Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
One Overlooked Gem and Last Hurrah for Hollies
IJEFF | Milwaukee, WI USA | 01/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After this record came out around 1977 available as an import only I recall buying multiple copies. Every time I found it either in the import or cutout bin I'd buy it because I always thought it would be difficult to find if I ever needed to replace it. Well, I was partly correct. It did subsequently become difficult or impossible to find once we entered the CD era. This, I believe is the first official CD release with the exception of the limited edition 4 CD box set released many years ago.
The couple earlier reviewers of this CD pretty much nail it. It is indeed the lost Hollies masterpiece. It deserved a much better fate. Never before or after did they achieve the creative water mark reached here. The songwriting overall is very strong and the performances are tight and dynamic. The added textures created using keyboards and horns add a dynamic element not previously heard from the Hollies where more often than not, heavy orchestration was the standard.
As for specific songs, one could say Wiggle That Wotsit is kind of a silly stab at disco. But, you know what? It's a lot more fun to listen to than the standard disco crap that was common place at the time. The title song, Russian Roulette and 48 Hour Parole nail the Hollies harder rocking sound perfectly. I never get sick of them. Draggin My Heels has aged very well and is still one of their best sounding contemporary pop creations. It has hit single written all over it, but as we know that was not to be for a record that was barely available in America. My Love is a very credible stab at their classic 1960's sound that you could very easily see being a huge hit in that past decade. For me, Lady Of The Night has always been the most mesmerizing Hollies song ever. Alto sax and clarinet are very prominent in this song and work very well to craft a hauntingly beautiful melody. Daddy Don't Mind is a good song though I never understood why it was chosen as a single. The trombone adds an unique sound to this song though I think possibly the song would have worked better as a straight forward guitar driven rock song.
I'm sure the relative failure of this record didn't bode well for the future aspirations of the group members. While confirming their day in the sun was truly gone, as a life long fan I found it extremely frustrating the lack of appreciation for this effort and subsequently had to resign myself to the fact that the future recording career of this great band was soon to end except for a brief reunion endeavor with Graham Nash in the mid 1980's. Though sporadic recording did continue throughout the 1980's, to appreciate some of these efforts one must hunt down some rarities CD or the excellent 6 disc box set, The Long Road Home. For 1970's era Hollies, Russian Roulette is indeed the high point of their full length LP releases. Though enjoyable, I would rate Another Night and Write On slightly lower. Their other releases during that decade including the 3 that came after Russian Roulette are not up to this quality standard."
The last great Hollies album.
Somewhere in Texas | Planet Texas | 01/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After several albums ("Hollies", "Another Night" and the UK-Only "Write On") the Hollies decided on a different approach for "Russian Roulette". Get rid of the heavy orchestration and get back to basics (with some horns and keyboards helping out). The result was the Hollies last great album with Allan Clarke on lead vocals and one of the best albums featuring the classy 69-72/74-80 Hollies lineup.
Instead of big ballads, the band tries their hand at Disco (the silly but fun "Wiggle That Wotsit" - proof they weren't going to change like the Bee Gees did), Salsa ("Draggin' My Heels"), and a very convincing try at Hard Rock ("48 Hour Parole"). "My Love" (not the McCartney song) is pure classic Hollies pop with some country-rock touches. The formula that worked so well in their 60's heyday still worked wonders in 1976, and it should have been a single. After several albums with spotty songwriting the Clark-Hicks-Sylvester team clicked and wrote some great songs that could have been big hit singles and album rock tracks. The Hollies don't sound tired or bored at all on "Russian Roulette", in fact they hadn't rocked out this convincingly for several years. I remember James Spina in Hit Parader raving about this album, and Rolling Stone gave it a good review in their "Imports" section.
It's just a shame nobody at any record company wanted to give this fine effort a chance. Punk was starting to break loose in the UK, and again Polydor botched the promotion of this album and it's singles overseas. As usual, Epic in the USA didn't give a damn about the Hollies (unless they scored a hit first in the UK) and gave us Americans a tossed together compilation of tracks from this LP and "Write On" with "Sandy" from "Another Night" tacked on and re-released as a single (which tanked again).
Had someone at Epic had the foresight to get "Russian Roulette" released and promoted, get the right singles to radio, it could have revived the Hollies career in the USA when records with basic relaxed production styles like "Hotel California" and "Fleetwood Mac" were selling millions here.
The Hollies survived another weak selling album by scoring a huge hit catering to their old UK fans with the fine "Hollies Live" album. The Hollies last two original albums for Polydor unfortunately retreated back to a ballads and adult contemporary pop formula to little success despite some good songs.
Magic Records has been very hit and miss with the sound quality of their reissues - many have used inferior vinyl dubs. But on this CD they found great sounding master tapes for all tracks. The bonus cuts are a nice touch, including the USA-Only dance mix version of "Draggin' My Heels" which is a highly sought after Epic 12 inch single by Hollies and disco fans. My only gripe is they omitted the original liner notes and lyrics from the vinyl version.
If you didn't think the Hollies were still a great band in the seventies, you need to get this album. To get this rare jewel on CD is a treat, so dont miss your chance."
It's About Time
Timothy Schubert | Chicago,IL USA | 12/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the late 70's I was a very big Hollies fan.I bought each album as it was released.While "Russian Roulette" was released in Europe,it wasn't released in the U.S.Epic,in their infinite lack of wisdom,released a combination of "Write On" and "Russian Roulette" called"Clarke,Hicks,Sylvester,Calvert and Elliot".That compilation only included a few of the songs from "Russian Roulette" and left off the title track.I ended up buying all of their albums on import.A very expensive proposition.I have been looking for this on CD since I bought my first CD player.Finally,here it is.My favorite song is the title track.Both"Russian Roulette" and "48 Hour Parole"(not patrol,as the track listing says) are pretty uncharacteristic rockers for the normally popish Hollies.The opening, almost heavy metal,guitar riff on "Russian Roulette" let's you know that you're in for a good time.From there it just gets better.The entire album is better than most of their late 70's output and well worth the price of admission."