listen people to what I say

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

 

HermansHermits ListenPeople Billboard 250

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

 

ListenPeople_MGM_promo

ListenPeople_MGM_stock

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:

 

ListenPeople_PS_Germany

West Ger­many pro­vided the group’s fans with this nice if un­in­ter­esting sleeve.

ListenPeople_PS_Italy2

Italy pro­vided the group’s fans with this nice if un­in­ter­esting sleeve.

ListenPeople_PS_Japan

Japan con­tinued its tra­di­tion of de­signing and printing ex­cel­lent sleeves. One of the very best Her­man’s Her­mits pic­ture sleeves!

ListenPeople_PS_Sweden

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:

 

YouWontBeLeaving_PS_Denmark

Den­mark pro­vided the group’s fans with this nice if un­in­ter­esting sleeve but at least opted for an un­usual lavender col­ored back­ground.

YouWontBeLeaving_PS_Holland

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).

YouWontBeLeaving_PS_Norway

Sweden de­signed a sleeve fo­cused solely on Peter Noone and looks not un­like a Tai­wanese rip-off of the time.

ListenPeople_EP_Australia

Aus­tralia gave fans an at­trac­tive sleeve fea­turing a nice close-up of the group.

ListenPeople_EP_France

France used a great photo of a very happy group of lads and gave fans one of the better Her­mits sleeves of the ’60s.

ListenPeople_PS_Japan2

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.

ListenPeople_EP_Spain

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.

 


FOOTNOTES:

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.

 

Her­man’s Her­mits - Listen People (HQ)
Listen People-Herman’s Hermits-1966

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.

 

 

 

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