The Hollies: Look Through Any Window 1963 – 1975, made in 2010, is part of The British Invasion series from Reelin in the Years Productions, which creates these documentary films with the complete cooperation and/or participation of the artists and their estates (previous DVDs feature The Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Herman’s Hermits). Footage and full songs from live performances and television programs is inter-cut with recent interviews with Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott that were recorded specifically for this production. This is not some shoddy, unauthorized, cut-and-paste-and-try-to-cash-in DVD. This is a thorough and thoughtfully presented look at one of pop music’s treasures during the most prolific period of the band’s career.
The Hollies aren’t usually one of the first bands people think of when they hear the phrase “British Invasion”. For most, it’s probably the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, then the Who and the Kinks. However, the Hollies should be mentioned among those names, for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that the band had 27 hits in the UK (17 of those were in the top ten) and 26 charting songs in the US, between 1963 and 1975.
The Hollies are probably best-known for their vocal harmonies, and this film wastes no time in addressing that, first with Nash and Clarke relating how they met in primary school and began singing together. As teens, they developed a shared love of the Everly Brothers—desiring to be Manchester’s own Phil and Don—and started a group. A band name (inspired by Buddy Holly and a Christmas show) and a few line-up changes later, Hicks had joined and the Hollies’ three-part harmonies were born.
The first few songs, which were also the earliest hits for the Hollies, come from fairly standard sources. The New Musical Express Winners Concert (1964) gives us live versions of “Rockin’ Robin” and “Just One Look” filmed in black and white. Elliott comes aboard around this time, adding his distinctive style of drumming to the mix for “Baby That’s All” and “Here I Go Again” on a television program called UK Swings Again, which is in glorious color. All the clips are of rather surprisingly high quality. The picture is uniformly crisp and clear, free of scratches and showing virtually no signs of physical age. The sound is fantastic, too, especially considering this is not a Blu-ray.
Many of the other songs are taken from taken from various European TV shows, like Germany’s Beat Club and Beat Beat Beat. Popside from Sweden gives us “Dear Eloise” and “Wings”, which are essentially promo films/early music videos rather than TV studio performances, and they are fabulous! Some songs are from more unusual places (like a Croatian rock festival), and so, perhaps, more rare. Of particular interest among these rarely seen gems is ten minutes of footage from Abbey Road studios in 1967. Apparently, the Beatles’ producer, George Martin, unexpectedly walked in with a film crew while the Hollies were recording various parts of “On A Carousel”.
The entire film is a little more than two hours long, with nearly half of that coming from Hollies performances and appearances. There’s also an option in the special features to access a listing of the complete musical performances in stand-alone form, so you can pick out individual songs or choose “play all” if you like.
However, I wouldn’t suggest skipping the interviews, at least on first viewing, because they are quite entertaining. They follow a chronological order, detailing everything from recording insights and the stories behind the songs to Nash’s 1968 departure and the band’s continuation with Terry Sylvester as a replacement. For the bulk of the feature, the performances are also chronological, in order of the year they occurred. A 1975 performance of “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” precedes a 1974 clip of “The Air That I Breathe”, but that is likely because the song was a hit in 1972.
The Hollies: Look Through Any Window 1963 – 1975 comes with a 12-page “Scrapbook” booklet with photos of the band and pictures of record sleeves, and including an informative essay by Ben Fong-Torres that provides additional tidbits about the Hollies, the music and its impact on popular culture. The DVD is a must for fans of the Hollies, and recommended for anyone who enjoys gorgeous harmonies with their chiming guitar pop.