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The Hollies Forum Index » Reflections Of A Time Long Past » Hollies Sing Dylan
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DistantLight Post subject: Hollies Sing Dylan
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Joined: 10 Apr 2004
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This is hard to review because it's one of the most controversial albums the Hollies ever made! Some Dylan purists (if they know about the existence of this album) say it's crap but I can't really see their point! What I see or better say hear is that the Hollies made some big mistakes here! The first one is that many of the horn arrangements sound really datetd and corny. The second mistake was that Tony put too less guitar on the songs! On most songs we have a strumming acoustic guitar but where is the electric? On two songs! On the perfect Wheels On Fire, which is one of the best cuts and a rhythm guitar on Just like A Woman on. Well, and there is an electric sitar solo on I Shall Be Released. But to be fair there is the Rockabilly tune Quit Your Low Down Ways where Tony plays a hell of a great acoustic guitar which reminds you just how great he is, in case you have forgotten about his presence on the album!
Well and then we've got the tinny sound! Bobby Elliot does some great things but his drum sound isn't that good. So the album just doesn't sound as full and powerful as it could.
But enough of the bad sides: Most songs they recorded here sound better than every other version I have heard so far. When you ignore the horns on Blowing In The Wind you'll get a very inventive rearrangement of this well known Dylan tune! How the hell did they come up with that Blow-wo-wo-wo-woing in the wind chorus? That sounds so good! On two tracks Tony Hicks plays banjo: on the opener When The Ship Comes In and the closing Mighty Quinn, which is could be superior than the Manfred Mann version but is totally ruined by the horns. Another fantastic new arrangement is Just Like A Woman. My Back Pages is another major highlight - the start with only drums and that organ line backing Allans powerful singing is wonderful.
Needless to say that the vocals and harmonies can't be beat and how they've changed some of the vocal melodies is just great! They perform nearly every song in a different way compared to other versions! So this is more than just a set of covers but maybe a set of reinterpretations.
With a better production, more guitar and just the sound of the band this could have been one of the absolute best albums that the Hollies ever recorded because you just can't argue with the songs. A good chance (in some ways) wasted.

Best songs: Wheels On Fire, Quit Your Low Down Ways, Just Like A Woman, My Back Pages, Blowing In The Wind

Worst songs (or in this case worst arrangements): Blowing In The Wind (again), Mighty Quinn


Rating: a good 7 out of 10


P.S.: They could have performed I Want You a bit tighter!
PostPosted:Fri Oct 01, 2004 18:10 pm

Last edited by DistantLight on Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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James Towill Post subject:
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The orchestrations make the album sound quite big-band like, but I have to say that I don't really mind them. I agree with the comments about I Want You. I think all guitars were done by Tony, with Alan Parker adding some extra licks here and there. Terry only provided vocals as far as I know... Question
PostPosted:Fri Oct 01, 2004 18:36 pm
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brandy Post subject:
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I believe the whole point of the Hollies Sing Dylan album was to showcase the wide variety of interpretive styles in which “Hibbing Bob’s” songs could be performed while at the same time, primarily through the lead and harmony vocals, making it clear this was a Hollies album. That’s why you only have one song (I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight) which utilizes the conventional early Dylan arrangement of acoustic guitar/harmonica. Thus there are some instrumental colors and styles here that were a bit of a surprise when the LP came out. Variety being the spice of life and all that.

As for the relative absence of electric guitar, I think you have to reduce the number of songs on which it is used from three to two! I believe Tony’s solo on I Shall Be Released is actually an electric sitar. James is right: Terry does not play guitar here, as the instrumental backing tracks were recorded in 1968, well before he became a Hollie in early ’69. Some of the vocal tracks (notably Blowin’ in the Wind, of which two versions exist) were re-recorded to replace Graham’s voice with Terry’s. I cannot speak to whether Alan Parker played guitar on any of the sessions; my CD credits Tony with all guitars and banjo, but it would hardly be the first time a session player has gone uncredited...

This was certainly not the first time the Hollies had used orchestration – by this time the use of brass, strings and/or flutes had been well established via Butterfly, Maker, You Need Love, Rain On the Window, Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe, etc.

I don’t care for the heavy orchestration on My Back Pages, but I will give The Hollies/Ron Richards credit for trying something different and not emulating Dylan’s original or the Byrds’ cover. Of course, not all experiments are guaranteed to work!

In addition to showcasing Tony’s banjo skills, The Mighty Quinn was designed as Dixieland jazz. Its’ pretty hard to get the sound of a “New Orleans funeral celebration” without that blaring horn section…

The dark, lower-register brass on Just Like a Woman perfectly complements the ominous, depressing nature of the song. I could have done without the strings, though - they tend to distract from that mood.

I think the strings are better utilized on the big band arrangement of Blowin’ in the Wind. You may not enjoy the track, but Bob Elliott was clearly in his element here. Before declaring “take me rock and roll, I’m yours” in the early ‘60s, he was primarily a jazz drummer, and Blowin’ in the Wind gave him the chance to play with some saxophonists and other jazz musicians who were his musical heroes. My only problem is that having heard how the band has played this live at least in recent years, it is hard to go back to the original HSD version, and NOT hear Tony’s blazing guitar solo. Of course, there is something else I find missing from the original studio version that I got used to hearing live, but those of you who know me know what I am referring to. Very Happy

I’m not sure if it was intended this way, but I always took the use of the steel drum solo on All I Really Want to Do as nothing more than a self-deprecating bit of humor, or a reference back to Carrie-Anne and "look how far we've come in two years". After all, I find it hard to believe Ron Richards/the band seriously thought lightning would strike twice, hit-wise, due to this musical flourish.

My two favorites, however, are the same as yours, I think. This Wheel’s on Fire is one of the most dramatically intense tracks (like Man Without a Heart) the band ever recorded. The instrumental build-up and increasing energy on each successive verse is positively gripping.

And, Quit Your Lowdown Ways is equally great, spotlighting Tony’s frantic acoustic solo and Bobby’s high-hat and snare work. Once again, the sound it’s trying to evoke is not typical for the Hollies – a somewhat bluesier, Sun Records imitation. Although others (Peter, Paul and Mary, e.g.) had recorded this Dylan tune before the Hollies, it was this version that was selected for the I Shall Be Unreleased CD in the early 90s, a collection of other artists’ covers of Dylan songs that were released before the composer had ever released his own version.

Distant Light: Now I'm really curious...what do you think of heavily orchestrated ballad album, 5317704?

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PostPosted:Fri Oct 01, 2004 20:49 pm
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DistantLight Post subject:
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Joined: 10 Apr 2004
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I have to correct one thing in my review: There are horns and not flutes on Just Like A Woman, as brandy said!

Quote:
This was certainly not the first time the Hollies had used orchestration – by this time the use of brass, strings and/or flutes had been well established via Butterfly, Maker, You Need Love, Rain On the Window, Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe, etc.


That's right and I don't like the orchestration on these ones, too. But I'll come to these songs when I review Butterfly and Evolution.


And to the ballad album: I will review this one, too so I will wait saying something about that one until I write the review!

But one thing: I have nothing against orchstration when it's done good. For example the Beatles did good orchstration but I think the Hollies often failed to make them sound good! They often but not always made them sound corny and schmaltzy. On Distant Light for example they succeded: Cable Car sounds very good with those strings.
PostPosted:Fri Oct 01, 2004 21:07 pm
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Anthony Post subject:
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Hi all,
I'm not a great lover of this album, why sing Dylan songs when the lads can write their own, well they weren't the only band to do an album of Dylan as know.
I do love some of the tracks like "When the ship comes in" "Wheels on fire". My favourite is Just like a woman, just love Allan's intro the first few lines.

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PostPosted:Sat Oct 02, 2004 0:29 am
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Chirpy Post subject:
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Hollies Sing Dylan reminds me of an advert in England for Marmite - you love it or hate it. I'd have to say it's not one of my faves but, that said, I do like their take on I Shall Be Released...

Chirpy
PostPosted:Thu Jan 13, 2005 12:26 pm
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Agneta Post subject: Hollies Sing Dylan
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Joined: 29 Oct 2006
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In New Musical Express, April 26, 1969, Tony is interviewed about this LP. Here is what he had to say about ten of the songs.
First the reasons behind the album:

"We have all been fans of Dylan for ages, but I wouldn't call it a tribute to him. We thought his melodies would lend themselves to the arrangements we had in mind, and I think they worked out very well. It is a new dimension for us, and could be the first of several similar ideas."

"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight": "There's a country feel about this song" said Tony. "That's Allan on harmonica. We picked this one for the catchy phrasing."

"I Want You": "There's not much you can say about this one, just that it's our interpretation of this Dylan song.
On any album, you have to have a song that you aren't so mad about as the rest, and for me, this is that song."

"Wheels On Fire": "The thing to listen out for on this one are Bernie's fine organ playing and Bobby doing his nut on the drums.
There's a great sustained effort near the end which is very fast and very difficult."

"I Shall Be Released": "Listen out for Bernie on the bass, and also the guitar-sitar solo. It's a very interesting sound."

"Blowing In The Wind": "Again what can you say? Everybody knows the song, there's a full orchestra on that one, because we felt it needed all those extra sounds."

"Quit Your Low-Down Ways": "We thought it would be better to include one or two numbers that weren't so well-known. This one I like because of the guitar, and Bobby's drumming again."

"Times They Are A'changing": "We've been playing 'Times They Are A'changing for years on stage. I think the significance of this one is that it started a whole new lot of people listening to Dylan.
Listen to that ending, that's Bernie freaking out on the organ. What a climax! Yes, I like that one."

"All I Really Wanna Do": "There are two things I like about this, the steel drums, which are very effective, and the change from three four time, to four four."

"My Back Pages": The woodwind on 'My Back Pages' is especially nice. And I like the idea of the song, a man reflecting on his early life and ralising that he is younger now than he was years previously. It's a very pleasant song to listen to and I'm rather pleased the way it turned out."

"Mighty Quinn": "To me it conjures the American brass band, playing as the young men go off to war. It's a real foot tapper, but quite sad in its own way."

"Well, that's it," Tony sighed, taking the tapes off the machine. Six weeks of hard work, although it was interrupted by the comings and goings. I'm proud of it, and if it sells well, I'll be very pleased."
PostPosted:Tue Feb 19, 2008 14:31 pm
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Carrie Anne Post subject:
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And it was a best seller wasn't it.The Hollies were always massive Dylan fans and he influenced them immensley.The Tony Hicks penned song "I Was Born A Man"has shades of Bob Dylan about it, i'm thinking Like A Rolling Stone possibly-from" Out On The Road".Great Album(Hollies Sing Dylan).
PostPosted:Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:49 am
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benny-b-goode Post subject:
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"Hollies Sing Dylan" is quite a good album but it's definitely not their best. Songs like "I Shall Be Released", "Quit Your Lowdown Ways" (what a solo, Tony!) and "Blowin' In The Wind" are highlights. But I must admit that I prefer most of the Dylan songs in the version of The Byrds (like "My Back Pages", "All I Really Want To Do" and "This Wheel's On Fire"). And The Tremeloes have made a brilliant job on "I Shall Be Released". The Hollies' and The Tremeloes' versions of that song are great (much better than the better known version by The Band).
PostPosted:Sun Feb 24, 2008 14:13 pm
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malco Post subject:
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For me this is a diverse album with contrasting styles, even though the songs are by Dylan. His own vocal delivery did not vary much from song to song and the versions by The Hollies gave a fresh outlook to these songs. Ones that I particularly like are 'When The Ship Comes In' and 'I'll Be your Baby, Tonight'.
PostPosted:Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:57 am
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Dennis Post subject:
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DistantLight wrote:
I have to correct one thing in my review: There are horns and not flutes on Just Like A Woman, as brandy said!

Quote:
This was certainly not the first time the Hollies had used orchestration – by this time the use of brass, strings and/or flutes had been well established via Butterfly, Maker, You Need Love, Rain On the Window, Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe, etc.


That's right and I don't like the orchestration on these ones, too. But I'll come to these songs when I review Butterfly and Evolution.


And to the ballad album: I will review this one, too so I will wait saying something about that one until I write the review!

But one thing: I have nothing against orchstration when it's done good. For example the Beatles did good orchstration but I think the Hollies often failed to make them sound good! They often but not always made them sound corny and schmaltzy. On Distant Light for example they succeded: Cable Car sounds very good with those strings.


Don't blame The Hollies for any "corny" orchestration; it was all Ron Richards' doing. Personally, I like the campiness of, for example, "Blowin' In The Wind" and the BBC version of "A Taste Of Honey". But, yeah, it can get a bit out of hand if spread over a whole album. A little of that sort of thing goes a long way.
PostPosted:Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:21 am
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DistantLight Post subject:
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Joined: 10 Apr 2004
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I didn't "blame" the Hollies for the orchastration... I just didn't understand why they allowed certain parts on this record. But I must admit that I don't find most of them as bad as I did when I wrote the review. That's why I changed certain parts. I think the worst example is still Mighty Quinn. And concerning Blowing In The Wind... hmm, I'm not sure. I still really don't like the brass here but somehow it fits.
PostPosted:Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:06 am
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Gee Post subject:
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Per Bobby Elliott, The Brasswork on "Blowin' in the Wind" was NOT all Ron Richards doing....
PostPosted:Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:57 am

Last edited by Gee on Thu May 20, 2010 17:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gee Post subject:
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One other point re "Blowin' in The Wind" - Graham Nash now admits he HATED the Big Band arrangement....

However back in August 1968 he went along with it without making any fuss at all....
PostPosted:Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:17 am
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holliesfan Post subject:
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Geoff,

Nice to see that you're back on board. I miss your critiques and general insight to Hollies material. Any thoughts on the upcoming album (i.e., what you expect, etc.)?
PostPosted:Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:43 am
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