The Hollies

Hollies [1974]

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This record would have disappeared long ago were it not for regal centerpiece "The Air That I Breathe," arguably pop's greatest ballad. The rest of the material naturally pales in comparison, but 1974's Hollies delivers likable-enough smiley face rock with the quintet's lilting trademark harmonies throughout. Of course, silly star fables like "Out on the Road" can't measure up to past glories. Same goes for the morally ambiguous, similarly titled openers. Luckily, the album maintains the Brits' peculiar pent-up energy, even in countrified hootenannies like "Rubber Lucy" (surprisingly not a companion to Roxy Music's blow-up doll ode). The meaningless "Transatlantic Westbound Jet" cruises along enjoyably, with visions of Cheap Trick dancing in the verses. "Pick up the Pieces Again" is rolled up in Crosby, Stills, & Nash (the last a former Hollies running mate), and the boys cannibalize their own "Long Tall Women in a Black Dress" for denouement "The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee" (whew). Unfortunately, here, the Hollies have run out of tunes to match their talent. But that beautiful ballad will live forever: "Sleep, silent angel, go to sleep." By the way, the band is named after Buddy Holly.

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