Special Collection

The Hollies

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Special Collection Review

by Bruce Eder

The Hollies Special Collection was originally issued in the late 1990s, around the same time as the At Abbey Road vault excavations of this and numerous other bands, and then re-released by EMI in 2008 in its EMI Gold line. What makes it "special" is anyone's guess -- not even the notes by drummer Bobby Elliot really explain that, though its sheer breadth could be an explanation...1963 to 1999 is a long history for any working rock & roll band, and they've gotten ten years past that as of this particular writing. There's also a strange consistency and unity to the material, across 60 songs covering over 35 years -- from R&B covers at the outset to a closing live rendition of Prince's "Purple Rain." Nor have the producers focused only -- or even over-much -- on hits, drawing on numerous worthy B-sides, EP, and album tracks. The result is the fullest cross-section of the group's sound heard on an anthology, this side of The Hollies Collection -- one might disagree with some of the emphasis embodied in the selections, such as the non-presence of a single one of the Bob Dylan songs they cut in the late 1960s; that Dylan collection had some very good moments, despite what some critics said. And couldn't they have fit in the Mikael Rickfors-era single "The Baby," which was a great record regardless of who was singing lead? Those criticisms aside, however, the virtues here far exceed the minor flaws -- the sound is excellent and the lineup of songs, if not perfect, is eminently listenable in the extreme, rivaling the very best that the British Invasion could deliver on its best days. The stereo masters are used wherever possible, and the collection is successfully designed to please longtime fans and maybe pull in a few more casual listeners.

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