The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for April 15th, 2011

“Would You Believe” The Complete Hollies 1963-1968 Is Coming From EMI?

with 18 comments

Fans of the Hollies have lately had plenty of items on their wish lists, thanks to recent releases from the Sundazed and BGO labels. Yes, it’s been quite a year in catalogue terms for the lads from Manchester! EMI’s U.K. arm continues the celebration with the May 9 release of one whopper of a box set. The Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years (what about Bobby Elliott? Just askin’!) is subtitled The Complete Hollies: April 1963 – October 1968, and if this is somewhat of a fallacy, it’s more or less the case.

In a nutshell, the six CDs will present each and every track released commercially during that period on an LP, EP or single, plus all of the tracks from that era released on later compilations such as 30th Anniversary Collection, The Long Road Home, Rarities, The Hollies at Abbey Road and The Hollies (Music for Pleasure label). In addition, ten previously unreleased tracks will make their premiere: seven performances from the Hollies’ May 1968 gig at London’s famed Lewisham Odeon, and three French-language tracks that have been collecting dust in the EMI vaults. Perhaps best of all (depending on whom you ask!), the set is part of EMI’s budget line that has encompassed similar collections for Manfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas and other renowned British acts. This means that the price is an altogether affordable £17.93 at present from Amazon U.K., which is roughly $29.50 USD at the time of this writing. For 159 tracks over 6 discs, that’s roughly $0.19 per song, not a bad deal for some of the most infectious pop music ever recorded, no?

That’s an awful lot of good news, so let’s take the bitter with the sweet. As this is a budget-line release, the mastering is a potpourri. Some tracks were remastered back in 1997-1999, others in 2003 and still others expressly for this project in 2011. (The 2011 remasters include some of the Hollies’ most eclectic performances such as “Look Through Any Window” in French, and the uproarious, wild duet with EMI labelmate Peter Sellers on the movie theme “After the Fox.”) This will impact some listeners’ decisions whether to purchase this set more than others, but everyone can agree on one thing: never before has this impressive body of work been available in such a compact package. While most of the material has been on CD before, the discs aren’t always the easiest to find as imports, and prices aren’t always low. For those wishing to have a complete collection of every track released by The Hollies in the group’s British Invasion prime, you could hardly do better. And the inclusion of eight tracks (only one previously released) from the Lewisham Odeon concert of May 1968 may be the high point of the set from a collectors’ standpoint, lavishing attention on the often-overlooked live performances of the band as they run through one hit after another.

The box set is not consistent as to mono and stereo.  Stay with the Hollies is presented in stereo, excepting the track “Stay,” which will be heard in its mono single mix.   For Certain Because and Butterfly will also be in stereo, while In The Hollies Style, The Hollies, Would You Believe and Evolution will all be mono.  Remixes circa 1993 have been utilized for some tracks; two songs will make their stereo debuts (the Italian-language cuts “Non Prego Per Me” and “Devi Avere Fiducia in Me”) and one mono mix also appears for the first time (“Little Bitty Pretty One”). Two versions each of “Yes I Will,” “We’re Through” and “A Taste of Honey” have been included. The only two late-surfacing Hollies rarities to be excluded from the set are the alternate take of “Poison Ivy” from the band’s first Australian LP, and the alternate “Searchin’,” from the 1988 U.K. The Hollies: Compacts for Pleasure CD.  For additional information on the mono/stereo mixes, check out the informative comments from our ace readers below!

What’s missing? A look at the indispensable Hollies sessionography contained in the box set The Long Road Home indicates nearly twenty more unreleased tracks from this period, from recordings of “Fortune Teller” and “Cry Me a River” to the infamous, abortive backing track of “Marrakesh Express.” However, these are in various states of completion, with “Marrakesh” said to be barely recognizable as the familiar Crosby, Stills and Nash song.

Ready to say “Yes I Will” to the classic Hollies lineup of Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott plus Eric Haydock or Bernie Calvert? Hit the jump for the complete track listing with year of remastering (where available) and discographical information. If you have any additions to the discography, please feel free to jump in and contribute! The Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years: The Complete Hollies: April 1963 – October 1968 is due in the U.K. on May 9 and will reach American shores shortly thereafter. It can be pre-ordered at Amazon U.K. from the link below! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 15, 2011 at 14:42