This is the fifth in the series of British Invasion DVDs produced by the folks at Reelin’ In The Years. The previous titles have featured The Small Faces, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Dusty Springfield and Herman’s Hermits. This latest instalment with Manchester’s Hollies, ranks up there with The Small Faces’ title as one of the best.
While The Hollies had their fair share of hits during the 1960s, they always seemed to come across as lightweights compared to contemporaries like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Animals. Perhaps this DVD will go some way to rectifying that impression.
For those unfamiliar with the band, they scored chirpy pop hits like On A Carousel, Bus Stop, Carrie Anne and Look Through Any Window, seemingly at will throughout the 1960s. Their run of hits continued into the early 70s with classic hits like He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother and The Air That I Breathe.
The group’s sound was based around lead singer Allan Clarke and the high –harmonies of Graham Nash. Guitarist Tony Hicks also chimed later with lower harmonies. The group also featured the powerful and inventive drumming of Bobby Elliott. Two bass players played with the band, Eric Haydock and then Bernie Calvert.
The Hollies are one of the few 60s bands with all of their members alive and kicking. The film features extensive interviews with all four major players…Clarke, Nash, Hicks and Elliott. The bass players are barely mentioned as is Nash’s replacement, Terry Sylvester. Long-time producer Ron Richards is no longer alive, but there are a few audio sound bites from him included as well.
As is the format with these British Invasion DVDs, the band’s story is told by the band members, accompanied by still photos and vintage clips of the band playing it’s its hits either live or lip-synched, from a variety of sources.
The band members do a nice job of describing how they achieved their unique sound, how they dealt with the constant pressure to come up with hits while at the same time, keeping themselves from becoming musically bored.
It was Graham Nash who was most adamant about pushing the musical boundaries. When his exercise in gentle psychedelia, King Midas In Reverse, fizzled out commercially, the group went back to their tried and true formula and the frustrated Nash hooked up with a couple of guys named Crosby and Stills.
Surprisingly both Nash and The Hollies were successful and the band’s story is one of the unusual happy ones in rock & roll.
In addition to the band members’ discussion of Nash’s departure, the other highlight is the footage shot in January of 1967 of the band recording On A Carousel at Abbey Road Studios. The film crew covers the entire session from basic tracks to vocal overdubs. This is a great little insight into how these classic radio hits were made. Also impressive is Tony Hicks’ creative guitar playing over the years.
The Hollies baulked when it came time for them to step up to the plate and stretch out musically, but that doesn’t negate the stack of fantastically catchy singles the band produced. This is a fitting tribute to them.