Herman’s Hermits: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 27, 2021

300) Herman’s Hermits — “Upstairs, Downstairs”

Yes, you heard right, Herman’s Hermits. As Vernon Joynson says, the Hermits “were one of the more lightweight [British] pop acts of the sixties but they were one of our most successful exports to the States and released several good three-minute pop singles.” (The Tapestry of Delights). By ’67, the band’s fortunes were beginning to wane. Yet, as Al Campbell writes in All Music Guide:

While Herman’s Hermits couldn’t keep up with the revolutionary sounds created in 1967 by the Beatles, Cream, or Jimi Hendrix, they did manage to release pop records that steadily revealed maturity, especially evident on Blaze, their final MGM studio release. . . . Unfortunately, the teen idol image of front man Peter Noone was becoming a double-edged sword, as he was starting to be replaced by a new generation of teen idols, while not being able to make the transition into hip 1967.

’67’s Blaze wasn’t even released in the UK, but did reach #75 in the U.S. Graham Reid says that “[a]t a stretch – yes, a bit of stretch admittedly – it was like Revolver as presented by a clever but lightweight pop band who’d smoked a little marijuana.” Well, I guess Revolver was presented by a clever but super-heavyweight pop band who’d been dosed with LSD (thanks, dentist Riley) (elsewhere.co.nz/absoluteelsewhere/7803/hermans-hermits-blaze-reconsidered-2017-going-out-to-a-blaze-of-indifference/). Blaze‘s “Upstairs, Downstairs,” written by the great Graham Gouldman (see #226), is, as Al Campbell says, a great lost pop song.

“Upstairs, mmmm, downstairs, mmmm. Upstairs every night, there’s a boy listening to his radio. Downstairs just one flight, a girl waits patiently. Downstairs every night sits a girl listening from the floor below. Upstairs just one flight, a boy waits patiently. Each one knowing that the other is there, each one hoping that the other will dare to climb the first stair. . . . Upstairs in the night, the boy hears crying from the room below. He goes down one flight and dries her tear-filled eyes. Upstairs every night, all is quiet in the room above. Downstairs just one flight, there’s nothing to be said. No more lonely. Girl and boy have met. The upstairs room is advertised to let. Now these two have met. . . .”

Here is Graham Gouldman’s version:

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