Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Shamefully, the group is often overlooked in the ranks of British Invasion bands, but when you add up the hits, they score much higher than the Freddies and Gerry's, and there's no question the talent level was higher as well. This DVD is part of a strong and on-going series on Invasion groups, that showed promise with last year's first four, including a bang-up Dusty Springfield documentary. The Hollies one is the best so far, clocking in at two hours, and including every song used in its entire original length in the bonus features.

There was lots of lip-synching in those days, or groups singing live over pre-recorded tracks. Thankfully, the producers here have found plenty of full live performances, from sources all over Europe and North America. That alone is historically important and collectable for fans. They've also done a great job with the overall story-telling, allowing the group members to take it from the start to the practical end in the mid-70's, and ignoring the occasional reunion. There are subtle but important touches, as when Allen Clarke and Graham Nash explain they were obsessed with harmonies, but it was the addition of the third voice, Tony Hicks, that made the group special. Every important group member of the early days takes part, with candid but loving thoughts on amazing times from almost 50 years ago. There's lots of praise and talk of friendship, and no bitterness. They do talk about the tough times, the fights, but it's with some sober second thoughts, and a lot more maturity. If there's any enmity toward Nash now for quitting the group in 1968, its overshadowed by the ability to look at the situation now and see his side of the story.

You get that oft-told tale, how the fairly-progressive King Midas In Reverse failed on the charts, and the group was told to get back to simple stuff for the kids, so eventually Nash got fed up and left. It's a pivotal moment in rock history, leading to CSN. But if overshadows The Hollies hits before and after too often, and we get an ear-and-eyeful of them to remind us. Dig the driving bass on On A Carousel, the intricate arrangement on I Can't Let Go, and of course the vocal power on Bus Stop. Plus, not too many 60's groups were able to survive into the 70's, yet The Hollies did so with even bigger U.S. hits, Long Cool Woman and The Air That I Breathe. In these days of scandal-to-scandal coverage of pop stars, it's refreshing to watch a two-hour movie that shows the progression of a group, concentrating on the music. Nobody got busted or shot in this film, and I liked that better.

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