Herman's Hermits

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Retrospective Review

by Tim Sendra

Herman's Hermits are widely seen as a lightweight, novelty cousin to the Beatles, fronted by a lovably dorky moppet and musically negligible. Sure, they are lightweight at times, Peter Noone is a lovable moppet, and their popularity would never have been possible without the Beatles, but one listen to Retrospective proves that they were not lacking in the musical department. Setting aside "I'm Henry the VIII, I Am" (which proves everything the critics say about the band), the group, and producer Mickie Most, had a surefooted straight-ahead approach that let the songs' hooks sink in deeply. Noone's pleasant voice and the band's sympathetic but never boring backing always goes down easy, and when they get excited -- like on "Hold On" or "A Must to Avoid" -- they almost rock. Thanks to the generous outlay of tracks and the improved sound, Retrospective takes over as the definitive collection of the Hermits' work. It leaves off their final two singles recorded for RAK in 1970, but otherwise the 26 songs here include 23 that made the Top 40 in the U.K. or the U.S. Many of the tracks are among the best the British Invasion had to offer, including "A Must to Avoid," "I'm into Something Good," "There's a Kind of Hush," and "Listen People." It also shows the band's range with the lovely Baroque pop of "East West," the laid-back R&B of "(What A) Wonderful World," the folk-rock with strings of "Don't Go Out in the Rain," the British psychedelia of "Museum," and the Bee Gees-styled orchestrated pop of "Here Comes the Star." The band was really much more versatile then given credit for and not as lightweight, either, as melancholy tracks like "No Milk Today" and "My Sentimental Friend" prove. Another thing Retrospective makes clear is that, much like another underrated '60s group, they were able to maintain a high-quality output even as the hits were smaller and farther between; 1968's "Sunshine Girl," 1967's "I Can Take or Leave Your Loving," and 1968's "Something's Happening" are just as hooky and memorable as their early work, and may even be better songs as they are the work of a more mature and assured group. They just weren't able to make as big an impact due to the times they were released. If you have even a passing interest in the band you should pick this disc up; it will win you over and soon you will join the proud ranks of Hermit boosters. [Retrospective is playable as a regular CD and as a SACD.]

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Herman's Hermits 02:36
2 Herman's Hermits 02:17
3 Herman's Hermits 02:02
4 Herman's Hermits 02:49
5 Herman's Hermits 02:01
6 Herman's Hermits 02:02
7 Herman's Hermits 01:52
8 Herman's Hermits 02:56
9 Herman's Hermits 01:58
10 Herman's Hermits 02:42
11 Herman's Hermits 03:02
12 Herman's Hermits 02:32
13 Herman's Hermits 02:35
14 Herman's Hermits 02:01 Amazon
15 Herman's Hermits 02:59
16 Herman's Hermits 02:26
Herman's Hermits 02:09
18 Herman's Hermits 02:04
19 Herman's Hermits 03:16 Amazon
20 Herman's Hermits 02:14 Amazon
21 Herman's Hermits 02:38 Amazon
22 Herman's Hermits 02:41 Amazon
23 Herman's Hermits 02:36 Amazon
24 Herman's Hermits 03:13 Amazon
25 Herman's Hermits 03:17 Amazon
26 Herman's Hermits 03:24 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick