Coming together in 1963, Herman’s Hermits were one of the most successful British bands of the decade. Hailing from Manchester, the group not only boasted a ton of teen appeal in the form of lead singer Peter Noone, but their sweet and snappy songs thoroughly matched their family-friendly image.
Although the band may not have been as culturally hip as the Beatles or as dangerously seductive as the Rolling Stones, they certainly possessed their own artistic charms, as they were skilled at tackling a variety of styles and excelled at channeling other people’s material.
Originally released in 1973, long after the band’s heyday, Their Greatest Hits (ABKCO) is now available on clear vinyl. The disc covers the years 1964 to 1967, which was when Herman’s Hermits were raking in the star power.
Chipper vocals and tugging harmonies, tethered to bouncy rhythms and zesty hooks flood songs such as “I’m Into Something Good,” and “Just A Little Bit Better,” and then there’s the jaunty dance hall forays into “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “Leaning On A Lamp Post,” and “I’m Henry VIII I Am,” while “A Must To Avoid” and a reprise of Sam Cooke’s “(What A) Wonderful World” shimmer and shine to a lightly-buttered rock edge.
Marked by neatly-manicured structures and brooding melodies, “Listen People” and “No Milk Today” portray Herman’s Hermits laying down some seriously sophisticated pop moves, Ray Davies of the Kinks are given a respectful salute on a version of the jittery vaudeville influenced “Dandy,” where “This Door Swings Both Ways” teeters and twinkles to a see-saw slant, and “There’s A Kind Of Hush All Over The World,” features a run of snazzy brass arrangements crowned by warm and radiant textures.
Herman’s Hermits recorded a slew of supreme songs, so Their Greatest Hits actually only represents a mere fraction of their output. But the disc is a swell selection of their better known songs, and that alone lends it to be an essential purchase.
Herman’s Hermits had no agenda nor were they obsessed with trying to be trendy. Playing catchy pop rock songs and making people happy was what the band was all about, and Their Greatest Hits accents both the enthusiasm and the timeless quality of their creations.
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