Herman's Hermits' debut British album, 1965's Herman's Hermits, was actually issued six months later than its American counterpart, and two months after the band's second American album, the LP being treated as far more important in the United States than in England. The contents are actually fairly close to the U.S.-issued Their Second Album! Herman's Hermits on Tour, with a couple of important differences. Among the tracks unique to this album, the Richard/Marvin ballad "I Wonder" is pretty dispensable, but interspersed with achingly beautiful ballads are the group's attempts at somewhat harder sounds on numbers like Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Walkin' With My Angel" and more basic, slightly edgier rock ballads such as "Dream On" and their cover of Graham Gouldman's "For Your Love." The latter is decent, and lively enough, but the Yardbirds' version, lightweight as it may have seemed next to their blues sides, is so deeply soulful that it completely eclipses this rendition. Spiced with Keith Hopwood's catchy "Don't Try to Hurt Me" and "Tell Me Baby" (which appear on both albums, a testimony to Hopwood's songwriting ability) and ubiquitous fare such as "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter," the result is a pleasantly upbeat and substantial album by a highly underrated group. The 2002 reissue on EMI combines the record with the group's second U.K. release, 1966's Both Sides of Herman's Hermits, an album that will amaze a lot of listeners who never had much use for Herman's Hermits. Opening with an angry, bluesy "Little Boy Blue," ripping through a Chuck Berry-influenced original ("My Reservation's Been Confirmed"), a surprisingly subdued and poignant version of "Bus Stop," another original ("For Love") that recalls Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders at their best, and the folk-rock-influenced, Steve Barri/P.F. Sloan-authored "Where Were You When I Needed You," it's chock-full of revelations about the group's sound and range of music. Side two does contain the music hall standard "Leaning on a Lamp Post," but the rest of this record really rocks, about as well as any Hollies album of the same era, and it's all good listening 30-plus years later -- nicely sung (especially Graham Gouldman's "Listen People") and played regardless of who's actually playing the instruments. The two records taken together paint a surprisingly good portrait of a band who never got much respect but released a lot of good music.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder