The Hollies

Greatest Hits...Live!

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During a brief reunion spurred on by their 20th anniversary appearance on Top of the Pops, Graham Nash once again entered the studio with Allan Clarke, Bobby Elliott, and Tony Hicks to record the 1983 Hollies album, What Goes Around.... It was a synth-heavy affair with no songwriting contributions from any of the Hollies themselves, but Nash was back and, for die-hard Hollies fans, that was worth the price of admission right there. Also worth the price of admission (literally) were concert tickets for the subsequent tour in support of What Goes Around..., which included Nash in the lineup for the first time in 15 years. Despite the fact that many of the venues on the tour were of the "state fair" variety, the group's monster set list provided a Palladium-worthy performance amid the tilt-a-whirls and cotton-candy stands. The Fuel Records release Greatest Hits...Live! captures the tenuously restored Hollies during their performance at Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati, OH, in the summer of 1983. Unlike the earlier Archive release of this same date, (Archive Alive!), the Fuel release chooses to include the two numbers from What Goes Around... ("Casualty" and "Someone Else's Eyes") that the Hollies had worked into their live set -- not exactly "greatest-hits" material, but complete. Keyboards abound on this recording but, considering the year, the guys can be forgiven that indiscretion. In fairness, it would have been a technical and logistical nightmare to have a complete string and horn section on the tour, and the synths were necessary to add "oompf" to the string-heavy hits like "The Air That I Breathe." Dated-sounding instrumentation aside, this really is a monster set -- from the "almost better than the Beatles" opener, "I Can't Let Go," to the timeless "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress," this is the Hollies in top form. Vocally, they still have all of their chops, and classic close-harmony workouts like "On a Carousel" and "Bus Stop" sound even more impressive (and impossibly tight) than they do on the studio versions. Alongside the classic Hollies numbers, Nash squeezes in a couple CSN hits ("Wasted on the Way" and "Teach Your Children") that work extremely well within the harmony-heavy Hollies milieu. It is also fun to hear Nash working through Hollies tunes that were written after he left the band in 1968 -- "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," "The Air That I Breathe," and "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" providing the answer to some longing "what ifs." The highlight of the disc is, most certainly, the stripped-down acoustic version of "King Midas in Reverse." Nash's hitworthy stab at psychedelia gains power when the vocals become the focus and, despite the acoustic backing, proves to be a muscular track indeed. For Nash-centric fans of the Hollies, Greatest Hits...Live! gives them lots to love and, for the "any lineup will do" set, just hammers home the fact that these guys never lost it, not one bit.

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