Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Dave Clark Five

For the second all time best selling British Band of the 60s there's hardly much out there to buy.  Dave Clark is a very frugal guy who really controls the copyrights to his band's songs to the point that the last official US release, The History Of The Dave Clark Five was licensed to Hollywood Records back around 1992 for a limited time and while 50 songs is quite a few, there's a few clunkers in there as well.  Universal in the UK issued a single cd  The Hits, which is just as hit and miss as the Hollywood overview.  Frustrated at Clark's oddball song selection, I pretty much made a single mix CD and still wasn't that satisfied with the results.  And so the story begins.

In the heydays of The British Invasion, The Beatles and DC5 duked it out for chart position and Ed Sullivan's buddies, appearing just about on a regular basis back in 64 and 65. But while the Beatles evolved and became more adventurous with their albums, the DC5 became obsolete relics in three years, the last top ten was a cover of You Got What It Takes.  The DC5 were a singles act and they made some tough sounding singles in Glad All Over, Bits And Pieces and a 53 chart placing of I Knew It All The Time which somehow made it to a compilation  Piccadilly Story on Castle in the early 2000s and how that escaped the claws of Clark's watchful eye is a feat upon itself.  The DC5 had a excellent vocalist in the late great Mike Smith although upon hearing them doing a punked up Do You Love Me, it sounds like he screaming WHY DO YOU LOVE ME in the call and response of the the band members.  Make no mistake, Clark had a eye and ear for the music hook and most DC5 songs clocked under 2 and a half minutes, I Like It Like That only a minute forty time of song.  And Anyway You Want It showed that they can do garage punk as well.  Even KISS covered that song in 1977 on Alive Two, the studio side that is.

For the most part, the DC5 wrote the majority of songs but the problem was Dave Clark was never a lyricist.  Listening to Glad All Over their Epic debut has great singles (Glad All Over, Bits And Pieces, Do You Love Me) but the embarrassing good I Know You, has the middle eight that sounded like Clark took them off a bunch of grade school kids throwing insults at one another, but it also has the embarrassing bad Doo Dah which is a variation of you guessed it, the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoon show.  And each DC5 album would be more of the same, about 10 to 12 songs clocking in and around 25 minutes at best with varying results.   They could do a decent Beatles cop, Because, 19 Days, and failed latter day single Live In The Sky which echoes All You Need Is Love but by the late 60s, Dave Clark was redoing rock classics, in the 70s covering Tommy James' Draggin The Line (more bizzare than TJ's version but with the cheesiness of horns I ever heard.  He took on Neil Young on a version of Southern Man, which isn't too bad given the dated guitar solo work.  It helped that he still had Mike Smith shouting it out too.  But it seems that Dave Clark really has no intention of putting this nor Draggin the Line out since neither song has appeared on any best of.

And that's the problem.  Clark's tight reins on his back catalog may reveals that even though he might be a shrewd businessman that perhaps even he thinks that the lesser DC5 songs are not worth preserving. But you can license any of his best songs for a fee from his website or buy them on Itunes.  Or take your chances trying to find vinyl copies that are not scratched up or 45s for that matter.  Turns out that everybody that bought a DC5 record wore the grooves down to nothing.  And honest the DC5 had rocking great songs, but some songs are absolute dated relics of the past.  The silly Catch Us If You Can,  You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby, which is basically the same arrangement of You Got What It Takes (although the beginning and end also borrows from The Beatles) and the Good Old Rock And Roll Medley that nobody bought.

It's really hard to put together a complete overview of Dave Clark Five albums since Dave Clark will probably take the damn masters to his grave when he dies off.  Even the most recent Best of import is now out of print.  So you're better off trying to locate The History Of The Dave Clark Five on CD at your local store and hope that the owner don't jack the price up to about 50 dollars.  The single The Hits import, more scattershot and more disappointing in song selection.  Unless you're hip to hear them do the Steam cover of Kiss Him Goodbye and of course.. the good old rock and roll medley.  There are bootleg copies of their albums on CD and the sound varies from each and every one.  To which Buyer Beware comes into play.  But don't hold your breath on if and when Dave Clark decides to have them available again.  He's done more to slit his own throat about having the legacy of the DC5 fade into 60's folklore.  But he'll be happy to tell you that they had their own plane before the Beatles.  The first and only time he's ever topped the fab four.

In 2019, Dave Clark finally issued a stand alone single best of CD (tho in the UK it was a 2 CD set). For a bare bones introduction it is probably all the DC5 you could ever want, with their hits (Glad All Over, Bits And Pieces, Try Too Hard) and misses (Universal Love) but at 38 minutes it's a small history lesson about how the DC5 challenged the Beatles and for a small time in 64-65 managed to hang with them before The Beatles started changing their music, whereas The DC5 stayed the same and their music never did evolve like The Beatles or Rolling Stones .  If nothing else, Mike Smith was Dave Clark's voice and sound.  But I also think session drummer Bobby Graham might have more to do with the drum sound rather than Mr. Clark.  Mike Smith's passed away in 2008.

History Of The Dave Clark Five (Hollywood 1994) B+
The Hits (EMI 2007) C+
All The Hits (BMG 2019) B+


While the DC5 may have been the closest rivals to The Beatles, an essay sheds more light on Dave Clark, the boss rather than the rock and roller.  Bobby Graham, the long time UK session drummer seemed to be the one that played drums rather than Clark himself.  Perhaps the MVP of the band was Mike Smith and maybe set the boss off.  While Clark has issued a few of the catalog on I Tunes and has varied the history of the band, this essay makes the first time I have ever heard of Ron Ryan, who was instrumental of the hits like Because or Anyway You Want It.  You can't deny the fact that from 64-66, the DC5 had very good singles but the albums were basically 10 songs, two or three good song and the rest filler.  Which explains Doo Dah on Bits And Pieces. Sgt Pepper pretty much shut the DC5 down since Clark didn't have a clue on how to counter this, but choose instead some R n B covers and old rock songs medley that went nowhere, and made the DC5 more bubblegum pop than blazing rockers.  Clark was a true visionary in scoring a deal where 10 years from signing he'd get his masters back to do what he wanted and that's what he did: put out 50 songs of hits and misses and buried the rest in his backyard.  He also had the most dedicated members in his band, sticking with him as salaried employees till the end.  There was a PBS special that aired the other day about the life and times of the DC5 but from what I have heard, it could have been an infocommercial promoting Dave Clark himself.  Which is fine but without Mike Smith, Lenny Davidson, Mike Huxley and Dennis Payton, Clark is nothing.   The music proves it.

Dave Clark; control freak:

Another opinion: 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Producers

One of the strangest things I see on the internet or at the local thrift shop is that The Producer's first album you can find for a dollar, but try to find the One Way 2 on 1 CD and it will set you back about 30 dollars.  For an investment firm, my advice is if you do find The Producers' One Way CD cheap and in good shape, chances are you can get your investment back times 10.

They were from Atlanta and started out as a Beatles type tribute band but eventually their music was more Cheap Trick than the fab four.  CBS signed them up, assigned them to Portrait, and put their S/T out in those 5.99 new band introductory price.  It's not bad but there's not much variation to the songs and despite the minor hit What She Does To Me and album cut staple What's He Got. the rest sound too similar.  Cheap Trick did it better.

The second album You Make The Heat,spawned the number 48 hit single She Sheila and a more varied style of music, a little more toward arena rock but still holding the power pop ways of most bands of that era.  Despite the top 50 single, the album didn't chart and CBS said bye bye to The Producers.

Kyle Henderson quit the band after You Make The Heart, got born again, played Christian Music and now is back playing more of a blues and R&B type of music, and is now based the Madison area.  Wayne McNutt (Famous) sometimes moonlights as a taxi driver and session player, but from time to time The Producers have known to get together off and on and play some live dates. 

In 2000, One Way issued both Portrait albums as a highly prized 2 and 1 CD and issued the 1989 MCA recorded but never released Coelacanth  with Tim Smith replacing Henderson. For latter day power pop, not bad but not exactly memorable either.  Soon after One Way records went out of business, and even though the Portrait albums came from Sony Music, no other record label has gone ahead and reissued them. Until somebody gets the word over to Real Gone or Wounded Bird, the CD set will be a high priced acquisition for CD collectors.  Better to have a working turntable and the cheaper record to play it on.

The Producers (Portrait 1980) B-
You Make The Heat (Portrait 1981) B
Run For Your Life (Marathon 1985) C+
Coelacanth (MCA 1989/One Way 2001) C+
Producers/You Make The Heat (One Way 2000) B+ (Up a grade for historical value)