One of my earliest and most loved musical recollections is “No Milk Today”; I still have my original M-G-M Records 45 with “There’s A Kind Of Hush” on the flipside. Herman’s Hermits were the artists and 49 years after that song first entered my consciousness, I still listen to it with a feeling; an emotion and a loving appreciation.
Which is how the folks at Bear Family Records approached this 50th anniversary gathering of Herman’s Hermits’ biggest hits and a generous sampling of their best (and yet lesser known) album tracks. Even more amazing that getting 66 songs on this beautifully packaged two-disc set, compiled by the legendary Ron Furmanek, is the incredible remixing and re-mastering that breathes completely new life and gives a totally new power to most of these songs (originally produced by the late, great Mickie Most), eight of which have never before been heard in true stereo. Throw in liner notes from the one-and-only Andrew Sandoval, with a forward by former lead singer Peter “Herman” Noone and you’re in for some education.
Time and “hip” critics haven’t exactly been kind to Herman’s Hermits; they arrived on the American scene in the immediate tidal wave created by The Beatles; their songs were on the sunnier side and never threatening and blah, blah, blah – you’ve heard the snideness before. Which I say bullshit to. The Hermits ran a pretty good race, staying the course until around 1970, when Peter Noone left – the band did carry on briefly, but a six-year career was not a bad thing. Especially when you see how quickly most of their contemporaries in the original British Invasion disappeared without a whimper by early-to-mid 1966. Although they may have been perceived as lightweight, they were actually quite an astute and damned fine band.
Nowhere better is this personified than by two of their original tracks (included here) from their criminally-overlooked (and final) album from 1967, Blaze, “Busy Line” and the heartstopping, “Moonshine Man” (both written by bassist Karl Green and guitarists Keith Hopwood and Derek Leckenby) – listen to the rhythm section of “Moonshine Man” on this compilation and you’ll be bowled over by the simple but powerhouse bass lines. All the hit singles you know and love (and hate) are here, but sounding better than ever – “Just A Little Bit Better” (which I always thought took the Dave Clark Five to task) motors along with bigger balls than previously; “A Must To Avoid” is one of those eight tracks that has a greater life in it than previously aired and (of course, my favorite) “No Milk Today” is more heart-wrenching, enveloping and emotionally gripping than ever – and it has an ending coda that I have never heard on any other version.
Herman’s Hermits are deserving of a serious re-appraisal. Get this compilation and absorb it; reintroduce yourself to some absolute pop classics and rare album gems. Then work your way backwards to Blaze and No Milk Today. You’ll find yourself with a favorite new old band that stays with you a lifetime
The Best Of Herman’s Hermits – The 50th Anniversary Anthology is available on import now