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Hollies - Radio Fun
on 11 May 2012
For years, both Hollies fans and fans of general 1960's music have often wondered why the Hollies have never had their own 'Live at the BBC' type compilation. Just about every other major 1960's artist has had one, and the Hollies are rumoured to have recorded over 60 tracks for the BBC over the years. Whatever the reason it took them so long to get around to it, you can imagine the excitement that this compilation generated when it was announced back in March.
What we have here is an excellent collection of rare live recordings. Not much survives or was ever recorded of the Hollies performing live on tour with Graham Nash in their 1960's heyday. Bizarre when you think about it, especially as the Hollies frequently topped the polls in various music magazines of the day for being the best live act. There's no less than 32 tracks here - and all of the performances are excellent. There's virtually no 'fillers' to be found here. Some real highlights include "Wings" (with alternative lyrics), "Shake", "Ride Your Pony", "I Take What I Want", "Hard Hard Year", "To You My Love", "Too Young To Be Married" and "The Games We Play". The packaging is tasteful and features a few rare and unseen images of the band from the early 1960's. There's also an excellent commentary from Bobby Elliott himself.
However, there are some things to bear in mind with this compilation;
Firstly, the BBC erased most of the original master tapes for the Hollies' sessions over the years. So most clips here are either from transcription discs or from amateur recordings made at the time. This is acceptable, but the remastering isn't particularly anything to write home about. There is certainly room for improvement.
Secondly, the tracks are in no particular order - much like most Hollies' greatest hits collections. This makes the listening experience a little difficult. For example - to hear them sing "Look Through Any Window" and launch into "Too Young To Be Married" really disrupts the flow of the album.
Thirdly, and most importantly, there's no ambience on the album at all. All other BBC compilations from other artists feature introductions from radio presenters and dialogue with the band. All of this has been cut from 'Radio Fun' at the expense of the first and final few seconds of each track, making the already complicated running order much more jagged. As a huge Hollies fan myself, I have many bootlegs of the Hollies performing at the BBC (some even better quality than those presented here, which shows up the remastering on this set), and they sound so much better with the introductions in place. Not only that, but the interviews with the band themselves were always interesting and humorous.
It's a shame that this set has these issues because most of them could have been rectified. It has to be said though, the music is what really matters - and it is truly excellent. These few issues don't detract from the sheer talent that those five lads from Manchester had. Whether you are a big Hollies fan or just enjoy general 1960's music, this compilation is a worthwhile addition to your collection.