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The Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years collection stands out as the jewel in the crown of EMI's series of inexpensive box sets that span their catalogue from acts as diverse as the Seekers to the Edgar Broughton Band. The other sets gathered their material onto four CDs - but here we now have a massive six CD collection for the price of a Greatest Hits!

Another project from Tim Chacksfield, who is a very safe pair of hands with EMI's treasures, this package is superb value - and worth the price for the bonus material alone. The tracks have been re-mastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road - but most were not done especially for this collection. Amazon's current track-listing shows the year of re-mastering and you probably have a fair few of these versions in your collection already.

The compilers have chosen to present the material in order of recording date, which makes for a very interesting listening experience and makes this collection unique. There is a mixture of stereo and mono tracks and it seems stereo has been used as first choice if a stereo mix exists - there are arguments for each format but including both was beyond the remit of this collection!

The booklet is very well produced and features a Q & A interview with Graham Nash himself - which many fans will want to read. There are some good photos, a UK discography from 1963 - 1968 and a track listing detailing the recording date and first release format for every track. All the material was recorded between April 1963 and October 1968 and this set includes 7 EPs, 7 LPs, singles A's & B's and many rarities as well as a bonus live concert from May 1968 issued here for the first time.

I don't know how long Amazon will hold the current very low price so I suggest ordering a copy soon - before it goes up. My pre-ordered copy was considerably more expensive but Amazon's price guarantee ensured I only paid the lower price on the day. This is a truly remarkable collection of material from a great band at the peak of their power; even if you have much of the material already you will not regret buying this set as well. It's almost a gift from EMI!
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Following on from similar releases from artists on EMI, joining the ranks of Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer, Manfred Mann and others, is this box set of The Hollies encompassing everything they released from April 1963 up until the departure of Graham Nash late on in 1968, hence the title. Whereas most of the other sets in this series (and I guess it could be termed that) have consisted of three or four discs and between sixty and ninety tracks - though that includes both stereo and mono versions - this has a stupendous 158 songs spread across six CDs. The only duplications here are in the form of live, foreign language versions or a couple of alternate versions. Value for money? Too right it is!

Much of what is available has already been issued in remastered form since the early 1990s, and is available on various reissues and compilations, but it's the tracks that have been remastered for this and the versions never before released which make this collection worth getting. The three songs in French are interesting enough, but it's obvious some leeway had to be taken in their translation to make the lyrics scan and fit the music. (Whereas The Beatles rerecorded the backing for their two German language songs, The Hollies merely dubbed the foreign words onto the original backing, on which, if you listen carefully, you can just make out the English vocals.) Yes, there are some throwaway songs on here but lots of stuff to recommend, especially the eight live songs. Recorded at the Lewisham Odeon in May 68, it shows how the audience had matured somewhat by the lack of screaming. Yes, there is a bit of that heard inbetween but maybe songs such as `Butterfly', `The Times They are A Changing' (available elsewhere in mono), and `King Midas In Reverse' (an unrewarded classic) were too sophisticated to align themselves with the scream circuit. ('Carrie Anne' surprises the audience, and no doubt everyone listening to this, with its steel drums instrumental being replaced with violins.)

Other than the eight live songs at the end of the compilation, everything on here is in recording sequence, so it gives a taste of how the Clarke/Hicks/Nash writing team progressed. The accompanying booklet has a question and answer session with Graham Nash and a UK discography, as well as some nice photos, though it would have been nice to see it expanded, particularly the Q&A part. What's also good to see is each CD is a reproduction of the Parlophone single label. It would have been better had there been some alternate takes and other unissued material included, but I guess you can't have everything. One can only speculate how different it might have become had the group committed `Marrakesh Express', `Lady of the Island', and `Teach Your Children' to tape when Nash offered them up for recording.
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on 18 May 2011
Recently, the Hollies have been subject of some well deserved attention from the world of music. With their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year and the successful 'Midas Touch' compilation ensuing, EMI have been quick to capitalise on the renewed love for one of the most successful and enduring acts of the 1960's.

'The Clarke, Hicks and Nash Years' is exactly what is says on the tin, a compilation of everything recorded by the Hollies during their most successful period - between 1963 and 1968. This was a very diverse time for the Hollies from their early roots in rock and roll, a period of classic pop and finally full blown psychedelia. The box set comprises of the entire seven studio albums from this period (easily £[] per album if bought separately), all of the Parlophone single A and B sides, some rare alternate versions of well known songs, every foreign language track recorded by the Hollies and an eagerly anticipated intriguing charity concert with the Mike Vickers Orchestra from the Lewisham Odeon in May 1968 - all presented in chronological order. I hear you ask, "All this less than £[]?! What's the catch?"

Well this box set is the latest in a long line of budget compilations from EMI. Unlike previous more expensive box sets from EMI (such as the Beatles Remasters), the box set utilises previous remasters (from 1993, 1999 and 2003) to save production costs. There are a few tracks that have been treated to some much needed new remastering - namely the previously unreleased tracks. These do stick out slightly as being sonically better quality than some of the previous remasters, it's a shame EMI didn't extend the remastering to every track. This would however dramatically raise the cost of the set, and most people won't notice the difference as the previous remasters are actually pretty decent. The new ones just seem to sound a bit 'fresher'. Both stereo and mono mixes have been used. The set is generally stereo, with the exception of songs taken from singles and ones where the stereo mix uses the typical 1960's EMI stereo mix of instruments in the left channel, vocals in the right. EMI have elected to use the mono masters for such recordings. The stereo mixes are mostly the original stereo masters too, unlike the ones created for recent compilations that have a significantly narrower stereo field. EMI has also saved costs on presentation. Six discs are squeezed into a box that was originally designed to hold three or four, The booklet is much smaller than it could be (although it packs plenty into it) and there is a photo used in the box that is obviously a scan of the US Epic label's 1967 LP 'Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse' as you can actually see the ringwear towards the bottom of the picture! A set like this should be presented in a similar format to the 'Long Road Home' box set from 2003, but you can't really grumble, it looks like EMI have tried quite hard to make the set look more luxurious than it is.

These are, in the grand scheme of things, very minor niggles. Despite the tight budget, EMI has pulled off another excellent and very pleasing package. This is the first time that everything from the Graham Nash period of the Hollies has been presented in one package. There are some amazing unreleased recordings, and many are here that have been released before but are spread across various compilations (some long out of print). It's great to have everything finally all in one place.
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Released May 2011 in the UK and USA - "The Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years: The Complete Hollies April 1963 to October 1968" is a jam-packed 6CD set (in a double-sized jewel case) on EMI 5099909624221.

Across 158 tracks are the A&B-sides of 19 British 7" singles, 3 songs exclusive to two British EPs (as well as the other 18 tracks from all 7 British EPs), 6 Foreign Language versions (5 of which are Previously Unreleased), 3 English language sides on Italian and German singles, 20 compilation exclusives, 7 full British albums and an 8-track Previously Unreleased Live Concert from 1968 in Stereo.

The CDS are sequenced in recording-date order - with the album tracks often spread across different discs. So in order to give an easier-to-read picture - I've posted a HOLLIES UK Singles and LPs Discography in the 'comment' section attached to this review. It references track-by-track where those 45's and LPs are on this massive 6CD set and the following individual disc breakdowns give you the straggler songs 'outside' of that Discography...

Disc 1, 28 tracks, 64:34 minutes:
Tracks 6 and 10 are "Zip A Dee Do Dah" and "Poison Ivy" - released 1985 in the UK on "The Hollies" LP on EMI Music For Pleasure 41 5727 1
Track 7 is "I Understand" - released 1993 in the USA on the 3CD Box Set "30th Anniversary Collection 1963-1993"
Tracks 25 and 26 are "When I'm Not There" and "What Kind Of Love" - released 1964 on "The Hollies" UK 4-track EP on Parlophone GEP 8909

Disc 2, 26 tracks, 64:29 minutes:
Track 12 is "We're Through (Alternative Arrangement)" - released 1997 on "The Hollies At Abbey Road 1963-1966" (previously unreleased at the time)
Track 17 is "She Said Yeah" - released 2003 on the 6CD Box Set "The Long Road Home"
Track 18 is "Yes I Will (Alternate Version)" - released 1964 in the UK on "Hollies' Greatest Hits" LP on Parlophone PCS 7057
Track 26 is "Honey And Wine" - released 1965 in the UK on the "I'm Alive" 4-track EP on Parlophone GEP 8942

Disc 3, 28 tracks, 64:24 minutes:
Tracks 1 to 3 are "Listen Here To Me", "So Lonely" and "Bring Back Your Love To Me" - released 2003 on the 6CD Box Set "The Long Road Home"
Tracks 15, 16 and 18 are "She Gives Me Everything I Want", "I Can't Get Nowhere With You" and "You In My Arms" - released 1993 in the USA on the 3CD Box Set "30th Anniversary Collection 1963-1993"
Track 27 is "Look Through Any Window (French Lyric Version)" - first released on the 1988 CD "Rarities"
Tracks 25, 27 and 28 are "Stewball (French Lyric Version)", "You Know He Did (French Lyric Version)" and "We're Through (French Lyric Version)" -all three are Previously Unreleased

Disc 4, 27 tracks, 69:57 minutes:
Track 3 is "A Taste Of Honey" - released 1966 in the USA on the Hollies LP "Beat Group!" on Imperial LP 12312
Tracks 26 and 27 are "Non Prego Per Me" and "Devi Avere Fiducia In Me" - the A&B sides of an Italian 7" single - Previously Unreleased Stereo versions

Disc 5, 24 tracks, 64:11 minutes:
Tracks 3 and 4 are "We're Alive" and "Kill Me Quick" - Italian A&B-sides of a 1967 single; B-side is Stereo version with Backing Vocals
Track 7 is "Schoolgirl" - released 1997 on "The Hollies At Abbey Road 1966-1970" (previously unreleased at the time)

Disc 6, 25 tracks, 73:15 minutes:
Track 8 is "Wings" - released 1969 on the UK on the Various Artists album "No One's Gonna Change Our World" (on Behalf of the World Wildlife Fund) on Regal Starline SRS 5013
Tracks 10 and 11 are "Tomorrow When It Comes" and "Relax" - first released on the 1988 CD "Rarities"
Track 14 is "Man With No Expression (Horses Through A Rainstorm)" - released 1997 on "The Hollies At Abbey Road 1966-1970" (previously unreleased at the time)
Track 15 is "Blowin' In The Wind" - A B-side In Germany and Sweden to ???
Track 16 is "A Taste Of Honey (1968 Version)" - released 2003 on the 6CD Box Set "The Long Road Home"
Tracks 18 to 25 are "Stop! Stop! Stop!", "Look Through Any Window", "The Times They Are A-Changin'", "On A Carousel", "King Midas In Reverse", "Butterfly", "Jennifer Eccles", and "Carrie Anne" - all recorded LIVE AT LEWISHAM ODEON, 24 May 1968 and are Previously Unreleased

Fans will know that the digital remasters are mostly from 1999 and 2003 and were by done by expert tape man PETER MEW at Abbey Road - the sound quality is uniformly great (as I find it is on anything he remasters). The 24-page booklet features an introduction by MICK HOUGHTON, A Q&A with GRAHAM NASH, a UK Discography for the period with the seven EP and LP sleeves pictured in colour and then a song-by-song breakdown (itself broken up with collages of publicity/in-the-studio photos. It's well done (the cover photo taken at Niagara Falls in December 1967 sees the boys in period Gladrags) and for such a huge haul of music is priced cheaply too.

I love the album foursome "Would You Believe?", "For Certain Because", "Evolution" and "Butterfly" that really saw Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and Graham Nash take off as writers - superb album nuggets like the pre CSN vibe of "Stop Right There", the Beatlesque "You Need Love", the Ogdens Small Faces whimsy of "Dear Eloise" and the Northern Britain social commentary of "Charlie And Fred". And the brilliant "Elevated Observations?" from October 1967's "Evolution" album gave that "Sgt. Peppers" mob a run for their Liverpudlian money (lyrics above). The live show is also far better than I thought it would be - clearly showing how accomplished they were as a band - nailing down difficult stuff like "King Midas In Reverse" with ease.

Further glory would follow for The Hollies on both the Parlophone and Polydor labels with Alan Clarke taking the song-writing ascendancy - while Graham Nash went on to conquer the West Coast of America and then the entire world with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

"All that summer we enjoyed it..." - they sang on "Bus Stop". Great sound, top songs and quality presentation - there's so much to enjoy here...
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on 28 May 2011
BETWEEN April 1963 and October 1968 - a period of just five and a half years - The Hollies released seven albums (eight if you count the Greatest Hits). Seven EP's and 19 singles. 18 of the singles and five (or six) of the albums charted.

This highlights the consistency of the quality of music from this group.

Throughout this period of time, the ever-presents in the band were Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks (drummer Bobby Elliott joined the band in July 1963 and bassist Eric Haydock departed in March 1966),

Clarke, Hicks and Nash perfected the trademark three-part harmony that is still a recognisable facet of the band today - nearly 50 years on (but now it's Howarth, Hicks and Lauri).

They also formed a songwriting partnership that was on a par with Lennon & McCartney or Jagger & Richards; sometimes using the name Chester Mann, but more usually L Ransford.

Eventually, L Ransford was `outed' as Clarke, Hicks and Nash.

This writin partnership was responsible for many of the band's hits and a vasy number of b-sides and album tracks.

This six CD collection gathers together all the tracks from the albums, singles and EP's recorded during the Clarke, Hicks, Nash timeframe, and for good measure some previously unreleased material which includes some foreign language versions of songs and an octet of songs recorded at a live show in 1968.

We are all aware of The Hollies' hits, but amongst the rest of the tracks are some gems such as Keep Off That Friend Of Mine - a rare Bobby Elliott co-composition - and both sides of an Italian release from 1967.

In actual fact, of 158 tracks in this release, the trio were responsible for writing 86 of them!

It's a superb retrospective of an important era, not just in The Hollies career, but in British pop music as a whole.

Included with the discs is a 24-page booklet full of photos and an interview with Graham Nash.

I can't wait for the Clarke, Hicks, Sylvester years.
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on 22 June 2011
This box with the Hollies contains everything the group released during the period when Graham Nash with the band. Besides the original releases, there is a wealth of rarities, outtakes and live recordings.

In short, this is a goldmine for fans of the very best British 1960s pop . The group had during this period 17 top twenty hits, several successful EPs and released 7 albums on Parlophone, which was also the label of the Beatles. Several of these albums have rightly attained classic status.

Songwriter team Clarke / Hicks / Nash, who initially wrote under the pseudonym L. Ransford, wrote in the period a wealth of fine songs and you can't help regretting that Nash in 1968 chose to seek new pastures - with David Crosby and Steven Stills. Although the group continued to release excellent singles such as "He Is not Heavy, He's My Brother, " "I Can not Tell the Bottom From the Top" and "The Air That I Breathe", some of the magic had disappeared with Nash - emphasized by the fact that the majority of the group's subsequent singles were no longer Hollies originals.

The box contains 6 CDs, which are filled to the brim with very fine music. It contains a brief 24 page booklet, with key information about the group and the songs.

It would have been nice to sit with the original covers, but at this price you can obviously not get everything. Moreover, all originals are still available as individual albums.

At any rate a great purchase.
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on 31 July 2011
Along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks, the Hollies went through a short period - 3-4 years - of amazing and unparalleled change and progression, beautifully illustrated here. From the clumsy and raw covers of the first couple of albums, through the development of a highly distinctive Hollies sound, to the exquisite sounds of Butterfly - surely their greatest achievement - in 1967, all the tracks are here in chronological order. This set is amazing, incredible value for money, neatly packaged, and a must for any fan of the Hollies and of 60s music in general.
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on 15 July 2011
I bought the Hollies' singles "Just One Look", "On a Carousel" and "Carrie Anne" when they first came out. I also bought their album "Evolution" when it was released, partly because I liked the band, but also, I must admit, because of the psychedelic cover. Their truly progressive album (and that's not a word you hear associated with The Hollies much) "Butterfly" (from 1967 of course), my friend had, so I didn't get a copy until 1979 when I we'd lost touch and I hadn't heard it for some years.

Decades pass and I still listen to the old stuff and borrowed a copy of a recent compilation from a local library (use libraries you fools!). All the great stuff was still great but there was some later stuff that was distinctly less than that. And then I saw that this set was out, with the perfect title and a rediculous price, definitely a "must have".

Fabulous collection and a completist's dream, with the live concert and the foreign language versions of some songs and both my much loved and similarly played albums there. Now I can rest the vinyl and just get "Evolution" out once in awhile to enjoy the cover. I wonder if my friend bought this? Must mention it on this year's Christmas card.
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on 19 July 2011
This complete six CD collection of Hollies output between 1963 and 1968 is obviously a must for collectors, and for me it was a great way to once again hear those those much loved and elusive songs - like the fabulous "Baby That's All"
But what is most interesting, is the way the material - thankfully presented in chronological order of recording - shows how the band begins to lose it's way towards the end of the Nash period, and how work that Nash would later go on to create with Crosby Stills and Nash begins to creep in, like the wispy and fey "Butterfly" on CD 6.
But, unlike The Everly Brothers, who harmonised with a cadence and feeling, those fabuluos Hollies harmonies do somehow lack subtlety, and sometimes have a "just listen to this one - it's a real belter" quality about them, that becomes tiresome in large doses.
But the figures show that this was one of the most successful British bands of all time, and this great collection shows just why they were a huge part of the sixties.
Great value and good listening. It made an old rocker very happy!

Malcolm Parkin
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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2011
Incredible chance to pick up all the early Hollies albums in one package at a bargain price. A group that I must admit that I missed out on originally apart from the usual hit singles. The Hollies were however more than that and a tight profficient band to boot. Even the early stuff is good, somehow they manage to make the usual cruddy sounding cover version tracks their own, putting their own stamp on them in a way that even better known bands trudge through cornily. Great harmonies and backing instrumentation. This is an opportunity to get all you really need of the Hollies at a great price, sounding great...what are you waiting for?
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