This double-CD set isn't a greatest-hits collection -- though it has more than a few of those on it -- nor is it precisely a best-of. The package refers to it as an "alternative" best-of, which sort of makes it roughly analogous to what More Hot Rocks was to the Rolling Stones. It is also the most ambitiously devised and programmed comprehensive collection to come out of the EMI Gold series to date, which, itself, is something of a tribute to the Hollies' appeal, over 130 minutes of music by the band covering 43 years in their history, from 1963 through 2006 (with a large gap between the end of the '70s and the last track). The sound is impeccable throughout, featuring the crispest state-of-the-art mastering and matching (if not surpassing) the quality on the five-disc career-spanning box, and the selection is a delightfully strange one, juxtaposing pop
ock classics like "Bus Stop" with bold creative and thematic statements such as "Schoolgirl." It's also not exactly weighted evenly across their history, as the Graham Nash material extends five tracks' deep onto disc two -- but given the mystique surrounding those early years, and the decidedly lower appeal of their '70s work, it's also an understandable accommodation. Everything here -- with the possible exception of "Russian Roulette" (a regrettable foray into disco-based pop
ock from the height of the disco boom) -- works well, and the group's singing and playing is consistent enough so that one hardly notices the 20-year-plus jump between the penultimate track and the final cut, "Let Love Pass," featuring the 2006 lineup of the band. Drummer Bobby Elliott provides the annotation to this set and his recollections fill in some interesting holes in the group's history, but one wishes that his essay were longer, and also that he'd addressed the individual cuts and their particular significance. But as a budget/mid-priced item that covers a lot of ground never touched by their U.S. catalog, this set would be a welcome addition to virtually any collection of the Hollies' music.