Deep Dive: The Hollies, HOLLIES SING DYLAN
The Hollies have a long, strong history of occasionally taking songs written by other artists and putting their own stamp on them, but in 1969 they released an album which found them streamlining their song-searching process by delivering naught but Bob Dylan covers.
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios under the watchful eye – and ears – of producer Ron Richards, HOLLIES SING DYLAN was an album derived from the Hollies having lost their key songwriter, Graham Nash, who had decamped in order to join forces with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. Actually, let’s clarify that slightly: Nash’s departure sealed the deal on the band recording an album’s worth of Dylan covers, but it also helped hasten that departure.
In Dave Zimmer’s 4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader, Nash recalled the band’s pitch for a Dylan covers album and how it struck him as a sacrilege “because we were doing them like…a Las Vegas type thing, and it was driving me nuts. I couldn’t handle it.”
Apparently, neither could some of the fans, but you can’t tell it from the album’s sales figures: HOLLIES SING DYLAN hit #3 on the UK Albums chart, making it one of their highest-selling LPs up to that point in their career. Still, when Allan Clarke reflected on the album with Billboard in 2011, it wasn’t entirely enthusiastically.
“At the time I was pleased with the album, but on reflection I don’t think it was a good move for the Hollies,” said Clarke. “People knocked it, saying, ‘How could they ever relate to Dylan?’ We thought we’d do it for Hollies fans, but I was really just reading Dylan’s words, not singing them. I could have been a lot better.”
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