Monday 31 August 2015

The Hollies: Non-Album Songs Part One: 1963-1970

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Non-Album Recordings Part #1: 1963
In a neat parallel of 'Love Me Do', The Hollies had better and deeper songs in their repertoires but decided to play it simple for their first single. Sadly [1] 'Ain't That Just Like Me?' was about the worst choice they could have taken from their setlist at the time - not because it's a bad song; in fact it's a fun romp through several nursery rhymes with a nice fiery lead guitar break from Tony Hicks well ahead of its day. But the fact that the Hollies discography starts off with such an unashamedly childish song seems to have plagued them ever since: after following this single up with 'Searchin' The Hollies seemed pegged forever to be a 'novelty' band, despite the depth and beauty already in their stage shows. The nerves the band must have been feeling also come through rather too well: Nash's strummed opening (typical that he should play the first note ever heard on a Hollies record - and that his rhythm part would then be near-inaudible for the rest of the record!) falls flat (the band should have gone for another take) and Don Rathbone's drumming is the weakest of his short tenure as a Hollie drummer (he'll be replaced by Bobby Elliott for single number three). The band's strongest suit is already the Clarke-Nash vocals but even these sound a little rough around the edges (Nash appears to have a cold), too brittle for a song about the narrator being like Mary's Little Lamb 'following you around' and Humpty Dumpty 'cracking up over you' (actually I take that back: listening to the single again reveals that the band get the first verse wrong, singing 'cracking up over you' again even though it makes no sense until the second verse). For once on these early recordings, The Hollies' inexperience shows and this recording of the song isn't a patch on what The Searchers are already doing to it in Liverpool (as heard on their second album 'Sugar and Spice', where the song is extended into a cat-and-mouse, call-and=-response number for three and a half intense minutes). The result is a song that should be a lot of fun but an understandably nervous Hollies are too scared to be funny and too apprehensive to really go for the jugular. Better is to come. Find it on: most decent hits compilations  plus 'The Long Road Home' (2003) and 'The Clarke-Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
While the Clarke-Nash writing team (Hicks hadn't quite joined in yet) weren't pre[pared enough to write their first A side, like The Beatles had been, they were still more than capable of writing the 'B side, long before most other 1960s groups had turned to writing their own material. [2] 'Hey, What's Wrong With Me?' is much more convincing than the 'A' side, perhaps because the band had been playing it longer, with a fun quick-stepping riff that even Tony has trouble keeping up with and some terrific work from the 'unloved' rhythm section of Eric and Don that sounds so good you wonder how both of them came to be replaced over the course of the next two years. Like many a Hollies original to come, this is rather a grumpy original, not about love so much as rejection with the pained chorus 'I know our love can never be now!' While simple enough not to scare 1963 audiences - and with a glorious three-way 'aah' hook in the middle - it's pretty deep for the times, with themes of 'cheating' and betrayal. Clarke and Nash sound much more settled here, halfway between pop and the r and b that inspired their early years, with Allan already sounding like the perfect frontman. All in all this is a strong song, well played, which bodes well for the Hollies songs to come. Find it on: among others, 'The Long Road Home' (2003), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The Hollies' choice for their second single was truly peculiar and like the first was in danger of labelling the band as 'childish' - a tag the band spent several years trying to dispel. [3] 'Searchin', a song which suspiciously had never been and would never be part of The Hollies live set, sounds suspiciously like a Ron Richards choice to me. Originally a single for The Coasters in 1957, 'Searchin' is a novelty tune, close to music hall, which features the narrator promising to track down where his one true love might be in terms of all the big stars at the local cinema. Which is fine as far as it goes - but when you're a new band in a decade where every changing week of style counted, quoting lyrics about fictional detectives 'Charlie Chan'  'Sherlock Holmes' and that he'd be as thorough as 'a Bulldog Drummond' (the name Nash mangles during his falsetto middle eight - he's a fictional detective from The Strand magazine by H C McNeile) all from the generation of your parents or even grandparents is not likely to endear you to trendy teenyboppers' hearts. The sound too is peculiar and features in front not Tony's guitar or the vocals but a tack piano and simplistic drumming, probably the reason why Don Rathbone was given the push straight after this single in fact, although I suspect even his successor  Bobby Elliott would have struggled to make this oompah four bar blues sound good. However in terms of vocals the band almost rescue the song. Clarke sounds oddly comfortable here and the fact that he sounds as if he's getting a cold actually helps the song, adding a touch of drama to proceedings; Nash and Hicks too sound like they're having fun whooping it up and Nash's middle eight - his first solo moment on a Hollies recording  - is perhaps significant in coming along as early as recording three (Terry has to wait years for his!) However there's still something slightly unfinished and rather grating about this simple song which lacks the mystery and good-humoured stupidity of The Coasters' original. The only good thing you can really say about this song is that it beats The Beatles' Decca audition tape version hands down (Paul McCartney being enough of a fan to include the Coasters version amongst his 'Desert Island Discs' in 1982) and given the unsigned agreement between Merseybeat bands that none would cover another's song once they'd recorded it this at least saved one group from looking silly. (If only The Beatles had noticed The Hollies' cover of 'Mr Moonlight' we might have been spared the blushes of the terrible version of the Dr Feelgood hit on 'Beatles For Sale' too, not one of the fab four's better ideas...) Note that, as with a handful of other Hollies recordings, the mono and stereo versions of this single use slightly different takes, most obvious in Nash's middle eight (which he sings with more gusto and a rushed 'theygotnothin'onme!' on the mono version before Clarke answer with a play 'you ain't kidding man!' The result is perhaps as early 1960s as The Hollies ever got): the rarer mono take is slightly the better I would say, though neither are particularly great shakes. Find it on: most decent hits compilations  plus 'The Clarke-Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The second Clarke/Nash song [4] 'Whole World Over' is once again better than the 'A' side. A slow weepie that skirts the edges of twee, it manages to throw in just enough unexpected changes to keep the listener guessing. The middle eight - which out of nowhere reaches out to a minor key - is particularly effective (coming mid-line on the sentence 'Oh yes she will be standing her by me...') The song hadn't been long in their set, although it was taped at the same session as songs [1] and [2]. My guess is that the Hollies had at least half a mind to releasing 'Searchin' as a single at some point and deliberately wrote this similar song as a companion track: this is a much more earnest and sensible song on the same theme of looking everywhere for a soulmate ('even if it takes 100 years'). Cute, but not too cute, out of the three songs taped at the first session it's this one that sets the template for much of the 'Hollies style' to come and features another first class performance from what must have been a very daunting times (the band's first time inside a recording studio). Clarke's harmonica playing is already first class, while Nash's sensitive harmony (Hicks hasn't joined in yet) is an excellent foil to Clarke's strident lead and guitar, bass and drums mesh together well. Find it on: among others, 'The Long Road Home' (2003), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
[5] 'Now's The Time' - the self-penned 'B-side of 'Stay' (which is listed later in this book because it appeared as part of debut album 'Stay With The Hollies' and it seemed to make more sense discussing it there, what with it being the de facto title and all; it's odd that this flipside wasn't on the album too)  - is significant for many reasons. It's another early song credited to Clarke and Nash (before their love of pseudonyms kick in), is the first Hollie song that properly combines unhappy lyrics with an uptempo bouncy sounding tune, the last to feature Don Rathbone on drums instead of Bobby Elliott (nervous about his own playing - he'd joined The Hollies for a hobby not a career - Rathbone will use his contacts book for a successful sideline in band management) and the first original song at least considered for 'A' side status. In fact, when approached to appear in a cameo at the end of a 'hip' film about 'teenagers' (the curious Willie Rushton comedy 'It's All About Town') this was the song the Hollies performed (in between getting run over during a comedy chase involving crates packed with fruit!) The song isn't one of the best The Hollies will write, but it's very 1963 and even points the way forward nicely to 1964, with a harder-edged metallic sound and a toughness that's already come a long way from 'Whole World Over'. Find it on: among others, 'The Long Road Home' (2003), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The year 1963 saw bands covering all sorts of daft novelty tracks and 'Merseybeating' standards from previous generations into submission. While the likes of Freddie and the Dreamers made this the whole reason for their career, The Hollies only ever really dabbled. [6] 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah' - taken from the soundtrack of Disney film 'Song Of The South' (the one with a cartoon Brer Rabbit livening up a rather dull and morale-filled live action film about racism) - sounds a rather good idea though. Clarke and Nash turn the light and fluffy song into a real Hollies stomper, with Rathbone adding a heavy backbeat and Hicks fitting in a quick energetic solo. The result is perhaps a little daft and not up to manyof the band's other early key songs, but it would have made for a better release than 'Searchin' for instance. Along with [7] 'Poison Ivy' and [65] 'Little Bitty Pretty One' it suddenly turned up on a Music For Pleasure budget compilation set simply titled 'The Hollies' in 1985 - a boon for collectors who in those days didn't even know the song existed (luckily Abbey Road are about the only studios to keep a full record of everything taped, so The Beatles and Hollies - plus The Monkees in the States on the similarly bureaucracy loving label Colgems - are the only AAA bands where we know everything the bands attempted to record. Find it on: 'The Hollies' (a 1985 Music For Pleasure compilation), 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
Recorded four months on from the last Leiber-Stoller Coasters cover in October 1963, [7] 'Poison Ivy' improves on its predecessor simply by virtue of being funny. Clarke and Nash get the tone just right as they try to warn the listener against their last girlfriend who really 'gets under your skin' while the rest of the band picks up a real jazz swing behind. The Coasters' version is funny because it's sung straight, a love song for a girl called Ivy who happens to be bad for the singer, but The Hollies' tongue-in-cheek cover is something else entirely. Could it be that this cheeky song is actually about sexually transmitted diseases? Just look at those lyrics: 'You can look but you better not touch' 'Late at night when you're sleeping poison ivy comes a creeping' 'Poison ivy's liable to make you itch!' 'You're gonna need an ocean of camomile lotion!' The Hollies weren't above being this quietly subversive and using their 'good boys' image to mischievous effect (see 'The Games We Play' and 'Step Inside' for more on this...erm...misplaced innocence) and that seems to be what's going on judging by the fun they're having in the vocals department. However the fact that it comes this early on (during only the band's sixth recording session) might just mean that this more of the band's early energy and exuberance coming through. Either way it's a fun song, done well and deserved to be released more than 'Searchin' it has to be said, although it was rather trumped by another song recorded earlier the same day: the band's first top ten hit 'Stay'. To date two alternate takes have come to light, both of them rejected for release at the time - a slightly more together, later take on 'The Hollies' (a 1985 Music For Pleasure compilation) and a rougher version complete with a pre-take breakdown on 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997)
The band are still so new to recording at the time they covered [8] 'I Understand'  by Gannon and Wayne that producer Ron Richards has to prompt them to 'shut up' when the recording starts so they get a 'clean start' (from what I can gleam Nash is arguing over being met at 'Central Station' when the session is over). This is, after all, only the band's fourth session - and their first not to result in any useable recordings (something actually quite rare for The Hollies!)  'I Understand' is a curious song all round and arguably the weakest choice so far - a flat-footed waltz not unlike The Beatles' 'Baby's In Black' from the following year - which in an acoustic format might have worked (especially given how well Clarke and Nash's harmonies go together). However the full-on electric backing makes this waltz sound flat-footed and liable to keep tripping over itself. The lyrics are an odd mixture of the great and gormless: every little  thing the narrator's loved one does makes the narrator feel he's loved. However the unsettled feeling of the song and the unusual second verse ('Trying to forget is all I ask...Your face haunts me') points at something deeper which is never fully explored across the course of the song (have the couple just had a row?) This song was probably the right one to have left in the vaults at the time, but was a nice bonus for German collectors when this track finally saw the light of day there 30 years on in 1993 (the rest of the world had to wait for another box set a decade later). In hindsight the most significant part of the recording is the twinkling piano during the instrumental - the first time The Hollies explored a 'different' sound rather than just using another guitar solo and piano will be a backbone of the Hollies sound for sometime to come. While un-credited, the part seems most likely to have been played by Ron Richards himself, George Martin-style, and just as George's 'old-school' style solos on songs like 'In My Life' and 'Slow Down' rather missed the point so Richard's part here doesn't really fit the very 1960s style of this track. Find it on: 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)

Merseybeat owes a lot to 'Mama Soul' aka Doris Troy. Though barely known to casual music fans in Britain, this American's records were adored by many of the Northern bands around at the time. Recorded simply as a demo in ten minutes at the end of a session, she had intended a rare original song of hers [35a] 'Just One Look' to be a B-side at best and rattled it off without thinking (though in true Hollies style she used the pseudonym of Doris Payne on the record, the name of her grandmother; she'd have made a nice couple with L Ransford!)  Instead Atlantic records boss Ahmet Ertegun - the future benefactor of Nash and CSN - recognised the simple genius in the song and put it out as it was, where the track became an instant hit. In fact it became Troy's only really big hit for herself despite several cover versions over the years - even signing to The Beatles' Apple label in 1968 sadly didn't help launch her career. For The Hollies, though, this is just the start of a run of top three singles that will make them one of the most famous bands in the business. Though overshadowed by later hits like 'Bus Stop' 'He Ain't Heavy' and 'The Air That I Breathe', 'Just One Look' was the point where most fans 'joined in', remained in their setlists just about longer than any other song and was still 'famous' enough in 1983 to be re-recorded for Nash reunion album 'What Goes Around...' with a then-contemporary sheen. While as a song it's arguably no deeper and no less silly than some of the songs we've been criticising, it is nevertheless a perfect fit for The Hollies: it cries out for a harmony part missing from the original sparse record, features large dollops of the infectious enthusiasm The Hollies were masters at between 1963 and 1965 and will go on to be the template for many of their recordings to come: the seemingly doomed narrator wearily giving love one last try only to find that his life has turned for the better in an instant ('I'm Alive' 'Honey and Wine' and 'I can't Let Go' will all go on to recycle this same template). Though not quite up to the deeper, better performed songs on this similar theme the recording is still awfully good, terribly cute but with just enough of a bite to make it's mark. The rush of harmonies as the Hollies soar up an octave across the single words 'fe-e-el' and 'mi-i-ine' as if finally 'taking off' after being earth bound for so long is particularly clever. A worthy breakthrough hit that followed on nicely from 'Stay'. Find it on: lots of good and even some bad Hollies compilations
B-side [36] 'Keep Off That Friend Of Mine' is a fun - and rare - collaboration between guitarist and drummer, the only song Hicks and Elliott ever wrote together during their 54-years-and--counting spell in the band. Understandably, the guitar and rums get a much bigger part to play than usual and the interplay between them is very strong, the song clearly bult around the riff rather than vice versa. While still very much in the 'Merseybeat' mould, this song has strong Motown overtones, especially the ascending lines in the middle eight and sounds more like something Barrett Strong would do (the guy who performed the original version of 'Money') with the same entertaining mixture of cute and deadly. After all, this song is a warning, though one delivered with a smile and a period use of the word 'gay' as it was originally intended (meaning 'happy'). Find it on: 'The Long Road Home' (2003),  'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
Oddly the Hollies' strident cover of [37] 'Here I Go Again' fared less well in the charts than 'Just One Look', peaking at #4 in the UK, despite being the band's most suitable yet. A sad song on paper dressed up to sound like a happy-go-lucky number and filled with some of the most gorgeous harmonies ever put on record by 1964, 'Here I Go Again' belies its shoulder-shrugging title to sound dynamic and lively. Even more than 'Stay', this is where Bobby becomes central to the band's sound, with some incredible drum-rolls which EMI have finally have finally learnt how to make his drum sound lean and mean. The harmonies feature strong roles for all three Hollies harmony singers and all three even appear double-tracked in places for the first time, doubling the attack (listen out for Clarke's falsetto part on 'never win baby I never win', a part usually handed over to Nash). A great song from the times when delivering a well arranged nicely constructed simple pop song was enough, 'Here I Go Again' is one of the biggest delights of the Hollies' early collection of 'A' sides and the best proof of yet of them ironing out the rough edges from the original songs without losing the power and drive of the originals. Find it on: practically anything with The Hollies name attached to it!
[38] 'Baby That's All' is a gentler take on the same formula. The Hollies' most pristine three-part harmonies yet (easily the best in pop to this point except perhaps The Beach Boys) sound in love and the generally laidback approach suggests that this is a real love song. But no: the narrator is heartbroken, pining because his girl has left him, with only the chorus putting them back together again (does this part have a later setting than the verses? Or is it only happening in the narrator's head?!) One of the better early Clarke-Hicks-Nash songs, this catchy-but-deep song is a perfect fit for the band, one that makes full use of the two greatest things they have going for them: the energy of the backing (Hicks and Elliott fit in a delightful mini-battle during the solo) and those exquisite voices that take the harder-edged corners away. Good as the A-side 'Here I Go Again' is, this flipside just pips it. Find it on: 'The Long Road Home' (2003),  'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
[39a] 'We're Through' is another interesting development in the Hollies' compositions. Their first attempt to write a bossa nova (the first of many Hollies songs to have a slightly jazzy swing), it's the first not to sound happy - and actually veers towards another Hollies template sound, murderously angry. Clarke's vocal is one of his best, dripping with a venom that's unusual for The Hollies in this period but perfectly in keeping with the slight shift towards a harder-edged sound in late 1964 (this is the Hollies equivalent of The Beatles' 'You Can't Do That'!) The sudden sparks of energy when the band suddenly stop coasting and turn on the pressure is particularly impressive,  a sudden release for the barely contained emotion building up inside the wronged narrator. Hicks and Haydock are the quiet stars of the record though: the bassist knows all about jazz (both he and Bobby would have been happier as part of a jazz rather than a rock band) and chameleon Hicks delights in getting the chance to play something a little bit different (so good are his 'latin' style' flamencos many critics of the time assumed the band had brought in a session guitarist). The result is undoubtedly one of the Clarke-Hicks-Nash writing team's better compositions of the time and arguably their first to be snapping at The Beatles' heels rather than following in their wake (released as a single about the same time as 'I Feel Fine', it might even have pushed the Mancunians ahead a little). However should it have been a single? While definitely catchy it was perhaps a little too far forward from what the Hollies had created to date - the anger barely contained within the song is very different to the happy, bordering on gormless sound of 'Stay' 'Just One Look' and  'Here I Go Again'. The writers pushed for its release, producer Ron Richards wasn't so sure and the single stalled at a UK peak of #7. While hardly a 'failure' ('Here I Go Again' had only charted three places higher), it put pressure on the band not to release another self-penned single until the powers that be were truly confident in it. That's a mighty pity given the great Hollies originals throughout the next two years that really deserved to be singles ('So Lonely' 'You Know He Did' 'Oriental Sadness' and 'What's Wrong With The Way I Live?' among them) and didn't get the chance simply because this single peaked a couple of places lower than usual (remember, too, that the Hollies suddenly had new competition: this single was in the charts surrounded by a Beatles, a Searchers, a Stones and a Kinks release - up till now only the fab four, Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers have been anywhere near). Find this 'finished' version on almost all Hollies compilations
Originally, though, [39b] 'We're Through' started life as a rather different song. Played slower, with less sudden switches of power, the first arrangement of 'We're Through' is less obviously bossa nova but also less like the uptempo Merseybeat rock of the record. Most of the rhythm, in fact, comes from continually rattled percussion in the right channel which is rather off-putting (the band may have been after the effect of someone straining at the leash and trying to break it, but it doesn't quite come off). This version of 'We're Through' is far less memorable all round although you can't quite put your finger on why: Clarke's double-tracked vocal is another good one and Hicks' guitar flourishes are all present and correct. Interestingly there are less harmonies here, suggesting the band were thinking of this as merely an album track still, rather than an all-important single. Find it on: 'The Hollies at Abbey Road Volume One' (1997), 'The Long Road Home' (2003) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
[40] 'Come On Back' is one last final blast of no-holds-barred Merseybeat from a band who've spent so much time playing with their initial sound that they haven't played this raw and loose for a long time. The whole band excel at this, one of the best performances of the 'Elliott/Haydock' line-up with Eric playing a wonderful bass run, Bobby adding so much more than the expected harder-edged frills, Hicks adding in a powerful guitar solo, Nash screaming for all he's worth and Clarke turning in a hard-edged vocal and some great harmonica playing. The result is a relentlessly driving song that only slightly lifts off the tempo during an unexpected  'second verse' (it's too long to be a middle eight), the bit that starts 'It's not so very hard', which sounds like the narrator - adamant about splitting - having second thoughts and almost literally re-winding what's come before, trying to play 'nice' now that the reality of being alone has hit him. The rest of the lyrics are a tad more ordinary: basically a revisitation of every grumpy Hollies song heard so far from a man trying to woo back his strayed beloved. For the most part though this is another great example of an early Hollies song with heartbreaking words dressed up to sound irresistibly energetic. Ending with a final yell which, thanks to copious use of echo, drifts past for a few extra seconds you can almost feel the adrenalin of the band still pumping after two minutes of the fiercest jamming they ever came up with. You can also hear someone walk into a microphone stand, 'Twist and Shout' style, but it doesn't matter: the performance just captured on tape is a unique performance that could never ever be captured again, the Hollies at their most note-perfect.  Find it on: 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997), 'The Long Road Home' (2003), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
Back in the mid-1960s, bands often used to release EPs to keep their fans occupied during the six-month gaps between albums. The Hollies were no different to the Beatles, Kinks and Stones in that respect, but interestingly their EP 'lead tracks' (usually the first one) were almost always taken from existing releases (generally album tracks that had proved quite popular). Occasionally, though (three times in fact across 1964 and 1965) a good song would get left behind on an EP and never revived again. [41] 'When I'm Not There' is a rather good Tony Hicks song that deserved better than to have been demoted onto the band's first EP simply titled 'The Hollies'. Yet another uptempo rocker about love and loss, the narrator wonders whether his girlfriend really is in love and whether she speaks about him to her friends or thinks about him. A cute nursery rhyme style chorus does the usual Hollies trick of replacing peace with war, falling into a staccato 'You Say No! No! No! No ! No! No!' chorus that seems to swipe the rug away from the daydreaming narrator's feet. Interesting the sing ends on a repeat of this, making a song that at first sounded so happy anything but. Ironically, given the composer, the only thing that stops this from being first-tier Hollies is a rather perfunctory guitar solo which doesn't get the space to really fly. The Hollies are a good well drilled band at tense rockers by now, though, and everything else is handled with aplomb. Sadly this song was missing from the Hollies catalogue for years: to date its only ever appeared right at the very beginning of the CD age (on 'The Hollies EP Collection Volume One' in 1987) and relatively recently (on the 2011'complete' collection 'The Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years', where it sounds rather good nestled in-between 'Just One Look' and the following track).
[42] 'What Kind Of Love?' is a second Hicks song from the same EP. The third in a trilogy of Hollies songs that begin 'What Kind Of...', I actually prefer this sweet song to either 'Boy' or 'Girl'. The narrator is feeling picked on, his friends and family don't understand why he's picked his girl, but he vows his love forever and wants to 'go ahead and show them what kind of love we share'. Hicks gives himself more space for the solo this time, but it's an oddball run of groans and squeaks (more like something bands would record in 1967 than 1964) and The Hollies aren't quite their usual tight selves here, suggesting they hadn't rehearsed this song that much. That's a shame because it's a potentially good one, with a full blown harmony 'aaah-e-ahh-ahh' opening and three-part vocal throughout, plus a funny 'woah woah woah woah' sudden cycle through keys to help aid Hicks back from where the chorus left off back to the verses again. Once again, this song isn't the best thing The Hollies ever did in 1964 but it deserves far better than to have been 'left behind' on an EP for years and was for the longest time another of the biggest Hollies rarities out there too. Sadly this song was missing from the Hollies catalogue for years: to date its only ever appeared right at the very beginning of the CD age (on 'The Hollies EP Collection Volume One' in 1987) and relatively recently (on the 2011'complete' collection 'The Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years', where it sounds rather good nestled in-between 'Just One Look' and the following track).
[43] One of Larry Williams' finest songs (although unusually he didn't write it and just had the hit with it), 'She Said Yeah!' was used as a heavy piece of octane charge by many early 60s bands. The Stones actually released theirs on 1965's 'Out Of Our Heads' where they unusually sound as if they're sending the whole thing up, one last slice of retro 50s rock on an album increasingly concerned with their own songs. The Hollies typically are far more straightforward, turning this brief 103 second squeal of joy into a typically driving rock song. However the song already sounds a little one-dimensional by their standards - they usually only 'sound' this happy when they're singing about heartbreak or anger for instance - and it's probably just as well this song was left in the vaults (though it made a nice and unexpected find in 2003 just in time for the band's 40th anniversary). Find it on: 'The Long Road Home' (2011)

Somewhat swamped by the bigger talking points either side of it, [56] 'Yes I Will (I'll Be True To You)' is one of The Hollies' prettier covers. A number from the Goffin and King songbook, it's become quite a regular amongst Mancunian singers for some reasons - Davy Jones sings it on the first Monkees album a year later under the title 'I'll Be True To You'. However it's another song that was born for The Hollies and makes good use of their many strengths once again: a narrator whose just learnt to see the world through new eyes, an energetic backing, exquisite harmonies (all three singers are really hitting their stride now) and an exhilarating middle eight that really wakes up the song just as it's getting a little boring. Though perhaps lacking the depth of some of the other Hollies covers in perhaps their most successful singles year of 1965 (despite the narrator's protests this is a very 'teenagery' song, that makes him sound as if he says this to all the girls with every crush he has every few minutes), it is however perfect for the times when early 1965 was the last time at which the sixties revolution was 'innocent' and is full of the sunshine and glorious optimism of those glorious few months before things got 'heavy' (consider that just a few months after recording this song The Hollies are shaking their head regarding over-population on 'Too Many People'!) Only a slightly less inventive guitar solo compared to normal and a few mistakes in the vocals (the three singers clearly haven't discussed how long to hold the 'Yes I Will' title - on this evidence Clarke has better lungs than Hicks or Nash who pull out early) prevent this from being an even bigger hit: despite having 'pop hit'; written all over it this song limped to a lowly #9 in the charts, two places lower than the supposed 'failure' of 'We're Through'. Like a handful of other early recordings, the 'mono' and 'stereo' versions aren't just different mixes but different takes. The mono version is janglier and muddier, sounding like Phil Spector producing The Byrds and is slightly more polished while being slightly quicker. The stereo version is made in more of a hurry despite featuring more double-tracking and comes at an ever so slightly more languid pace. Both are fine, though the mono was clearly where more time was spent. Interestingly, Tony's guitar solo is the same in both versions despite sounding improvised. Find it on: the mono version features on 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (where it's accompanied by a mini-argument over a chair and a discussion over the solo) and a few compilations, while the stereo version appears on 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' and a few other compilations.
Another classic Clarke-Hicks-Nash B-side, [57] 'Nobody' has already swiped away all the lovely-dovey romance of the A-side with a single blast of bluesy harmonica. Like Paul Simon's 'I Am A Rock' this is a heartbroken narrator living alone who protests just that little bit too hard about not wanting anybody with him for the listener to 'get' the message. Another of the Hollies' finest band performances, this cod-blues drips with sincerity and everything sounds angular and painful: even Nash's double-tracked harmony sounds just on the right side of atonal, while the smoky guitar-drum-bass interplay has been cleverly muffled and 'dried' to sound brittle and about to snap. Clarke's double-tracked harmonica is the song's key signature sound, though, brilliantly played like the reincarnation of some blues singer risen from the dead. The only colour comes from Clarke and Nash's elongated harmonies, which as usual sound happy but are anything but, pealing each song's long consonants out in a neat mirror of the tears he won't admit to shedding ('IIIIIIII don't want nobody' 'every daaaaaaaaay I feel more lonesome!') The result is a fascinating cryptic song that plays around with the Hollies' usual sound and only the final and rather cheesy 'dum-duh-dum dum' guitar flourish is anything less than broodingly intense. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The Hollies first #1 hit - and their last for 33 years - was Clint Ballard Jnr's  [58] 'I'm Alive' (interestingly the single sold less copies than some other 'nearly' number ones like 'Just One Look' and 'Bus Stop' suggesting this was more about the band getting lucky with their released  dates and choosing about the only week in 1965 without some other big name putting something out). Even so, 'I'm Alive' is a deserved 'breakthrough' hit. Like many other Hollies classics it's a song of two halves, with a lonely miserable verse and a joyous chorus and the irresistible climb up the keys towards bliss is half the fun. Interestingly this narrator is another less than likeable soul, a 'man with no heart' which is a theme the Hollies will use a lot across the 1970s, until suddenly lifting his eyes up from the floor and realising that the sky is the limit, as the magic pixie dust of love does its stuff. Of all the songs The Hollies ever did this is perhaps the one best suited to  Clarke's voice: it enables him to 'act' (something he was better at than almost all his competitors) and few other vocalists would have been able to switch so subtly from one extreme to the other. Of all the band's singles this is Clarke's finest hour, although the rest of the band aren't that far behind. The Hollies sensibly decide to pass on the original song's slightly restless uncertain key changes and instead of thinking and pausing between each line simply go for the jugular. Unusually, while the vocals and bas-drum interplay are going for the kill it's Tony Hick's guitar part that puts the dampener on things, his echo-drenched guitar solo a master of restraint and claiming the song down the notch it needs before the chorus repeat. The ending - where Elliott suddenly tips the band into triple time for a few extra joyous 'I'm alives!' is one of the single most exciting sounds of the 1960s, the perfect accompaniment for a decade that was all about shedding off the unhappiness and embracing the new. If the pop charts had a position any higher than #1 then this mesmerising performance would have deserved that accolade too. Find it on: if your Hollies compilation doesn't include this mega-hit then return it once and get a new one!
That song's B-side [59] 'You Know He Did' is the other Hollies love of 1965: angsty blues. One of many re-writes of Richard Berry's influential 'Louie Louie' doing the rounds, it's one of the better examples of 'grumpy' Hollies from this period. However the Clarke-Hicks-Nash team have changed the formula: rather than an unhappy spurned bloke trying to sound happy he's giggling 'ha ha told you so' to a guy he secretly fancies whose just been let down herself. Like 'Nobody' before it and 'Dear Eloise' to come this is a song about reading between the lines: while much of this song is the angry rant of a spoilt brat, the middle eight is so so different it sounds like an entirely different song, as the narrator tells his girl companion all the things she ought to be looking for in a bloke (everything he's dreamt of providing for her night after night). A clever use of key changes during this sequence enables the Hollies to add more depth to what should be just a routine song built around a routine guitar riff, hinting at a 'trapped' companion too shy to be 'himself' and sweep his girl off her feet: instead the only thing he can think of to do is be rude to her. Another highly impressive flipside from the growing masters of the art. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The Hollies met a teenage Graham Gouldmann when the youngster's dad wrote George Martin a letter asking them to listen to some of the songs he'd been writing. The Beatles were long past recording other people's songs by then so the letter somehow found it's way into the hands of Ron Richards. Any other band - especially one writing such great songs of their own - would have scorned the letter or thrown it in the band, but the Hollies had a strong ear for new talent and something in the letter intrigued them. Usually Tony Hicks was the band's 'go-to' guy for cover material, but it was Graham Nash who was intrigued enough to pop to the Gouldmann's family residence in Stockport. Nash came away from the meeting excited and just a tiny bit jealous: the self-effacing Gouldmann was actually better than his modest dad had made out and played his name-sake Graham three songs that day: [60] 'Look Through Any Window', [95] 'Bus Stop' and 'No Milk Today', a song Graham had written with Herman's Hermits in mind (and which they recorded, after using The Hollies as 'guinea pigs'). While the band instantly loved all three, interestingly they all went for 'Window' as the obvious hit, leaving 'Bus Stop' for another session (when it will become a much bigger hit). In essence this song is a template for Hollies songwriting idea number three: 'look at what a mess the world is, this how people ought to change'. Tony added a sumptuous opening arpeggio guitar lick (not on the original), Tony again got his first 'solo' vocal part on a Hollie recording ('You can see the little children all around...'), Bobby gave his drum-kit another thrashing and another terrific Hollies harmony arrangement added layers to the song. However, 'Window' isn't quite as tailor-made Hollie material as some of their other singles: it's not a happy-with-depth or 'hidden layers' song and so doesn't fit to quite as many of their natural strengths which the likes of The Beatles and The Kinks failed to match. For once the A side really was outclassed by the superlative B side, the Clarke-Hicks-Nash penned 'So Lonely' , one of the greatest Hollies songs of them all (which isn't listed here because it also came out as part of the 1965 album 'The Hollies'). 'Window' is however a good song well played by an on-form band and deserved to peak higher than a UK peak of #4 (a relative come-down after the chart high of 'I'm Alive'). Find it on: Look through any Hollies compilation, what do you see? This Graham Gouldmann can be found, even if the running order gets messed around...
More controversy for you now. George Harrison, seething at the Lennon-McCartney stranglehold over Beatles albums, was hawking his songs around interested parties, seeking to prove to John and Paul how much of a 'hit' his songs could be. No one seems to be quite sure who put him in touch with The Hollies (was it Ron Richards and George Martin having a natter at the Abbey Road canteen?) The truth was George, for some reason, had never got on with the Hollies: while John and Paul had always been friendly (Clarke and Nash co-wrote, un-credited, Beatle song 'Misery' back stage at one 1962 gig), George was warier than the others at the 'competition' and the old Liverpool/Manchester geographical rivalries may also have come into play. Not that the rivalry was all one way: while Clarke, in particular, liked the song and saw potential in it Bobby was particularly vocal about disliking it (perhaps because of the small part given to the drums: Ringo is Bobby's polar opposite, willing to stay out the way as much as possible whereas Elliott is central to every 60s Hollie recording). While George's future songs will grow to equal John and Paul's, at this point he was still a 22-year-old learner who'd only been writing songs for 18 months; Allan, Graham and Tony were his superiors in that sense (although Harrison had a knowledge and love for guitars that surpassed even Tony's). The sad fact is [61] 'If I Needed Someone' wasn't George's strongest suit either: while it did ok as an album track on 'Rubber Soul' (the Beatles album released to the shops at virtually the same time as this single), it's too derivative to work as a single (Harrison is meant to have 'confessed' to the Byrds that, stuck for a song, he combined the melody and riff from two of their songs, 'The Bells Of Rhymney' with the drumming from 'She Don't Care About Time'). The Hollies do as well as might be expected with a song that doesn't fit: their harmonies and most certainly the drumming hugely improve on the Beatles' original, giving it a lift and life that George's naturally dour delivery never could. However The Hollies never had the time The Beatles did and their version sounds rushed, with the guitar-work especially losing the ringing clarity of the fab four original. In truth, The Hollies should never have agreed to do it and it caused much bad blood between EMI's two biggest bands: George, smelling a flop, covered himself by dismissing the Hollies version as 'the work of session-men' (a bit rich given how Lennon used to absent himself from every 'George' session apart from the vocals); The Hollies were themselves agreed when George apparently went back on an agreement not to record the song himself. No one really comes out of this saga well and the fallout from it nearly sank The Hollies with this single peaking at a lowly #20 in the UK. Find it on: most Hollies compilations, though not all - it's definitely on 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011), though
An extra on the 'I'm Alive' EP, the gorgeous [62] 'Honey and Wine' is one of The Hollies' best kept secrets from the 1960s. The song is similar all around to 'I'm Alive', with a moody verse structure that features Clarke doing a great impressionist of a blues singer before a punchy chorus comes in. This is the tale of a lonely soul who was told when he was young that life can be fine when you're in love, but he's been trying too hard and no one wants to know. However we're suddenly told that he now knows it's true 'because you came along' - cue a mesmerising key change upwards and more of those Hollies harmonies yelled at the tops of their voices. The result is a thrilling and badly overlooked song, with the band great at both their usual upbeat chorus and the less typical jazz lounge swing of the verses (when Hicks is a fine smoky blues guitarist and Haydock plays one of his most powerful 'walking' basses). Clarke is of course in his element, with a song that stretches his acting abilities to the extreme and believable as the lonely and then exuberant youth. The result is a small Hollie triumph, senselessly missed out of the 'Hollies' 1965 LP where its moody melodrama and smoky would have made a nice contrast against the higher energy songs on the album. Shockingly, like the other 'EP exclusive' tracks, this song was missing on CD for pretty much twenty years in between 1987's EP Collection Volume One' (quickly deleted) and 2011's 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' box set.
A rare example of a Hollies original never taken any further than demo form, [64] 'Listen Here To Me' is one of three songs whose early 1965 demo survived to be included on the 'Long Road Home' box set. While the others contain natty early versions of 'So Lonely' and '**'Kiss Me Quick', this is the only one not to be taken any further. While understandably rough, this one would have made a fine song had it been finished, with a typically Hollies blend of the raw and powerful (Tony's terrific bluesy guitar strums, Bobby's powerful jazz drum thrashes) and the hypnotically beautiful (Allan and Graham's harmonies sit above the rest of the song - interestingly Tony doesn't sing on this track, perhaps because his guitar part if too difficult to be singing in-tune harmonies at the same time!) Most Hollies songs go for full-blown power, but this is a gently seething song, where love is a 'a thing that won't go away' even after the narrator has been rejected. Nash fits in one of his usual middle eights which steal the show ('All the times that I've spent with you...'), sounding both very similar and different to the main part of the song. You wonder why the band didn't use it: while it wouldn't have been the greatest thing on 'The Hollies' (the 1965 LP) it's better than most of the cover versions on the record. Find it on: 'The Long Road Home' (2004)
Interestingly, the demo for [53b] 'So Lonely' sounds like a cross between the Everly Brothers' re-arrangement of it in 1967 (slower and grander) and Roy Orbison (with Clarke back to crooning his vocal rather than singing it his normal way). The band clearly don't know this song very well yet and haven't found their place in it yet, with Bobby unusually out of sync with the song and no repeated vocals yet on the 'waiting oh I'm waiting' middle eight (in fact there aren't many harmony vocals at all just yet, cropping up just at the very end of this same section). However already a glorious song is shining through. Find this version on: 'The Long Road Home' (2003)
A little bit of a step backwards, the fun [65] 'Little Bitty Pretty One' would have sounded great in 1964 but by 1965 would have seemed old hat with its driving energy, ah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah' chorus and strong heavy rhythms. Bobby Day wrote it but Thurston Harris had the hit with it, way back in 1957 (meaning it was all but forgotten by 1965). Talking of Bobby's, Bobby Ellliott 's on great form on the killer drumming though and the mass harmonies give the band a good chance to 'join in' one by one. There's a strong middle eight too, instrumental this time, that's like a 'negative' version of what the band usually do: Hicks slashes away at his guitar, attacking the riff drom different sides, whilst Clarke's harmonic hovers in mid air, trilling notes. However lyrically this song is probably the most suspect the band recorded in 1965 and right for the chop: 'Well little bitty pretty one I love you so, yeah little bitty pretty one never let you go, well little-lovey-dovey one...' Find it on: 'The Hollies' (the 1985 'Music For Pleasure' compilation) and ''The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
A curious experiment attempted during the sessions for 'The Hollies' (1965) LP - the Hollie record with the most unused songs by far, incidentally - [66] 'She Gives Me Everything I Want' is a song that so very nearly works but ultimately lacks the usual Hollie accessibility. Tony's guitar opening is pure country-rock, Bobbys' drumming pure shuffle jazz and the melody appears to be progressing in the usual manner until the end (with 'She gives me everything I want' sung in a downward, stop-starty groan, more like something George Harrison would write). The lyrics too are a curious jumble: it starts off as a 'What's Wrong With The Way I Live?' style rant ('Everyone won't accept me for what I am, they say I've got to live by the rules') before turning into a love song ('Oh I don't have to ask for what I get!') Even the performance is unusually rough by Hollie standards, for instance Clarke forgetting that he's been using a 'fake' American drawl during the original vocals in the second verse and quickly altering his double-tracked vocal to fit. The result is a song that, ironically given the title, doesn't quite know what I want: for the most part this is a typical Hollies powerhouse; on the other it's a brave stab at something different (the awkward angular chorus, the curious fit of lyrics, the use of the word 'damn' back in the days when that was still enough to get you a radio ban). The Hollies were probably right to bin it at the time, but it made a nice find when finally released in 1993 (sadly only in Germany on the '30th Anniversary' compilation at first, before finding a home on the 2003 box set 'Long Road Home' and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
[67] 'I Can't Get Nowhere With You' is more familiar ground - in fact a little too familiar: this song would have been laughed out of the room if released as a single in 1965 (it's an odd blend of 1950s Buddy Holly and 1963/64 Beatles). That said, the Hollies are so inventive in this period that even this unworkable song gets a nice middle eight ('I put my trust in you...') that should have been developed into the whole song - although even this ends painfully in an extended 'let you do-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-wn' that's awfully corny. Generally good judges of their own material, The Hollies sensibly kept this one in the vaults until 1993 (where, once again, Germany got it a full decade before anywhere else). Find it on: The 30th Anniversary Collection' (1993) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
My favourite of the many outtakes intended for 'The Hollies' is undoubtedly [68] 'You In My Arms' . This song would have been revolutionary for the times: while the lyrics are the usual mixture of needy and vulnerable ('I've tried the whole night to get you here') the Clarke-Hicks-Nash team have cleverly constructed a melody that reflects the words, unsettled stuttering and on the verge of a breakdown. Tony's guitar is the epitome of worry, fretting over the same frets again and again, while Bobby sticks in an extra 'dum chu dum' drum roll every few bars, deliberately interrupting the flow of the song. The biggest surprise though is Eric's bass, which doesn't play the 'usual' way: instead he's all over the shop, sometimes up high, sometimes down an octave at the 'growly' end of his bass and switching between joining in with Tony and doing his own thing. The effect is clear: this is a relationship in trouble, Clarkey's double-tracked stab of an opening ('Whatever happened to you last night?') the start of the mother of all arguments. Only Nash's rather average middle eight ('People say that I'm the lonely one, but I'm gonna prove that you're not the only one', repeated twice for some reason) lets the song down. While heavier going than most other Hollies songs of 1965, 'You In My Arms' is one of the band's biggest success stories from one of their most interesting and experimental years. They really should have released this song on something: the recording where they go head-to-head with anything The Beatles could do at the time (a little after 'Help!', a bit to go before 'Rubber Soul'). Find it on: The 30th Anniversary Collection' (1993), 'The LOng Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)

If [94] 'Running Through The Night' sounds like a throwback to The Hollies' earliest days, then that's because that was when it dates from. One of the earliest Hollies recordings from 1963, it was kept in the vaults for being a little too 'retro' in a quickly-changing market. The band never forget it though: this was one of the first songs Clarke and Nash wrote together and clearly had a soft spot for, with the pair singing Everly Brothers-style for most of the track. Needing material at short notice for the B-side of 'Bus Stop', the band simply took this recording straight from the vaults: an early example of a band including an 'outtake' on a contemporary release. It's very 1963 Hollies too, basically recycling the theme of 'searching' for a loved one first heard in 'Searchin' and 'Whole World Over', but this time it's more about the time the narrator's spent searching for his girl than the area covered. In truth this is simplistic stuff and the pop scene was changing so fast it seems like an awful lot more than three years separate the A side from the B side, but it's a fun romp with a happy ending and a cute guitar twirl from Tony at the end. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997), ''As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The Hollies' break-though American hit didn't come until as late as [95] 'Bus Stop'. I've always been fascinated by the fact that it was this song that broke The Hollies over the Atlantic because it's arguably their most 'English' song yet: the pair of lovers meet not at some hip and happening nightclub or seeing the tourist sights but after some nervous chatter at a bus stop thanks to that most English of accessories: an umbrella. The Americans presumably loved the song for its 'cliched' idea of the reserved British and laughed at the 'people looked at us as if we were quite insane' line (in the States it's either sunny or far too wet for an umbrella to do any good: they don't have the British invention 'drizzle'); actually what they probably miss is that the 'people' are 'staring' not because the bloke is using an umbrella but because he's actually broken the vow of silence the British have at bus stops and is actually talking to someone he clearly doesn't know! (gasp!) To the Americans this is quaint and sweet; to the British the idea of talking to a stranger is still ever so slightly daring. One of Graham Gouldmann's more satisfyingly rounded songs (yep even though we've written a whole book about his future band 10cc), it's mightily impressive for an 18-year-old newbie, full of brief but full lines that tell a whole story in a very short space of time ('Bus stop, bus goes, she stays, love grows, under my umbrella'). The Hollies perform the song as well as ever too, with busy drumming from Bobby and a fiery vocal from Allan. The rest of the band sound a bit subdued though: especially Nash, who presumably pushed for the song (as Gouldmann's big champion in the band) but gets very little to do. The song is also rather backward by 1966 standards - it's actually very much at odds with the current trend for heavier riff-driven songs about imagination and new experiences, very much the 'now' ; this is more of a timeless story that could have happened in any era (if you substitute 'coach and horses' for 'bus stop' it could be from the Middle Ages). Still, a great song is a great song in any era and while not the greatest performance The Hollies ever gave it's more than good enough to do a clever song justice. Find it on: any Hollies compilation, come rain or shine
B-side  [96] 'Don't Run and Hide' sounds much more 'like' The Hollies than some of what the band have been up across their most varied year of 1966, the latest of the Clarke-Hicks-Nash run of turbulent, slightly paranoid songs. However while the music is one of their most successful attempts at writing a 'worried' song (Clarke's harmonica plays just one note, Hicks' guitar stabs, Bobby and Eric all but bodily attack each other in the competition they've embarked on to drown each other out and there's the usual stop-start song structure that deliberately interrupts the flow), the lyrics are actually taking the opposite line: the message is 'don't run and hide', not 'do run and hide'. Significant in that it's one of the earliest C-H-N songs not about romance ('Too Many People' being the very first), it sounds very much like a Nash song: of all the five he was the most concerned with society and how it treats other people, usually under-dogs without a voice. As a result this lyrics seems more like a CSN song than a Hollie one: 'Don't run and hide from the people - you're only hurting yourself' the band plead to an under-dog, 'Please fight back - it's important how you accept their lies now'. The second half of the song is on more familiar territory, pulling it back to the self ('Run because you're hurting me, I'm alone, haven't got anything' - at least that's what I think is being sung, Clarke uncharacteristically garbles it here). However for the most part this 160 second is refreshingly new, with the band turning in another strong performance with their typical blend of emotion, intensity, accessibility and power. 'Don't Run and Hide' is one of their finest B-sides in fact and The Hollies may well be the most consistent and possibly the best makers of B-sides in the business. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'At Abbey Road Volume One' (1997),  'The Long Road Home' (2004) ''As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
One of the oddest songs in the Hollies' canon is the signature tune to one of Peter Sellers' better films [97] 'After The Fox'. In the film the 'Fox' is Sellers' nom-de-plume as a dodgy con-man who fools lots of important people into thinking that he's filming them when really he's planning to steal their jewels. Like many a Hollies project, the band became involved when the Beatles turned it down and most likely came to the band after a meeting between George Martin and his old assistant Ron Richards down the Abbey Road canteen. In truth neither band quite fits this novelty song, which would have sounded better in the hands of a band known for their comedy ('Freddie and the Dreamers' would have done nicely, although Fred Garrity may have been too much competition for Sellers in the 'silly voices' department'). However, unlike some 1960s comedy songs this Bacharach and David competition is at least genuinely funny: Sellers is a hoot as he gets into character (he reportedly arrived at Abbey Road in character and his first act was to karate chop the piano the hapless session man - most likely good old Nicky Hopkins turning up on this site yet again - was trying to rehearse on, breaking it beyond repair!): fully believable as the criminal with no remorse. The Hollies play cat and mouse with him throughout as his conscience: (Sample lyric: 'You'll be caught' 'I never fail 'All little crooks wind up in jail'). The band also turn in a neat little 'chhh' riff which sounds like Nash's idea (the 'Would You Believe?' album is full of such mouthed sound effects) on a song that deserved to do better. The result is a funny song which is both a neat trailer to the movie and a good laugh in it's own right that deserved to do better (it missed the charts completely, probably because neither side ever really promoted it properly). Oh and this is possibly the only pop song to ever rhyme the words 'Fox' and 'locks' (do write in if you find another!) In case you were wondering, no The Hollies don't appear in the film (although it's well worth seeing anyway) and the opening titles are heard over a Pink Panther-style cartoon of the 'Fox' pulling off a string of robberies. The B-side was an extract of instrumental music from the film with no Hollie involvement. Find it On: 'Hollies Rarities' (1988), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011) as well as a handful of really weird Hollies compilations
One of only three songs also recorded by The Beatles (alongside 'Mr Moonlight' and the fab four's own 'If I Needed Someone', [99b] 'A Taste Of Honey' was a mid-1960s standard. We went on about this song at length in our Beatles book but just to re-cap it's not the song that's important per se but where it comes from. A theme song written to go with the Broadway revival of Shelagh Delaney's thought-provoking drama about slums in the North of England, it's a major and vastly under-rated part of the change of culture from 'upper class' to 'working class'. When the play opened in 1959 few other working class playwrights had ever written about their slum status - even writers like Charles Dickens wrote from what they 'observed' rather than what they 'felt'. Given the upbeat title, more than a few rich theatre-goers went along without quite knowing what they were going to see and this tale of teenage pregnancy (which isn't at all the protagonist's 'fault') opened many eyes ('Cathy Come Home' will do the same on UK TV just a few years later as The Hollies and co are starting out). To Northern bands like The Beatles and The Hollies its success was 'proof' that working class people could have a say and a career outside the mines and factories. . One of the reason the Merseybeat boom was so popular was that no one had ever seen working class Northern lads on TV before - 'A Taste Of Honey' would have been one of the few exceptions where the Beatles and Hollies could look at the telly and go 'gosh that's me' (only with shorter hair). Not that you'd know that from the song as such, which is a tender romantic ballad treated to some interesting aggressive touches in The Hollies version (including some of Bobby Elliott's heaviest drumming). It works rather well actually, especially one of Bernie's grooviest bass lines and the arrangement that sees Graham and Tony join in with cascading cries of 'honey!' every chorus. There's a case to be made that the Hollie arrangement of the song is at least an improvement on The Beatles' original and this earlier 1966 incarnation especially is good fun, with a clever call-and-answer harmony part (with first Hicks then Nash joining in behind Clarke), a 'ba dah dah ba dah' harmony hook that replaces what would normally be played on brass and a big 'wah wah wah wah wah' finale that's probably more memorable than the rather average song deserves. Sadly after clearly spending a great deal of time and effort on this song, The Hollies all but shelved it, although for some reason the song had always appealed to audiences ever since Lenny Welch's original hit version (the original version with lyrics anyway, following a few instrumentals) and the song slipped out on the American album 'Beat Group'. Find it on: 'Beat Group' (1966, US LP), 'The Long Road Home' (2003) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
Sadly only ever recorded live and never recorded in the studio, [?] 'Reach Out I'll Be There' is a nice insight into what the 1960s Hollies live act sounded like: ragged but exciting given the few bits and pieces that have come to light. The Hollies loved adding contemporary songs into their set ('Puff The Magic Dragon' is another one they'll do, though perhaps mercifully that one wasn't recorded!) and this Four Tops hit for the Motown label had only just been #1 in August - four months before the only known Hollie recording of it. Clarke recounts in the box set how he had great fun singing the song and reaching out his arms to do all the actions - sadly you don't get to see that on audio, but the magic of the performance still shines through. Whilst I moan frequently in this book about how The Hollies are forever dismissed as imitators not innovators, they were also amongst the best copycats in the business as this spot-on recording suggests: Bernie's eccentric bass riff, Tony's ringing guitar, Clarkey's keening lead and Graham and Tony's exuberant backing vocals are all bang on the money, less intense and serious than the original perhaps but a whole lot more fun. Judging by what's here, it's a shame more hits of the day weren't 'Hollified'. Find it on: 'The Long Road Home' (2004) - sadly this is one of the few Nash-era recordings missing from the 'Clarke Hicks Nash' set!

Just as The Hollies albums began to become more obsessed with memory and childhood (no doubt thanks to Nash's exploits with LSD, which tended to 'pull' half-hidden memories back to the surface again and allowed users to see the world 'afresh' as when they were kiddies), so their singles began to reflect this too. In any other era [124] 'On A Carousel' would have seemed childish: instead this sweet song about a romance taking place on a playground (which may have been inspired by an attempt to re-kindle 'Bus Stop', finding another location everyone would know) is perfect for the times. While the lyric is the weakest element (a romance taking part on a carousel doesn't leave much scope for anything interesting to happen) and this is overall far from the best written Clarke-Hicks-Nash song around it does feature a clever, catchy riff and enough exciting moments to keep us going (Clarke's 'round and round with you' middle eight is particularly thrilling, a clever way of getting from Hick's chorus back to Nash's verse that shows just how much the three writers 'needed' each other still). There's a nice feel of motion throughout, thanks to Eric's 'bucking bronco' bass, Tony's strident guitar - always seeming to leap out ahead of the others and a vocal track that just won't sit still, being too caught up in the excitement of the chase. Not the most obvious or most talked about Hollies single, but when even your 'forgotten' singles are this good, you know you have a strong back catalogue! Find it on: any decent best-of or the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
In case anyone doubted the sincerity of the Hollies' attempts to match the 'summer of love' themes, they only needed to hear the startling B-side [125] 'All The World Is Love'. A gorgeous Nash song about changing horizons, it pre-dates its close cousin 'All You Need Is Love' by a good six months and above all sounds different. I've never taken drugs (David Crosby's life history is all you need to know to put you off, though I still say they're less of a killer than alchohol!) but I'm guessing it sounds like this: Hicks' strummed guitar heard in the background, a tempo that seems to be flowing in slow motion but with the most beautiful harmonies wrapping themselves around the song and drifting up to Heaven. Clarke sounds remarkably good treated with echo and presumably - this is guesswork based on what the Beatles were doing - slowed down and recorded through a 'rotating speaker cabinet' to get the 'paper thin' quality. All of these effects would have been interesting on any other song, but this track is more about mere gimmicks: Nash cleverly puts into words his 'new' experiences experienced on drugs, the vibrant green colour of the grass, the way 'in my secluded state of mind valid things are left behind' (leaving the narrator without any reference points to normality), the wish 'that my mind could be as clean'. Gorgeous. The best section: 'I have left my mind floating behind me!' right before the song drops out and leaves the Clarke-Nash vocals hovering in mid-air. A very clever and most under-rated song that, once again, is arguably better than the more widely known A side and more evidence, to my mind at least, that The Hollies suited psychedelia better than any other genre with their mixture of curiosity for new sounds, the drive and power of the rhythm section and the blissful harmonies making for one hell of a good trip. Find it on: 'The Other Side OF The Hollies' (1987), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) or the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011). One of the better Hollies compilations of previously released material was named after this song too.
Keeping with the 'childhood' theme, [126] 'Carrie Anne' finds the Hollies back at school. Most fans treat 'Carrie Anne' as a cute little childhood comedy song, but thankfully the Hollies are much deeper than that: this is actually quite a tough little song that's only pretty on the outside (for now anyway: 'Jennifer Eccles' is more questionable). Carrie Anne may be only a little girl but she's already an example of what the narrator will come across in childhood: 'You're so like a woman to me!' sighs a spurned primary-school-age Clarke in a fiery middle eight, perhaps reflecting something his dad has sighed about. A song about growing up but also finding out that life doesn't change too much from the school playground (girls are still fickle, the poor narrator's still confused), 'Carrie Anne' wraps all this very real angst in a delightful colourful bow. The melody the C-H-N writing team come up with is gorgeous and instantly hummable, Tony gets his first 'lead' vocal for a while, the tough middle eight gets the song driving and there's even a random solo from steel drums (there more for colour than because they fit into the story - it's odd they fit as well as they do in fact). The song is also key for being one of the first real 'beginnings' of the CSN story: The Hollies were always big collectors of other people's music (like The Beatles but unlike most other 60s bands) and particularly loved 'Mr Tambourine Man'. For a while this song went 'Hey Mr Man' until someone (Tony?) hit on the idea of using the girl's name closest to 'man': Carrie Anne (if you were thinking that she's a 'real' person, she isn't - although Jennifer Eccles is, well sort of). Teaching is also a big deal for Nash, who'll spend most of his CSN days talking about how teaching, done properly, is the most important job there can be. This song isn't quite up to 'Teach Your Children' yet, but it's clearly about life lessons more important than reading writing and arithmatic, with the characters learning how the world works. As cute and likeable but also as changeable as the character the song is named after, 'Carrie Anne' is a charming song. Not up to Hollies highs perhaps, but still charming. Most people assume this very popular song was an international song, but actually it's been rather a retrospective hit: it reached a respectable but not ground-breaking #3 in the UK charts and missed out on a top ten placing in the States. ** Find it on: any decent best-of or the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
Another pretty Nash ballad about his new drug-enhanced changes, [127] 'Signs That Will Never Change' seems to fly in the face of the last song. Life is built up of seasons, this song says, and nature can always be relied upon to go back round again. The middle eight (possibly by Clarke) turns this piece into a love song: love isn't like nature, 'love grows, but all too soon it dies' he sighs, before this song about cycles cleverly goes back to the beginning again. The song is less interesting than 'All The World Is Love', perhaps, simply because it breaks less ground, but the melody is lovelier: an instantly hummable, rounded, McCartney-esque piece of music that's one of Nash's best. The lyrics, too, cleverly escape the instant pitfall of becoming a nature ramble thanks to the idea of constant cycles, while the Hollies harmonies on the track (instantly Tony is missing again) are particularly rosy and golden. A clever and presumably drug-fuelled ending then seems to slow- down time as a harpsichord and Bobby's drums hit each other head on appear to create a 'new' sound that suggests that not all things stay the same. Clarke too turns in one of his better leads, while new boy Bernie Calvert gets in one of his better (and better mixed!) bass lines, sounding like a burbling brook. Seasons will be a big Hollies theme in years to come, particularly on album covers (see 'A Distant Light' and 'Romany') but was never handled more delightfully than here. Once again I'd take the B-side over the better known A-side anyday. Find it on: 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) or the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
[128] 'King Midas In Reverse' may well be the most important song in this book. A song beloved by many fans then and now, it's Nash stretching out and finding his voice - and the other Hollies realising that this new voice doesn't fit with their anymore. In the stories King Midas finds everything he touches turns to gold, but Nash's imagination conjures a much sadder, lonelier man who finds everything he touches falls apart. Already thinking hard about his future with The Hollies and regretting his first marriage to Rose, Nash's sub-conscious let riot on this song, pouring out all his fears and doubts. 'You wouldn't want to be me' Nash informs the audience, swayed by the glitz and the glamour, 'Oh I can assure you of that!' 'It's plain to see it's hopeless going on the way we are' he sighs before switching back to the third person for one of the most poignant lines he ever wrote: 'Nothing he can do is right, he'd even like to sleep at night - but he can't'. This being a Hollies song there's still something uplifting in there somewhere and yet again **'s arrangement is superb, adding to the drama (especially in Clarke's middle eight of 'All he touches turns to dust!') without sounding as old and stuffy as some Hollies arrangements. Nash's double-tracked vocal makes good on earlier 'grumpy' songs like 'Clown' and 'Tell Me To My Face', a sad and lonely figure all too believable as the man nothing will ever got right for. The result is stunning, the Hollies template stretched about as far as it will go and yet, far from breaking it, this is still very Hollies: those harmonies, that guitar-work, even Bobby's distinctive busy drumming are all very much present and correct. The part that clearly worried the band wasn't that this didn't sound like them but that, after years of exuberance and energy, the mask slips: The Hollies are human, pop stars who didn't have perfect lives. You could argue that The Hollies were late to the party - that the few other bands who'd lasted this long had already discarded their halos long ago. But no other band, even The Beatles, had ever quite said so in such stark terms (although 'I'm A Loser' comes close). The single did what it was supposed to do. It proved that The Hollies could write and record a song as deep as anything anyone else was making, even in the heady days of 1967. It proved to Nash that the right people were listening (many influential people loved it - and without it Mama Cass might never have let him into her p[arty that fateful night he first met Stills and Crosby). It also proved to the other Hollies that Nash was no longer 'one of them' and its comparative failure (it peaked at #17 in the UK, three places higher than 'If I Needed Someone' but still a big fall from Carrie Anne's #3) spelled the beginning of the end: Nash had been the driving force but the rest no longer accepted his decisions unanimously. A change was clearly on the cards and for 'King Midas' - the character Nash long associated himself with ('I Used To Be A King', from his 1971 solo album 'Songs For Beginners', is a loose sequel ever so nearly as good) -  things could only get better. The song cost him and the band dearly in the short-term, but in the long-term it was the best thing they could have done: Nash still sings this song occasionally in concert (the only Hollies song he has since leaving the band, the 1983 reunion and his recent revival of 'Bus Stop' while playing in Manchester aside) and The Hollies do it too (their 1990s folk-rock arrangement, with recorder solo, being particularly sublime). 'King Midas' throne may have shone less brightly at the time but he had the last laugh: nowadays its one of The Hollies' best known and best loved tracks. Find it on: any decent best-of or the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
Sticking with the theme of nature, Nash's third drug-fuelled B-side of 1967 is the lovely [129] 'Everything Is Sunshine'. A simpler song than normal about Nash's new drug-freed horizons, this song sounds like a re-write of both 'Look Through My Window' and 'Elevated Observations': 'If everyone saw things the way I do, they wouldn't wear frowns the way I do' he sings (someone should have reminded him of that when he begins to write about politics in his CSN days!) Interestingly Nash sings solo throughout, with no Clarke, re-inforcing his dominant role in the band in the second half of 1967. That's a shame because, strong as his vocals are, this piece might have suited Clarke's tougher tones more. The highlight is in fact another big fat Bernie Calvert bass line that keeps the whole song together without disrupting the blissful feel. The weakest of the three 1967 Hollie B-sides maybe (and one that's certainly not up to the 'A'side!) but a strong and once again charming song nonetheless. Find it on: 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) or the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
One of The Hollies' oddest offers came from the San Remo Songwriting Contest. Though The Hollies weren't actually competing - their song was - it was a big deal back in the day when Eurovision was watched quite genuinely for the music rather than mocked by sarcastic Irish TV presenters. Pat Boone, Mary Hopkins Gene Pitney and The Hollies; future collaborator Bobbie Gentry had all performed at it or were at least about it and, despite getting very little coverage in Western Europe nowadays, the contest still runs to this day. The band would have been silly to turn the lucrative offer down, especially in the 'fallow months' following 'Midas' - however the offer came with a snag. As their song had already been chosen for them, The Hollies would have to sing in Italian. Clarke later admitted that he had to learn [130] 'Non Prego Per Me' phonetically, without a clue as to what the lyrics meant and the Hollies fans I've been contact with don't seem to quite realise that this song is meant to be in Italian so bad is the translation. Clarke sounds understandably stilted, too audibly trying to remember the words rather than 'sing' and the rest of the band don't sound much more comfortable until the very 'Hollies' style power pop chorus arrives (arguably a verse too late to hold the interest). Given all this, it's no wonder The Hollies languished somewhere near to the bottom of the table (I'm still trying to find out where exactly they did come by the way but the internet isn't helping; Claudio Villa and Iva Zanicchi's suspiciously similarly titled 'Non Pensara A Me' won if that means anything to you). The single released only in Italy flopped badly too and used to be amongst the rarest of Hollies collectors items until appearing on 'Rarities' some twenty years later. However while the performance is suspect, I've always had a soft spot for the song and so wish the band had recorded it in English. Translating (loosely) as 'Do Not Pray For Me', it's a philosophical number not too far removed from 'Too Many People' crossed with 'Blowin' In The Wind'. 'How many men lived before I was born? And because they lived how much love have you left?' runs the opening lines before turning into the rather hippie-ish second verse: 'You who are fighting in silence and without glory for a world in which you believe do not stop in front of those who will strike...' Even without knowing the lyrics, though, the melody of this song is gorgeous, in other circumstances perfect for Clarke's long sweeping held lines. By the way the 'Clarke Hicks Nash Years' mix of the song differs slightly from the earlier two, with some rather unconvincing part double-tracking from Clarke and a much more 'vibrant' sound from the whole band. Find it on: 'Rarities' (1988)' 'Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
Easily the most obscure song of this very busy Hollie-year is [131] 'Devi Aver Fiducia In Me', the B-side of 'Non Prego Per Me' which didn't even have the benefit of appearing on 'Rarities'. In fact, unless you were an Italian fan, chances are you hadn't heard this uptempo rocker until the 'Clarke Hicks Nash Years' set in 2011. Translating roughly as 'Have You Trust In Me?', the narrator feels his lover is hiding something from him, that 'I've seen your pretty face destroyed by those tears'. Most of the song is pretty tortured, in both senses of the word, with Clarke's keening crooner putting him a stage closer to Eurovision as the lyrics call on him to emote like never before (hard in a foreign tongue. However, what reads like a smouldering ballad is rather spoiled by a hurried-up backing track that starts off with a repeat of the drum lick from the start of 'Don't Run and Hide' and throws in a demented 'la la la la' chorus for no apparent reason. The Hollies clearly don't know this song at all, the rushed backing track having nothing of their usual polish and finesse and throughout the band sound as if they're just about clinging on to the tune despite being rather out of sync with each other (Bernie, usually so good at this sort of thing, is arguably being a bit too clever here playing a couple of beats ahead of the rest of the band, even if it does mirror the wife being just out of step with her husband). Clarke veers between sounding right at home (the verses, when he's got time to think) and even more lost than on 'Non Prego' on the choruses, while asking him to sing a foreign language double-tracked is just cruel. Something of a disappointment after decades of seeing this song on discographies and not being able to get a hold of it, this B side isn't even up to the half-mess of the A side, without many redeeming qualities at all. Forgotten all these years for rather good reason. Find it on: 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
[132] 'Schoolgirl' is a third Graham Gouldmann song, recorded as part of the sessions for 'Evolution' (and thus with Mitch Mitchell, not Bobby, on drums)  and under possible consideration as a single before The Hollies decided they had better material of their own. That's half-true: this is a strange morality song about corrupted purity, closer to what Graham will go on to do with 10cc and not really suitable for a band like The Hollies (the band presumably chose it because they'd written a lot of songs about 'schoolgirls' themselves. The schoolboy promises to help a girl with her studies, teaches her 'subjects of which she's never heard' and she ends up heartbroken when he leaves, left without any qualifications and 'redundant, a victim of the squeeze' (even though no job was ever mentioned). This is a darker world about what happens outside the schoolyard gates that 'Carrie Anne' and 'Jennifer Eccles' only hinted at and would arguably have been a step too far had it come out as a Hollies single. However it's not a bad composition: indeed it's a highly memorable song, full of twists and turns, with the Hollies having clearly worked hard on the arrangement. The multiple guitars (Nash's acoustic and Hicks' electric) really leap out of the speakers especially during the snarled opening, there's the fantastic 'extra' hook of the strummed 'bam-bam-BAM!' at the end of each verse that's very Hollies and some truly fabulous harmony vocals from all concerned (the idea of having Nash overlapping his lines while singing double-tracked over the fade-out is genius). This is a terrific performance of a great song - but it's not a great Hollies song the way that 'Look Through Any Window' was, sadly relegated to the vaults and then a 'compilation' CD in the 1990s. Find it on: ''At Abbey Road Volume Two' (1998), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and the 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
[133] 'We're Alive' is an oddity released only in Italy. Even with all the research I've done, the magazines I've scoured (trust me, there's nothing on The Hollies published since the 1980s I haven't read, or much before that), the online Hollies forums I've joined, the lifelong Hollies fans I've made - nobody seems to know just why this single only came out in Italy. The best guess I can make is: the Hollies did quite well there with their singles across 1967 - perhaps the record company requested an extra one? (Although quite why The Hollies should suddenly have broken through there when they did is another matter!) Along with 'Non Prego Per Me' this always used to be the 'rarest' Hollie release - this song wasn't widely available until as late as the 'Long Road Home' box set in 2003 (although, as usual, Germany got a sneak preview a decade before). A typically feel-good Hollies song about 'feeling free' during a boat holiday, it lacks the depth of the Hollies at their best and pales alongside most of their other 1967 releases. That said, it's well arranged, with a nice melody and a good strong beat and Tony in particular plays another stunning solo. The moment when the Clarke-Nash harmonies sail into the distance getting higher and higher is also one of the all-time-classic Hollies 60s moments. However did the band have a row moments before making this song? By the band's usual standards it all sounds a bit flat, without that usual energy they always bring (alternately perhaps they just didn't think much of the song? Clarke is almost venemous in his dismissal of it in the sleevenotes of the 'Long Road Home' box set) .Like most Hollie-days, err sorry holidays, it isn't quite as memorable as it ought to be and falls apart when you analyse it. Find it on: 'The 30th Anniversary Collection' (1993) or 'The Long Road Home' (Box Set) (2003)
A two-minute burst of aggression from yesteryear, [134] 'Kiss Me Quick' tells us that 'life is good looking through the eyes of love'. A loose re-write of **, this song dated back to at least 1965 and while the Hollies have messed around with the song a lot they haven't improved it much. Where's the full harmony blast on the middle eight ('I want you to know how I feel...')? Clarke sounds unusually unsure of himself on the double-tracking too. Still, you have to like a song that has the line 'let's all laugh at the 'craziness of life' and 'Kiss Me Quick' is as quirky and fun as its title (not used anywhere in the lyric) suggests. The Italians didn't exactly strike gold with this single but they didn't do too badly either.  Find it on: 'The 30th Anniversary Collection' (1993) or 'The Long Road Home' (Box Set) (2003)

By the Hollies' own admission, [135] 'Jennifer Eccles' was something of a backwards step. Aftee the comparative flop of 'King Midas', the band took the sensible precaution of going to back to when they'd last been popular and came up with another school playground chant similar in feel to 'Carrie Anne'. Even the name was more artificially constructed than before: 'Jennifer' was named for Jennifer Clarke and 'Eccles' for Rose Eccles, now Nash, the two wives of the two writers (thankfully Tony sat writing this one out or Jennifer might have ended up with a double-barrelled name). You can tell that the pair started with the name and ran from there, rather than having something burning to say, and Nash was suitably mortified by having this song on his discography (especially when it outsold 'Midas' spectacularly peaking at a UK high of #7). The song certainly isn't up to 'Carrie Anne' in the inspirational stakes and features a suspect 'la la la la la la la' chorus and a highly irritating 'wolf whistle' well known to several British school playgrounds but abandoned about the time most people get to double-figures. However 'Eccles' is a better song than many fans give it credit for. The scenario of the song - separation - is actually quite deep for the times however it's dressed up and probably deserves a bit of background detail. Anyone not from 1960s-era Britain will be awfully lost so first an explanation: every primary school pupil in Britain used to have to sit a test to work out whether they would go to a 'posh' school for 'proper' scholars, intending to go on to university, or a more technically-aimed school designed to prepare people for work. This horrendous system - which they keep talking about bringing back every few years - divided friends and families like nothing else. Most friendships broken up by this never lasted: The Hollies were the exception to this (Nash passed; Clarke didn't) but it clearly put a strain on their relationship. That's the real theme of this song, however cute the rest of the track is and how much its brushed under the carpet: 'Started me thinking - has she made the grade?' This churning middle eight, often the best part of a Hollies song, is the whole purpose of the composition: it's a line drawn in the sand after which nothing will ever be the same. The Hollies sensibly restrict their fun and games to before this momentous occasion and the slower, folkier, reflective verse afterwards is genuinely tear-jerking: 'Our love is bound to continue' sings the narrator more in hope than certainty, 'Love, kiss, hate or adore'. Somehow though these changing emotions matter more and something indefinable has changed. That in a nutshell is the brilliance of The Hollies as yet again they pull the rug out from under a happy-go-lucky childish song to reveal a cold uncomfortable truth. While 'Jennifer' isn't the greatest beauty in the Hollies' discography, she's a very clever, very intelligent song that manages to both claw back the band's disappearing commercial audience and speculate over subject matters a cut deeper than they might have done. Find it on: any Hollies compilation including those made with white chalk, written on redbrick
Peter Doggett, music journalist extraordinaire, described the song [136] 'Open Up Your Eyes' best in his sleevenotes for the 'Hollies Rarities' album when he said that the song invoked 'the twin interests of The Hollies in 1968: world peace and schoolgirls'. In many ways this is a 'greatest hits' song: there's the banjo from 'Stop! Stop! Stop!', the looking-down-on-the-world lyrics of 'Look Through Any Window' and the schoolgirl with 'pigtails and freckly nose' who could be called either Jennifer or Carrie Anne. It's a dizzying ride, with none of the elements hanging around long enough for us to see properly, but as ever with The 60s Hollies it's a thrilling and enjoyable ride. The harmonies fly like never before, Bobby Elliott sounds like a more 'together' Keith Moon, Clarke's latest middle eight ('Op-en Up Your Eyes!') is one of his simplest but greatest (catching us out with the fall mid-flight into the banjo section) and every time the song begins to settle there's always something new to catch our ears. Nash could never do any of this with CSN (although 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' is similar in many ways) and that's perhaps the point: the Clarke-Hicks-Nash writing team are trying to say 'goodbye' to their usual formula one last time while they can and, unsure which one to use, combine all of them. The result is very Hollies: who else would write such a happy sounding song about the restrictions of the then-modern age, all 'decreasing circles' and 'running around' and imploring us effectively to 'wake up'. As with so many C-H-N compositions this song suggests how positive the world can be when everyone is 'always smiling' and poses us the question on how to get there. Released, briefly, as the B-side of the 'Everytime Before' single** released only in a few countries (Italy was the one place it did well), it was rather a shame that more fans didn't get to hear it at the time and revel in the sound one last time while Nash was still in the group. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'Hollies Rarities' (1988), 'At Abbey Road Volume Two' (1998), 'The Long Road Home' (2004), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
Unable to write an original song in time - and with Nash still smarting over 'Jennifer Eccles' - The Hollies reached back into the 'covers' bag for one last time. Like its predecessor [137] 'Listen To Me' is often taken as a backwards step from a band in disarray and it's certainly true that all other 60s bands who'd survived into 1968 had left the cover songs behind a long time ago. However, Tony Hazzard's song is a smart choice for the Hollies' last release with Graham Nash in the band, pandering right down the middle of an increasingly disunited group. This song is, you see, a neat summary of where both he and the rest of the Hollies will be headed: this distinctly hippie song about lending an ear and changing someone's perception is very 1968-era Nash, while the gently uplifting, romantic lyrics are very much the style the other Hollies will go on to follow without him (This is 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' without the 'brother' part). Given the circumstances - this would have been round about the first session when The Hollies knew beyond a doubt that Nash was leaving them - they sound amazing here, Clarke and Nash's harmonies wrapping around each other perfectly one last time as both men effectively try to get the other to 'listen to me'. A clever, uplifting slice of pop with a distinctive morse-code style riff and a clever Beatley-ending straight out of the band's beginnings in 1963, 'Listen To Me' is an under-rated nod to both past and future and deserved better than a UK chart high of #11 (to be fair, the band weren't really interested in promoting it, with Nash officially out the band by the time of release). Find it on: any self-respecting Hollies compilation
The sombre B-side [138] 'Do The Best You Can' is more like The Hollies material from 1966, gently urging someone to change or at least fulfil their potential rather than blaring at them to 'change their minds' as most Hollies material in 1967 and 1968 will. Tony brings out his banjo from the loft and is once again the quiet star from the record, giving this song a nicely folky rootsy feel. The lyrics are pure Nash, though, debating the value of money and class societies ('If you tip a doorman heavily his doors will open wide to you - goes to show what money will do!') and ego-trips ('When you come across a guy who thinks he's boss...'). For the most part this song is folk protest with a beat but yet again the Hollie middle eight is the part to listen out for, with a gorgeous near-a capella Beach Boys section that makes the band sound like a bunch of choir boys ('Please be kind to those who fail to comprehend and in time who knows you'll maybe make a friend' - very much The Hollies motto of 1966). The result is one of the band's less instant flipsides but one that will grow on you, with a late burst of delightful harmonica from Clarke and a cheeky hi-hat finale from Elliott the highlights of another tight band performance. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'At Abbey Road Volume Two' (1998), 'As Bs and EPs' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
From here-on in this list of songs will be from an aborted LP intended for release in 1968 as the follow-up to 'Butterfly'. No one is quite sure how seriously the band prepared it - an awful lot of recordings were made (Nash was still very much on a creative high) but it may be that the band were intending a lot of these songs for single use or maybe even an EP. [139] 'Wings' is arguably the one that got away, a sumptuous Clarke-Nash ballad inspired by repeated playings of Neil Young's equally gorgeous Buffalo Springfield song 'Expecting To Fly' (from their second album 'Again'). The two songs share a similarly glossy string arrangement, a poetic lyric about growing up (the band's favourite theme of 1968 it seems) and a sense of fragility. Neil's song is all about independence, about learning to fall before you can fly. 'Wings' is another of Nash's drug-fuelled 'unlimited horizons' songs but either he or Clarke has changed the subject matter to 'love'. Everyone else in life seems to walk; why bother, when people in love can fly? Interestingly there are two versions doing the rounds: the first a nicely polished orchestral version released on the 'Various Artists' compilation 'Nothing's Gonna Change Our World' organised by Spike Milligan to raise money for animal charities (making this the band's second Goonish connection following 'After The Fox'; this is the same LP The Beatles donated 'Across The Universe' to). The second a rougher BBC recording (later released on 'Radio Fun') with different lyrics and a totally new opening verse similar in feel to 'Elevated Observations'. Many fans have assumed this is an early draft, but no - the date is actually a month or so later. Had the band been having second thoughts about their song? ('Birds fly way out of tune, running in circles nowhere to turn, why do we want them to walk when they can fly? They learn by flying around, and they are smiling at us on the ground, why do we want them to walk when they can fly?') The song is a beauty in either version, a lovely song about the powers of love, although the first wins by virtue of a thrilling band performance. Tony's strummed guitar flies like a bird, Bernie's double-use of piano and bass are both spot-on and **'s string arrangement is once again amazingly spot-on for the late 1960s. A soaring success that would have made a strong backbone for an eighth Nash LP. Find it on: Originally released as part of the Various Artists compilation 'Nothing's Gonna Change Our World' (1968), with Spike Milligan calling in favours from his Abbey Road colleagues to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund, it re-appeared on 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'Rarities' (1988), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
[140] 'Relax' is a fun 90 second jazz lounge experiment that combines a sound most 1960s kids would have known from their parent's record collections with a distinctly psychedelic vocal treatment. Nash sings twice over, once normally and one with this 'rotated speaker' vocal, as if experiencing the duality of a life that pushes and pulls him in all sorts of directions. Lyrically this is a slight - it's about the need to relax in a busy world - but the melody is catchy and this song is a logical progression from the 'messages' of songs like 'Elevated Observations' and 'Look Through Any Window'. Nash tries his best to act mellow on the lengthy fade-out but actually sounds deeply uncomfortable! The original plan was to cross-fade this song into...Find it on: 'Rarities' (1988), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
The pandemonium of [141] 'Tomorrow When It Comes', another of The Hollies' better 1968 songs. This song has no time to rest, it has too much to say because time is running short. Clarke and Nash together sneer about everyone concerned with looking back over their shoulder at their past because 'what difference does it make to you what you were doing yesterday? Today will be yesterday, tomorrow when it comes'. Some of these lyrics are plain weird ('Going in you must come out of places you've been in') but the moral message is sound and delivered in highly descriptive terms common to the era ('Seek and use your mind - everything is everything all of the time'. Well, I know what it means!) The band turn in one last great band performance: Bernie's sturdy bass takes on much of the weight, while Bobby uses an eerie out-of-time drum riff that sounds like time stopping and best of all Tony finds a wah-wah button on his pedal, making his guitar sound like it's everywhere at once especially during a thrilling solo. The song builds up to a thrilling climax that seems to run for ages, with Clarke and Nash overlapping lines as if there's so much to do the narrator has split in two. Another sign that this unfinished Hollie album would have been a cracker. Find it on: 'Rarities' (1988), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
A late addition to the Hollies' 'grumpy' catalogue, [142] 'Like Everytime Before' is a promising sounding song that was never finished properly. There are several versions and mixes doing the rounds, with the biggest difference coming in the solo (which confusingly can feature one Tony, two Tonies or three Tonies). The track dates back to 1966 (and was  covered by The Everly Brothers on the 'Two Yanks In England' album), before being revived during Nash's dying days with the band (and given a very different angsty Tony Hicks solo, missing from some mixes of the track which just use the 1966 version).  Despite the song's slightly finished air, there's a nice song in there as the Hollies use up the last of their bossa nova rifts on a song about a love-hate relationship. The lyrics sound like Nash debating whether to leave his old life behind one last time, starting off in anger and finding himself 'falling in love again, like everytime before'. A breathless and oddly bass-heavy backing track with some churning guitar work, the performance once again saves a so-so song with some classic three-way harmonies as ever. Find it on: 'Rarities' (1988), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
[143] 'Man With No Expressions' is a song Nash wrote with cult figure Terry Reid (who was on the fringes of greatness for most of the 1970s and co-founded Led Zeppelin until figuring the band weren't going to get anywhere and leaving during rehearsals! Nash will produce his debut album 'Bang Bang You're Terry Reid', in which his co-writer records a version of this song - at about octaves lower than Graham's version!) It very much sounds like Nash trying to cast around for a more commercial setting to put his progressive ideas into, with his most surreal lyric yet that touches on the themes of 'Clown' with a man hiding behind an unemotional front and a mad verse about horses 'running through a rainstorm'. The result sounds like it's trying a little too hard, to be honest, with more hooks than usual even for The Hollies but it's a sweet little song that could have been the 'Pegasus' of the band's eighth album. Fond of the song, Nash took it with him to CSNY when he left The Hollies and the quartet recorded it during the 'Deja Vu' sessions, although their version didn't come out until shortly before The Hollies' did (you can hear the 1968 recording on 'The Hollies 30th Anniversary Collection' in 1993 if you're German, ten years before the rest of the world heard it on 'The Long Road Home') while the CSNY version came out on their box set simply called 'CSN' in 1991. The result is a tie, by the way, with the later version featuring a tighter band performance and harmonies, while the Hollie version has better grasp of dynamics and a stronger, more urgent ending. Find it on: 'The 30th Anniversary Collection' (1993),  'At Abbey Road Volume Two' (1998), 'The Long Road Home' (2004) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)
How many roads must The Hollies have walked down before it dawned on them that covering Dylan songs was a bad idea? [144a] 'Blowin' In The Wind' is the song that came closest to breaking up the group. While cover songs had been a regular part of The Hollies' canon in their early years, most had been dropped from The Hollies' catalogue by 1966 (the year when bands who weren't recording their own music had generally fallen by the wayside) and few had been quite as high profile - and therefore pointless - as this Dylan standard. Though Allan Clarke in particular does a good job (he 'understands' this song in a way that a few of the band's future Dylan covers leave him audibly perplexed), this singalong take on one of the Bobmeister's more profound works doesn't quite do the job, padded out with an epic big band arrangement that seems to ignore the philosophy and head straight for the whimsy. Graham Nash, having suffered the ignominy of having his new tracks like 'Marrakesh Express' dropped by the rest of the band, is along for the ride here and almost sounds enthusiastic even though he doesn't have much to do, but by the time the recording was in the can already knows which was the wind is blow-woah-woah'in and leaves before he can be persuaded to record a whole album of this stuff (this was in fact at his penultimate ever session with the 1960s Hollies - only 'Listen To Me' will follow). Undeterred, The Hollies ploughed on, replacing Nash's vocals with Terry Sylvester for the 'Hollies Sing Dylan' album the following year, making the re-recording the one-time that Terry is clearly trying to copy Graham. Released as the flipside to the last Nash-era single 'Listen To Me' and a surprise hit in Sweden where they flipped the record over, which means this recording is sometimes trotted out to fill European best-ofs. Find it on: 'Hollies Greatest Volume Two' (1972), 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987), 'At Abbey Road Volume Two' (1998), 'The LOng Road Home' (2003) and 'The Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years' (2011)
Nash was upset enough when the rest of the band passed on his latest batch of his songs, but hit the roof when they discussed recording a full album of covers of Bob Dylan (exactly what they do when he leaves the group). Having heard from his new friend David Crosby how much he, at least, had hated Dylan getting all the credit for The Byrds' hard work publicising his music, it couldn't have been a worse decision at a worse time. So it was a shock when superb 1988 Hollies compilation 'Rarities' came out and revealed Nash having a ball during a 1968 concert tour singing [145a] 'The Times They Are A-Changin' (this performance comes from the Lewisham Odeon). Clarke sings in an off-putting Dylanesque drawl while Nash has never sounded more Mancunian, hinting at the divide between the band, but both sing with gusto in their different ways and turn in one of the better Dylan covers around. For a live recording this is impressive tight, with Bobby drilling the song home (his ending is great: heavy pounding leading up to a tiny *tink* on a cymbal just when everyone is expecting a full-blown finale) and Tony outdoing Roger McGuinn on his Rickenbacker-style guitar part. Had more of the 'Hollies Sing Dylan' album turned out like this I wouldn't have been complaining. The time were changing too: a few weeks after this recording Nash has left the band for good and The Hollies will have to re-think both group and strategy. Thankfully Nash's replacement is the under-used but equally talented Terry Sylvester, a huge Hollie fan who'll give the band their confidence back after a very difficult year and who'll make his mark with the band from the first...Find it on: 'Rarities' (1988) 'The Long Road Home' (2003) and 'The Clarke Hicks Nash Years' (2011)

Wanting to re-capture their pop past without Nash in the band, The Hollies arguably went too far the other way with their biggest career mis-step, the horrid [158] 'Sorry Suzanne'. Given that Nash was already writing some of his best material with CSN at the time this song was released as a single in February 1969, the gulf between them was never wider. Geoff Stephens and Tony Macauley's song just has so little going for it: its in 4/4 tempo, largely sticks to a key of 'C' and is gormless in the extreme, the narrator promising to make amends next time - for three whole minutes. However despite the length of the song we never hear what the narrator did that made Suzanne so upset or how he's going to make it better - instead all we get are apologies over and over that the narrator doesn't seem to mean. Given the creepy vibes (both literally - that's the instrument making the Hammer Horror effects - and in a metaphorical sense) and the ridiculously heavy-handed drumming going on make Clarke sound far less than sincere and there's something downright 'odd' about this song - is it really about domestic abuse? It's easy to imagine the narrator extending a hand of friendship while hiding an axe in his other hand behind his back. Even on 'Jennifer Eccles' The Hollies had never been twee, but this song is the band at their worst: insincere, sloppy and off-putting. No wonder they're apologising quite so much. Even the characteristic Hollies harmonies haven't quite gelled yet (this is only Terry's fourth session after all) and sound both over-simple and yet somehow 'false' (this is additionally a candidate for Clarke's worst vocal - let's face it there aren't many that aren't perfect are there? - over-singing and smothering a song that needs to be cute and playful) Thank goodness then for a classy Tony Hicks solo that should have gone on longer, although at least we get a reprise of it near the end. The song's brief guitar hook ('duhn, dur-duhn') will later be 'borrowed' for the opening lick of The Hollies' cover of 'Sandy', a much better and more Holliesy sort of a song. hearing this in America, having washed his hands of the band and with 'Hollies Sing Dylan' in the works, Nash must have been thrilled to have escaped his old band. Not good. Not good at all. Who'd have guessed that 'He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother' was coming next, eh?! At least half ot his writing partnership - Tony Macauley - will more than acquit himself on that singles' follow-up 'Gasoline Alley Bred' .  Find it on: Most Hollies compilations, worse luck
Not for the first or last time, the B-side was better. Clarke's solo song [159] 'Not That Way At All' is a fine last goodbye to both the band's psychedelic era and the band's 1967-68 obsession with childhood. Remembering a blissful and more innocent time, Clarke complains about having less time to enjoy his imagination as he grows older ('Now I've changed and I have aged, left here with just memories, how I wish to be young again but it's not that way at all!' he screams in yet another superb middle eight). The backing is superb, even for The Hollies. The rhythm section ducks and dives, as if dragging the narrator further down a timeline he doesn't want to commit to, the harmonies are sublime - supportive and in competition all at once, with Sylvester superb arguing and barging his way past Clarke to reach the skies and the memorable instrumental features every sound effect going in the Abbey Road archives library. The result is an impressively tough song that once again makes The Hollies sound like Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd with childhood playful and the adult world dark and dangerous. Another of those really rewarding Hollies flipsides that prove what a master of the art they really were. As the first non-Dylan recording the new-look Hollies made this flipside would make a cracking opener to a 'Clarke-Sylvester-Hicks' box set if EMI ever wanted to follow up the 'Nash' one!
Suddenly, after a tired album of cover songs and an awkward single, The post-Nash Hollies have found their voice. [160a] 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' still comes out the blue whenever you hear the Hollies tracks in order - the narrator's 'brother' might not be heavy, but the song sure is. The Hollies weren't the first to record the song - it had been a small hit for Kelly Gordon barely a few weeks before the Mancunians got hold of it - but theirs was the version that mattered. Tony discovered the song during one of his regular visit to his music publisher Cyril Shane, who happened to have a new batch of songs in that day from abroad. Tony spent the next few hours crouched over a record player in Shane's office while the publisher whispered the English translations in his ear. Getting stiff, bored and distinctly fed up Hicks threatened to go unless there were any songs in English. 'Only one' said Shane, 'but its an orchestral ballad - not at all right for The Hollies'. Hicks liked what he heard but was concerned that the others might object - but the band were united: this was a great song if not like their previous material and they knew just what to do with it. It's a watershed moment: the point where the band move on from the infectious enthusiasm of their early years and settle down to become purveyors of slow ballads heavy with emotion. Ironically, though, Tony and Terry barely appear (there's no guitar and very few harmonies): instead this is the Allan Clarke show and the singer has never been better, even contributing his definitive harmonica puff at the beginning. A moving tale of support that could stand for either a literal or a metaphorical brother, Clarke's statement that his shoulders are broad enough to carry anyone is sung with real passion and commitment and the fiery middle eight ('If I'm laden at all it's with sadness that everyone's heart isn't filled with gladness of love...'), which comes out of nowhere, still takes me by surprise even though this must be one of the most regularly heard AAA songs of all. A Hippie song masquerading as a grown up ballad, a tale of how we should love one another and how the world's 'welfare is my concern' this is a new look Hollies at exactly the right time and even Nash confessed to being jealous of this song, wishing that he could have been on it (although his memory was lax enough to suggest that it was the band's first without him - yeah I'd wiped 'Sorry Suzanne' from my memory too).  That's Elton John on piano by the way on the first of two Hollies sessions (the other being sequel 'I can't Tell The Bottom From The Top'), four years before he became a star in his own right and back when he was still working as a session musician under his 'real' name Reg Dwight. It's unknown why Bernie didn't play the piano on this track - the two actually have very similar styles, in this era at least. However there's a postscript: while 'He Ain't Heavy' brought The Hollies much critical applause in 1969 and still sold healthily in getting to #3 in the UK charts (and #7 in the States), it took until the 1980s and its use in a beer commercial for Miller-lite to become a household name (well in a household of alcoholics anyway). Re-released in 1988 to cash in on this unexpected success (with an unreleased 19881 recording 'Carrie' on the B-side) it became a number one record, giving The Hollies two entries in the Guiness Book Of World Records (both since, sadly, broken): the longest time for the same recording to make #1 (19 years) and the longest gap between UK number one records for a UK band (23) (Records now beaten by Tony Christie's 'Las Vegas' aka 'Amarillo' between 1971 and 2005 and George Harrison with two versions of 'My Sweet Lord' in 1971 and 2002, both records now standing at 31 years).   Find it on: If you own any beswt-of the 1960s, including The Hollies, that doesn't include this song then take it back right now!
A surprisingly retro song, [161] 'Cos You Like To Love Me' is a Tony Hicks song that sounds like it could easily have been recorded during the band's 193-65 period. With more hooks than a pair of curtains, this a cute and unfashionably poppy song about another relationship that's 'not right - 'cos you ain't been holding me tight!' A kinder, calmer chorus tries to calm things down but only partly succeeds, with a clever shift of keys in the chorus that find the song going back round the same old battles again. Unusually there's no middle eight here (instead the instrumental - played unusually on an organ - adds the 'surprise' element the Hollies made their own) - a shame because this song really could have done with one. One of the band's weaker B-sides and sounding all the more disappointingly retro for appearing as the B-side to 'He Ain't Heavy'. Find it on: 'The Other Side Of The Hollies' (1987) and 'As Bs and EPs' (2004)
Before 'He Ain't Heavy' gave The Hollies a new lease of life they'd been toying with different styles for their follow up to 'Sing Dylan'. Though The Hollies weren't natural country artists (they were brought up on rock and roll, jazz and folk), they'd really enjoyed a guest spot on country legend Bobbie Gentry's TV show in America where they recorded a comedy version of [162] 'Louisiana Man' where the three Hollie singers and their host swap lines, with much sitting down and standing up again during the course of the song! The Hollies then dabbled with a 'Hollies Country' album, recording a rather more straightforward version of the song they'd so enjoyed playing alongside 'Dang Me' (a rather odd Roger Miller song they also performed live in 1968-69) and 'Kentucky Woman' (the Neil Diamond song - he'd also had a hit with 'He Ain't Heavy' shortly after The Hollies' version so they were clearly on the same lines in this period). To date only 'Louisiana Man' has seen the light of day and then only 19 years after it was recorded. Fun but rather frivolous, it's a tale of an American poverty upbringing that's still rollicking good fun, full of fishing, markets and muskrats - all of which much have seemed downright alien to four Northern Englishmen. The band cope well though, even Clarke's idea of a Nashville accent isn't that bad, with some nice Hollie harmonies on the powerful chorus and some great Tony Hicks guitarwork which doesn't appear on the original at all. However 'Louisiana Man' is best enjoyed as a curio one-off rather than as the grounds for a whole LP - thankfully the band decided to drop the country direction after 'He Ain't Heavy' opened more doors with many a w-winding turns. It was probably the right decision. Find it on: 'Hollies Rarities' (1988)
[163] 'She Looked My Way' would have made a fine addition to the 'Hollies Sing Hollies' album. A highlight of the 1988 compilation 'Rarities', it features a lovely Allan Clarke vocal as a romantic hoping that the looks he thinks he's been getting from a pretty girl aren't just in his head. The whole dialogue takes place in his imagination, Clarke kicking himself for not acting on impulse and full of self-deprecating humour ('Did I care? I didn't even know why I was there!') A mournful song about lost opportunities, you long for the likeable character to find happiness by the end but he never quite finds it. Interestingly this song's theme is virtually identical to Nash's CSN song 'Carried Away' (from 'CSN' 'the one with the boat',1977), but Nash characteristically acts on his impulses! With a nice piano backing and some gorgeous harmonies even by Hollie standards, it's a puzzle why this didn't make the album in favour of lesser moments like 'Please Sign Your Letters' and 'Do You Believe In Love?' This song nestled amongst 'My Life Is Over With You' 'Marigold Swansong' and 'Goodbye Tomorrow' would definitely have made this the most emotional Hollies LP! Find it on: 'Hollies Rarities' (1988)
[164] 'Eleanor's Castle' is a cute pop song - a little too cute, perhaps, with its fun metaphor of the heart of a girl who says 'no!' being a guarded castle complete with moat and the rhyme 'castle' with 'hassle!' Had the band written this in their earlier years it would have been very popular - in 1969, set against the first CSN album in particular (this is another 'Sing Hollies' outtake), it would have made The Hollies ever more unfashionable. There's a place for silly songs like this in music though and the song is genuinely funny, with some great rhymes ('advances' and 'chances', 'lumber' and 'slumber', etc). There's a fun riff, too, doubled by the bass and a nicely medieval harpsichord that's really distinctive, a terrific double-tracked Tony Hicks solo that sounds as if it's being played under-water  and another cracking middle eight. This would have sounded badly out of place on 'Sing Hollies' and would never have made an A-side, but it would have made another fine Hollie flipside. Find it on: 'Hollies Rarities' (1988)
[165] 'Sign Of The Times' is easily the weirdest song The Hollies recorded in 1969. An angry social protest song about how the younger 1960s generation are always being put down ('We're a new generation, moulded from a new cast') this Clarke-Hicks song is all terribly un-Hollies. Far from being a 'sign of the times', this song couldn't have been less like the sound of 1969 with most hippies now grudgingly accepting their parents and turning their attentions to politicians and racists.  'Other folks are doing it, it's a sign of the times' Clarke argues, perhaps not realising that The Hollies aren't getting up to half the things other bands are in 1969. The Hollies were actually a 'favourite' for mums and dads who considered the band a safe pair of hands (apart from the psychedelic years) despite some occasional risque lyrics and 'shouldn't be writing this sort of song (its as if Herman's Hermits suddenly starting singing songs about the Vietnam War). This being The Hollies there's a 'don't be hurt - we still love you' finale which tries to heal the rift between generations but by and large this is an unusually harsh and aggressive song. Fittingly there's a rather harsh and aggressive backing too, with Hicks' guitar barking like a dog and a harmonica treated with a sound effect straight out of 1967. Clarke is trying to sound like Dylan again, with another Southern drawl, while Hick's cameo (Unusually singing the middle eight) is very Northern. I'd love to know what fuss this song might have caused had it come out in 1969 (on 'Sing Hollies') rather than being left to rot in the vaults till the mid-1990s (by which time no one seemed to be listening, sadly, or realise just how 'wrong' this song was). Find it on: 'At Abbey Road Volume Two' (1998)

Ridiculed at the time as a bland repeat of 'He Ain't Heavy', the mournful [177] 'I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top' has grown in stature with each passing year to the point where it now sounds nearly as good as its more influential predecessor. A doomy, gloomy piano intro from Elton John (then still a session musician  going under his real name Reg Dwight)  sets the tone for a typical Hollie song about being 'transformed'. While not as inspired as 'I'm Alive', the switch between the confusion of the verses (where Clarke is wrapped up in a fog of orchestra) and the more triumphant uplifting chorus is a good one. Once again the middle eight is the star: 'On and on I drifted with the tide' yells Clarke while the rest of the band finally stop coasting and put the throttle down. Or at least most of them do: once again Bernie is working overtime with a great fat bass line that gives this song much of its weight and power.  Only a slightly boring orchestral accompaniment, the lack of any guitar and one repeat too many of the chorus prevent this from being another loved Hollie classic. Find it on: any decent Hollies best-of
Clarke's funky B-side [178] 'Mad Professor Blyth' is another of the unsung Hollie greats. A very late 1960s song about a mad professor working on a machine to enrich the world but never gets to complete it because of jeers and ignorance, Nash would have liked this song a lot had he still been in the band. The Hollies treat this as a comedy ('Silly old blind 24 eyes!' is a typical insult and the rhyme of 'groggy' and 'moggy' is inspired), but there's a weight and morality behind this song that prevents it from getting too silly. The song is structured around Hicks' banjo and a terrific walking jazz bass from Bernie that, like Prof Blyth himself, is doing his own thing oblivious to the world around him (especially Bobby's strict drum tempo). Clarke is superb as the hippie scientist and the spooky Hollie harmonies, heavily treated with echo behind him, are exquisite. Why this wasn't the A-side is another mystery - far from being frivolous its messages of 'don't criticise what you don't understand' are perfect for the times and the world is definitely a weaker place when the professor disappears in a puff of smoke. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Confessions Of The Mind'
There are many great Hollies singles around - we've listed most of them in this book already and if you stretch the run to the mid-1970s then the Hollies arguably have a stronger run of material than any other group (they scored more top 20 singles than The Beatles, remember, mainly because they released more). [179] 'Gasoline Alley Bred' is my pick as the greatest: an unsung classic that peaked at a disappointing #14 but offers so much. Like much of that year's 'Confessions Of The Mind' LP, this is CSN-inspired protest and it fits the band's newer acoustic sound to a tee. Putting his faux-American accent to good use, Clarke's narrator tried to act hard but suffers a nervous breakdown during the course of the song as the hopelessness of the poverty the family (no schoolgirls in this song!) face lead him to his single greatest moment on a Hollies song; a wordless moan of 'oooooooh!' that says so much. However the lyrics paint a strong picture too: like 'Too Young To Be Married' the daily grind has never been portrayed better: the slow trudge to heat up the water, the packed bags as the band fall behind in yet more rent; best of all the idea that 'we had ideas in our head' that never got expressed because 'we're Gasoline Alley Bred'. A typically Hollies bright production tries to find the sunny side, but the listener knows this is merely a brave face: there's a whole lot of crying behind closed doors going on in this song, with Clarke pleading with us not to judge him, that he did 'everything a man can do, breaking my back just to make us a dime'. The music is clever too: Tony and Bobby both compete with each other to see who can break out of the constraints first, leaving Bernie and Terry to keep up the relentless strumming, until the glorious finale when everyone charges to a fully power-charged ending, the hopelessness of the situation torn asunder by those thrilling Hollies harmonies reaching for the skies. One of the most powerful songs in The Hollies' catalogue, 'Gasoline' is as perfect as any pop song can be: very catchy but very deep, beautifully performed by a band at the peak of their powers. Along with 'Married' this should have been the start of the best phase yet in The Hollies' career (catchy protest songs); alas the record's failure put paid to this promising sub-genre and from here-on in The Hollies will find themselves scattered again, losing the proud unity they had here until at least another five years down the line. Find it on: any decent Hollies best-of
[180] 'Dandelion Wine' is a lesser B-side, a novelty song that tries hard to be hip but only convincing us that the narrator is drunk. Clarke's harmonica is as excellent as ever but his vocal is uncharacteristically slapdash. To be fair the song doesn't deserve a lot better: Hicks' lyrics about how he would 'drink my wine from your shoe-shoe-shoe' and how 'you bet your life that I do-do-do' is 'cheesy' Hollies, the setting they always fall back onto when uninspired. Only another strong Calvert bass line (who does a much better impression of being drunk) prevents this song from dragging any more than it already does. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Confessions Of The Mind' 


'Stay With The Hollies' (1964)

'In The Hollies Style' (1964)
'Would You Believe?' (1966)

'For Certain, Because' (1966)

'Evolution' (1967)

'Butterfly' (1967)

‘Hollies Sing Hollies’ (1969)

'Confessions Of The Mind' (1970)
'A Distant Light' (1971)

'Romany' (1972)

'Out On The Road' (1973)

'Headroom' (Allan Clarke solo) (1973)
'The Hollies' (1974)
'Another Night' (1975)

‘Write On’ (1976)
'A Crazy Steal' (1978)

'5317704' (1979)
'What Goes Around..." (1983)
‘Then, Now, Always’ (2009)

'Radio Fun' (BBC Sessions) (2012)
The Best Unreleased Hollies Recordings
Surviving TV Footage 1964-2010
Non-Album Songs Part One: 1963-1970
Non-Album Songs Part Two: 1971-2014

Live/Solo/Compilation/US Editions/Covers Albums Part One 1964-1975
Live/Solo/Compilation/US Editions/Covers Albums Part Two 1976-2014

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