Showing posts with label british invasion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label british invasion. Show all posts

Saturday, November 23, 2019

One (Or So)-Hit Wonders

(All these groups apparently had the same unimaginative photographer.)
In 1964 the British Invasion was BIG. Huge. I was nine years old and not exactly discovering music, but discovering my own music. Little kids don't generally have money to spend on records (or any money, really). I had two teenage sisters and a teenage brother, so their music was the music I listened to. My sisters were singles buyers; they had Dion and Bobby Vee and sappy teen idol love songs. My brother, on the other hand, had excellent musical tastes. His oeuvre was LP's. The Beach Boys, Dylan, the first Beatle albums I ever laid my hands on. That's not to say he discovered The Beatles first ~ we'll call it a draw. When "I Want To Hold Your Hand" busted out of my transistor radio's speaker, I was immediately smitten. On the sidewalk outside my elementary school I became an instant music critic. Debbie Lealos and Cathy Adair and I held serious discussions about the best Beatle singles and, of course, who was the cutest Beatle (Paul, duh.)

Then Shindig! came along. Unlike today, when kids rule the world, in '64 we were grateful to be allowed to exist in the word. TV shows weren't created for kids, unless you count Captain Kangaroo. Shows sure weren't created for bubbling adolescents until some guy (apparently smoking dope) greenlighted Shindig!. The show was cast in black and white, which wouldn't have mattered, since we only owned a black and white TV. The Righteous Brothers were sort of the artists in residence, but anyone who was anyone in 1964 appeared on the show at one time or another:  Sonny and Cher, The Turtles, The Beau Brummels, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, The Lovin' Spoonful. 

Then there were the British Invasion artists. I thought I'd seen them all:  Freddie and The Dreamers, The Animals, Chad and Jeremy and Peter and Gordon (who I honestly couldn't tell apart), The Dave Clark Five, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Zombies, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Honeycombs (who recorded my favorite guilty pleasure track), Manfred Mann, The Moody Blues; yes, The Rolling Stones. Supposedly The Beatles, but I think I would have remembered that.

It seems, though, that a few British Invasion bands never made it in front of the camera.

The Searchers were a Merseybeat group, which actually was a thing, ostensibly named after the River Mersey in England. The British apparently don't know that the moniker should come first; otherwise I'd be living in close proximity to The River Mississippi. The Beatles are the most famous alumni of the Mersey beat sound, but it also included the afore-mentioned Gerry and The Pacemakers and the Hermits, Hollies and Dreamers, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders, and don't forget The Swinging Blue Jeans.

I didn't actually know that Needles and Pins was a remake ~ apparently The Searchers specialized in cover songs. I've never heard the Jackie DeShannon original, but it can't be as good as this:

Speaking of The Beat Mersey, this is a really good song:

The Georgia Satellites covered this song, and in hindsight, really didn't put their stamp on it. It sounds essentially the same (even sung in the same key):

This is a good song (and see? Wayne at least is shaking a tambourine):

Freddy and The Dreamers were a novelty act (I'm surmising). Even in 1964, I rolled my eyes at this attempt at choreography on Shindig!

Gerry and The Pacemakers weren't a pre-pubescent girl's dream. They didn't do "peppy" songs, unless you count "I Like It", which was a throwaway. In hindsight, they did very soulful songs; songs that only someone who'd suddenly sprouted maturity could appreciate.

I understand now why I recognize the name Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, but not their songs. It's always a risk when the lead singer can't latch onto a guitar, or even maracas, like Davy Jones did. It comes across as cheesy, red-tufted booth lounge-y. 

Graham Nash thought he could do better than The Hollies (he didn't). Fittingly, he's not included in this performance:

There's no one more annoying on SiriusXM than Peter Noone. He just drones on and on...and on. Herman's Hermits were an amalgam of good pop songs and crap. And Peter's instrument of choice was apparently hand-claps. Granted, the group had some real winners, but they also had some real stinkers. It was a freak show, with apparently no one in charge. This is one of the winners:

I began this post only wanting to highlight Needles and Pins, but as life is wont to do, The River Meander snaked on through. 

I could go on and on about the British Invasion, and these performances are only a subset. It is good to realize that even as an innocent rube, I had pretty decent musical tastes. I wasn't snookered by flash. 

In other words, The Searchers, and I, are awesome.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Goodbye, Mike Smith

Mike Smith, lead singer and keyboard player for The Dave Clark Five, passed away yesterday.

Ironically, The Dave Clark Five will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in two weeks. It's really a shame that it took so long for this group to get into the Hall, and now it seems too little, too late, in some ways. Mike had intended to be present at the induction.

In addition to being the "soul" of the DC5, Mike also co-wrote a lot of the group's hits, along with Dave Clark, including, "Glad All Over", "Bits And Pieces", and "Can't You See That She's Mine".

Mike was paralyzed in an accident in 2003, but he had enjoyed a long career as a record producer prior to his injury. He produced, among others, Shirley Bassey.

My favorite performance by the DC5 was a song written by Chuck Berry, "Reelin' And Rockin'", but I really enjoyed all their recordings. I also have very fond memories of "Over And Over".

The Dave Clark Five hit the music scene around the same time as the Beatles, and they suffered by comparison, which is really unfair. Of all the British Invasion groups of that time, the best three would arguably be The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Dave Clark Five. The DC5 was the second British Invasion group, after the Beatles, to have a chart hit in the US (in 1964, "Glad All Over").

Here is a Dave Clark Five performance of one of their hits that went to #3 on the US charts in 1964; "Because":

So, thanks for the memories, Mike Smith. Be seein' you on my iPod.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The British Invasion - Some Great Music Videos

Theoretically, this has no connection to country music, per se.

However, as I was looking for more music videos for my "Pioneers Of Country Music" series, I digressed into looking up some of the pioneers of rock, and I thought of the old TV show, Shindig, and wondered if there might be some Shindig videos on YouTube.

Well, one thing led to another, and after I found some British Invasion bands featured on the Shindig videos, I started looking for more British Invasion clips.

You see how my mind wanders?

I have found SO MANY great videos from the British Invasion, I thought, why not include a bunch here?

So, yes, this is a (brief) diversion from country music, but it's really a lot of fun.


A couple of notes ~~ first of all, I love this song. I don't care if it's cheesy. Also, the lead singer's voice sounds a bit odd (and no, that is not a flaw in the audio - that's how his voice really sounds; kind of speeded up in a cartoony kind of way.) The other two things worth mentioning ~~ gotta love the "ampless guitars" - quite a trick! And also, how much do you wanna bet the drummer is the sister of one of the guys in the band?


The first thing that needs to be mentioned ~~ The Dave Clark Five is FINALLY being inducted into the R&R Hall Of Fame this year! Nextly (I just made up that word), isn't Mike Smith CUTE? I also note that, again, no amps for the guitars...hmmmm. Also, a fashion note ~~ white pants and black boots? I think not.


Awww - isn't Peter cute, in an Opie Taylor-ish sort of way? What was he here? About 17? A couple of things in this video that were hard to ignore ~~ That was some VERY complicated choreography by the background "dancers". Clap left, clap right, hips to the left, hips to the right ~~ and they still couldn't master it! Finally, they just gave up and left. And what was with the confetti? I'm thinking a bunch of drunken teenagers. I bet that's what it was, you think?


Well, where do I begin? First of all, obviously (duh), the audio and video were out of synch. That happens. What I DON'T understand is why they chopped off part of the song. What, is the video guy's attention span only two minutes long? "Oops, gotta run!" Aside from those obvious problems, kudos for the "picket fence" set design (?) Also, you don't see a lead singer playing the maracas much anymore. Kind of a lost art. But I must say, it was great to see Maynard G. Krebs again, on the piano.


It's great to see Tom Petty again ~~ oh wait, that's not Tom Petty; that's Keith Relf, apparently the LEAST famous Yardbird. Unfortunately, with this clip, there is no Page; there is no Clapton. There is, however, Jeff Beck on acoustic guitar. And what's the deal with Clapton, by the way? Has he been around forever? I bet he's about 90 years old, right? Anyway, the Yardbirds was the first album I ever had. My brother bought it for me for my birthday. It wasn't really my taste at the time. I was more into the Monkees....


You know, my friend and I were talking about the Beatles yesterday at work. We actually looked up the lyrics to Penny Lane on the net. I had no idea he was saying "a four of fish and finger pie". I thought he said, "FOR a fish and finger pie." Not that either of those makes any sense to me, so I guess it's a moot point. That's still not as bad as my friend thinking that the pretty nurse was selling PUPPIES from a tray. Which leads me to that other famous mis-heard Beatles lyric: "The girl with colitis goes by".

But to the video at hand....It's lovely to see Paul with his usual happy, happy head-toss. I also liked when the host (I can't remember his name, so I'll just call him Wink McHosty) said, "They even wrote it themselves (isn't that cute?)" Gee, I wonder if they ever wrote any other songs. This video also marks the only time the rest of the group let Ringo sing. But at least they were good sports about it. Oh, and I also enjoyed the "Fred Astaire kick" at the end by John.


I have no funny quips about this video. All I can say is, Colin Blunstone is a REALLY GOOD singer.


The Hollies were a very popular British band from the '60's. The single, "Carrie Anne" was released in 1967, and, as I said, it was very POPular. The most well-known member of the Hollies is Graham Nash, who left the Hollies, because he wanted a band with HIS name in the title, so he formed Crosby, Stills, and NASH, later to be known as Crosby, Stills, NASH, and Young. And there you have it; the history of Graham NASH in a nutshell. (Can you tell I can't think of anything to say, so I just keep typing "NASH"?)


Well. Ray Davies was quite the handsome young man, wasn't he? Unfortunately, immediately following this performance, Ray and his brother Dave got into a fistfight over "who Mom liked best", and they never spoke to each other again.


I don't know a heck of a lot about this band, but I did like this song. It's the only song I know by the group. Undoubtedly, they had others (right?) Anyway, he looks like a sweet, innocent young man (with a tambourine, as opposed to maracas), but apparently, in later life he had some "issues". Something about pouring gasoline on a cop, and things just went downhill from there. It's a sad and cautionary tale. A tale of a boy and his tambourine.


Important trivia regarding Peter Asher ~~ Well, first of all, he was the brother of Lady Jane Asher, who was Paul McCartney's girlfriend in the '60's. But aside from that notoriety, he actually accomplished a lot. He was the head of A&R at Apple Records; he discovered James Taylor. He also went on to produce albums by Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, and others. I don't know about Gordon ~~ sorry.


Here we have Eric Burden, with his Howdy Doody hairstyle, who is a remarkably good singer, in spite of the haircut. The pertinent aspects of this video are that the organ player is apparently a huge Ray Charles fan, and the bass player is ASLEEP.


We have some kind of subtitles on this...Japanese maybe? As the song begins, ENGLISH subtitles would have come in handy. But, as the song progresses, we come to understand what Steve Winwood is singing. I do like this song. And the lumberjack drummer is prominently featured, so all is good. I'm probably way off base here, but it looks like Sonny Bono and John Oates are singing backup. But, seeing as how they come from completely different eras, I'm thinking that's most likely not the case.


This is a nice performance. I have no quibbles. I like the song. I would just like to point out that we could have done without the "Night Of The Living Dead" extras, who were so prominently featured in this clip.


I'll admit, I was not a Rolling Stones fan back in the day. It was a weird thing, but there was some sort of manufactured competition at that time....either you were a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. You had to choose. Well, I chose the Beatles. I don't know what that was all about. But I've since become a Stones fan, and this song is one of my favorites from their early years, and it doesn't even show a close-up of Keith Richards (who is my favorite Stone). But, if you watch this video, you can see why the Stones have become such icons. Watch Jagger's interaction with the audience. He has that "something". A lot of singers don't have it, but he does.


Yes, they were odd. Especially Freddie. But memorable, I guess, in their own way. Believe it or not, at one time, Freddie & The Dreamers was a huge act. "Act" being the keyword. I wonder how he talked the rest of the gang into doing that weird choreography. What the heck; it worked. I just threw this one in to show that, even back in the '60's, we had our weirdos. American Idol didn't invent the concept.

Let's not forget the ladies.....


I really like her. I think she was a great singer. And doesn't she look just like a Barbie doll in this video? I had a Barbie doll who was a dead ringer for Dusty in 1959. I've read that she was very shy. Maybe that's why these performances show very few close-ups. I just think she was great.


I saw the movie ~~ To Sir With Love. In a nutshell, it was about a bunch of unruly teenagers, who were wreaking havoc on everyone, until a new teacher, played by Sidney Poitier, showed up. He said to them, "They call me MISTER Tibbs". Okay, I think I may be getting my movies mixed up here. Anyway, blah blah blah, for about two hours, and then, in the end, they all went on to live productive lives as maids and butlers. The End. I still like this song, though.

Yes, I have left some artists out. There were some for whom I could not find videos. Others had videos, but did not allow embedding.

Other than that, I just forgot some, I'm sure. Let me know who I have left out (and, yes, I know I left out The Who ~ I'm not perfect.)