Tim Hollier: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 26, 2021

Bruce Eder rightly says in All Music Guide that “Tim Hollier was one of the most unfairly neglected of folk-based artists to come out of late-’60s England . . . .” Eder goes on to say that:

[Hollier’s] brand of trippy, quietly elegant psychedelic folk-rock deserving an infinitely wider hearing than it got . . . . Hollier recorded his first album, Message to a Harlequin, in mid-1968; released in October of that year, it was a tremendous showcase for [his] excellent voice and challenging, psychedelic-flavored songs, elaborately produced . . . . The album — although not especially successful in England — even managed to get a U.S. release . . . . Hollier made slow progress in finding an audience over the ensuing year . . . . [H]is self-titled, self-produced second album [from which today’s two songs are taken. was released] in the summer of 1970. It failed to sell, and a year later a similar fate befell his third album, Sky Sail, released on Philips. . . . A stripped-down album compared to its predecessor, [the] self-titled second album is filled with pleasant, catchy folk-based tunes, with . . . most of the songs loaded to overflowing with memorable hooks . . . .

What got Hollier interested in music? His answer is refreshingly honest (if possibly tongue-in-cheek):

As a snotty 15 year old, playing Apache at
Frizington Veterans Club was the best way to meet girls – but they were the days of playtex girdles, and that was a hurdle indeed. I only did it only for the sex, in other words!


What was the London folk music scene like when he started out? —

Wonderful. I spent many a very stoned evening
. . . playing in clubs like Bunjies, The Troubadour and the Half Moon with Paul Simon, Jo-Ann Kelly, Roy Harper and eventually Nick Drake too.*

298) Tim Hollier — “Seagull’s Song”

Dear Spirit says that:

[“Seagull’s Song” is a]n obscure gem of beautiful, melancholic, psychedelic folk rock . . . . It’s my understanding that all folk albums of this era were legally required to contain at least one song dedicated to a bird, and “Seagull’s Song” takes care of that obligation right off the bat.


Yes and yes. I’m not even gonna mention Jonathan Livingston Seagull! Dr. Schloss says that:

This [album] is sort of a slightly psyched-up ‘Tim Buckley-lite” affair . . . . Although folk-rock is clearly the order of the day, the band does work up a groovy head of steam to give the songs a nice sonic push when needed. Most of the tunes here are pretty solid, though only a few really stand out. Despite some really clunky, cliched lyrics, “Seagull Song” worms its way into your head with a fine folk melody and some groovy guitar and flute leads bouncing about in the background. . . . Hollier is a Brit and the echoes of that islands folk traditions are on display here. Still, it’s clear that Hollier likely had a large pile of L.A. folk-rock vinyl taking up space in his ‘flat.’ This set isn’t really a mindblower. It’s probably not going to change your life, but it’s a very groovy concoction while it’s playing . . . .


I generally disagree with the good doctor. The songs are generally stunning, even mindblowing, and “Seagull’s” is possibly life-altering, but it’s lyrics could indeed by called clunky (though definitely not crunky):

Wondering, I saw a seagull high above the sea. As I drew near to the seagull, it sang its song to me. Turn on your back if the sun starts to burn. There’s nothing that you own that you don’t have to earn. You have never heard a song that is more free that the sound of the seagull high above the sea. How far is the sun, how ridiculous am I not a young man. My name is [Icarus?]. . . .

299) Tim Hollier — “Maybe You Will Stay”

Is it just me, or does the melody of this song of generous spirit sound eerily reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand,” released a decade later? I can’t find anyone else noting the similarities before, but I maybe in the hour of Dylan’s deepest need . . . .

“In the quiet of the evening of the heavy heated day, you can sit down by my fire or you can stay away. Wander up in dreamworld or look into my face, come back when you want to, no one will take your place. Come back home. In the misty [golden?] morning when the sky blue and clear, you can leave me like a sparrow or you can stay right here. Meet me at the doorstep or wander off alone, walking in the forest or you can come back home. Come back home. But know that I love you and know that I need you, but if you go its OK, but then again maybe you will stay, but then again maybe you will stay. . . .”

* More from Tim Hollier on performing in London. When asked by Record Collector whether he played live much, he responded:

As often as I could. I played on the BBC many times – John Peel always gave me a gig. One memorable gig was at the Wigmore Hall, of all places, with Amory Kane and Rick Cuff, in May ‘69. During our final number, Evolution, David Bowie suddenly appeared on stage in full space suit and performed a dance, ending with his almost naked body stricken on the stage. There were rumours of a live album of these events, but nothing emerged. I finally crashed as a performer at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, playing with Sarstedt and David McWilliams. For once I was headlining, my parents were in the audience and my oldest friends were onstage with me. But just before I went on my manager gave me a huge joint, and thereafter things became absolutely miserable. The BBC recorded it but it wasn’t much good, and I never played live again.

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