The Hollow Men – an Indie band from Leeds who were together from 1985 until 1991, had four albums (three issued during their tenure and one issued posthumously in the U.S. only), several single and, for all intents and purposes, should have been better known than they were. To say they were underrated and overlooked is an understatement. Their only official U.S. release came in 1990, their third album, Cresta, which had all the trappings of a hit or at least moderately successful album, but didn’t even make the charts.
You can lay blame in all sorts of places, starting with the label (Arista in the U.S.) for not pushing hard enough to get airplay. You couldn’t blame the Press, who were generally supportive of the band, with NME citing The Hollow Men as ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ (along with Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine and The Charlatans that year). Blaming radio, at least in the U.S. who were notorious for not announcing what records they were playing (around this time the campaign “Play It, Say It” was begun by labels sick of not having their acts announced by dj’s).
But at the end of the day The Hollow Men were a good band, with a lot of potential and a groundswell of support, but who just didn’t break to a larger audience.
So aside from their albums, singles and eps, there is very little (if any) in the way of live material on the band. This performance, recorded at Moles Club in Bath on February 20, 1991, was issued as a limited edition promo-only disc to Press and disc-jockeys. So far as I know, they didn’t do any Peel Sessions or any other sessions at the BBC and so far, this is the only example of what the band sounded like live.
The band broke up a while after this disc was issued. The only other album released by the band was a posthumous 4th album (Twisted) which consisted of demos, some purported live material and unissued tracks which came out in 1994; three years after The Hollow Men called it quits. Ironically, it’s only available in the U.S., it may be out of print by now, but it is worth seeking out.
As I always say in situations like this – for every successful band in the history of Rock, there are hundreds who had the potential and all the right moves, but failed to get the extra push needed to put them across. It is, sadly a story that is repeated daily and is still repeated, maybe even more so.
But as a reminder that there is a lot of music out there, and a lot left to be discovered, here is one of those bands it would do you good to know about.