Herman's Hermits were one of those odd 1960's groups that accumulated millions of fans, but precious little respect. Indeed, their status is remarkably similar to that of the Monkees and it's not a coincidence that both groups' music was intended to appeal to younger teenagers. The difference is that as early as 1976, the Monkees began to be considered cool by people who really knew music; it has taken 35 years for Herman's Hermits to begin receiving higher regard for their work. Of course, that lack of respect had no relevance to their success: 20 singles lofted into the Top 40 in England and America between 1964 and 1970, 16 of them in the Top 20, and most of those Top Ten as well. Artistically, they were rated far lower than the Hollies, the Searchers, or Gerry & the Pacemakers, but commercially, the Hermits were only a couple of rungs below the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
When all is said and done regarding the most influential power pop bands of the '60s, Herman's Hermits and Tommy James & the Shondells emerge as the clear-cut winners for the same reason: Their music was so diverse and well constructed that it showed the different dimensions of a genre that inspired music smart enough to respect its roots which, in turn, inspired music too hip for its own good – the modern rock movement that was not half as much fun as "the new wave," or as essential as anything found on ABKCO's perennial release of Herman's Hermits' Their Greatest Hits.
Woody Herman was dedicated to keeping his big band going and was focused more on music that satisfied him than focusing on making hits. Most of the selections in this three-CD set came from an overlooked period in the clarinetist's career, his early 1960s tenure on the Phillips label. At this point, Herman had recently welcomed new arrivals like trumpeter Bill Chase, tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, and trombonist Phil Wilson, while still talented veterans like pianist Nat Pierce, tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins, and drummer Jake Hanna.