Essential Viewing: DVD Reviews, March 6, 2010

Herman’s Hermits, Listen People 1964-1969
Cliff Richard and The Shadows, The Final Reunion DVD
herman's hermitsHerman’s Hermits
Listen People 1964-1969
Voyage Digital Media/Reelin’ In The Years Productions (3711531973)
Grade: ★★★★

During the initial onslaught of the British Invasion, as The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five slugged it out for the devotion of America’s masses, a cuddly quintet, Herman’s Hermits, practically usurped them both. Neither as adept nor as savvy as their competition, they were assured continuing chart success via the astute guidance of producer Mickey Most and a reliable arsenal of songwriting support. 

Fascinating and entertaining, “Listen People” nicely documents the Hermits’ flirtation with fame through rare home footage, 22 complete performances, an entire 1966 concert, and interviews with four of the five principals (guitarist Derek Leckenby passed away in 1994), who provide first-hand commentary describing an accidental parade of hits. Accidental, because the band’s biggest singles — “I’m Into Something Good” and “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” — were initially rejected.

There’s no mention of the subsequent squabble over branding rights, but Noone admits they never had potential to further evolve like some of their contemporaries. As he acknowledges, a name like Herman’s Hermits doesn’t hold much potential for launching a psychedelic soiree.

— Lee Zimmerman

cliff and the shadowsCliff Richard and The Shadows
The Final Reunion DVD
Eagle Vision (EV 302929)
Grade: ★★★★

Rock ’n’ roll was still widely regarded as a passing fad when Cliff Richard and The Shadows scored their first hit single, “Move It,” in 1958. But it’s debatable whether any single song has ever proved so prophetic. 

“They say it’s gonna die,” Richard sang of the music, “but please let’s face it, they just don’t know what’s going to replace it.” And, more than 50 years on, they still don’t. “I’ve sung this song at every concert I’ve ever played,” Richard announces before kicking into the song that trumpeted his teenaged arrival. And it still sounds as good as ever.

If you close your eyes to the passage of time and just listen to the music, there is very little to distinguish this from the view from the stalls, circa 40-something years ago. Material is drawn almost entirely from the days when they ruled the world — occasionally, something will sneak in from later days, but none of Cliff’s later hits are included here. Everything, and that includes the outfits, is peak-of-their-powers vintage, and it doesn’t even matter that the DVD packaging arrives without a track listing. If it was a major hit in the late 1950s or early 1960s for Cliff and The Shadows, individually or collectively, it’s here.

— Dave Thompson 

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