The Hollies took a sideways journey after the departure of Graham Nash. They released an album "Hollies Sing Dylan" which sank like a stone. Six months later came "Hollies Sing Hollies" which was 100% written by band members. Almost equally negelected, though the US version contained their big hit single from the same period "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". The next two albums showed tremendous growth which was immediately severed when lead singer Allan Clarke left for a solo career. But just before his departure they recorded Clarke's "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress". Reports vary as to whether any of the other Hollies are even on the record.
So they found a new lead singer, husky deep voiced Swede Mikael Rickfors. They released a single "The Baby" in early 1972 on Polydor, a new label for them. Their previous record company Parlophone released "Long Cool Woman" at the same time, and although it barely scraped the charts in the UK it become a gigantic #2 hit in the US. Their new single did slightly better in the UK but was completely overwhelmed elsewhere by "Long Cool Woman".
The remaining members refocused around Rickfor's dark sound and in late 1972 released what I consider to be their finest record, "Romany". Alternating between folky ballads and hard rockers, it constructs a mood piece that holds together from start to finish. The only single released from this LP is "Magic Woman Touch", and it blends the Hollies harmonies of olden days with a 70's folk rock sound. Mikael's voice is the antithesis of Alan Clarke. Like a smoky fine aged Scotch, it grabs hold and won't let go. This tantalizing tune speaks to the magic chemicals that are produced by what we call "love". Who hasn't experienced that rush that becomes all consuming?
I know there's been a change in me
Ask me why I don't know
My friends no longer speak to me
Pass me by I don't know
Cast your spell upon me one more time
I wanna feel your magic woman touch
The promise of this fine album came to naught. A second LP with Rickfors was released only in Germany (thanks to my brother John for getting me a copy - it is quite good). Then pressures from the record company brought back Allan Clarke, which sent Rickfors back to Sweden. Such a waste.
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