The most obscure album in the Hollies' entire catalog, Out on the Road marked the second half of the "Mikael Rickfors Era," that two-year period in which the Swedish-born singer provided the group's lead vocals. The album was originally released only in Germany. This is a slicker, smoother, and harder-rocking version of the Hollies than most casual fans, familiar with their hits of the early '70s ("Long Dark Road," "The Air That I Breathe") might expect. Rickfors is firing on all cylinders as a singer, his vocals every bit as expressive if not as compellingly memorable as those of the man he was (temporarily, as it turned out) replacing, Allan Clarke. But the equally dominant personality on a lot of the material here is guitarist Tony Hicks, whose instrumental prowess is all over this record (and not just on guitar, but banjo, among other stringed devices) along with a lot of solid songwriting on his part (in tandem with Kenny Lynch) and backing vocals.
This CD reissue of a Contemporary set from 1976 features a logical but only one-time collaboration between flügelhornist Art Farmer and altoist Art Pepper. With pianist Hampton Hawes, bassist Ray Brown, and either Steve Ellington or Shelly Manne on drums completing the quintet, the five standards and Hawes' original "Downwind" were certainly in good hands. A special highlight is a duet version of "My Funny Valentine" featuring Farmer and Hawes. Everyone plays up to par on this spirited straight-ahead set.