Herman's Hermits : Ace, King, Queen, Jack
Let's admit we've all written off Herman's Hermits. At least those of us in the US who only know "Mrs Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" (#1/1965) and the beer hall singalong "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am " ( #1/ 1965), which knocked the Rolling Stones's "Satisfaction" from the top of the US charts. Their appearances in forgettable MGM movies earned them the moniker "The British Monkees".
But when you're big enough to rival the Beatles, you get your pick from the best songwriters and by 1967, the Hermits were recording hits written by Graham Gouldman ( the ultra-catchy ear bug "No Milk Today", "Upstairs Downstairs"), Ray Davies ( "Dandy") and Donovan ( "Museum").
Both "Museum" and "Upstairs Downstairs" come from Blaze. The cover suggests yet another embarrassing beat band's attempts to respond to The Beatles's Sgt Pepper but, with the exception of "Museum" and the "Taxman" bass lines of "Moonshine Man" it's mostly British invasion-styled pop tunes.
With Mickie Most producing (and providing the Donovan connection), The Hermits recorded their best set yet. "Ace, King, Queen, Jack", written by Peter Noone and new Hermit Peter Cowap, is just one of the highlights. Though critically acclaimed, Blaze was shockingly never released in the UK and the Hermits failed to turn the corner into the psychedelic era. Blaze is out of print but collectors can find it.