Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Boys Next Door

Here is a quote from last.fm's description for Herman's Hermits:

Part of the British Invasion, their trademark simple, non-threatening, clean-cut “boys next door” image made them easier to listen to and more accessible than other British Invasion bands.

Herman's Hermits are most definitely my cup of tea and I didn't even realize it properly until now – or actually a week ago on Monday when I watched a TV documentary about the band. It was part two in a four-part series called British Invasion.

Herman's Hermits were a band with one goal: to score hit singles. That goal they did achieve (I'm into Something Good; Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter; I'm Henry the Eight, I Am; Can't You Hear My Heartbeat and so on), and very much in the US as well. Based on the documentary I saw, some of the hit song choices actually came as a surprise to the band. While watching Peter Noone and other guys share their memories of being chased by a hundreds girls and having a few thousand more stalking outside their hotel I started thinking: how come they gained so much success by performing early/mid-60s style music in 1967?

Maybe the success of Herman's Hermits indicated the beginning of the upcoming bubblegum explosion. Peter Noone and the band definitely had most of the important characteristics of a bubblegum band. They were a band that scored many hits but didn't write them, the hit songs were simplistic and catchy, and their lead vocalist was a sweet-voiced teenager boy. However, unlike your usual bubblegum group, Herman's Hermits were not a fictional band that only came alive through session musicians in the studio. Herman's Hermits recorded their music personally and the same people also performed live.

This isn't the first time I have listened to Herman's Hermits but it definitely helps now to be able to see the band in the context of the specific time period and generally in the context of different musical phenomena of the 60s. The beauty of music often lies in the fact that you can listen to anything and come band to it when you have gained a more thorough perspective.

Another thing that I found interesting based on the documentary was that in the 60s the band seemed to feel restricted by the name 'Herman's Hermits'. After all, the band name didn't stop the Beach Boys from recording everything from psychedelic pop to country music. Still, Herman's Hermits went on to record stuff like My Sentimental Friend, which is a gorgeous performance, and actually starting to sound a lot like the usual British 70s bubblegum music – with strings and all!

Herman's Hermits were(/are?) in fact a very charming band. I think I also may have to give the title for “the sweetest British male vocalist” to Peter Noone. What can I say? No one could ever dislike stuff like Silhouettes, I'm Into Something Good, No Milk Today, or... Listen People. Oh My!

Here is a live video for Listen People. I agree with the girls in the audience. For some reason the guys behave a bit more chilled-down.

1 comment:

Keiju said...

Herman's Hermits recorded some quite psychedelic stuff as well. In late 1967 they released the single "Museum / Moonshine Man" (the A side written by Donovan, whose original version got beaten and hard!), of which both sides ended up to the US album "Blaze" which was a bit psychedelia-tinged as a whole. Unfortunately, the single didn't chart, and that was why Herman's Hermits went for another direction in 1968. Their version of The Foundations' pop soul song "I Can Take or Leave Your Loving" once again sounded amazingly much better than the original.