The Hollies

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

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After delving into more "serious" music with the Dylan album, the Hollies return to their pop roots with this fine effort. All 11 selections are self-penned, and as usual, there is inconsistency in the quality of songwriting. However, even the most inconsequential tunes boast a good melody and solid musicianship. Three songs stand out: "Why Didn't You Believe" is contemporary white gospel at its best, with an intensity that befits the subject matter (though lyrics could have stood improvement); "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" became one of their biggest hits, with Allan Clarke giving a heartfelt reading of the lyrics; and "My Life Is Over With You" is one Hollies song where music, lyrics and arrangement all fit together nearly perfectly. The orchestration is tasteful and restrained, Bobby Elliott's drumming is particularly strong, and lyrically there is a depth that is fitting and welcome. Even the songs that seem most lightweight, such as "Please Sign Your Letters" and "You Love 'Cos You Like It," have a bouncy quality that make them quite tolerable. Though the Hollies never gained a reputation as serious album artists, this is a good effort that maintains a balance between lightweight and serious pop material.

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