The year 2004 marked the 40th anniversary of the release of the Hollies' first two albums, Stay With the Hollies and In the Hollies Style, by EMI Records' Parlophone label, and EMI celebrated by reissuing the albums together in its "60s 2 on 1" CD two-fer series. Originally released ten months apart, in January 1964 and November 1964, respectively, Stay With the Hollies and In the Hollies Style trace the group's development in its second year of national popularity in the U.K. The Hollies had broken out of their Manchester base with their debut single, the Top 40 hit "(Ain't That) Just Like Me," in the spring of 1963, and after nearing the Top Ten with "Searchin'" they finally made it with "Stay," their cover of the American hit by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs, in the fall. That triggered the release of Stay With the Hollies, containing the new hit (but not the earlier singles), along with a standard set of other covers of American favorites by Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and others. By 2004, these songs were much more familiar than they were in Britain in 1964, in some cases in superior recordings by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. (It's worth noting, therefore, that the Hollies' version of Dr. Feelgood & the Interns' "Mr. Moonlight," heard here, preceded the Beatles' studio recording by seven months -- although the Beatles had been playing the song live much earlier -- and that their version of Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On," also here, was released the same month as the Stones'.) But the Hollies' energy and enthusiasm are undeniable, even if they are not as distinguished as their competitors. Three more Top Ten hits followed "Stay" in 1964 before the appearance of In the Hollies Style, none of which are featured on the album, which may help explain why, although Stay With the Hollies had reached number two in the British charts, In the Hollies Style didn't chart at all. (Or maybe it doesn't explain anything, since U.K. albums commonly did not duplicate singles releases in the '60s, and the group clearly was on a roll.) In any case, the 12 songs represent a transition in the Hollies' music that finds them writing more than half of the record through the Allan Clarke/Tony Hicks/Graham Nash partnership pseudonymously known as "L. Ransford." Ransford turns out to be very Beatles-influenced, for the most part, although Nash makes an excellent debut as a lead vocalist on the ballad "To You My Love." In the Hollies Style has become something of a "lost" Hollies album, and it proves to have some promising, if not really accomplished material. Thus, the two-fer is really an album largely for collectors.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann