Archive for Keith Relf

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Psychedelic Relics, Part 2

Posted in Lost Classics!, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2010 by 30daysout

Pretty much every band around in the mid-1960s got around to cutting a “psychedelic” album or two, that is, if the band lasted long enough.  The Byrds got freaky with “Eight Miles High” and the Beatles blew everybody’s mind with Revolver, and everyone followed suit.

Today we are going to take a look at some latter-period work from British Invasion bands that followed in the footsteps of the Fab Four.  If they lasted long enough to reach 1967-1970, pretty much everyone of that era had to cut their own druggy tunes for better or worse.

The Hollies came along in 1963 with crisp, bright harmonies and hooky songs that made it to the top of the pop charts.  “Stop, Stop, Stop,” “Bus Stop,” “On A Carousel,” “Carrie Anne” and many others were pleasant, melodic and sounded great on AM radio.  The Hollies were led by vocalists Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and Graham Nash, who were also the main songwriters.

Perhaps a little jaded by their pop success, the Hollies got psychedelic with Evolution, their album from 1967.  The harmonies were still firmly in place, Clarke-Hicks-Nash were still the songwriters, but the instrumentation now included some fuzz guitar and trippy drumming.  “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” is a perfect example – it had just enough psychedelic energy and pop smarts to still be a chart hit (it was covered by the Everly Brothers and the Searchers, who had the hit version).

Following the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper blueprint, the Hollies had their own sitar-spiced tune, “Heading For A Fall,” and some baroque Anglophilia, “Ye Olde Toffee Shop,” complete with fey harpsichord.  But what makes Evolution listenable, and even memorable, are the vocal arrangements.  “You Need Love” and “When Your Light Turned On” shows that the Hollies were a formidable band on a level with the Kinks, the Who, the Stones, etc.

But the seeds of discord had already been sown: by the next year, 1968, Graham Nash grew impatient with the endless string of pop singles and would leave Merrie Olde England and the Hollies behind.  He turned up in Laurel Canyon, and you know the rest.  Clarke and Hicks would soldier on with replacement singer Terry Sylvester, and the Hollies would go into the 1970s with huge hits like “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” and “The Air That I Breathe.”

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