Gem of the Week: “Tell Me To My Face”-The Hollies


Song: “Tell Me To My Face”

Artist: The Hollies

Album: For Certain Because… (1966)

Call to mind the words “British Invasion” and the brain likely floods with the Beatles—in all of their deserved regalia—or maybe the Stones…and eventually, members of the 1960s’ ‘less-exposed’ stratum: The Animals, Kinks, Zombies, or The [insert other noun-monikered band(s) here]. You likely won’t think of The Hollies: the fresh-faced, boy-pop empire in which CSNY’s very own Graham Nash made his cozy niche for six years.

Before leaving the nest and flying hippie-bound with the likes of Neil Young, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills, the honey-voiced Nash melted harmonies with the Brit foursome: a jaunty, long-haired lineup whose all-star roster–by 1966–featured himself and Allan Clarke on lead vocals, Tony Hicks on guitar, Bernie Calvert on bass, and Bobby Elliott on drums.

The Hollies had a unique flair, though their appearance was certainly grounds for misconception as another cliché ’60s-pop archetype–(your standard three-part harmonic, head-swinging boy band). But get past the long hair, matching suits, and semi-corny adolescent presence–and it takes just a moment of watching any live performance to feel the hypnotic effects of their strangely perfect melodic energy.

“Tell Me To My Face”, a less-renowned ‘deep track’ off the band’s 1966 For Certain Because LP,  bottles Hollies singularity in a deeply minor-keyed samba. Pop masterpiece swathed in Latin spice, the spiteful song spotlights a smug Nash on vocals, and Hicks with revved-up bursts of Greek-tuned guitar riffs–highly spicy and salsa dance-suitable.

Meanwhile…the chorus says nothing but disgust: (“Is it just that you can’t face the future with me? Can’t you tell me to my face?/ You just took the coward’s way to say goodbye, how would you feel here in my place?…)

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