I don’t get it. If this CD documents The Hollies’ 1983 tour, how come it sounds like a cheap cover band trying to not sound like The Hollies? And how come it sat on a shelf for 22 years? These guys ate up the charts back it the 60’s and 70’s with mega pop hits like “Bus Stop” and “Long Cool Woman.” They hung on for another decade or so, but their star inevitably faded and they went off to sell real estate or whatever. They reconnected with Graham Nash for this recording, and he gets a few hits in, much to the betterment of the album. Maybe like so many other faded pop stars, they have issued this rather weak live set in hopes of cashing in on the nostalgia of today’s late date baby boomers. Now don’t get me wrong, this disc isn’t a complete embarrassment. It just sounds… wrong.
Down at Epcot, they have a stage were out-of-date artists like Donovan or half of The Monkees perform to embarrassingly small audiences. I call it “The Stage of Washed Up Pop Heroes,” and this record makes me think of it. I pushed that thought back as far as possible, until I read the fine print of the liner notes: “Recorded live at Kings Island, Cincinnati.” Oh my, there’s a CIRCUIT for these guys. That is so sad…
Reunions are problematic; even if you can recreate the original sound, the excitement is missing, and if you change things around, guys like me whine, “It’s different! I don’t WANT different! It’s just too little, too late, and the effect is sad.” The original arrangements are burned into our minds, and hearing them shmushed around on any scale is too much of a dislocation for most of us to handle. The Hollies get out a few new songs, and they are fine musicians, but it’s not enough to fight back to the top anymore. Times have changed, sounds have changed, expectations have changed, and even strong songwriting skills require new voices to carry them into the public eye. Jethro Tull summed it up best: too old to rock and roll, too young to die.
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