The Hermits' new album "Blaze" was released in America in October 67 and was obviously a result of some careful thoughts from the group. It was an excellent album and seemed to illustrate a lot of the changes that were occuring within the group at the time. The lyrics were more introspective than anything they had done prior to that and according to Leckenby the album was deliberately done with subtle satire in mind.
"Busy Line" was another self-composed song credited to Hopwood-Leckenby-Green. It was a very pleasant little tune, easily remembered without sporting a repetitive chorus, and would have made a fine A-side on a 45. Peter Cowap, who would later become a member, wrote "Last Bus Home" and co-wrote "Ace, King, Queen, Jack" with Moore. Both tracks were representative of the new more aggressive Hermits sound.
THE END OF AN ERA
The "Blaze" album seems to be the aesthetic high point of all their recordings in the Sixties, but sadly it also more or less marked the end of an era for Herman's Hermits in America, where they had arrived on the music scene in a time of relative uneasyness and innocence 3 years earlier. What had popularized them and made them unique as opposed to other British groups (who often based their sound on R&B), was a smooth rhythm, soft harmonies and intelligible lyrics with no deep message. Their aim was primarily to entertain people and with their "middle of the road" sound they managed well in bridging the so-called generation gap. However, by mid 1967 there was a complete change in the music scene - The Vietnam war had reached a frightening level and the public was to react with protest marches and peace demonstrations. The "flower power" thing came in big - everybody was going to San Francisco and it was all peace, love and good will. The use of drugs flourished within the "hippie" culture - and new music styles like "acid-rock", "psychedelic" and "head music" emerged. Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and The Fish, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix were all exponents of the new trends in rock music, and soon Jim Morrison of the Doors and Jimi Hendrix along with Janis Joplin were elevated to superstar status. Nobody seemed to be content just to make rock and roll records anymore. Rock music became progressive and heavy, very heavy. Record companies spent most of their promotion efforts pushing so-called serious performers, and critics were demonstrating their hipness by reviewing records on the basis of length - the longer the better ...
A NEW LEASE OF LIFE
For 3 years they had proved far more successful in the States than in their native Britain, but now the situation seemed to have reversed. Their first charts entry in Britain since "There's A Kind of Hush" in early 1967, was a great rendition of a perfect poptune "I Can Take or Leave Your Loving", written by able songsmith Rich Jones. The B-side, "Marcel's", was composed by Hopwood-Gouldman-Noone and Lisberg. The single entered the charts in January 68 and reached no. 11.
MRS. BROWN MOTION PICTURE
Herman's Hermits third major motion picture for MGM had been shot in and around Manchester and London in 1967 and was released in the summer of 68. The Hermits play an aspiring pop group who moonlight as owners of a racing dog, and the plot is spun loosely around racing contests, love affairs and pop music. The film was produced by Allen Klein and directed by Saul Swimmer and in addition to Herman's Hermits also featured British music hall and cinema veteran Stanley Holloway as well as Marjorie Rhodes, Sheila White and Sarah Caldwell - the latter playing Mrs. Brown's lovely daughter. The overbearing British nature of the film was indicative of the abrupt change which had come upon the group at the end of 67. Graham Gouldman had been called upon to originate 4 new songs for the film and came up with "It's Nice To Be Out In the Morning", "ooh She's Done It Again", "The World is For The Young" and "Lemon and Lime" - the latter a solid music hall number performed by Stanley Holloway and the group. Kenny Young wrote "The Most Beautiful Thing In My Life", Stephens-Carter wrote "Holiday Inn" and the instrumentals "Daisy Chain Parts I & II" had been written by Noone-Hopwood-Leckenby-Green. Also included on the soundtrack album was their hit "There's A Kind of Hush" plus a new 1968 version of the title track "Mrs. Brown ..."
The "Mrs. Brown" album was arranged by John Paul Jones who did a lot of work for Mickie Most in the sixties. Jones arranged and played sessions for many of Most's artists, including Donovan, Lulu, The Animals and Herman's Hermits, which misled people to believe that the Hermits didn't play on the majority of their records. That's not true, even though well-known session musicians like Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Big Jim Sullivan had played on some of their early recordings it was definitely not because the Hermits weren't up to the task. The group's busy tour schedule made the use of session musicians a necessity in order to keep up with Mickie Most's recording plans, but according to Leckenby they all played on 90% of their records and Green and Hopwood sang on all of them. On some they didn't play their usual instruments.
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