In General

DC5 glad all overIn our last post, I bemoaned the fact that rock ‘n roll was the nail in R&B’s coffin – sealing the fate of countless shouters, honkers, stringbenders and piano pounders who thrived after WWII. But I also should admit that, at the young age of eight, I welcomed the British Invasion. In fact, I’d proudly declare to anyone who would listen that The Dave Clark Five was the greatest band on the planet – far better than those cheeky lads from Liverpool.

I really couldn’t understand why my older siblings preferred The Beatles. Dave Clark looked like a movie star and played drums like a goddam caveman… so powerful that no one would even think of questioning his role as leader of the band. Then there was Mike Smith, who sang with a blues-based authority that I recognized right away when I later discovered the music of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. And that’s only 40% of the DC5 (the other members were Lenny Davidson on guitar, Rick Huxley on bass and Denny Payton on sax; only Clark and Davidson are still alive). How could The Beatles and those other Mersey Beat sissies possibly compete with the hard-stomping badasses from Tottenham? Bits and Pieces

Of course, my growing love of Chess blues – not to mention The Beatles’ amazing run through the rest of the Sixties – would eventually make this little “Mersey Beat vs. Tottenham Sound” parlor game seem completely irrelevant. But I recently came across a documentary on PBS that reexamines The Dave Clark Five’s legacy and, for the most part, restores the band’s rightful place with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and, in my mind, The Kinks at the forefront of the British Invasion.

DC5 with Ed SullivanGiven that The Dave Clark Five and Beyond – Glad All Over was produced and directed by Clark himself, don’t expect much in the way of critical thought. It’s more like the ultimate fanboy experience… at least the part that deals with the band’s steady rise in England and inevitable conquering of America, where the DC5 appeared on the Dave Sullivan Show an unbelievable 18 times (compared with The Beatles’ three appearances).

The later part of the film spends way too much time glorifying Clark’s role as co-writer and executive producer of TIME – The Musical, a sci-fi extravaganza featuring Freddy Mercury, Julian Lennon and Laurence Olivier, among others (I’m hoping Olivier passed away before the play opened). If the CIA is truly serious about coming up with a workable alternative to waterboarding, this garish spectacle would do just fine.

But thankfully, the doc has plenty of great footage of Sixties rock and soul, featuring The Dave Clark Five along with The Beatles, The Stones, Dusty Springfield, Otis Redding, The Supremes, The Who and other classic acts from the UK and the States. And Clark must’ve called in quite a few chits for the interviews – Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, Elton John, Gene Simmons (inexplicably, in full KISS regalia throughout), Whoopi Goldberg (huh?), Ian McKellen (wha?)… In terms of sheer enthusiasm, none of them can match Tom Hanks’ evangelical tribute at the band’s 2008 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (talk about a fanboy!).

Not all of the celebrity comments are noteworthy. As another reviewer rightfully pointed out, some of the best interview clips feature original members of The Dave Clark Five Fan Club waxing poetic about the band’s glory days, when it held down the house gig at London’s Tottenham Royal. By that time, the DC5 already had honed their sound through hundreds of gigs at British ballrooms and U.S. military bases. And what a glorious sound it was – “a big, powerful, nasty sound,” as Springsteen puts it (with Van Zandt adding a more over-the-top appraisal: “the most powerful records ever made”).

DC5 ReturnThose first records built on the massive buzz created by the DC5’s earth-shaking live shows. The band wisely chose a mix of smart covers – mostly garage-rock from the U.S. such as The Contours’ Do You Love Me – and hard-rocking originals that showcased Clark’s muscular drumming. One of those originals ended The Beatles’ first run at the top of the U.K. singles chart in ’64 (with I Want to Hold Your Hand): Glad All Over

The band also had a more sensitive side, which you can hear in dreamy ballads like this one (in the doc, Stevie Wonder lovingly recreates the song’s memorable keyboard solo by Smith): Because

The rest of the Sixties were far less kind to the DC5. They went from practically owning the U.S. pop charts in the mid-Sixties – 17 Top 40 singles – to becoming a variety-show curiosity in their native England (although they toured relentlessly around the world in their own private jet). To put it bluntly, while The Beatles were expanding the boundaries of rock, The Dave Clark Five were doing their best to become completely irrelevant. Of course, a more balanced documentary would include some mention of the fact that the band’s only concession to the changing times was a slightly more psychedelic wardrobe… but we’re talking about a film made by Dave Clark International Productions, not Michael Moore.

Dave Clark’s business acumen is an important part of his own legacy (Elton John calls him an “absolute, stone-cold genius,” while Paul McCartney points out the indignity of not owning the rights to The Beatles’ catalog). Clark was way ahead of his time in this respect. Back in the Sixties, he had complete creative control of the band – including final say over what songs could be released as singles. Eventually, he assumed ownership of the DC5’s master recordings and determined how, and when, those recordings would be reissued.

Dave Clark Five

Then again, between 1978 and 1993, he prevented the release of any of the band’s recordings in any commercial format (selections from the band’s catalog are now available in the U.S. on iTunes). What the hell did he think he was guarding, the Shroud of Turin?

Back in the “plus” column, Clark also purchased the rights to all existing footage from the British TV show Ready, Steady, Go!, which includes some priceless video of the Sixties-era acts mentioned earlier. That probably explains the high quality of the performance clips used in the doc.

In a way, Glad All Over reminds me of The History of The Eagles documentary – mostly gripping footage of the band’s rise to fame, followed by about an hour of shameless self-aggrandizement. But don’t take that the wrong way. The film is two hours long, and it’s free for chrissake! Just hang with it until the band’s demise in 1970 (if you choose to venture “beyond” The Dave Clark Five, you’ll forever be haunted by the image of Laurence Olivier’s disembodied head spouting New Age claptrap).

Here’s a four-minute trailer for The Dave Clark Five and Beyond – Glad All Over:

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Showing 18 comments
  • Chuck auerbach

    Great job Tim. Makes me curious though. The Stones didn’t make huge changes to what they did, but they remained hugely popular. Is my premise wrong? What do you think was the difference?

  • John Brooks

    I think if Dave had been a singing frontman,the group might have hung on longer or evolved . I really dug the singles at time because I could sing along , hell they are still in my range. Tune into Sullivan however and the best looking dude for the girls is in the back drumming hard but not singing like Paul and John. No one will ever know?

  • admin

    Thanks Chuck. I think the Stones stayed closer to their blues and soul roots, which at least to me made their music sound more timeless.

  • admin

    Good point John. A powerful, good-looking, singing drummer might’ve put them right over the top! Let’s put it this way: he would’ve been ripped to shreds by teenage girls.

  • Mayor of Melonville

    I will disagree about the Stones not changing. They definitely moved away from their blues roots around ’65-66 when the Glimmer Twins started writing tunes like Satisfaction, Paint It Black, Get Off My Cloud, etc. The blues tunes remained in their live repertoire for a bit, but eventually went away. And they experimented with new instrumentation and additional players. Charlie changed the traditional drum measures and Keith did things like playing with 5 strings (open-G tuning) and using banjo strings on the upper three. Bobby Keys and Chuck Leavell (my “neighbor” here in mid-Georgia) became staples. Mick’s falsetto, Ronnie’s use of steel. They didn’t stand still.

  • admin

    C’mon Mayor… Exile on Main St: Robert Johnson, Slim Harpo, Memphis Soul, Hard Country… It’s a love letter to the American South. Original? Derivative? Yes on both counts. And I still listen to it today (DC5, not so much).

  • Mayor of Melonville

    Tim, you’re ignoring Street Fighting Man, 2000 Light Years From Home, Dancing With Mr. D, Child Of The Moon, As Tears Go By. You can’t just cherry pick the tunes that support your assertion. While their biggest sellers were blues-based, they fleshed out their catalog with many tunes that weren’t.

  • admin

    Actually, my original point was, relatively speaking, the Stones were rootsier than many of their fellow Brit Invasion bands, which might help explain their staying power over the years. Never argued that their sound didn’t evolve… But I might argue it didn’t improve much beyond ’72!

  • Kurt B

    I watched on PBS…it knocked me out. I just turned 60 but I didn’t remember the 18 Ed Sullivan shows…I DO remember the teen mags and the DC5 vs The Beatles. I had no idea he had it so together as a business guy.

  • admin

    Yeah, DC5 were huge in ’64. I remember hearing their songs constantly. I think Springsteen’s right — at that moment in time, their sound was bigger and badder than the rest.

  • Fran B.

    I too just turned 60 and saw the special on PBS. I really enjoyed it and have ordered a copy for my collection. I saw the DC5 in concert in 1965 and the Beatles in 1967. The DC5 concert rocked. Even with all the screaming, you still could hear their music, plus you could go right up to the stage and take pictures. The Beatles concert was in DC stadium and honestly, you could only hear snippets of the songs they did because u were so far away. There was no way you could see them without binoculars either. I have been a DC5 fan since the first day I heard Glad All Over and will be until the day I die.

  • admin

    Fran B: Given the fact that you saw both bands live, you’ve now been inducted into the RCR Commenter Hall of Fame. I’d send you a DVD of Time — The Musical, but I think its commercial sale has been prohibited by Dave Clark until 2070.

  • veronica

    My friends and I always preferred Mike Smith, who, as Twiggy pointed out in the doc, was GORGEOUS. And, man could he sing!

  • admin

    Yeah, Smith is a great, underrated blue-eyed soul singer.

  • lisa

    Loved the PBS documentary too! I too have just turned 60, was more a Beatles fan at the time, but liked Dave Clark 5 too, their songs did RIP out of the radio and were fun, dance worthy songs…not “messagy” as so many became with the advent of drugs, war, peace etc., I saw each and every performance of theirs on Ed Sullivan as well as all the other UK bands! I too, ordered the dvd and cds and was surprised how many of my coworkers didn’t remember them…probably because their songs weren’t played on the oldies, and lastly Ozzie was right, Dave Clark did make drumming look sexy!! Mike Smith should be inducted as a singer as he was the best!

  • John

    I love the DC5 as much as anyone. I was turning 11 in April 1964. I still love their sound, but I’m somewhat surprised that your article about Dave Clark didn’t mention that Dave was NOT the drummer on all of the DC5 hits. People seem to be divided into several camps on this:

    1) People who could care less who played on pop records. Did the band play their instruments or not? A lot of people could care less. THAT’S GREAT.

    2) People who research recording session details. If you’re in the camp of “who really played?” on hit songs, you’d eventually come across the names Bobby Graham, Clem Cattini, etc.

    I don’t really care that Dave Clark doesn’t admit that he didn’t play drums on the hits, but I would expect that a review of the PBS special should maybe point out that it is incredibly well known that Dave Clark employed Bobby Graham to play drums whenever the Dave Clark Five recorded.

    Bobby was also the drummer on The Kinks You Really Got Me, and All Day And All Of The Night, and hundreds of other UK chart toppers in the 60s.

    Yes, the drummer “drummed like a madman”, but it was Bobby Graham.

  • Linda Flicek

    Hello! Thank You! I was a Poor! but Huge Dave Clark Five Fan! I was in a Bad Car Accident on my Wedding Day! Totally had to learn to walk & talk again. So sad The Dave Clark Five were Completely Forgotten, But, I’m thrilled to have found the Show “The Dave Clark Five & Beyond” on Channel 10. So I’m waiting For a Boom Box to be Delivered & to Find some “Dave Clark Five” Music. Thank You Again….! Dave Your #1!

  • Shades

    John There’s always gotta be one in a crowd.

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