Upon the departure of original lead singer Alan Clarke in 1972, the Hollies continued on unabated with a Swedish replacement, Mikael Rickfors. Known for their phenomenal gifts with singles in the 60s, the loss of Graham Nash resulted in a somewhat less successful career although there are still a few excellent nuggets to be mined from their 1968-1972 output. But they were never really contenders when it came to 33 1/3rd. That is, not until 1973 and the advent of the first (and only US-released) Rikfor's led LP.
Romany is a little-heard jewel that contains some of their finest harmony work. Terry Sylvester turned out to be quite a talented replacement for Mr. Nash, and Rickfors added a soulful baritone lead that took them in an entirely different direction. Unfortunately, except for a few singles and a release-in-Germany-only LP, this lineup would never again issue vinyl.
There is so much to enjoy here. Judee Sill's odd vision of religious ecstasy Jesus Was a Crossmaker is given a beautiful power pop rendition with Terry Sylvester's lead vocal. Magic Woman Touch is the failed single that should have been a hit what with its lovely opening guitar work by the underrated Tony Hicks and a splendid lilting verse melody. Or Courage of Your Convictions - seen by some as an attempt to cash in on the sound of 1971's hit Long Cool Woman - but in my book this is a vastly superior rocker with more excellent chiming guitar work by Mr. Hicks. And the ballad Romany exhibits Mr. Rickfor's honeyed-voice in a way that no previous Hollies tune could have.
Perhaps the most surprising song here is Delaware Taggett and the Outlaw Boys. The Hollies imbue this tune with harmonies right out of Crosby Stills and Nash, and the tightness of the instrumental work indicates that they had finer chops that anyone had given them credit for up to this time.
Long time fans rejoiced the next year when Mr. Clarke returned to the fold but for me the promise of Romany was forever lost.
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