Amongst the insults lobbed at Herman’s Hermits over the decades: fabricated, shallow, calculatedly commercial, utterly safe, disposable. At home they scored hits and in the US became one of the most popular imports of the mid-‘60s, though for many they are simply a Brit Invasion phenomenon connecting the Frankie Avalon/Fabian ‘50s scene and the eventual rise of bubblegum. Any folks curious as to what the fuss was all about might want to look into ABKCO’s LP reissue of Their Greatest Hits.
Herman’s Hermits can be considered the UK equivalent of and predecessor to The Monkees, though they had to fight longer for a redemption that is still in progress, as many persist in evaluating them as eternal inhabitants of Squaresville, damned to never ascend phoenix-like from the circumstances thrust upon them by their era.
The ever-growing legion of Pop scientists will chalk this up to plain Rockism, but it’s a little more complex than that. Prior to getting captured in the viselike clutches of Mickey Most, Herman’s Hermits were a highly amiable small-time gigging Manchester-based band, one initially shouldering the rather unimaginative moniker of the Heartbeats; it was subsequent to Peter Noone’s arrival that a name change, reportedly inspired by managers Harvey Lisberg and Charlie Silverman, occurred.
Herman’s Hermits is a sly appellation; unlike the Heartbeats, it stuck in the memory, and it straddled the lingering and soon to resurface pop idol angle while acknowledging if not fully succumbing to the post-Beatles vogue for leaderless units. Once in league with Most the only member of the act to unfailingly appear on their studio efforts was the gent some mistakenly thought was Herman; the front-man, or in the parlance of a certain UK group called the High Numbers, The Face.