Album Review: The Hollies – 50 at Fifty

Published On October 7, 2014 | By Aisleen Evans | Albums, Music

Fifty years on and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Hollies are still at it. Marking the anniversary of their debut single (Ain’t That) Just Like Me in 1964 the powerhouse musicians have released a whopping three disc collection arranged in chronological order and featuring their latest track Skylarks, recorded earlier this year.

The Hollies 50 at FiftyWithout a doubt, The Hollies left a lasting impression on the pop charts of the sixties and seventies racking up more hits on the Billboard Top 100 (1964-1975) than any other British band. Shadowed only by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five and The Beatles, their music featured heavily on the soundtrack of this era. All of their major hits including The Air That I Breathe and He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother are included on this beautifully remastered lasted edition with the pleasant addition of several live performances.

They have survived frequent line-up changes and numerous label swap overs but The Hollies never lost sight of what they set out to do. Laying down some inventive roots they became known for their luscious three-part harmonies, which Allan Clarke and Graham Nash say were inspired by the Everly Brothers. Combined with Tony Hick’s tantalising guitar talents, Eric Haydock’s driving bass and Bobby Elliot’s precision based percussion, The Hollies became a force to be reckoned with. Even their B-side tracks were soaked in the magic of their touch. Their instrumentation was unique for a pop/rock band at the time and included banjo, harmonica, piano, trombone, strings and bongos which, when played together created lively and energetic tunes that seemed to jump out at listeners.

Perhaps the best feature of this collection is the chronological ordering of their songs, which takes listeners on a journey throughout their entire career. Though previous releases offered a more comprehensive anthology of The Hollies success, 50 at Fifty has whittled the collection down and fans will be relishing the opportunity to hear how their sound evolved from the Soul/RnB covers of the early days in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, right through to their pop-rock hits, psychedelic sounds and disco/dance grooves.

Their latest addition to the collection is the newly recorded Skylarks featuring long time members Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot along with the band’s current line up Peter Howarth, Steve Lauri, Ray Stiles, and Ian Parker. It’s a gem of a piece and pays testament to the fact that these guys have still got it going on, in a big way! Moody string arrangements, guitar power chords and a more atmospheric approach on the piano combine to offer a contemporary track from highly seasoned performers. The chorus cries out the title Skylark in an anthem worthy fashion and the classic electric guitar solos round out a stadium track that only experienced rockers could pull off and they are sure to do so in their upcoming European tour.

4.5 / 5 stars     

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