Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Hollies

  • Evolution [Epic, 1967] A-
  • Words and Music by Bob Dylan [Epic, 1969] B-
  • He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother [Epic, 1970] B
  • Moving Finger [Epic, 1970] C+
  • Distant Light [Epic, 1972] C+
  • Romany [Epic, 1972] C-
  • The Hollies' Greatest Hits [Epic, 1973] A-
  • Hollies [Epic, 1974] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Evolution [Epic, 1967]
Sweets for the sweet--they knew what they were doing when they closed with a ditty called "Ye Olde Toffee Shop." This is quintessential pop fluff; its ebulliently gimmicky production style complements its precise, effervescent harmonies perfectly. Graham Nash has never made more sense--the only mystery about this record is why it was good for only one hit single. A-

Words and Music by Bob Dylan [Epic, 1969]
Graham Nash left the Hollies in principled opposition to this record. I fail to understand his fuss, unless he was worried about writing royalties. A good selection of Dylan songs done in a totally unexceptionable style. Anyone who likes the group will like this record. B-

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother [Epic, 1970]
Despite one soupy instrumental, one soupy hit, and one soupy song of putative faith, the general air of unrelieved vapidity here only enhances yet another bright, slick, well-crafted album by our own Five Lads. Funniest conceit: "Please Sign Your Letters." Best readymade: Booker T. bottom on "Do You Believe in Love?" B

Moving Finger [Epic, 1970]
Suddenly, for no discernible reason, the Hollies seem to be aiming their schlock at the housewife market. The nadir, an attempted artsong called "Marigold Gloria Swansong," is as aimless as bad (i.e. current) Bee Gees; usually they come on like the Sonny and Cher of slick harmony. The music hasn't lost its iridescence, but though they do generate one great soap opera--"Too Young to Be Married"--most of this is too crass for giggles. C+

Distant Light [Epic, 1972]
Old rock and rollers are doing somersaults over the hit, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress," one of the catchier items on the recent AM. But that's all it is, and that's all this album's got. The likable songs are cancelled out by a couple of real dummies, and the musical substance is more a function of Allan Clarke's late-blooming soulfulness--pop groups have to do something as they push thirty--than in the long cool harmonies of yesteryear. C+

Romany [Epic, 1972]
You had your doubts about the Hollies without Graham Nash, right? How about without Graham Nash and Allan Clarke? C-

The Hollies' Greatest Hits [Epic, 1973]
Ignoring their barren stint with Mikael "Swedish Invasion" Rikfors, they add "Bus Stop," "On a Carousel," and four other Imperial sillyditties to six Epic tracks, including their three American successes of the '70s. This has the effect of underplaying their most durable froth, the early Epic music with Graham Nash--the ersatz Pepperpomp of "King Midas in Reverse" is a lot closer to their essence than the "sincerity" of "He Ain't Heavy." The programming is a mess, too. But it's the one Hollies album to own if one etc., as well as a decent LP with "Long Cool Woman" on it. A-

Hollies [Epic, 1974]
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-

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