Herman’s Hermits as drawn by Frank Frazetta
Listen – Herman’s Hermits – The Man With the Cigar – MP3
I hope the end of this cold, cold week finds you well.
The tune I bring you today is an old, old favorite, something that I discovered quite by chance.
Many years ago, back in the garage/mod days, I happened to have picked up a couple of Herman’s Hermits 45s at a record show. Though the musical selections posted herein might not lead you to believe that I would be a fan of Mr. Noone and his friends, it pays to remember that alongside dreck like ‘Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’, the Hermits were, like so many of their British Invasion contemporaries, beneficiaries of some of the finest songwriting available. A quick look at an HH greatest hits collection reveals the handiwork of Graham Gouldman, PF Sloan and Steve Barri, Goffin/King, Carter/Lewis and others.
I picked up one of the 45s in question in order to get the Barri/Sloan song ‘A Must To Avoid’. The 1965 Top 40 hit is one of the groups best moments, with ringing, folk-rock guitars, beat group harmonies and a very interesting melody (especially in the verse). When I got the record home, I flipped it over and saw a title I didn’t recognize, so I decided to give it a spin.
Good thing I did, because if I hadn’t we wouldn’t be here today, discussing ‘The Man With the Cigar’.
‘The Man With the Cigar’ is a haunting number that quickly became a fixture of my mix tapes, and remains a fave these 25 years later. I haven’t been able to find out much about the writers Larry Kusik and Barry Richards, nor have I been able to confirm whether or not this is the same song that appears on an early 45 by soul great Lou Courtney. In addition to the aforementioned b-side, ‘The Man With The Cigar’ also appeared on the album ‘Both Side of Herman’s Hermits’, which also includes a cover of ‘Bust Stop’ and a jacket illustration by none other than Frank Frazetta(!?!).
Either way, it’s a great record that ought to be better known, instead of languishing as an obscure Herman’s Hermits album track (and b-side).
Oddly enough, despite having pulled out the 45 some time back, specifically to digimatize it and post it here, it has become lost in the mighty sea of wax in my record room, so I bring you the song recorded from the LP (in which case you get the cool Frazetta picture, so it all balances out).
I hope you dig the song as much as I do, and I’ll be back on Monday.