Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Hello People

The Hello People are a little remembered 60s rock act that performed in mime makeup. They did sing, but between songs they performed mime routines and never spoke to the audience. Unfortunately, the mime routines did not come off on record as well as on stage. I always thought it would be cool in a concept art kind of way if their albums contained nothing but silent grooves. Alas, that was not the case.

When I was in high school I used to see Hello People albums in the bargain bins at the Annapolis Record & Tape Exchange all the time. Pete and I made fun of the band a lot. ("Hey dude are you gonna get this Hello People record? It looks pretty awesome." "Uh, yeah, I was going to, but I want to save up for this SWA record first.") The whole concept of a mime rock band just struck me as the worst kind of hippy-dippy 60s nonsense. I never heard the albums, so I had no idea whether the music was any good or not. I just assumed it was bad because it was...well, mime rock. In my defense, I never claimed to be open-minded. And when you're 16, mimes are an easy target for abuse.

At some point I stopped seeing Hello People albums in bargain bins, or anywhere else. I guess they were either snatched up by collectors of obscure 60s rock, or thrown out by record store owners looking to make room for CDs. So when I recently came across The Hello People's 1974 "comeback" record, The Handsome Devils, I was overtaken by curiosity and picked it up. It was only $3.50, so what the heck? After all the abuse I piled on the band as a kid without ever having heard them, I figured I owed The Hello People that much.

The first thing I noticed about this record was that it was produced by Todd Rundgren. I guess Todd loved him some Hello People. According this website, The Hello People toured with Rundgren during the 70s. Not surprisingly, the music sounds more than a bit like Todd Rundgren. Everyone Todd Rundgren produces ends up sounding like Todd Rundgren.

Frankly, the music on The Handsome Devils is not too bad. It's not great or anything, but I can think of a lot of music made by 60s holdovers circa 1974 that was considerably worse (including solo efforts by certain members of The Beatles). It makes me wonder if their 60s work is worth hearing after all. Maybe I would have been better off if I had picked up a copy of Fusion instead of Tom Troccoli's Dog.

Judging by this late 60s YouTube clip from the Teen Time television show, The Hello People made the kind of sunshine pop/soft psychedelic music that has enjoyed something of a renaissance of late. If I run across one of their late 60s Philips albums, I think I'll pick it up. Thank God for YouTube.



Anyway, here is the lead off track from their 1974 album, The Handsome Devils. This song peaked at #71 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1975.

16 comments:

Peter Hennig said...

They really were a vial of fake blood away from being completely scary weren't they?

Pete Bilderback said...

I think fake blood would have made it less creepy actually. I don't know, something about mimes freaks me out. The music is much better than I would have thought though.

DOuG pRATt said...

I'm talking to the lead guitarist for The Hello People, who was also the primary song writer. He's writing his story for my blog, and I have no idea yet what he's going to say, but whatever it is I'll post it without edits.

Anonymous said...

I first became aware of these handsome devils after hearing their track "Future shock" on FM radio circa 1974. I've since tracked down everything they ever did and haven't found a klinker yet! Anyone know where they were from? I've been told Philadelphia.

Anonymous said...

i saw the hello people many times at the Ice house in pasadena ca many times. my fovorite song teetered between "THE MAD RED ANT LADY and "CRY CRY BABY". I have all there albums except the very last one.

mlmusic said...

I seen the Hello People at the Cafe Wha they put on a good show.
I always got a kick out of the signs they held up between songs.

mlmusic said...

I seen The Hello People countless times at the Cafe Wha. They could put on a good show.

justbeamensch said...

didn't they do an anti war anthem about going to prison rather than Viet Nam?

Sherwin Winick said...

Was always into THP since the beginning. Having been on the highly regarded Phillips label you can bet there's something good going on. Saw them in '70s at "My Fathers Place" in Roslyn LI NY, put on a great show, I must admit I like 'em better than Todd ('Sorry Todd). I think the mime thing fucked 'em. There should be a law against mimes. production values on Handsome Devils album was way up there, IMHO. But they still had that damn makeup on, GRRRH!!!!

Will (Astra) said...

'justbeamensch' is right- -they did a song called "I'm going to prison" - one of the lyrics being "I'm going to prison for what I believe/I'm going to prison so I can be free".

Shoot me. I remember that era, very well....

Sherwin Winick said...

Goin' to prison was a nice coountry tune

Anonymous said...

The best album by the group is by far Fusion with their semi hit Anthem. You can see the video on Youtube from their Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour appearance in early 1969. Its on slingblade11 channel if you cant find it in a general search.

Mary Freeman said...

The Hello People are the BEST!!! I've been looking for them for forty years--they said it all, what we were thinking and feeling. Thank you hello people!

Mary Freeman said...

Anyone know where I can get the lyrics for the Hello People? I LOVE THEM--always have! Pray foir rain!

Anonymous said...

Did Jethro Tull play the flute on their '67 LP? I just picked it up recently and I could swear that it is his face in the line up.

Anyways...

RASTA said...

just found this site after googling lyrics. ed sullivan show circa 1968. im going to prison for what i believe. im going to prison so i can be free.--i got nothing to die for ,what can i do.-- i have plenty to live for, how about you.----and close up as they stared into camera. heavy stuff. cant believe eddy put it on.--changed me.