After the gritty garage riffing of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’, it’s time for something different. Proving just how much of a golden age this was for British pop music, our next chart-topper is the complete opposite of the last; but is equally brilliant.
I’m Into Something Good, by Herman’s Hermits (their 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 24th September – 8th October 1964
In fact, I might be as bold as to claim that we are in the midst of the strongest ever run of UK #1 singles. Ever. In history. Past and present. Starting with, and including, Cilla’s ‘You’re My World’ back in June, the past nine chart-toppers have all been solid eight (or more) out of tens. No duds, no slip ups. And all have been wildly different sounding discs.
This one kicks off with a gently rumbling piano and a softly chugging riff. The sound of someone pulling their curtains open one morning to see the sun, and flowers, and butterflies, and frolicking lambs. Someone’s clapping; someone’s shaking a tambourine. Like I said, a world away from ‘You Really Got Me’. Except… It’s another song about falling head over heels for someone.
Woke up this morning, Feeling fine, There’s something special on my mind, Last night I met a new girl in the neighbourhood… is how it starts, and then it goes on to explain how the singer and the new girl danced, walked home, and how he asked to see her next week. Something tells me I’m into something good…
Ok, yes. It’s very PG. Herman’s Hermits were all about holding hands and going steady, whereas I’ll bet The Kinks were looking to get straight behind the bike shed for a bit of a fumble. But as a description of a first, teenage crush it works well. The lead singer, Peter Noone (AKA Herman) was literally just sixteen years old when this hit the top spot, which may explain how he could convincingly sell such a cutesy, starry-eyed song without it coming off as cheesy.
As a direct contrast to Noone’s grinning delivery, I love the deadpan backing singers. Whether they meant it, or whether they really were just extremely monotone singers, it works – it sounds like they’re very much over their friend’s romantic mooning, and would like him to shut up. Plus, the gentle piano-slash-guitar riff with the ooo-weee-ooos is giving me strong Beach Boys vibes.
Which kinda makes sense, as the original songwriters – a pair no less distinguished than Gerry Goffin and Carole King – wrote it with the melodies of Brian Wilson in mind. This is yet another Beat song originally written by American bands and/or songwriters. It may have been The British Invasion, but it was heavily funded by the US. And it’s another hit that claims to have featured Jimmy Page as a session guitarist. Seriously, pretty much every #1 at the moment seems to have claimed a ‘featuring J. Page’ credit. He (probably) didn’t play on this one.
Another theme that I’ve noticed cropping up recently, and one that reaches its peak with this record, is how brilliant the band names were during the Beat era. From the cool (‘The Dakotas’, ‘The Animals’) to the quirky (‘The Kinks’) to the pun-tastic (‘The Beatles’ – ubiquity really has stopped people from realising how clever a name that is) to the downright silly (‘Manfred Mann’ and now ‘Herman’s Hermits’) – this truly was a great time to form, and name, a band.
Herman’s Hermits would go on to score hits right through until disbanding in 1970. In the US they would hit #1 with ‘classics’ such as ‘Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’ and ‘I’m Henry VIII, I Am’, in which they camped up their Britishness in a manner so appalling that these records never saw the light of day in the UK. File them alongside Dick Van Dyke’s chimney-sweep and Daphne’s brothers from ‘Frasier’. No, back home their sole chart-topper was this paean to a first crush, one of the cutest #1 singles ever. He asked to see her next week, and she told him he could… Aww. Bless.
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