On listening to The Hollies you get an essence of a sound formed in Manchester, a sound which can be heard in the music of many major Manchester bands and artists that succeeded them, including the likes of Oasis, The Courteeners and Ren Harvieu today.
The sound maps out individual stories from working class Manchester, where dead end jobs and lack of opportunity was the norm for many young people. It was the music that was played in clubs and bars that provided the sole escape from the mundanities of everyday working life, introducing the popularity of soul imported in from The States as a key component of the Northern music scene at that time.
In one sense The Stone Roses adopted this same escape for the youth of Manchester during the 80s, with the birth of The Madchester club scene and bands such as The Smiths,New Order, and The Happy Mondays coming to fruition during a period of discontent among working classes during the Thatcher years.
The Hollies however, alongside other bands, represented the voice of a post-war generation, thriving in the newfound freedom of 1960s liberation, music releasing us from the shackles of society and creating new conversations towards how we express ourselves and our identities.
Despite the musical rivalry that The Hollies had in the form of The Beatles,The Rolling Stones and The Who to name a few, they were highly influential in their music, directly representing northern working class Britain. Stories about love and loss, upbringing and family, closely related to working people at that time and the way that it represented them, giving them a narrative to their lives.
The main songs which perhaps signified The Hollies and their sound was 'He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother,' tapping into the message of loving and supporting our friends as if they are our own family, including those less fortunate than us, and 'Bus Stop,' a song about two people who meet in the most mundane of circumstances on their commute to work, finding love at a bus stop on a wet day.
For me what perhaps represents the band's background and influence the most is the song 'Gasoline Alley Bred,' tracing the story of a young working couple trying to make sense of their lives and looking to the future to live independently together, yet acknowledging their own toils and troubles. For me it signifies not only a kind of coming of age, but also a sense of looking optimistically to the future, something which perhaps resonated with a lot of young people in the North at that time.
For anyone who has exhausted the music of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in their 60s lists, I would recommend giving The Hollies a listen. The ingrained messages in their lyrics as well as the distinctive harmonies bear perhaps more direct cultural relevance to Northern England during that period than any other band. Additionally I would say that no 60s music collection is complete without one or two songs by The Hollies.
Having toured every year for more than 50 years, the band are one of the few remaining 60s bands to continue to perform today with an original lineup, touring all over the UK and in Europe this year, putting pay to their Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Contribution to British music.
Image credit: Derek Jones