Both Sides of Herman's Hermits

Herman's Hermits

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Both Sides of Herman's Hermits Review

by Joe Viglione

The original U.S. release of this album is a superb collection of Peter Noone performances that differs dramatically from the U.K. counterpart that goes by the same name. "This Door Swings Both Ways" went Top 15 in the States during July of 1966, but it was overshadowed by four other hits Noone and company had that year (they had a total of six Top 30 tracks in 1966, equaling the number they had in 1965!). The beauty that Both Sides of Herman's Hermits displays goes beyond the familiar tunes; it is in both the sound and the packaging. "My Reservation's Been Confirmed" is a surprisingly different old-style rocker with barroom piano and a driving near-fuzz guitar. The artwork is by Frank Frizetta, but you can bet it is the legendary cover artist for Creepy and Eerie magazines, Frank Frazetta, making the project a collector's item indeed. This album is Noone's opportunity to let his personality shine through the adventurous and diverse material, some of it, oddly, an array of songs written by Kenny Lynch, along with the obligatory Graham Gouldman cover and even a tune by Herman's Hermit Derek Lackenby, among others. "My Old Dutch" sounds like it was recorded in a pub an hour before closing time, while "L'Autre Jour," sung mostly in French, is outstanding and quite different from what fans heard this group do on the radio. The cover of "Bus Stop," though, is the album's highlight, better than the hit version by the Hollies -- you can hear the words distinctly, and the solo vocal is so much more appealing than the thick chorus of Graham Nash's ensemble. The cover art features the band performing for Lyndon Johnson, Nikita Krushchev, Fidel Castro, the Beatles, Barbara Streisand, and other notables. This album is Sgt. Pepper's in reverse, a collection of 11 short pop tunes, all very much under three minutes, and it works as a document of Mickey Most and Noone having fun in the middle of all the fame. It's the sleeper in the collection of a Top 40 band, the other side of Herman's Hermits being, of course, their (read Peter Noone's) remarkable sense of humor. It's on the cover and in the grooves: the statement the Monkees wish they could have made.

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