Herman’s Hermits — “Busy Line”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — November 13, 2022


639) Herman’s Hermits — “Busy Line”

Herman’s Hermits (see #300, 613) will be the new Monkees. They will get the respect they deserve. Don’t take my word for it. Just listen to Altrockchick:

They were one of the most successful bands of the invasion years (the #1 pop act in the U.S. in 1965), in large part because of their uncanny ability to make people smile. Peter Noone was the terminally cute boy that every girl’s mother wanted as a son-in-law, and the band seemed much less rough around the edges than the other invaders, including The Fab Four. . . . Once they faded from the scene, they apparently became something of a joke, a group of lightweights who made it because of exquisite timing and Herman’s irresistible sweetness: the British version of The Monkees, another band whose reputation suffered after they departed from the scene. . . . [But a]t their best, they performed with sincere and unrestrained joy and made people feel good about everyday life. . . . [T]hey did pop songs as well as anyone before or since. I refuse to apologize for liking Herman’s Hermits! . . . [W]hen they were on, enjoying themselves and the music, they had the ability to express the sweet and honest emotions of youth in a way that reminded people how sweet those innocent feelings were. Compare and contrast that to the celebration of suicidal tendencies in 90’s teen rock and I’ll take Herman’s Hermits every time, as uncool as that may be. So, yes, this dominant, leather-clad, sadistic, cigarette-smoking, vodka-guzzling, martial-arts-trained, whip-wielding terror of a woman has absolutely no guilt about expressing her appreciation for Herman’s Hermits . . . .


If you don’t listen, you’re gonna be whipped!

PopDose agrees:

Time and “hip” critics haven’t exactly been kind to Herman’s Hermits . . . . Which I say bullshit to. The Hermits ran a pretty good race, staying the course until around 1970 . . . but a six-year career was not a bad thing. Especially when you see how quickly most of their contemporaries in the original British Invasion disappeared without a whimper by early-to-mid 1966. Although they may have been perceived as lightweight, they were actually quite an astute and damned fine band. Nowhere better is this personified than by two of their original tracks . . . from their criminally-overlooked (and final) album from 1967, Blaze, [including] “Busy Line” . . . Herman’s Hermits are deserving of a serious re-appraisal.


Anyway, “Busy Line” is a delightfully melancholy song written by the Hermits’ Karl Green, Keith Hopwood and Derek Leckenby. “The band members were even beginning to write fine songs themselves. . . . “’Busy Line’ [is a] good example[.”] (https://returnofrock.com/hermans-hermits-albums-ranked/) Green remembers that:

When Blaze was first conceived I remember seeing it as a vehicle to try and grow as a band, and write some music that reflected my own preferred tastes in music. . . . I . . . wrote Busy Line . . . . [We] tried to break the HH mold a little and give the band a grittier edge that I felt we needed to grow musically, but sadly Peter started to get more and more dissatisfied with being in the band after this album, and wanted to pursue his solo career . . . .


Anorak Thing ponders Blaze:

[B]ehind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones the band ranked third in record sales in the United States as part of the “British Invasion”. . . . With lead singer Peter Noone successfully exploited/marketed as a teen idol in the States their target market was, unlike the top two, decidedly slim (the attention span of prepubescent girls was probably not a fair bet to hedge your company on). . . . “Sgt. Pepper” had all but slain everyone of the “beat group” era save The Hollies and though Herman’s Hermits still managed chart hits in the U.K., their day was pretty much done in the U.S. “Blaze” . . . was unleashed on the U.S. record buying public in October 1967 where it managed to reach the depressing #75 on the LP slots (it’s predecessor “There’s A Kind of Hush” clocked out at #17). It utilized two previously released U.S. singles, “Don’t Go Out Into The Rain” (May 1967, #17) and Donovan’s “Museum” (September 1967, #39), their B-sides and a slew of other new tracks. It was not released in the U.K. What’s most fascinating is it’s front sleeve. There’s a quadruple color photo image of the band squatting near a pastoral riverbank in their finest . . . without a title or band name to be seen. Deceiving as the photo may be . . . it’s actually quite good.


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