Sunday, March 03, 2024

Herbie's People: Residential Area

You can find the history of Herbie's People on a page devoted to the band:

Herbies People began their musical career in 1959 when five pupils of Etheridge SM School in Bilston, West Midlands, England, formed a band known until 1965 as Danny Cannon and the Ramrods. They were: Danny Robinson, Ken Hooper, Alan Lacey, Len Beddow and Pete Walton. ...

In time they became increasingly popular throughout the greater Midlands area. In their home town, where the lads regularly played at the Saturday night dances held in the Town Hall, they came to enjoy a huge and loyal following. In the ballrooms of the Black Country the Ramrods became a major attraction.

The same page reveals that in 1964 they were joint winners of the national 'New Sound 1964' competition held at the fabled Cavern Club in Liverpool.

Their first single, You Thrill Me to Pieces, was featured on Juke Box Jury and made it into the top 40, but they had a run of bad luck after that.

They recorded the John Carter song Semi-Detached Suburban Mr Jones with a view to releasing it as a single. But the idea was shelved when Manfred Mann released it.

The Manfreds' version changed 'Mr Jones' to 'Mr James' so the song didn't sound like a dig at their first lead singer Paul Jones, who had just left them to go solo and be an actor. That version reached the top of the UK singles chart - I can remember loving it as a little boy in the Sixties.

John Carter told them that he and Ken Lewis had written another song with them in mind. In the event, Carter and Lewis decided Let's Go to San Francisco was too good to give away and recorded it themselves as The Flower Pot Men. It was a worldwide hit.

There are lots of interesting things going on in Residential Area. The song would have been the B-side of Herbie's People version of Semi-Detached Suburban Mr Jones, and was the B-side of the single they issued instead without success, Humming Bird. 

Residential Area was at least featured on the soundtrack of the film Poor Cow.

All of which is a reminder of just how rich in talent the West Midlands music scene was in the Sixties.

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