Hollies Staying Power Album
"Stay" is the most poignant word in The Hollies proud history – the title of their first really big hit single, and their first album. Rarely can a band have had such incredible... "Staying Power"!
The Hollies would indeed go on to 'stay' in the public's affection, seemingly forever; largely due to both their great talent and their continual progression, never ceasing to move forward as a band, and now's the time The Hollies have this, their fantastic new studio album. The first by the latest 'incarnation' of the famous group - a 're-born' Hollies!
With the supremely confident and really talented lead vocalist Peter Howarth and the distinctive high-harmony vocalist/guitarist Steve Lauri adding their considerable abilities to the classic line-up of: Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliott, Ray Stiles and Ian Parker, The Hollies, now in their latest 'era' are once again a top recording band I'm delighted to say.
The new 'Hollies sound' of Howarth-Hicks-Lauri gives us what on the one hand is a totally 'new' harmony vocal led group, a fresh entity performing newly recorded material - (to an extent The Hollies do 'begin here') - yet on the other hand the quite unmistakable trademark 'ringing' guitar work of Tony Hicks, expert Bobby Elliott drumming, the ultra-tight impeccable band musicianship, those craftsmanship three-part vocal harmonies, plus a dynamic strong lead vocalist...well that sounds very much like "the group's group", those world famous...Hollies!
It's surprising just how fast you become accustomed to the superb vocal skills of Peter Howarth, his most distinctive singing, emotive voice, and terrific timing show a lead vocalist of rare quality. Peter is a magnificent singer and frontman, most worthy of continuing on the proud tradition of his famous predecessors in The Hollies, and of course expanding still further the musical horizons of the band through new studio recordings.
The Hollies have made an inspired choice inviting Peter Howarth to front the band for this, the next phase of their amazing musical "long road..." And while we all happily sing along with The Hollies, none of us really stop to consider just how important the role of the high harmony vocalist is to the group - the 'icing on the vocal cake'!
Steve Lauri was literally pitched in at short notice for some German shows, but he has slotted into the group quite perfectly and his strong vocal harmonies have completed the new 'Hollies sound' to perfection.
Steve has also emulated his famous past Hollies high-harmony vocalist colleagues in tremendous style, not only complimenting the band, but also giving his own distinctive sound to The Hollies.
"So on we go..."it's a tribute to the sheer professionalism and skill of Messrs. Howarth, Hicks and Lauri that they sound as if they have been singing together as a vocal harmony team for umpteen years! (Remember harmony singing sounds effortlessly easy, but is anything but.)
Instrumentally the band sounds better than ever, while in Ray Stiles and Ian Parker The Hollies have their own inbuilt recording studio 'experts'. Add to that Peter's vast theatrical musical pedigree and vocal arrangement expertise and seldom can a group have been in such a powerful position to record a new studio album.
The band's reputation is so strong that, as in their past, top composers have again provided new material specifically for The Hollies to record. Among these is Ray Stiles' old mate and ex-Mud guitarist Rob Davis, (who has written for many top stars such as Kylie Minogue - I'm sure all Hollies fans join me in wishing Kylie a speedy return to full health and her career.) Rob Davis' song writing range goes far beyond 'dance and chart-orientated' popular material, for which he is best known. Rob is indeed a songwriter of considerable skill and his tremendous composition.
"HOPE", co-written with Steve Mac, opens the new album in brilliant style. Note this album version is slightly different to the 'single CD' version (EMI 0946 340623-2-9) in that additional guitar work and lovely counter-vocals by Peter Howarth and Steve Lauri are featured towards the conclusion, a great opening number. This track also has an acoustic guitar through keyboard effect.
Exquisite three-part vocal harmonies, (note those so quickly familiar Howarth-Hicks-Lauri harmony vocals), a sincere lead vocal, subliminal percussion, a gorgeous 'Parker Fly' Spanish guitar and tasteful synthesizer make "SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL" a Mark Read and Graham Stack composition (and potential single?) really excel.
The Hollies have included great 'live' versions of both these two songs in the current tour.
"PROVE ME WRONG" another Mark Read composition, and also featured in the current tour, again sees Peter Howarth tugging at the heartstrings with a most emotive lead vocal, again the Howarth-Hicks-Lauri harmony vocals are ultra-tight with some cool instrumental backing, The Hollies are really flying on this new album.
Note the 'twilight zone' guitar intro as things move up a gear with tremendous Steve Lauri guitar work and great Ian Parker synth plus glorious vocals on "BREAK ME", with an interchange of lead vocal and the distinctive high harmony of Peter Howarth and Steve Lauri on this pop/rocker. Steve Lauri's guitar solo is top notch while Ray Stiles driving bass guitar and Bobby Elliott's powering drums steer this excellent Davis/Iglasias/Alexander composition ahead in typically brilliant 'Hollies Style'!
"SHINE ON ME" written by Hart/Read/Masterson once again benefits from Peter Howarth's skilful lead vocals, notice how Peter moves from a 'pleading' style to 'assertive' style in an effortless instant. Howarth-Hicks-Lauri providing those freshly recognisable Hollies harmonies with a consummate group effort.
A rather different style duly utilising fine Ian Parker keyboards, haunting vocal harmonies, typically casual Hollies guitars and an accomplished lead vocal - with Peter briefly switching into his strong falsetto range feature on the delightful "SUSPENDED ANIMATION". Nice Bobby Elliott percussion on this track and distinctive Tony Hicks guitar licks. The song was written by Rob Davis, Enrique Iglasias and Greg Alexander; Rob Davis also contributes guitar on this number, which has a 'ringing telephone' feature!.
'Side two' (a quaint term) opens with a powering song "TOUCH ME". Great Hicks guitars, tight group unity, as Peter Howarth handles the three-part harmonies himself including the falsetto line. (Shades of "Carrie Anne" here!) Nice synth work by Ian Parker while Ray's emphatic bass guitar supports in fine style. This again is a Davis/Alexander/Iglasias composition.
Both acoustic and electric reflective guitars open "EMOTIONS" on which Peter again gives a first rate lead vocal and Howarth-Hicks-Lauri once more sound like they have been singing together for decades!
Rob Davis and Lamont Dozier wrote this track; it's a mid-paced harmony-led showcase, maybe a possible single release. (?) This gorgeous item is graced by another lovely Tony Hicks rock guitar solo, while tastefully played synth strings by Ian Parker are notable in the background.A truly beautiful number.
Ian Parker's acoustic piano is featured on "WEAKNESS" leading into another exhilarating up-tempo pop/rock item on which Peter Howarth is again in top form. The vocal harmonies excel, while Steve Lauri provides a high pitched vocal feature above the harmonies. Bobby Elliott holds the track together with precision drumming. This excellent number is a Rob Davis and Chris Braid composition.
"LIVE IT UP" has great supportive guitars, a brisk group performance, some catchy vocal harmony lines and a sincere lead vocal as Peter gets the most out of the songs lyrics in his carefree style performance. This is the relaxed 'breezy' style Hollies we know and love from past gems as the 'new' Hollies remind us that in 'spirit' they are still very much that same 'classic' British Band! This chirpy song was written by Rob Davis, Enrique Iglasias and Greg Alexander.
"YESTERDAY'S GONE" is another guitar based item with a mid-paced tempo, fine Ian Parker keyboards, some superior Howarth-Hicks-Lauri vocal harmonies dominating and an accomplished Peter Howarth vocal; while Tony's various guitars, Steve's backup guitar and Ray's bass blend together superbly - enjoy the gorgeous Tony Hicks guitar solo here. Bobby gives his normal top class percussive performance, with some skillful close-harmony vocal passages by Peter and Steve. This track is a Mark Read and Cliff Twigg composition.
The magnificent "LET LOVE PASS" again written by Rob Davis (who also plays acoustic guitar on this track) superbly closes this triumphant new Hollies album. Peter is in a class of his own with a really heart-rending emotionally charged lead vocal, Steve provides a moving close-harmony vocal while again Howarth-Hicks-Lauri are vocally ultra-tight. Ian's keyboard work is magnificent while Hicks' Lauri's and Rob Davis' supporting guitars are essential. This track might make a fine single (?) and certainly brings a simply wonderful new Hollies studio album to an end on a really emotive high note - leaving you immediately pressing the 'play' button on your CD player again. The Hollies have featured "Let Love Pass" to conclude their live shows recently.
This promotional review is written prior to the actual release, hence it's not complete in all album aspects - I'll obviously look at this ('already classic') new Hollies album in more detail in 'Musical Pictures' later.
This is actually their first new studio album since 1983 (!) - but boy was it worth the wait! This, to be honest, is the album "review" I have wanted to write for oh so very long. The Hollies are now triumphantly 'reborn'; a brilliant new album that both lives up to the proud past tradition of this famous group and now sees The Hollies moving forward in such terrific style. It has all the classic ingredients; strong lead vocals, magnificent harmonies, great guitars, tight group musicianship, the very highest standard of quality material, the band playing to its considerable strengths, great arrangements, plus the classic 'Hollies style' of transforming songs into their very own.
An added bonus is that the tracks were recorded at Ray Stiles home recording studios between February and October 2005 with Ray Stiles and Ian Parker, the group's studio 'masterminds', handling recording engineer and 'mixing' duties in first rate manner; (the final mix was done in November). Indeed particular credit must go to Ray and Ian here, for the 'crystal clear' sound on vocals and instruments is a most striking feature of this splendid album - no one has 'understood' The Hollies in the recording studio so well since the great Ron Richards.
Take a bow lads, the production is spot on.
Messrs. Hicks and Elliott deserve great credit for 'rebuilding' the band in such magnificent style, their own performances on this album are quite impeccable, (as we have all come to expect of course!).
Tony and Bobby have given us back the world famous 'Hollies' as an inspired new recording band, sounding fresh, adventurous, and simply brilliant. I know I speak for Hollies fans everywhere in saying a heartfelt 'THANK YOU' to Tony and Bobby - plus of course Peter, Steve, Ray and Ian.
I would certainly consider "So Damn Beautiful", "Emotions" and "Let Love Pass" as potential single releases.
A further track recorded was "Too Much Too Soon" which may be utilised on any possible single release in the future, (wait and see folks!).
The doc is from www.hollies.co.uk/cd_staying_power_preview.html
|Release information about the album|
Release Date: 02/20/2006
Tracks in Staying Power: Hope, So Damn Beautiful, Prove Me Wrong, Break Me, Shine On Me, Suspended Animation, Touch Me, Emotions, Weakness, Live It Up, Yesterday's Gone, Let Love Pass
Staying Power Album Tracklist:
- Hope Lyrics
- So Damn Beautiful Lyrics
- Prove Me Wrong Lyrics
- Break Me Lyrics
- Shine On Me Lyrics
- Suspended Animation Lyrics
- Touch Me Lyrics
- Emotions Lyrics
- Weakness Lyrics
- Live It Up Lyrics
- Yesterday's Gone Lyrics
- Let Love Pass Lyrics
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