy with songs like “A Whole New Country” (what’s not to love about a flute solo?) and “I Need You Around,” while there is a touch of vaudeville in “The Girl I’ll Never Have” and novelty in “Thank You for Making Me Feel … Better.”
2006’s Triangle carries on this mix, with great poprock tunes like “Do You Know What I’m Thinking” and the banjo swingish “Starting Monday,” while the acoustic fingerpicking of “I’ll Get Through It” changes tempo but remains just as catchy.
In 2008 Linus of Hollywood released two albums that summed up his career to date. Attractive Singles is a kind of sampling of the three previous releases, with the 30 second title track the only new material. Meanwhile Reheat and Serve features various unreleased material, like the great “Do You Want to Get Married,” as well as his many covers of different 1970s artists like the Bee Gees, Paul McCartney and Nick Gilder. Here the cover of Gilder’s 1979 hit “Hot Child in the City” is both original and inspired. And the 30 second “Bonus Tracks” opener is pretty funny. Bonus Tracks Hot Child in the City
All that went before was enjoyable but 2014’s Something Good takes Linus of Hollywood’s performance to a new level. As Powerpopaholic put it in a glowing review: “It is more than something good, it is something great!” Right out of the gate, the listener is hit with some pretty impressive production and songwriting with “Caught Up in a Feeling,” a tune that exudes just hint of ELO, and the exquisite “A Girl that I Like,” a masterful, truly perfect single. Other highlights include the more sedate but catchy ‘”Biography,” with its great line ‘I’m the best part of your story,’ the 1970s pop-sounding “Whoever’s Around,” and the acoustic swing duet with Kelly Jones, “If You Don’t Love Me, You’ve Gotta Let Me Go.” And the cover of Kiss’ “Beth” is entertaining.
Beyond these albums tracks, two of my favourite Linus of Hollywood songs are the singles “Summer Fling,” another great acoustic swing duet, this time with Brett Anderson, and 2015’s “Icy Tracks,” with both featuring his trademark acoustic guitar floor and slathered on background vocals. Linus of Hollywood has announced on his Facebook page that he is presently working on material for a new album, due out later this year. Summer Fling