Epic KE 32574
Released: May 1974
Chart Peak: #28
Weeks Charted: 23
The lingering prejudice against the Hollies is probably due to two things: the huge success of their treacly single, "He Ain't Heavy (He's My Brother)," and a kind of snobbish conviction that the group Graham Nash left years ago for high-minded artistic reasons could never do anything noteworthy again.
The current Hollies are, in their charming way, as appealing as any group and it would be childish to begrudge them the commercial hits that enable them to continue to produce such sweetly anachronistic albums as this one.
The excitement generated by these 11 predominantly group-written tunes harks back to some earlier period in British rock, the time of "Hello Goodbye" or "Carrie Ann" or, especially, "Itchycoo Park." Just as fans waited for the next marvelous confection from the Small Faces, Hollies' listeners will be intrigued with this band's cut-to-cut inventiveness and desire to please.
In orechestrated ballads and sinuous struts Allan Clarke's capable and versatile voice sets the pleasing pattern: He becomes, in turn, a prisoner in the dock, a bereft lover, a rock star touring the U.S., a stylish teenager hungry to learn the hip jive. The words are inessential: Attitude is all.
The crisp and very professional production by Ron Richards and the Hollies makes fun respectable. The amazing repertoire of effects at the group's command results in a kind of aural history of what can be achieved in a three-minute tune: here a taste of the Buffalo Springfield, there some psychedelic wah-wah juxtaposed with mouth harp, Moog and jet-plane phasing side-by-side with Everlys' voicings, then a bit of "Zaba-dak" echo, followed by a stretch of the old Hollies' harmonies. There are Chuck Berry riffs, echoes of Elvis and Buddy, a slow lovelorn lament reminiscent of Bo Diddley. The rewards of pop -- that's what this album is about.
- Tom Nolan, Rolling Stone, 6/20/74.
The Hollies have been among the half-dozen most important British rock groups for many years, not be being good regularly but by periodically agitating the imagination into concocting a fanciful notion of what they could be if every little thing fell into place. This album, something of a comeback, is the Hollies doing that again. It is not a great masterwork -- even if it were in every other way, it could not drag its lyrics to the pinnacle -- but it has some great stuff in it that eggs the listener into imagining improvements in the weaker stuff and what would happen then. The singing, thanks in part to Allan Clarke's return to the group, is about as good as rock-group vocal harmonizing can get -- tighter than the Bee Gees, warmer than Badfinger, more versatile than Poco, cleaner than the Byrds, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Tony Hicks and Terry Sylvester are surprisingly good with the guitars, too, when they have ideas. The material lacks depth, but some of it will give avid listeners a good run for a month or so. "The Air That I Breathe" is clearly the best song, a dandy that comes on grandly elated with itself but is so stylish and graceful it turns that into a positive attitude. It will even be forgiven by us critics for being as commercial as grits in Valdosta. "Don't Let Me Down" is a nice long-time-on-one-chord kind of mood thing, brilliantly arranged, and "Rubber Lucy" is most appealing among four that rock a little harder. But there are some time-wasters in there, too, including one with a lot of ping-ping-ping jazz on the piano and including some rather drawn-out tunelessness before the good things begin on side one. Not a great album, but to improve on it much would be to....
But you see what kind of thinking it inspires. Damn Hollies, messin' with my head again.
- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 8/74.
For the soft-rock crowd there is this immaculate recording. The drums are a little anemic, but the cymbal -- the kind with the jangly rivets in it, we suspect, sounds fine, and the back-up instruments are quite good if slightly bodiless. Even the (essentially monotonic) electric bass is well handled. A professional job. Ron Richards and the Hollies, producers; Alan Parsons, engineer.
- Ralph Hodges, Stereo Review, 4/76.
Hollies scholars herald Allan Clarke's homecoming as a return to form, but though the material is their most playful in years -- the slyly circular "Love Makes the World Go Round," the slyly hyperbolic "Out on the Road" -- the old lightness is gone, probably forever. I mean, soul is soul -- at times the sham intensity here is almost baroque. We are not charmed. B-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
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