Just as it marked the 40th anniversary of the Hollies' first two albums, Stay With the Hollies and In the Hollies Style, by combining them on a single CD in 2004, EMI Records added the group's third and fourth albums, Hollies and Would You Believe?, released in the fall of 1965 and the summer of 1966, respectively, to its "60s 2 on 1" series in 2005. (Hollies was reproduced in monophonic sound, Would You Believe? in stereo.) The Hollies were more of a singles than an album group in the mid-'60s, and after In the Hollies Style failed to chart in the winter of 1964-1965, they racked up their fifth, sixth, and seventh consecutive Top Ten hits in the U.K., even topping the charts for the first time with "I'm Alive," before issuing their third album, Hollies, in late September 1965. It was a typical release for its time. Like the Rolling Stones' Out of Our Heads, which came out on the same day, it consisted largely of cover versions, along with a handful of group originals. And like the Stones, the Hollies favored American R&B songs such as "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Fortune Teller," and "Mickey's Monkey." But they were also listening to the folk revival, which led them to open the album with "The Very Last Day," which they found on Peter, Paul & Mary's 1963 In the Wind album. The original songs, written by Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Graham Nash, and credited to the pseudonym "L. Ransford," had more individual flair than those on previous albums, but still weren't very distinguished. And this was a crucial point. Led by the Beatles, all the beat groups were trying to write their own material, and the next Stones album, Aftermath, released in April 1966, was entirely self-written. Would You Believe?, however, had only four original songs, fewer than Hollies had. And they tended to be derivative, like "Hard Hard Year" (essentially a rewrite of the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away") or novelties such as "Oriental Sadness" and Nash's solo showcase "Fifi the Flea." Meanwhile, the covers again mixed rock & roll and R&B oldies ("Sweet Little Sixteen," "That's How Strong My Love Is") with borrowings from the folk and folk-rock repertoire ("Stewball," "I Am a Rock"). The Hollies had developed a distinctive vocal blend that made them identifiable, and with the right piece of material, they could be impressive, as they were when they ended Would You Believe? with their recent single, a major U.K. and minor U.S. hit, "I Can't Let Go." ("Don't You Even Care [What's Gonna Happen to Me?]," written by Clint Ballard, Jr., who had given them "I'm Alive," was also worthy of single release.) But by the summer of 1966, they were falling behind their peers. (They would rally soon, of course.) Forty years later, their third and fourth albums presented pleasant curiosities to old fans and new listeners in the form of Hollies versions of pop and rock standards and some minor early songs from group members who went on to greater accomplishments soon after.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann