Classic Music Review: The Hollies Greatest Hits

It's all about the singing, not about the songs. Click to buy.

Repeat after me: “It’s all about the singing, not about the songs.” Click to buy.

There were moments when Clarke, Nash and Hicks raised their voices in three-part harmony and sounded as good as The Beatles or The Beach Boys ever did. Allen Clarke was one of the great lead singers of the era, his voice clear, colorful and commanding. Their arrangements often revealed a great deal of care and musical discipline. The Hollies had a very clear idea of how they wanted to sound, a state some bands never achieve.

But I have to say that The Hollies weren’t as good as I think they could have been.

Despite their obvious vocal gifts, they weren’t very good songwriters. Graham Nash’s songs generally sound like they were written for children, and are listenable only because the harmonies are often exquisite. Nash could out-cute McCartney any day of the week, and I have to go off-topic to add that if there’s one song in the world that brings out the psychopath in me, it’s CSN’s “Our House,” a song capable of triggering diabetic shock. The Hollies’ best album, Evolution, contains some very nice songs but also shows a relative lack of imagination when compared to the music other artists were making at the time. Oh, they added the funny effects and odd instruments that were the all the rage, but the songs remained firmly grounded in standard pop conventions and their lyrics barely made it to the level of “not annoying.” The Hollies’ modus operandi was the emphasis on vocal harmony, and so it all came together for me when I learned that Allen Clarke and Graham Nash started their careers as a duo attempting to emulate the Everly Brothers. The Everly Brothers did more than anyone else to establish harmony in the context of rock ‘n’ roll, but they were lucky to have peaked in the pre-Dylan era when songs were primarily boy-girl stories and lyrics didn’t matter that much. The Hollies performed in an era when lyrics and musical imagination mattered, and they simply weren’t wired to go that route.

There are two “Hollies Greatest Hits” albums, and both suffer from the Goldilocks paradox. This one is a little too small, with stunning omissions like “I’m Alive,” “I Can’t Let Go,” “Here I Go Again” and “Sorry Suzanne,” revealing a compilation targeted for the American market. Most of those missing songs are included on the 47-track competitor, but that edition spends way too much time in the 1970’s and beyond, their least interesting period. I’ll review this one now, save Evolution for another day and hope that something that’s just right comes out in the future.

The compilers seriously messed up the track order, so I’m going to present the songs in order of release AND include the four omissions mentioned above, suitably asterisked. Harrumph!

“Just One Look”: The Hollies first four singles were all covers: two from The Coasters, Maurice Williams’ “Stay” and this cover of the Doris Troy hit. This one went all the way to #2, and I’ll be damned if I can figure out why. Every bit of soul you heard in Doris’ version has been bleached out of existence in a happy-snappy performance of godawful precision. I congratulate the band for hitting all the notes, but someone should have informed them that they weren’t auditioning for the choir. Absolutely lifeless.

“Here I Go Again”*: This one shows a few more signs of life, and, with the exception of random and terrifying appearances of a ludicrously high falsetto, the harmonies are close to trademark Hollies. In their defense, this Brill Building number doesn’t offer much to work with, sounding like something McCartney and Lennon might have written in their youth and passed off to Cilla Black as a B-side.

“I’m Alive”*: This one was penned by Clint Ballard, Jr. I mean, what else do you need to know? Okay, CBJ (I can call him that because we’re old friends, she lied) wrote two other songs of note during a long and occasionally successful career as a songsmith: Linda Ronstadt’s and Dee Dee Warwick’s “You’re No Good” and Wayne Fontana’s “Game of Love”. If you listen to this song and wonder what the hell is the matter with Allen Clarke’s voice in the opening lines of the verses—where he sounds like he’s doing a piss-poor version of Roy Orbison—the only explanation I can offer is that CBJ also hailed from Texas and perhaps was trying to write a song using a Roy Orbison-like register. The in-song transformation from poor Orbison imitator to Allen Clarke is remarkable, as the pitch rises on each line to eventually land in his native register. It’s like he’s resurrecting himself right before our ears! Can I say that? Anyway, there’s a point in the middle of the fifth line where he becomes the real Allen Clarke and the emergence of that golden voice is truly triumphant. He is alive! I love that voice! Allen, don’t ever leave me again!

“Look Through Any Window”: My father was surprised when I mentioned to him that this was their first Top 40 hit in the United States. “Are you sure?” he asked, his eyes squinting in an expression that combined skepticism and the oh-shit-am-I-losing-my-memory fear that afflicts those over sixty. I pulled up the Billboard chart records and showed him but he still wasn’t happy, so he called a friend back in the homeland to search for an explanation of this discrepancy. While the friend had nothing to back up his story, his theory was that “Look Through Any Window” sold well on the East Coast but never made it out west. Regional hits were common in the era (and still common today), so I’m going to go with my dad’s story that he never heard the song until it came out on a 1967 greatest hits album. For those on the Left Coast, the history of The Hollies apparently began with “Bus Stop.”

I was surprised, too—surprised that “Look Through Any Window” didn’t make it to the top ten. This is my favorite Hollies song! Tony Hicks’ distinctive lead-in on a Vox Phantom XII (I want one!) is a definite grabber, paving the way for Allen Clarke in the sweet spot of his range. While Allen sings the opening lines, you get the feeling that Bobby Clarke back on the drum kit is trembling with anticipation to let it go, and boy, does he ever, adding the punctuation needed to give this song endless bursts of energy. It all comes together on the “highways and the byways” harmonies that thrill me every time I hear them. I love the way this song maximized the talents of the band, giving Tony Hicks a couple of lines as lead vocalist and oh, those harmonies! The song is dense with brilliant and varied three-part harmonies, peppery call-and-response lines and three perfectly executed key changes. The shift of emphasis to minor chord in the coda allows The Hollies to add a touch of melancholy to a song that celebrates life; the minor key harmonies reflect that feeling you get sometimes when you’re caught up in a wonderful life experience that you wish would go on forever, but you know it’s but a vanishing moment in time. The song was written by frequent Invasion contributor Graham Gouldman with a guy named Charles Silverman, and while I thank them for the song, it’s The Hollies who make “Look Through Any Window” a special experience.

Below are two video versions of the song. I absolutely rejected a ridiculous version of the song on Hullabaloo where they’re introduced as college football players (!) by the smarmy Frankie Avalon. Instead, you’ll see a performance at the London Palladium and another video clip containing the French version. Yes, The Hollies did this song in French!  “Regardez Par Des Fenêtres!” My favorite Hollies song in my daily language! I should be delighted! No! It’s the worst fucking French I’ve ever heard!

“I Can’t Let Go”*: Bassist Eric Haydock’s last single happens to be the song with the most noticeable bass line up to this point. It isn’t much, as his pattern consists of repeatedly plunking the root note over and over again, but at least you can hear the bass. This song sounds way better in mono; the stereo mix doesn’t blend the harmonies particularly well, giving the impression that Graham Nash, Tony Hicks and Allen Clarke are in separate booths. It does allow you to hear Graham Nash’s gorgeous counterpoint vocal that Paul McCartney went gaga over, thinking it was a trumpet. “I Can’t Let Go” was written by Jon Voight’s brother Chip Taylor, who also wrote The Troggs’ “Wild Thing,” a song that required as much imagination as it takes to copy “Louie, Louie” and change the rhythm a little.

“Bus Stop”: If you had to pick one song that defined The Hollies’ sound, this is the one. Another Graham Gouldman number, it’s marked by the contrast between the melancholy minor key and a story of falling in love, which should be a rather happy occasion, don’cha think?  Graham always had problems getting his modes straight, but this tune works because the visuals in the lyrics take us through the passage of the seasons, which sometimes feels like a melancholy experience. Bobby Clarke’s drums add just the right touches at the right moments, and the rhythmic interplay with the acoustic guitar is perfectly tight. The harmonies, needless to say, are as good as it gets. Damn, these guys could sing!

“Stop Stop Stop”: I normally hate fucking banjos, but Tony Hicks doesn’t play the banjo in hillbilly style, and does some clever things with the rhythm and the picking on the chorus. This was the first hit written by Clarke, Hicks and Nash, so from that perspective it’s a huge victory for the home team. I’ll tell you one thing: if I was that belly dancer and that guy tried to fondle me during my act, that restaurant would be serving chopped penis salad as tomorrow night’s special.

“On a Carousel”: Not even a silly, worse than Disney-esque story line and a thin lead vocal (solo only on the opening verse) from Graham Nash can diminish the power of those harmonies. The round-and-round-and-round-and-round segments are absolutely magical and never fail to bring a smile to my face. 

“Pay You Back with Interest”: The most underrated song in their catalog, “Pay You Back with Interest” is the one tune that causes me to mourn what could have been. The rhythmic shift in the verses from waltz to 4/4 was a stroke of genius, with the 3/4 time expressing the narrator’s regret that he spends most of his life “on business,” and the upbeat 4/4 time echoing the narrator’s commitment to make it alright some day. Bobby Elliott’s drum rolls backing up the harmonies in the middle eight maintain the feeling of tension within this man’s soul as he aches for his faraway love. While I’m not fond of the use of financial metaphors to describe romance, that’s a minor quibble over what is a truly brilliant piece of work. 

“Carrie Anne”: We leave one of my favorite Hollies songs for one of my least favorite. A piece that defines the phrase “sing-songy,” Graham Nash takes his sugar addiction to the extreme here. The song sticks out like a sore thumb as the opening track on the U. S. version of Evolution, a horrible decision by the record company to “single-ize” a relatively good album. The one bit I do love is the glissandi on the word “game” in the chorus. Nash said later that he wrote the lyrics about Marianne Faithfull. BFD. Actually, the song is way better without Graham Nash, as demonstrated on the clip below.

“King Midas in Reverse”: The Hollies began their decline when Graham Nash started to take over after Evolution, a classic case of a man having a highly inflated view of his talent. The follow-up album, Butterfly, is more of a Graham Nash solo project than a Hollies record. This song was supposed to create excitement for the upcoming album release, but the response was middling because it’s a pretty middling song on a pretty middling album. The Hollies eliminated any value the song might have had by making the chorus impossible for the average person to sing without repeatedly poking him or herself in the tummy to try to duplicate the warble on the words “worse” and “reverse.” I’d hate to see what would happen if someone tried to do that while behind the wheel. Fortunately, the song didn’t exactly take off, so the authorities of the time never had to take measures to outlaw the use of “tummy vibrato” while driving.

“Dear Eloise”: How many synonyms are there for the word “loathe?” Let’s find out! According to Roget’s we have abhor, abominate, reject, be allergic to, have aversion to, despise, decline, repudiate, be down on, have no use for, detest, execrate, revolt, feel repugnance, hate, spurn and find disgusting. I (all of the above) “Dear Eloise.” Sexless, syrupy, sacchariferous and senseless sums it up, she said snottily. It sounds like it was written on a toy xylophone.

“Sorry Suzanne”:* This is the post-Nash song that defines the end of The Hollies, Phase One. The song is dull and repetitive, serving up a diluted, weak-soup version of The Hollies. I only mention it because the band seemed rudderless after Graham Nash’s departure, ironic as that may sound. The split was occasioned by Nash’s refusal to go along with the desire of the others to do an entire album of Dylan covers, a seriously bad idea that told the world, “We’ve given up trying to be original so we’re going to try to be The Byrds instead.” The lesson here is that the whole is usually better than the parts, something that was as true for The Hollies as it was for The Beatles.

“He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother”: Shit! I already used up the entire set of hate words from the thesaurus, so I’ll have to use intensives instead. I hate this fucking song. It’s an American Idol song, one of those awful tunes that gives the singer too much room to ham it up. It’s even got Elton fucking John on piano, for chrissakes, the drama queen of all drama queens. The original source of the song actually tells a very touching story. From Wikipedia:

In 1884, James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, in his book “The Parables of Jesus” tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. With surprise she replied, “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.”

In an 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo Trine titled “The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit”, he relates the following anecdote: “Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: ‘He’s na heavy. He’s mi brother.’

To turn that rare tale of charm, grace and female superiority into a corny song designed for a Vegas lounge act was one of the crimes of the century.

“Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)”: The Hollies wanted to do a song that sounded like Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River.” As phony as he was, John Fogerty was the bees’ knees at that point in musical history. Go figure. Anyway, Allen Clarke took the bull by the horns and wrote most of the song in five minutes. It’s a stunning vocal performance by a man who hadn’t really done much belt-it-out rock with a strong groove, and makes me wish that The Hollies would have balanced their catalog with more rockers during  their peak period. Way better than anything Credence ever did.

“Long Dark Road”: Why is this song here? I see it made #26 in the U. S. Must have been a seller’s market. The most undistinguished song on the record, it’s only virtue is that it isn’t particularly offensive, kind of like a long dark road to boredom.

“The Air That I Breathe”: You think I’m going to hate this song, too, don’cha? Wrong! The performance is more restrained, the strings more subtle and the musical structure more interesting. It doesn’t exactly get my heart all-a-flutter, but I don’t skip over it when it comes up on the iPod. I very much like the insertion of the truncated line “sometimes” just before the chorus, as it’s a nice bit of not par-for-the-course musical structure. Allen Clarke’s lead vocal is very strong without crossing the line into melodrama. And I love that the lyrics list cigarettes as the first human need, ahead of sleep, light, sound, food, and literature. Take that, 21st Century Health Nazis!

The Hollies will always be remembered for their fabulous harmonies, but I think they could have done so much more had anyone other than Graham Nash had been blessed with the explorer’s spirit. Nash certainly wanted to explore new things, but he limited his exploration to a very narrow musical sphere: children’s songs for adults who never wanted to grow up. There aren’t many real Peter Pans in the world, so that path was a dead-end from the start. Given The Hollies’ combined vocal gifts, I was hoping for a real opus to appear somewhere in the catalog, but il n’existe pas.

Amazingly, another Invasion band achieved what I had hoped for The Hollies: the creation of a work of timeless excellence characterized by superb harmonies, brilliant lyrics and imaginative music. Their achievement was “amazing” because, well . . . I’ll explain it all to you next time.

23 responses

  1. […] The Hollies, The Hollies Greatest Hits […]

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  2. […] Latest Classic Music Review: The Hollies Greatest Hits […]

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  3. I still hope you elaborate in a future review why you dismiss John Fogerty as such a phoney. So he’s from the Bay Area and sings about bayous and river boats – Bowie never went into space, but he weaves a great tale in “Major Tom”.

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    1. I was just going to say that in other terms. So John Fogerty is a fraud because he never went to the bayou neither took a ride on a steam riverboat? Well, then you might as well condemn Jules Verne, who wrote about submarine adventures and trips to the moon without doing either. “Ah, but he was a fiction writer”, the girl said (or so I thought I heard, heh heh). But can’t some songs (as well as poetry) be fiction too? And in art *looking/sounding* real is as important as -if not more than – *being* real…

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    2. Short answer: apples and oranges. Long answer: I’ll cover it in a Chick Riff someday, because I couldn’t survive listening to any Credence album there times.

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  4. I do agree with you – and others – in that the Hollies did sobrelevate many weak songs with their stellar vocal arrangements and instrumental work. I’d just like to add that the Hollies have many more great songs than they’re usually given credit for, IMHO anyway. So allow me to bring up some of these.

    Their composition “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” was a hit as covered by the Searchers.

    Seems like it was mandatory for 1960s artistes to either cover “Louie Louie” or rewrite “Louie Louie”, so the Hollies did it too:

    When Peter Quaife left the Kinks, Eric Haydock had left the Hollies and was thought of as a replacement, so I imagine he must have loved to record this song with the Hollies a few years before:

    Speaking of the Kinks, did you ever wonder where Ray Davies take “Misty Water”‘s kord sekwence and half of the title from?

    And if Ray Davies kould rewrite “You Really Got Me” as “All Day And All Of The Night” – just like Eddie Cochran did with “Summertime Blues” and ‘C’mon Everybody”, for that matter – , why couldn’t Alan Clarke rewrite “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress”?

    programming

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    1. A fascinating little collection! I’m going to circle back after the series and review Evolution sometime in the spring. I was very surprised when I heard “Curly Billy, etc,” as it was way too obvious a self rip-off. That said, self-ripoffs aren’t always bad—“All Day and All of the Night” proved that . . . but I’m glad they moved on!

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  5. “I Can’t Let Go” is one of the best songs ever recorded… when recorded by Evie Sands.
    When I heard this absolute butchering by the Hollies I decided I was done with this band.
    Maybe I’ll try some of the songs you like the most, which don’t seem too many.

    Can’t wait for this Zombies review hehe.

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    1. You are so perceptive!

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    2. Ah, Evie Sands! I have to agree that her version is the superior one. I really need to put her on my review list.

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  6. The Hollies were a joy to listen to.
    Those harmonies always lingered in the memory.

    Thought Allan Clarke was way underrated and the
    group was capable of surprises like ‘Pay you back Interest..”

    Looking back; just glad they were on the radar for as long as they were.
    as the poet wrote …mixing memory and desire.

    a good thing

    thanks for the review.

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    1. I am so glad to know someone who appreciates “Pay You Back with Interest.” I might start using that in employment interviews as a sort of intelligence test.

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      1. “Pay You Back With Interest” is great! Many different parts that belong together, a good lyric (although I agree with you in that financial lingo is not the best metaphor for describing amorous matters), great arrangement and execution.

        And, speaking of employment interviews, a personal aside. It was this song which taught me that the word “interest” meant not only attention, desire or curiosity for something of somebody, but also an added percentage of an owned amount of money over a certain period of time (as in “interest rate”). It was remembering that additional financial meaning of the word “interest” – thanks to this song – that saved my life when I applied for my official translator job! That’s all the more reason for me to like the Hollies…

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      2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        “Pay You Back With Interest” is great! Many different parts that belong together, a good lyric (although I agree with you in that financial lingo is not the best metaphor for describing amorous matters), great arrangement and execution.

        And, speaking of employment interviews, a personal aside. It was this song which taught me that the word “interest” meant not only attention, desire or curiosity for something of somebody, but also an added percentage of an owed amount of money over a certain period of time (as in “interest rate”). It was remembering that additional financial meaning of the word “interest” – thanks to this song – that saved my life when I applied for my official translator job! That’s all the more reason for me to like the Hollies…

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      3. (Do pardon me for having made such a mess when trying to fix a mistake I made on my comment. Please discard this and the two former ones.)

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      4. “Pay You Back With Interest” is great! Many different parts that belong together, a good lyric (although I agree with you in that financial lingo is not the best metaphor for describing amorous matters), great arrangement and execution.

        And, speaking of employment interviews, a personal aside. It was this song which taught me that the word “interest” meant not only attention, desire or curiosity for something of somebody, but also an added percentage of an owed amount of money over a certain period of time (as in “interest rate”). It was remembering that additional financial meaning of the word “interest” – thanks to this song – that saved my life when I applied for my official translator job! That’s all the more reason for me to like the Hollies…

        (By way of passing, ahem, interest, am I the only one to detect some influence in the intro to this song, an early 1980s hit?)

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  7. I thought your review was funny, as usual. I really like the Hollies a lot, and like most of the songs here. A better album to review is “The Epic Anthology”. It might be out of print, though. It has an emphasis on the classic 60’s material, but does include a few 70’s hits which are decent…. although the difference in inspiration is telling. Even the liner notes admit this in a subtle way. I agree that Allan Clarke was an underrated vocalist and Tony Hicks is a very underrated guitarist. Some later songs (like “Too Young To Be Married”) show how great he was. I guess their main focus (and rightfully so) was those fantastic harmonies. Too bad since if Hicks got more of a chance to shine, he would be remembered as a much better than average guitarist.

    While their output was “limited” in comparison to the Beatles, I really like “Evolution”. Not as awe inspiring as “Revolver” or “Pepper”, still interesting and off the beaten path with sound effects and so on. And to be honest, I don’t mind Nash’s bubble gum stuff (for the most part) with the Hollies. “Carrie Anne” and “On A Carousel” on this album (and others, like “Jennifer Eccles”) are some of my favorites by the Hollies. I also love “King Midas” and “Dear Eloise” (from the “Evolution” or “Butterfly” era). Another great one from that era (on the Epic Anthology) is “Try It”. Pretty trippy and fun – not what you’d expect from the Hollies, which makes it even more of a fun surprise. I like “Long Dark Road” too – love the harmonica at the beginning. “Long Cool Woman” is a great song, but I’m kinda tired of it. Here in North America, that is the song that is usually played on the radio when they play a Hollies song – or “He Ain’t Heavy” which is another I am tired of. “The Air That I Breathe” is a nice song, but not my fave. I can admire it (and so could Radiohead ha ha ha ha), but I don’t listen to it much.

    I really don’t mind “bubblegum” if it is done well, and let’s face it – how many other bubblegum hits by other bands had those amazing harmonies? Sometimes those harmonies could make the most banal material seem decent; but when they got their teeth into a pretty good hook and added those harmonies, it was awesome. I’ve got most of the Hollies albums on vinyl and still listen to them. While they were no Beatles, Stones, Kinks or Who (uneven songwriting forced them into a lower tier), they were still fucking miles above Dave Clark Five, Gerry And The Pacemakers, Freddy And The Dreamers, Herman’s Hermits and many more from the British Invasion – including the Animals (worse problems with consistency in songwriting – plus the dreaded Mickey Most as producer) and the Zombies. (I like “Odessey And Oracle” and a couple of songs but this revivalism as the “The Great Lost Band of the British Invasion” makes me laugh. And “O&O” while decent, is wayyyyyyyyyy overrated. Enough for now – I’ll await your review on the Zombies to vent).

    Plus, if you get a chance pick up “Hollies Live” from the late 70’s – they were pretty decent too as a live band. Surprised me too!!!!! Think it was a Canada only album, but really fun and a lot more rocking than you might expect.

    Great and fun review as always!!! I might not agree with what you say, but I love the way you say it!!!!

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    1. Thank you! I do rather like “Jennifer Eccles,” and was disappointed it didn’t make this album. I’ve got Evolution on my list for sometime later this year. I’ll look into that live album . . . I was definitely surprised by their intensity on the video clip of “Look Through Any Window,” which was not what I expected. As far as The Zombies go, you’ll find out what I think tomorrow!

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  8. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you
    are not already 😉 Cheers!

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  9. First, a very pleasant surprise to see this blog/site resurrected and thank goodness you’re finally doing a book. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve just been re-reading some reviews of my fave albums here and returning to them after a distance of time, it’s refreshing how well they stand up and your writing is always top class. I had to revisit that Temptations one… the “instructions” always make me smile! Anyway, enough of all that… good to see you back. Now… onto The Hollies.

    Hmmm… one of the most frustrating bands of their time. No doubting and denying they were very professional – Bobby Elliott was a superb drummer and those three part harmonies were wonderful. They were a fine singles band up to 1968 – “Jennifer Eccles” was pure garbage, “Listen To Me” was bland then Nash left and thus came the sugary “Sorry Suzanne” then the dreaded “He Ain’t Heavy” which like you I absolutely detest for it may had been their biggest hit but it ruined the bands career as they spent too much time in the 70’s trying to find other ballads to top it… and regularly failed. Yep, I detest “Air” as well. They were much better doing rockier stuff – “Long Cool Woman” remains a major fave.

    As for the French “Look Through Any Window” – that came about because it was noted that songs they were having hits with in the UK were hits in France covered by French singers. They decided to try and put a stop to that and cut 4 songs in French. Unfortunately, the translations were done by Allan’s brother in law who then had to try and teach them phonetically to the band. Allan Clarke later admitted they didn’t have a clue what they were singing and that they could had been singing in Swahilian for all they cared. Regardless to say, the results were sent over to France – and swiftly sent back with a big NON!

    For me The Hollies’ two greatest moments were “I Can’t Let Go” which for it’s time was an extraordinary single, their finest so far being such a committed and startling performance showcasing those harmonies at their very best. 1966 was a great year as the album “For Certain Because…” had some strong moments, the best undoubtedly being “Pay You Back With Interest” – a quality song that proved had Nash not been such a pretentious hippy dippy idiot too twee for his own good, that they were very capable of composing great material. There were some good originals scattered across those 60’s albums but “Interest” is the standout.

    Ultimately, The Hollies’ biggest problem was their image. They first appeared in the smart suits and all that but came across rather anonymous and a bit geeky and square… poor old Bobby Elliott was already going bald so had to have a bad combover which he then covered from 1966-1968 with hats before resorting to wigs in 1969. You couldn’t be young and bald in the 60’s! Once Nash started smoking the funny stuff, he tried to take over and get them looking more “hip” and in 1966, they looked fine, but when he got into the acid… oh dear… The Hollies dressing in flower-power garb just looked ridiculous and all but Nash felt rather embarrassed by it all. Little wonder they went back to suits after that which annoyed Nash no end. Ultimately, they could never quite look hip or trendy enough and by God they had some bloody awful album covers too – the cover of “Hollies Sing Hollies” is really embarrassing.

    So, a mixed bag all round were The Hollies. When they were good, they were very good but ultimately there’s too much filler and dross in their catalogue that prevents them from being one of the greats… and that’s almost damning for me to say because I am a fan of them, but I also can’t help but look at the bigger picture…

    PS – Any chance of any more Phil Ochs reviews?

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    1. I’m glad you found me! I reopened the blog on my editor’s advice, as I was a bit reluctant to do so. Anyway, once I started writing reviews for the book it felt good to explore some music I’d avoided like Queen, The Clash and Tom Petty. Right now I’m rewriting the Robert Johnson review and trying to decide which Radiohead albums I want to cover. I don’t want to the book to be 100% rehash.

      I hadn’t thought of doing any more Phil Ochs reviews, but I’m open to suggestions—just not the one with the tombstone on the cover. One of the worst marketing failures in history. I had looked at doing more American folk but the truth is I really don’t like much of it, with Phil Ochs being the major exception to the rule.

      BTW, I really like Anna Ling’s voice and was very intrigued by Passion Bel Canon. I’ll go back and check out the rest later, but Sunday evenings are the best time for me to catch baseball via satellite and I have to get back to the action!

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      1. Good to hear from you too! I found you again thanks to subscribing to comments and when one appeared the other day in my inbox… voila!

        Funnily enough “Rehearsals For Retirement” is one of my fave Ochs albums – it definitely bombed selling pitifully and the cover was entirely Phil’s idea and he even paid to have that tombstone made… a sad indication of his state of mind. Tragic because I love his A+M era yet combined, those albums barely sold at all compared to the Elektra ones… and as we know there’s some real gems to be found on all of those. And yes, like yourself, I find Ochs to be an exception since a little American folk goes a very long way… and helps put me to sleep!

        Thanks for the compliments on Brickbat! I’m really proud of the little roster there. Anna has a very interesting voice but she’s currently missing in action hence at the moment, there’s no way of her selling copies of her CD which is frustrating since one of the aims is to try and help the acts promote and sell their product! Passion Bel Canon I absolutely love and am hoping to meet and see them in action later in the year.

        Hope you enjoy the game!

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The Fraudsters' Almanac

Reviews for no good reason.

Waiting for wonderment

A Postgraduate's journey to becoming a writer

Her Diffident Way

The only way I know

The Darkest Art

A journey through dark art.

Motivational and Inspirational Quotes

Spreading Good Vibes 24X7, Click on each quote to read more

MeYouMusic

independent artists reinventing music together!

The Not So Romeo & Juliet Story

love, life, hate, adventures, problems

booksandopinions.com

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

awordfromwithin

placida lingua : gentle thoughts?

Aphoristic Album Reviews

Personal Album Review Website

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