Thursday, 18 August 2016

"Romany" 1972 LP by THE HOLLIES (Inside 'Changin' Times: The Complete Hollies January 1969 - March 1973' - 2015 Parlophone 5CD Peter Mew Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


 





The 1972 "Romany" LP by THE HOLLIES On CD Inside The "Changin' Times..." 5CD Set

"...Cast You Spell Over me One More Time..." 

The 1972 album "Romany" by The Hollies can be found on CD in two places – the now deleted 2007 EMI singular CD reissue with 8 Bonus Tracks (has become very pricey since deletion) – or inside "Changin' Times: The Complete Hollies - January 1969 - March 1973". I'd suggest getting "Romany" inside the 5CD set because its easily accessible and offers so much more on top of that great album (five other LPs worth as well as non-album 7" singles, outtakes and rarities). "Romany" was also issued with different track lists in the UK and USA and the "Changin' Time..." set will allow fans to sequence both. Here are the finite details...

UK and USA released July 2015 - "Changin' Times: The Complete Hollies - January 1969 - March 1973" by THE HOLLIES on Parlophone 0825646336111 (Barcode 0825646336111) is a 5CD Set in a multiple-layer double-sized jewel case. The "Romany" album had different tracks lists in the UK (12) and USA (11) and either can be sequenced from this 5-disc set as follows (3/5 = Track 3 on Disc 5 - 6/4 = Track 6 on Disc 4 etc.):

"Romany" - November 1972 UK 12-Track LP on Polydor 2383 144
Side 1:
1. Won't You Feel Good That Morning [3/5]
2. Touch [6/4]
3. Words Don't Come Easy [17/4]
4. Magic Woman Touch [13/4]
5. Lizzy And The Rainman [15/4]
6. Down River [12/4]

Side 2:
1. Slow Down [2/5]
2. Delaware Taggett And The Outlaw Boys [15/4]
3. Jesus Was A Crossmaker [11/4]
4. Romany [7/4]
5. Blue In The Morning [10/4]
6. Courage Of Your Convictions [18/4]

"Romany" - November 1972 USA 11-Track LP on Epic E 31992
Side 1:
1. Magic Woman Touch [13/4]
2. Touch [6/4]
3. Words Don't Come Easy [17/4]
4. Won’t We Feel Good [aka Won’t You Feel Good That Morning] [3/5]
5. Down River [12/4]

Side 2:
1. Slow Down [2/5]
2. Delaware Taggett And The Outlaw Boys [15/4]
3. Jesus Was A Crossmaker [11/4]
4. Romany [7/4]
5. Blue In The Morning [10/4]
6. Courage Of Your Convictions [18/4]

BONUS TRACKS:
The eight Bonus Tracks on the 2007 'Expanded Edition' CD of "Romany" are:
13. The Baby - a non-album UK 7” single A-side released 4 February 1972 on Polydor 2058 199 (Track 5 on Disc 4). For the non-album B-side "Oh Granny" see Track 4 on Disc 4
14. Magic Woman Touch (Acoustic Version) – Track 14 on Disc 4
15. Indian Girl – non-album B-side of "Magic Woman Touch" – a UK 7” single released 10 November 1972 on Polydor 2058 289 – Track 9 on Disc 3
16. If It Wasn’t For The Reason – recorded between the sessions for “Romany” and “Out On The Road” – Track 4 on Disc 5
17. Papa Rain – Previously Unreleased until 2007 on the 'Expanded Edition' – Track 8 on Disc 4
18. Witchy Woman - Previously Unreleased until 2007 on the 'Expanded Edition' (Eagles cover version) – Track 1 on Disc 5
19. Oh Granny (Terry Sylvester Vocal Version) - a non-album UK 7” single B-side to "The Baby" released 4 February 1972 on Polydor 2058 199 - Track 4 on Disc 4
20. I Had A Dream - non-album B-side to the US 7" single of "Jesus Was A Carpenter" (Judee Sill cover) release May 1973 on Epic Records 5-10989 - June 1973 German 7" single (in picture sleeve) of "Jesus Was A Carpenter" on Hansa 12 728 AT – Track 16 on Disc 5

OUTTAKE:
If It Wasn't For The Reason That I Love You – recorded September 1972 after the "Romany" sessions - from the November 1988 LP and CD compilation "Rarities" on EMI Records EMS 1311 – Track 4 on Disc 5

THE HOLLIES (December 1971 to March 1973)
Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliott, Bernie Calvert, Terry Sylvester and Mikael Rickfors

The 24-page booklet features a witty and clever introduction called 'Elucidating Observations' by the band's long-standing drummer BOBBY ELLIOTT (reminiscences of Graham being rescued from the beer-swilling Hollies by David Crosby to join him on the CSNY odyssey) - a UK Discography for the singles and LP – pages of rare European, US and Japanese 7” single picture sleeves – album covers – and track by track recording details. It's well done - the colour centre pages photo sees the boys staring out of set of broken windows somewhere in Nuremberg - and for such a huge haul of music is priced cheaply too.

Across 92 tracks are the A&B-sides of eight British 7" singles, six full albums (five British on Parlophone and one European on Hansa), six LP and CD compilation exclusives, non-album European/USA single releases and the bonus tracks that came with the ‘Extended Version’ CD of “Romany”. The six albums are: "Hollies Sing Dylan" (May 1969), "Hollies Sing Hollies" (November 1969), "Confessions Of The Mind" (November 1970), "Distant Light" (October 1971), "Romany" (November 1972) and "Out On The Road" (Germany-Only, June 1973).

By all accounts the "Romany" LP shouldn’t work. The band’s mentor and one of their principal songwriters Allan Clarke had jumped ship for a solo career and that other great tune contributor and original member Tony Hicks coughed up only one song  - "Blue In The Morning" – a co-write with fellow Englishman Kenny Lynch. Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors gave them the gorgeous "Touch" whilst "Down River" and "Jesus Was A Crossmaker" were covers of David Ackles and Judee Sill songs. The remainder were primarily from the pen of Colin Horton-Jennings – the Vocalist and Guitarist with obscure Harvest Records act The Greatest Show On Earth. It shouldn’t work but it does...

Instead of feeling like an LP of disparate songs written by other people – it feels like a grown up Hollies album – gorgeous harmony vocals allied with superb Abbey Road production values (Produced by The Hollies but engineered by Pink Floyd men Alan Parsons (The Dark Side Of The Moon) and Peter Bown (The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn). In fact I’d argue that if "Romany" had been the next Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young after 1970’s "Deja Vu" – they’d have even more garlands laid at their holy CSNY feet than they already do.

The UK LP opens with "Won’t You Feel Good That Morning" – the first of two songs written by the Trio of Cy Crane, Herbert Weiner and John Gluck Jr. – the other is "Slow Down" – both still mysteriously credited to M. Leslie and B. Day in the booklet (whoever they are). After the semi-rocker of "Won’t You Feel Good That Morning" – the beautiful "Touch" establishes the true tone of the album – melodious ballads. I love the understated guitar playing on this track and that ever present comfort organ. "Words Don’t Come Easy" is the first Colin Horton-Jennings song – a crying Spanish lady song with the shadow of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young lingering over the entire melodious production.

He also contributed the winner of "Magic Woman Touch" – a co-write by Horton-Jennings with his fellow Greatest Show On Earth band member Norman Watt-Roy (who also did a stint with Deram Prog Rockers East Of Eden). Worlds away from Prog or complicated overtures - "Magic Woman Touch" is pure Hollies pop brilliance and why the November 1972 UK 7” single on Polydor 2058 289 wasn’t a Top 5 smash is an absolute mystery (it didn’t make the Top 40). Americans Kenny O’Dell and Larry Henley penned "Lizzy And The Rainman" and even put it out as a US 45 on Kapp K-2178 in July 1972 (as "Lizzie And The Rain Man"). Both it and David Ackle’s "Down River" feel right – piano ballads that work.

The rocker "Slow Down" feels like bad Status Quo at times and slightly out of place. Better is another Colin Horton-Jennings tale of dodgy cowboys "Delaware Taggett And The Outlaw Boys" that has more than a passing musical resemblance to the slick guitar chug of "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress". May 1973 saw The Hollies release their sublime cover of Judee Sill’s "Jesus Was A Crossmaker" in the USA on Epic 5-10989 with the non-album "I Had A Dream" on the flipside (Track 16 on Disc 5). But that’s trumped by the final Colin Horton-Jennings composition – the superb title track "Romany" – The Hollies sounding so damn good. It ends of "Blue In The Morning" – a ‘as soon as I saw the look in her eyes I knew it was over’ song penned by Tony Hicks and Kenny Lynch – while the poppy guitar of "Courage Of Your Convictions" is from Alan Rush and Randy Cullers both of whom have contributed songs to Kris Kristofferson, David Linde and Elvis Presley in his final years.

Further glory would follow for The Hollies on Polydor with Alan Clarke taking the song-writing ascendancy ("The Air That I Breathe") - while Graham Nash went on of course to conquer the West Coast of America and then the entire world with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young and all of the CSNY off-shoots.

"…Cast your spell upon me one more time..." - THE HOLLIES sang on the wonderful "Magic Woman Touch".

"Romany" is a blindingly good album and you want it in your home. Let this 'Elucidating Observation' touch your life and roam over your undulating hills (if that’s not too fruity for 2016)...

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