April 18, 2015

"Did punk begin with 'I'm Henry The 8th I Am'? The minimal production, the basic drums, the snotty sloppy carefree vocal delivery..."

"... the directly Ramones-inspiring, 4th wall breaking cry of 'Second Verse, same as the first'.. to what extent could this track be considered an overlooked antecendent of the punk rock movement?"

That's an internet discussion I encountered after reading jr565's comment — "in regards to Henry Viii - now we know where the Ramones got their 'second verse, same as the first' from" — on last night's post about the #1 songs of 1965.

Here's how the song looked as interpreted by Patty Duke (in her Cathy persona) on her old TV show in 1965:



Here's the adorable original Peter Noone (in his Herman persona):



Actually the original is Harry Champion (it's really a British music hall from 1910):




Also found on the internet: "A Cultural Dictionary of Punk, 1974-1982," by Nicholas Rombes, who has this entry on Herman’s Hermits:
A major influence on the Ramones , something that was widely acknowledged around the time of their first album’s release in April 1976. “The infusion of the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, fake Mersey accents, DC5, MC5, and BCR into the Ramones’ music is all the more crucial, vital to the survival of rock ’n’ roll ,” wrote Gene Sculatti in 1976. Two years later, Roy Trakin noted that “ever so slowly evolving into the latter-day Herman’s Hermits they always sought to become, the Ramones have achieved a larger-than-life, almost cartoon-character status in the rock world.” But what did this mean, and how could the very roots of punk and even hardcore lie with a band like Herman’s Hermits?...

[T]heir best songs are so pure and balanced that it’s easy to understand how the Ramones and other mid-seventies bands were nostalgic for the energy, simplicity, and directness of songs like “I’m into Something Good,” “Listen People,” and “No Milk Today.” In 1978, Derek Leckenby told the New Wave fanzine Ballroom Blitz! (out of Dearborn Heights, Michigan) that “groups like the Stranglers and the Sex Pistols possess a great deal of enthusiasm and rock and roll energy that has been sorely lacking from the BBC.”

In fact, there is an underlying, melodic darkness to songs like “No Milk Today” that flies in the face of the band’s highly controlled image as clean-cut lads. If the Rolling Stones and others were openly embracing the emerging darkness of the sixties, Herman’s Hermits resisted, at least on the surface. The result is a sort of David Lynchian tension to this resistance, for darkness hinted at and fleetingly revealed is often more disturbing than darkness fully revealed. The achievement of the Ramones on their first three albums is all the more remarkable for how their music embodied the contradiction between pop sweetness and the utter degeneration of their time.
... a sort of David Lynchian tension to this resistance, for darkness hinted at and fleetingly revealed is often more disturbing than darkness fully revealed.

I love stuff like that. True or not! The ineffable light-darkness of Herman's Hermits. Think about it!

46 comments:

john said...

She was married seven times before because she would never have a Willy (or a Fred).

Non-consummation is sufficient reason for annulment.

RazorSharpSundries said...

I remember seeing a punk rock version of this song done by a band on a Canadian video show in the mid-80's. the guitarist was wearing a kilt. Never heard or saw that version again, all I have is that one distinct memory from 30 years ago. I swear it's true.

traditionalguy said...

Effable is easier said than done.

Sebastian said...

"The ineffable light-darkness of Herman's Hermits. Think about it!"

Professor, do I have to? Will it be on the test?

Ann Althouse said...

It will be on the electric kool-aid acid test.

madAsHell said...

Take another step back, and consider the Kingsmen, and their take on "Louie, Louie".

The microphone was mounted high above the lead singer because they wanted the studio version to sound like a live performance. The lead singer was forced to tilt his head back, and yell at the microphone. The band was unprepared, and it shows in the recording.

The Kingsmen based their performance on a version done by the Wailers. I'm sure the Wailers had their influences as well.

So, I really don't see this starting with Herman's Hermits.

I see that Peter Noone is still touring.....and to think that Mick cringes when he "Can't get no satisfaction".

Bob R said...

I think the Ramone's main point is that it would NOT be on the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

jr565 said...

But the Ramones added to the canon by also singing "Third verse. Different from the first"

madAsHell said...

Wow! I'm impressed with Mr. Noone. He's booked almost every week through March of 2016.

Do the girls still throw their undergarments on the stage??

Depends.

traditionalguy said...

Effable means to speak out and communicate, so ineffable mean a thing too much to express in known speech.

jr565 said...

I Think Louie Louie, 96 Tears, or Say You Really Got Me did more to influence punk than Herman's Hermits.
Though the Ramones were a strange group. They were punk but except for the buzz saw guitars and 4/4 stomp they are actually extremely poppy.
So they would take stuff from Hermans Hermits, that other punk bands wouldn't consider using.

The Sex Pistols are dead serious or at least put on a pose as being dead serious. I would separate Ramones from almost all other punk in that its really just highly charged 60's pop. And Herman's Hermits would fall into that category certainly.

Sebastian said...

"It will be on the electric kool-aid acid test."

"I think the Ramone's main point is that it would NOT be on the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."

Aargh. I'd better get ready for a pop quiz.

Hope it's multiple choice.

William said...

I've got about 1500 songs on my iPod playlist. It's my own personal hall of fame. Three of the songs are by Herman's Hermits.......I've lived long enough to see posterity. I wasn't a huge fan of the Beach Boys or Abba, but I notice now that when their songs pop up on my playlist I never fast forward to the next song up. The Rolling Stones I skip over a lot. Their music sounded better when I was young, horny, and pissed off or when I wanted to wax nostalgic about being young, horny, and pissed off. Those days are over.

m stone said...

Do the girls still throw their undergarments on the stage??

Depends.


Very clever.

Gahrie said...

The only difference between the Ramones and the rest of punk is that the Ramones weren't pissed off all of the time.

Skeptical Voter said...

Peter Noone has a DJ/talk show on Sirius Radio "Something Good".

Most of the Herman's Hermits songs sound like they were written by someone who'd had a prefrontal lobotomy. Still they're innocent and happy--and that brings back memories of good times.

As or the Mersey accent, Noone loads up on it. I can't believe that it hasn't been modified or lost entirely over the course of his long career. But he seems to think that it helps his show along, so so be it.

chickelit said...

No love Herman's Hermits here and nothing in my iTunes either. My only connection to them is a memory of hearing a much older cousin (now dead) tell of seeing them at Madison's Coliseum. A band called The Who opened for them.

1965 was a breakout year for The Who.

Wilbur said...

I like Peter Noone.

I like him for the same reason I like Bob Wills, Louie Prima, and Louis Jordan: they - and their fellow performers - seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves when performing. An all too rare characteristic.

If you get a chance to see him, do so.

chickelit said...

madAsHell said...
Take another step back, and consider the Kingsmen, and their take on "Louie, Louie".

I wrote a blog post about that song around its 50th anniversary. The song's popularity coincided with the JFK assassination and aftermath (link) and so naturally, conspiracy theories swirled around its lyrics.

In my opinion, "The Kingsmen" were more proto-grunge than proto-Punk but these are parsable words.

chickelit said...

Wilbur said...
I like Peter Noone...If you get a chance to see him, do so.

I say the same about Dick Dale...and he predates anybody discussed here.

chickelit said...

Predates anyone still alive, that is.

Static Ping said...

Herman's Hermits rendition of "Henery" does have some definite punk characteristics. Their version is only the original chorus (verses removed) sung at a pretty quick pace. I'm not sure that stripping down a music hall song is synonymous with punk rock, but there are definitely parallels.

I do like how Champion's version implies there is a good reason why the woman in question is on Henery #8.

Mark Nielsen said...

I'll second Wilbur's comment. My wife and daughter (who is really into 60s music) saw them a bit over a year ago. Very good show. And listening to the double CD retrospective of Herman's Hermits we bought at the time has made me appreciate the talent and creativity of the group.

David said...

The Patty Duke show really sucked.

As for the Kingsmen, Louie Louie was their entire musical range. The musicians here can explain why the song was so simple. Apparently that was all the K-men could play. But it was a great song nevertheless.

Mingus Jerry said...

Gahrie said...
The only difference between the Ramones and the rest of punk is that the Ramones weren't pissed off all of the time.


You mean other than at each other, right?

Ambrose said...

The Who were the warm-up act for Herman's Hermits in the 1967 North American tour.

Kirk said...

I have to throw in here about seeing Peter Noone at a Mishawaka Indiana Summerfest many years ago. He brought down the house. I don't believe anyone after that brought the joy or the level of entertainment that he did. Songs to sing to and good memories. Pop music should make you smile. And he did.

On a sadder not, I may be mistaken but I believe he was a replacement for Del Shannon who had committed suicide earlier that year.

David said...

"I'm like a one eyed cat, peeping in the seafood store."

Ponder that line for a moment, if are interested in the transgressive (rock) precursors of punk.


MathMom said...

Snotty? Sloppy?

I thought it was loovely! Fun!

And speaking of 1965, The Sound of Music is in theaters tomorrow and Wednesday.

http://www.fathomevents.com/event/the-sound-of-music

Donald Douglas said...

I went to be with "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" on the brain, and now you go with a full post on Herman's Hermit's influence on the Ramones, lol. I'll never get these guys out of my head!

jr565 said...

David wrote:
"I'm like a one eyed cat, peeping in the seafood store."

Ponder that line for a moment, if are interested in the transgressive (rock) precursors of punk.

Funnily enough, Bill Haley was actually blind in one eye. So he could argue that the song lyric referred to him and was not sexual in nature.
Though, he wasn't actually the writer of the song or the original artist, who definitely wans't blind in one eye.

Bob Ellison said...

It was a stupid song, badly done. Does that make it punk?

Owen Finley said...

I think the attitude of punk originated with My Generation. Not a whole lot of the typical anger or disestablishmentarianism in the earlier stuff by other bands.

Kieth Nissen said...

I think "Henry The 9th..etc." was made popular in the USA by Lonny Donnegan or someone who sounded a lot like him. It was a very interesting and amusing song done, perhaps, as a followup to Donnegan's "Rock Island Line". Was that the mid 50s? maybe.

Laslo Spatula said...

Rock and roll was for the Kids. Teens: rock around the Schoolhouse Clock. Chuck Berry sang their songs without them knowing the source, and added cars, Buddy Holly followed: others, yes + surfing.

Teenagers grew up and wanted their Childhood Music to follow them into Adulthood. This, inevitably, led to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Then: Young. The difference between songs for children and childish songs for young adults blurred into an amiable drugged haze. Children Love Purple.

This, somehow, led to Emerson Lake and Palmer. Welcome Back My Friends, to the Childhood That Never Ends + Moog Solo.

The Seventies came, and the Boomers wanted their Childhood Music to follow them in Opposing Nukes and being Desperadoes, like the Desperadoes they saw in Western movies as a child, but with Tequila.
Coincidentally, Franchising of T.G.I. Friday's began in 1971.

Punk came in the later Seventies to take the energy of childhood rock and couple it with the passion of modern kids' grade-school politics: baby-boomers did not see their children's stove calling the kettle black. Anyway: Rock and Roll for White People -- Karl Marx had a Red Guitar, Three Chords, and the Truth. Also: Free Mandela.

So here we are: the Baby Boomers now have a palette of decades' worth of Child Music to accompany their fears of inconsequence and impending death. Beethoven, of course, already pulled this off, without even needing lyrics.

Still: I bet Mozart would've quite enjoyed Nena's '99 Luft Balloons.'


I am Laslo.

Carter Wood said...

I invoke the "Someone mentioned 96 Tears and Louie, Louie," rule of commenting.

Both were standards of the Portland, Ore., punk/new wave scene in the late 70's, early '80s. (The Kingsmen originally being from Portland.)

Coincidentally, Garland Jeffreys ended his gig at Jammin Java in Vienna, Va., last night with 96 Tears. Earlier, he paid tribute to his buddy, Lou Reed, a progenitor of punk, and played I'm Waiting for the Man.

And Garland played the old blues tune, King Bee. The first Portland, Ore., punk band? King Bee, with Fred Cole playing guitar. Fred, later of The Rats, Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows.

All in all, though, '66 was a punkier year.

Char Char Binks said...

Punk just means bad, of low quality, or worthless. Since most rock, or rock n roll, was pretty bad in general, punk was even worse. It's not a style, or a musical movement, it's simply musical incompetence.

J Lee said...

Up next -- How rap music was sparked by Shirley Ellis' 1965 hit, "The Name Game".

jr565 said...

hey, I got a jr565 tag! Thanks Althouse!

Ipso Fatso said...

The Seeds, "I Can't Seem to Make You Mine." or Count Five, "Psychotic Reaction" both from 1966 seem to be much more punk to me than anything by HH. Just one man's opinion.

tim in vermont said...

The causes of musicians deaths by genre

Just thought it was interesting that Blues singers tend to die of old age, heart problems, or whatever, and punk rockers have a 50% chance of dying either accidentally or by murder or suicide.

tim in vermont said...

My dad used to call rotten firewood "punk," BTW.

EMD said...

The Monks are probably where a lot of punk originated.

jr565 said...

tim in Vermont:
The causes of musicians deaths by genre

Just thought it was interesting that Blues singers tend to die of old age, heart problems, or whatever, and punk rockers have a 50% chance of dying either accidentally or by murder or suicide.

check out the stats for rap and hip hop. 50% deaths from homicide. Murder was the case, indeed.

Robert Cook said...

@EMD:

The Monks are where it's at, dad!!

The clips available online of them performing live on a German TV show in 1965 are intense and amazing!

And their album, available on cd, is essential.

Bill said...

What about The Trashmen, from 1963?