IT WAS EARLY 1966 and my 12-year old sister Mary Alice just bought her beloved Herman’s Hermits’ new single, Listen People. She proceeded to play it night and day, over and over and over, driving my bother and me to beyond distraction. Diving us batty! In fact, so far beyond distraction, that we decided, “Nevermore!”
On an otherwise luverly Saturday afternoon, my brother Charles and I—knowing full well that our parents were out and about shopping—captured our sister, took her to the basement, killed her and cooked her and ate the evidence.
At last, peace and quiet reigned o’er the household once again …
This may sound extreme, but anyone who has had to listen to Peter Noone warble Listen People over and over and over will understand that it was a perfectly natural response to the situation. 1
Now, decades after the fact, two things remain true: I miss my little sister (I relocated to the West Coast and only see my family occasionally), and Listen People sounds pretty good on the oldies stations when those furshlugginer buggers play the damn thing. 2
MGM ran this full-page ad in the trade magazines in January 1966. It announced that Listen People as an LP track was being played on Top 40 radio rotations around the country like it was hit single. Released as single in February, it became their eighth Top 10 hit in little over a year!
When the boys meet the girls
Listen People was written by the prolific Graham Gouldman, then famous for having penned For Your Love and Heart Full Of Soul for the Yardbirds and Look Through Any Window for the Hollies. The recording was produced by the ubiquitous Mickie Most, then known for his work with the Animals.
The song was written for the soundtrack of the Connie Francis movie When The Boys Meet The Girls. The Hermits have a part in the movie performing (lip-synching, natch) Listen People with young people dancing around them.
The soundtrack album was issued in September 1965, several weeks prior to the release of the movie. Radio programmers and DJs immediately started playing Listen People, creating consumer demand for the song as a buyable single.
So, the boys recorded a new, stronger version and released it as a single in February 1966. (I know, “strong” is not a term one associates with Peter Noone and company, but, well, the single is stronger than the soundtrack!)
The Hermits were HUGE in the US during the second year of the British Invasion of American Top 40 radio (for me, the Invasion is 1964-65, period). They had seven Top 10 hits with two reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The charming if slight Listen People was the group’s ninth US single; it reached #3 on both Billboard’s Hot 100 and Cash Box’s Top 100. It was backed by Got A Feeling, which did not make any American chart. Oddly, it was not judged strong enough for release as a single in the UK. 3
The offending artifact that disturbed the peace of Neal and Charles Umphred in 1966. The promo is worth $25-30 in NM condition while the stock copy is a tough sell at $10.
The Avid Record Collector
The record has only nominal value: as the Hermits were so big then, MGM over-pressed most of their singles and LPs. Consequently, copies of these records in unplayed Mint condition have been available on the collectors market for a decade for a couple of bucks each.
One would think that an almost fifty-year-old record would be worth at least $15-20, but that could prove a tough sell for many 45s from that era, including Peter Noone and company. Nonetheless, I will assign this a NM value of $10-15 (just to be safe: many if not most of the records graded NM on the Internet are VG+). This wide-spread reflects the marketplace as this is not a difficult record to pick up at local record swaps or online.
MGM did not bother to print a picture sleeve for this record in the US, which is baffling. Sleeves were manufactured in other countries. I have included the ones that I could locate and listed them alphabetically below in this gallery of picture sleeves from around the world:
West Germany provided the group’s fans with this nice if uninteresting sleeve.
Italy provided the group’s fans with this nice if uninteresting sleeve.
Japan continued its tradition of designing and printing excellent sleeves. One of the very best Herman’s Hermits picture sleeves!
Sweden provided the group’s fans with this nice if uninteresting sleeve. (Yawn …)
Listen People as b-side
A few months later, Listen People was issued as the flip-side of You Won’t Be Leaving in some countries. For the sake of completeness, I have included those sleeves:
Denmark provided the group’s fans with this nice if uninteresting sleeve but at least opted for an unusual lavender colored background.
Holland provided the group’s fans with this nice if uninteresting sleeve (which serves to point out the effectiveness of the lavender background on the Danish sleeve above).
Sweden designed a sleeve focused solely on Peter Noone and looks not unlike a Taiwanese rip-off of the time.
Australia gave fans an attractive sleeve featuring a nice close-up of the group.
France used a great photo of a very happy group of lads and gave fans one of the better Hermits sleeves of the ’60s.
Japan was in love with the Compact 33 Double in the ’60s and this is one of the Hermits records in that format with a clean, tasteful design and look.
Spain used a clean, simple design with a nice portrait of the boys for a tasteful if unexciting sleeve.
None of the picture sleeves or EPs above have great value; other websites seem to believe that $25-50 is normal. Herman’s Hermits as a collectable artist is vastly under-appreciated and undervalued, a situation I do not see hanging in the near future.
FEATURED IMAGE: Herman’s Hermits at the height of their success and popularity in 1965-1966. From left to right the group is Barry Whitwam, Keith Hopwood, Peter Noone, Karl Green, and Derek Leckenby.
1 This statement applies to any music made by anyone anywhere anytime.
2 I am writing this reflexively and making an assumption; so do oldies stations play Herman’s Hermits at all?
3 A great week of programming could be made of all of the records that made the American Top 40 by British artists in 1964-65. Younger listeners would probably be amazed at how BIG the ‘Ermits and the Dave Clark 5 (six and seven Top 10 hits, respectively) were and how invisible the Hollies and the Who (no significant hits at all) were during the actual invasion of English music following in the wake of I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You.
Above find the original movie version found on the soundtrack album and the stronger version recorded for release as a single. which is the one used on most albums since 1966.