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Romany
The Hollies

Epic 31992
Released: January 1973
Chart Peak: #84
Weeks Charted: 12

Bernie CalvertBobby ElliottTony HicksTerry SylvesterMikael RickforsOf the few groups who have survived since 1963, the Hollies sound fresher and more up-to-date than anyone, with the posible exception of the Beach Boys. Although they have remained popular in England, they were forgotten in America after "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." Many were surprised when they outlived the loss of Graham Nash, hardly anyhone expected them to continue after Alan Clarke announced his intention to leave in 1971.

And they might not have, were it not for a wealth of Clarke-sung material in the can. They brought in a new singer named Mike Rickfors, whose first effort, "The Baby," sounded more like the Box Tops or Rare Earth, and went nowhere. Then came their left-field hit "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)," which like the rest of Distant Light (their latest release) featured Clarke.

Romany finds the Hollies once again in command of the charts, with every indication their success will continue. Rickfors, a deep-throated singer in the tradition of Alex Chilton, David Clayton-Thomas, et al., has adapted to the group, and submerged in their harmonies he becomes part of the traditional Hollies sound. That sound is in far greater evidence here than on just about any Hollies record since the days of "Dear Eloise."

Their current hit, "Magic Woman Touch," is the fulfillment of every broken promise made by Crosby, Stills & Nash. And "Won't We Feel Good," with its confident power and marvelous Easybeats licks, would make an ideal follow-up, although the obvious corporate choice is "Courage of Your Convictions," a carbon-copy of "Long Cool Woman" (despite the fact that it has a different author).

The album's high caliber is maintained through "Slow Down," "Romany" and "Blue in the Morning." Even Judee Sill's "Jesus Was a Crossmaker" comes out pleasant enough, proof that talent can overcome just about any odds. Not quite, though. "Down River," a lifeless cadaver of misconceived songwriting in David Ackles' original version, is rendered here by Renfors in a sort of slowed-down Englebert Humperdinck voice -- the worst atrocity since "You Know the Score" on their last album.

But it's hard to hold a grudge against the Hollies, after such a generally wonderful album, after all the great records they've given us over these ten years, and especially because of the cherubic innocence they've managed to maintain through it all. Surely it wasn't their idea to record such an abysmal song; no doubt the spirit of Mickie Most put them up to it.

- Greg Shaw, Rolling Stone, 4/26/73.

Bonus Reviews!

Think back. It's 1964, the year of the whole bloomin' British invasion. The only prerequisites for instant success were A: band membership; B: speak with a British accent; C: to at least be able to hold a guitar like you knew what to do with it. True, Alan Clarke has departed but Michael Rickfors is a suitable replacement. Those traditional effervescent harmonies shine on "Jesus Was A Crossmaker," "Words Don't Come Easy" and "Romany."

- Billboard, 1973.

You had your doubts about the Hollies without Graham Nash, right? How about without Graham Nash and Alan Clarke? C-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

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