allan clarke as springsteen trailblazer (is this part 6 of “was bruce springsteen ever blinded by the light?”)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

I WOULD BE REMISS in my love for the Hol­lies if I did not men­tion the ex­ploits of their on-again/off-again lead singer, Harold Allan Clarke. In his second (?) so­journ from the group he helped found in Man­chester, Eng­land, in 1962, he took a rather dif­ferent ap­proach styl­is­ti­cally to the ma­te­rial with which his fans had come to as­so­ciate with him.

Clarke was one of the first “name” artists to rec­og­nize Springsteen’s gifts as a tune­smith and this in­sight is carved into vinyl.

•  In 1974, Clarke recorded If I Were The Priest, which was is­sued on the ALLAN CLARKE album.

•  In 1975, Clarke recorded Blinded By The Light; un­for­tu­nately, his record com­pany was turned off by the ex­ces­sive lyrics. It was re­leased as a single in sev­eral Eu­ro­pean coun­tries. Did it chart any­where? I dunno; you tell me. It ap­peared on the I’VE GOT TIME album in 1976.

•  In 1975, Clarke also recorded Born To Runbe­fore Bruce had fin­ished recording his ver­sion! Un­for­tu­nately, it was with­held from re­lease by his record com­pany! (Who know it all, of course.) It was fi­nally is­sued as a single in Eng­land after Bruce’s version—to no avail (of course).


A darling to Springsteen fans?

So, had the record com­pany decision-makers NOT known so much and simply re­leased the records of choice by an artist with a track record of dozens of hits world­wide as the lead singer for the Hol­lies, then what?

Allan Clarke’s solo ca­reer might have taken off, yes? Or, at the very least, he might have been rec­og­nized by peers, critics, and afi­cionados as a bit of the old trail­blazer, no? Still, I must con­fess a few things:

1. I haven’t lis­tened to Clarke’s solo en­deavors in a loooong time. My memory of his al­bums is that they were ex­ces­sive in the Sev­en­ties sense of the word—especially pro­duc­tion, en­gi­neering, and Al­lan’s singing). They seemed to miss every­thing that made him so great a singer within the con­text of a group.

2. I was not blown away by his take on these songs; they seemed rushed, even more than Man­fred Mann’s above, as though Clarke couldn’t get a hand on a proper meter for the reading. He could have ju­di­ciously pruned a wee bit here and there, saving him­self a mouthful.

3. I could be mis­reading the po­ten­tial of the past and over­es­ti­mating the pos­sible ef­fects of a few re­con­sid­ered de­ci­sions by EMI. Nothing much could have hap­pened and all things would be as they are now.

For the most part, these tracks were given just one look and then lost to time, filed away on ho-hum al­bums that no one (out­side of Hol­lies fandom) even knows about!

Nonethe­less, Clarke’s en­deavors to bring the music of Bruce Spring­steen to a larger au­di­ence when Bruce him­self did not have one should make him a dar­ling to Spring­steen fans every­where.

As for my own opin­ions stated above, well, time changes most things, as it has my taste and my per­spec­tive (I’m alive). And that’s part of what these blogs are all about, innit?


The Hollies and the Boss

And there’s an­other Allan Clarke ref­er­ence as­so­ci­ated with Springsteen’s album: in 1974, the Hol­lies recorded a ver­sion of 4th Of July, As­bury Park (Sandy) with the short­ened title of Sandy. It was in­cluded in their ANOTHER NIGHT album, which was re­leased in Feb­ruary 1975, when Bruce was still an unknown.

Sandy was pulled from the album for re­lease as a single a few months later, where it mostly failed to ig­nite the in­terest of record-buyers. In the US, it stalled out at #85 on the Bill­board Hot 100 and #86 on the Cash Box Top 100.

It wasn’t even re­leased in the Hol­lies’ home country of Eng­land! It did reach the Top 10 in Hol­land, the Top 20 in New Zealand, and the Top 30 in West Ger­many, but that’s about it.

Why this gor­geous recording by an es­tab­lished group with a mas­sive world­wide hit (The Air That I Breathe) only a few months old be­hind them failed to score is some­thing that I will never un­der­stand. For those of us who were still Hol­lies fans and buying their records in 1975, Sandy was one of the high­lights of the year. . .


Notify of
Rate this article:
Please rate this article with your comment.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x