A major shift in dynamics was bound to occur in the Hollies when Graham Nash left the band in 1968. For the past several years, since their birth in 1961 to be exact, the singer, co-songwriter and guitarist of the esteemed Manchester, England band played a highly integral part in their sound and vision.
Frustrated, the Hollies did not want to break barriers a bit more and stroll beyond their radio-friendly pop philosophy, Graham was also not keen on an album consisting entirely of Bob Dylan numbers that the band had on board. Hooking up with Stephen Stills from the now-defunct Buffalo Springfield and David Crosby, who was recently booted from the Byrds, the ex-Hollie not only found kindred spirits in these two fellows, but achieved an phenomenal amount of artistic and commercial success as Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Despite Graham’s departure, the Hollies carried on and certainly had good reason to. The other members of the band, which included lead vocalist Allan Clarke, guitarist Tony Hicks, drummer Bobby Elliot and bassist and keyboardist Bernie Calvert, were far too talented and adored by the masses to call it quits. Terry Sylvester, who previously held roles in the Escorts and the Swinging Blue Jeans, soon joined the band, and the results were truly impressive.
Comprised of all original material, Hollies Sing Hollies (Parlophone Records) staunchly retains the spellbinding harmony prowess and melodic smarts that brought the band attention and acclaim in the first place. Teeming with nimble, inspired and confident performances, the album has much to offer and then some.
Sliced of an incessant riff, a touch of prancing piano fills and a burst of horns, “Please Let Me Please” pedals in as a super catchy pop rocker, while “Do You Believe In Love?” struts and swaggers to a funky beat, and both “Soldiers Dilemma” and “Please Sign Your Letters” radiate with country-fried impulses.
Delicate acoustic guitars interact with sparkling symphonic arrangements on the epic “Marigold Gloria Swansong,” which swells with pastoral textures and haunting imagery. An instrumental, the lushly furnished “Reflections Of A Long Time Past” sparkles with sophisticated orchestration as well.
Powerful and emotional, the heart-wrenching “My Life Is Over With You” stands as an obvious memo to Graham Nash, and “Goodbye Tomorrow” is a tight and tasty pop rocker in the best Hollies tradition.
Cushioned with tracks exuding lucidity, purity and clarity, Hollies Sing Hollies is a quality effort through and through. But such greatness is only to be expected from the Hollies, who have always had a special knack for turning in finely produced pop tunes.
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