Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow was an American art-pop trio from Philadelphia that released a self-titled album in 1972 on the Family Productions label.

Members: Richard Billay (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Richie Bremen (bass), Joe Zucca (drums)


Sleepy Hollow formed in Philadelphia, where singer and songwriter Richard Billay teamed with bassist Richie Bremen and drummer Joe Zucca. They were among a handful of acts (Mama Lion, Heavy Cruiser, Billy Joel, Velvert Turner Group) signed to Artie Ripp’s newly formed Family Productions label.

They recorded their album with veteran Philly producer John Madara and string–horn arranger Tom Sellers.

The Album

Sleepy Hollow appeared in 1972 on Family Productions (US) and Philips (France). It features nine Billay originals, including “Sincerely Yours,” “Talking Out of Turn,” “Take Me Back,” “Love Minus You,” and the epic six-minute album closer “Hades.”

Musically, Sleepy Hollow carries the torch of Revolver-esque music hall and Tin Pan Alley pop along similar lines to Harry Nilsson, Stackridge, Aubrey Small, and Yellowstone & Voice.

  • “Sincerely Yours” Lurching, orchestral descent. Lyrical tensions underscored by a nervous 3/4 piano thump. Open-cadence, A minor polychordal descent. Muted fuzztone, percussive echo-delay plummets midway amid Sellers’ windswept string-bed.
  • “Talking Out of TurnSlow fret-bends over selective bass accents frame the D minor base tonality. Zucca’s cannon-like tom fills and kick-drum/cymbals emphasize the headiness of this lyrically uncertain number.
  • “Take Me Back” — Rhythmic escalations, triggered by the subtle fuzz of Billay’s guitar bends. Sellers’ lavish orchestrations rise in volume amid Zucca’s seismically phased tom-bombs.
  • “Hades” Siren strings in the depths of E-flat bring us to the epic closer, where an ivory lift to the more hopeful frame of F/B-flat allows for a lyrical telling of the afterworld. Successive iterations of the valley-wide verses and panoramic chorus pass before the redemptive, pearly white waters of the piano/symphony middle-eight, which ascends to the number’s choral crest in B-flat.
  • “Love Minus You” — Stately piano-gallop. Bremen darts between low bars and fiddly high-notes. Zucca alternates kick thumps and tom rolls.
  • “Lay It on the Line” Slow, encircling toms. Laidback Leslied licks between each vocal line.
  • “Lady” — Sellers’ strings form the backdrop for acoustic plucking and climactic explosions.

Sleepy Hollow was engineered by Carl Paruola (Catalyst, Good God, The Visitors, Sam Dees) and Joe Tarsia (The O’Jays, Billy Paul, Gulliver, Blue Magic). The cover sports an Art Nouveau design by Ron Levine, who also did visuals for 1971–73 albums by Smoke Rise, White Elephant, Five Dollar Shoes, and Betty Davis.

The three members of Sleepy Hollow disappeared from the scene apart from Billay, who issued re-recordings of “Take Me Back” and “Lay It on the Line” with Ripp, Madera, and Sellers at the helm. The two tracks appeared on a 1976 ATCO 7″.


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