Life at 33 1/3: Fourth time lucky


The Hollies: Would You Believe (Parlophone)

June 1966, and The Hollies finally deliver an album of some substance.  Their three previous efforts were ramshackle runs through cover versions of your standard rock’n’roll and rhythm & blues.  They sounded clumsy and strained, they didn’t rock, it was all rickety-rackety playing and tinny harmony vocals.  The Manchester lads (as one would have called them way back when) were floored by the opposition: The Stones, the Animals, the Pretty Things, the Kinks, Small Faces, the Manfreds and the Beatles.

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The Hollies’ strength was hit singles, stuff that glued itself to your brain after about 30 seconds, great hook lines, stellar harmony singing, genuine pop music.  When it came to singles they sure knew how to pick quality songs.  19 Top 20 hits in Great Britain during the 1960s says it all.  Only The Beatles had more.

But the Hollies struggled on 33 1/3.  The LP’s were throwaways stuffed with badly realized cover versions and a handful of indecisive self-written tunes (they hid behind the pseudonym L. Ransford on those – actually the name of Graham Nash’ grandfather) that left a lot to be desired.  The Hollies simply didn’t know how to make a proper LP.

That was until “Would You Believe” arrived with some splendor.  The choice of cover songs is inspired, and the self-composed material a huge improvement.  A couple of the tracks could easily have been released as singles.  There are only three relapses into old sins here: “That’s How Strong My Love Is” (why, Hollies, why?!?), “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Take Your Time”.  But apart from these, the album sounds nice and fresh.

There is a folk approach here that suits the band well, namely in Paul Simon’s “I Am A Rock”, the Peter, Paul & Mary-chestnut “Stewball “ (a song John Lennon stole and renamed “Happy Xmas (War Is Over”)) and Graham Nash’ bittersweet “Fifi The Flea”.  They flirt with the exotics in “Oriental Sadness” and even manage to write and perform a piece of British beat that actually swings (“I’ve Got A Way Of My Own”).

The album checks out with the massive hit “I Can’t Let Go”.  It surpasses everything on the album.  But then again, being one of the greatest singles of all time it would take some effort to beat that monster.

“Would You Believe” catches The Hollies on their way to something much bigger.  They would arrive only a few months later with “For Certain Because”, the first of three classy Hollies-albums in a row.

Oddity: The song “Would You Believe” is not included on the album but appeared three albums later on “Butterfly”, released in November 1967.  Check it out!

Released: June 1966

Produced by: Ron Richards

Side One

1. “I Take What I Want” (David Porter, Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, Isaac Hayes)  2:15

2. “Hard Hard Year” (Ransford)  2:13

3. “That’s How Strong My Love Is” (Roosevelt Jamison)  2:42

4. “Sweet Little Sixteen” (Chuck Berry)  2:21

5. “Oriental Sadness” (Ransford)  2:37

6. “I Am a Rock” (Paul Simon)  2:48

Side Two

7. “Take Your Time” (Buddy Holly, Norman Petty)  2:18

8. “Don’t You Even Care” (Clint Ballard, Jr.)  2:27

9. “Fifi the Flea” (Ransford)  2:05

10. “Stewball” (Bob Yellin, Ralph Rinzler, John Herald)  3:05

11. “I’ve Got a Way of My Own” (Ransford)  2:12

12. “I Can’t Let Go” (Chip Taylor, Al Gorgoni)  2:26



Allan Clarke – vocals, harmonica

Bobby Elliott – drums

Eric Haydock – bass guitar

Tony Hicks – lead guitar, vocals

Graham Nash – rhythm guitar, vocals