Just to make it clear up front: I’m well aware of the fact that Herman’s Hermits were not a powerhouse band like The Who or The Rolling Stones, nor were they in the same league as other great British Invasion bands like The Hollies or The Small Faces. But I’ve loved them since 1993, when I was thirteen, and consider them a very solid, fun band with a poppier sound than the big boys. They’ve got a lot of underrated gems you might not expect if you only know them from their hits in radio rotation. (Not that the average oldies station even plays actual oldies anymore, but still.)
Herman’s Hermits were pimped to teenyboppers as innocent, safe, clean-cut boys next door, and their earlier songs went along with that image very well. They stayed true to the album formula of the time, mixing hit singles with filler, but their filler wasn’t bad or forgettable. Not really stand-out or ultra-memorable, but enjoyable for what it was. While they were a real band, with competent musicians and songwriters, many of their songs were written by other people (or were remakes), and they used session musicians more than a few times. However, they did perform live nicely, proving they were a real band. Not the most charismatic performers, but they did a good job and held their own. Their bassist, Karl Green, was a lefty. And even if they didn’t write all their own material, they had some awesome songwriters, like Graham Gouldman.
Their first four studio albums, Herman’s Hermits, Herman’s Hermits on Tour, Hold On!, and Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits, are solid pop albums, though not what I’d consider indispensable to a proper Sixties collection. I have them because I love this band, but I don’t think I’d particularly recommend them if you’re not already into the band. Again, they’re solid, fun albums, just not up there with the greatest bands of the British Invasion.
But then came the awesome albums There’s a Kind of Hush All Over the World and Blaze. You’d never suspect they were made by the same band, with such gems as “Jezebel,” “East West,” “Little Miss Sorrow, Child of Tomorrow,” “Museum,” “One Little Packet of Cigarettes,” and “Ace, King, Queen, Jack.” These albums aren’t the next Revolver or Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, but they show an admirable maturity and complexity which proves they were more than teenypop.
After this, they released one more album, Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, a soundtrack to a film of the same title. By this time, their popularity was starting to wane, as it was for many other British Invasion bands. The hits became fewer and farther between, and they couldn’t keep up with the type of music which became popular in the late Sixties. They sounded out of touch and uncool to the average person, the same reason many other once-popular bands (such as The Four Seasons) plummeted in popularity around this time.
I’m biased, given 21 years of fandom and counting, but I could see a case for them being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, after all the big players have been inducted. Of course, that would involve Jann Wenner taking the stick out and ceasing to be such a pompous, élitist ass trying to dictate which music is cool and uncool, based on his opinions and value judgments from decades ago. They’re a fun, solid band that gradually matured past their image, even if I’d never classify them in the same league as my loves The Who, The Beatles, or The Hollies in terms of awesome British Invasion bands.
Their hit singles are solid, classic Sixties pop, holding up very well. Hits like “Dandy,” “Listen People,” “No Milk Today,” “I’m into Something Good,” “A Must to Avoid,” “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” and “Wonderful World.” Some of their hits have rather deep lines, showing they were more than just shallow, juvenile pop. They didn’t do the same old “I love you, you love me” tripe that’s a dime a dozen in every generation.
Last but not least, I got the second part of my pen name from their song “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.” Credit where credit is due.