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Would You Believe: Three Records From The Hollies’ Allan Clarke Collected By RPM

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Allan Clarke - SideshowRPM Records, an imprint of Cherry Red Group, continues to leave no stone unturned in its explorations of every corner of the British pop-rock map with three recent collections from Hollies leader Allan Clarke, “Pied Piper” Crispian St. Peters and beat combo The Scorpions. Today, the spotlight is on Sideshow from Allan Clarke, who began singing in Manchester as a youth with his pal Graham Nash and never looked back.

Sideshow: Solo Recordings 1973-1976 collects three early solo albums from Allan Clarke on two CDs. The Hollies had not only survived the departure in late 1968 of founding member Nash, but had thrived thanks to singles like “Sorry, Suzanne” and the international smash “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” But soon, Clarke felt the same urge that Nash had, to explore life outside of The Hollies. His songwriting partnership with Roger Cook on the Hollies hit “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” inspired him to leave the band in late 1971, to be replaced by Mikael Rickfors. Following a debut solo effort for RCA in the U.K. and Epic in the U.S. (My Real Name is ‘arold), Clarke returned to the band’s home base of EMI for the three albums included in this set.

Headroom was released in 1973, just prior to Clarke’s return that year to The Hollies. Almost entirely written by Clarke and guitarist Ray Glynn, Headroom found Clarke joined by a band including Tony Newman on drums, Elton John Band member Dee Murray on bass and Kirk Duncan on keyboards. In addition to the clutch of original songs, Clarke revisited “Would You Believe” from The Hollies’ Butterfly album. He also recorded a fine version of Mentor Williams’ “Drift Away” after having heard it on a demo. But by the time of the album’s release, Dobie Gray had already scored the hit record.

Ensconced in The Hollies once again, Clarke persevered with another solo set. The self-titled Allan Clarke reteamed him with Roger Cook (of the Cook and Greenaway team behind such pop favorites as “You’ve Got Your Troubles”) as well as with Glynn and Newman. Herbie Flowers assumed bass duties and Peter Robinson took over piano, while future Nashville transplant Cook also added the great B.J. Cole on steel guitar for a country-rock flavor. Flowers and Cook also welcomed their Blue Mink bandmate Madeline Bell to the album sessions. Clarke’s compositions were curiously absent from the LP, but Cook contributed five songs, three co-written with Flowers. In John Reed’s liner notes, Clarke confesses, “I felt a little like I should have had some of my songs on the album, but…Roger had other ideas about how to showcase me. [Allan Clarke] was Roger’s baby.” Clarke did bring a song by the young, pre-Fleetwood Mac team of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the project (“Baby Don’t Let Me Down Again,” from the infamously out-of-print Buckingham Nicks LP). It also featured songs by Randy Newman (“I’ll Be Home”), Little Richard (“Send Me Some Lovin’”) and Bruce Springsteen (“If I Were the Priest”). Clarke was an early champion of the future Boss’s, also recording “Fourth of July Asbury Park (Sandy)” with The Hollies in 1975.

There’s more on Allan Clarke after the jump, including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 9, 2014 at 10:06