Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Hollies - Hollies Confessions Of Mind (1970)

Jancy THANKS...

The Hollies' first album of original material following Graham Nash's departure was an attempt to regain the edge they'd had on Butterfly and Evolution albums, after the digression of the album of Dylan songs, the regrouping with Terry Sylvester in the lineup, and the unexpected hit achieved with "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." It's a surprisingly strong album, not only in the songwriting (which includes the last Clark/Hicks/Nash song ever recorded, "Survival of the Fittest"), but also in the production, which isn't too far removed from what was heard on Butterfly and Evolution. There's no sitar here, but Tony Hicks — who is the real star of the group on this album — employs at least a half-dozen different guitars in uniquely fine voicings, and there is also some very striking use of orchestra, producer John Burgess making particularly fine employment of a string section as a lead instrument on the Allan Clarke/Terry Sylvester-authored "Man Without a Heart." Indeed, at least nine of the songs on Confession of the Mind could rate among the better songs the group has ever recorded. Tony Hicks' "Little Girl" sounds almost like a conscious attempt to emulate the harmonies and overall sound of Crosby, Stills & Nash, proving that as singers Clarke, Hicks, and Sylvester could have competed in that arena, musically if not in image. They also try for a heavier sound on "Perfect Lady Housewife," which offers a thumping bassline and some of the most prominent organ playing ever heard on one of their records. By this time, the songwriting partnership between Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks had dissolved, and several of the latter's solo songwriting ventures on this album retain some lingering elements of the psychedelic sound heard on Evolution and Butterfly, with great hooks and solid, pleasing, memorable riffs. Hicks gets a little too self-consciously out there with the volume pedal on "Confessions of a Mind," but it's all worth hearing, and "Lady Please," which follows, is a gorgeous country-ish rock ballad that could've been picked up by Poco, the Eagles, or Manassas. "Frightened Lady" is another brilliant acoustic/electric guitar and harmony workout, while Hicks' "Too Young to Be Married" gives equal play to his guitar and an orchestra. His playing is the best part of Allan Clarke's "Separated," several layers of acoustic guitars being a joy to listen to, especially in the 1999 EMI remastering. Unfortunately, the Hollies were now becoming an anachronism in a world of progressive album-oriented rock, not because they actually were, but because their credibility had been wrecked by the Dylan song album and the hit "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." Confessions of the Mind was originally issued in the U.S. in edited and reshuffled form on the Epic LP Moving Finger, with "Separated" and "I Wanna Shout" replaced by "Marigold Gloria Swansong" from Hollies Sing Hollies and the single "Gasoline Alley Bred."



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