The group's follow-up album to a pair of hit singles ("Long Cool Woman," "Long Dark Road") tries for the harder sound that sold those singles. Romany's cover art deliberately recalls its immediate predecessor Distant Light, but otherwise the two albums are rather dissimilar. For starters, this is the album that the group cut during the short-lived tenure of Mikael Rickfors as lead singer -- he's more of a weighty, David Clayton-Thomas type singer than Allan Clarke was, much more of a hard-rock crooner, as is evident on the version of David Ackles' "Down River" and the self-consciously heavy rocker "Slow Down." Tony Hicks and Terry Sylvester make a valiant effort to meld their harmonies into the familiar Hollies mode, and succeed on songs such as "Delaware Taggett and the Outlaw Boys" and "Jesus Was a Crossmaker," though apart from "Magic Woman Touch," most of this album's original first side lacks the memorable hooks, melodies, or tempos needed for hit material. There are tunes worth discovering, however, for anyone who has never heard this album. The title track, although it was too moody and arty to ever become a hit, could be the prettiest song to come from the group after the 1960s; the Tony Hicks co-authored "Blue in the Morning" has a hard-edged, crisp, economical guitar part reminiscent of "Long Dark Road"; and "Courage of Your Convictions" seems to be a conscious attempt at emulating the sound of "Long Cool Woman." The playing and singing are impressive, and these are solid album tracks, if not necessarily chart-topping material.
by Bruce Eder