14 June 2012

Reupload - The Hello People - If I Should Sing Too Softly

Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1968

I have given you many things on "Left and to the Back" over the years, but one thing which has remained missing from my catalogue of greatness and oddness is a rock group consisting entirely of mime artists.   

The Hello People were apparently formed when the French master of mime Etienne De Crux taught a number of musicians how to paint and, upon observing how rapidly they picked up the form, wondered if some of them could learn mime quickly as well, and cleverly combine it with their music to create an innovative new kind of entertainment.  The answer was patently yes, since the resulting act The Hello People went on to perform gigs all around America, making a noise during their songs (you'll be happy to learn) but entirely miming on stage otherwise, and appearing entirely in mime make-up.  There is a picture of the band and more back-up information here.

It's hard not to snigger or even guffaw at the idea now, because in subsequent decades the art of mime has collapsed to the point where not even Covent Garden beggars bother to attempt to impress with it.  In the sixties, however, it still had a certain amount of credibility.  Also, when The Hello People made a noise - which is all we're getting on the single, after all, unless you wish to imagine somebody walking into an invisible wall during the run-in and run-out grooves - it was actually often damn good.  "If I Should Sing Too Softly" is a lovely piece of soft psychedelia with West Coast harmonies, a bouncy rhythm, and laidback vocals.  It's a little bit surprising that the band seem to have slipped through the net when research has been done for the numerous sixties soft pop compilations which have been released recently - this track is good enough to sit on there with the best of them.

Sadly, the American public did not take the concept of a non-communicative band in mime make-up to their hearts, and the highest position they managed to scale in the charts was number 123, despite having an eager cult following.  They also apparently got booed off stage when supporting the Chamber Brothers live.  Bless them, they tried.

(This entry was originally uploaded in September 2009.  Little extra information has come to light since, but a clip of them appearing on The Smothers Brothers has materialised on YouTube.  And incidentally, at least one of their number did indeed go to prison for dodging the Vietnam draft).  

You can also watch another clip below... (Thanks to MosesTKrikey for the YouTube upload)

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