Contrary to common belief, the Rolling Stones were not the biggest threat to the Beatles at the height of the British Invasion, as that title went to the Dave Clark Five.
The seeds of the North London band were planted back in 1957 when they were called the Dave Clark Quintet. Personnel changes ensued and the version of the band we came to know and love was cemented in 1962, which consisted of lead singer and keyboardist Mike Smith, guitarist Lenny Davidson, bassist Rick Huxley, drummer Dave Clark and saxophonist Denis Payton.
Clean cut and handsome, the Dave Clark Five looked quite conservative compared to their shaggy-haired peers. But their music was loud and powerful, and it’s no stretch to say some of their stuff was downright heavy. The band often peppered their songs with vision-blurring reverb, and the energy in which they delivered their pulsating presentations was boundless.
A two-disc documentation, The History Of The Dave Clark Five (Hollywood Records) involves all the band’s sterling hit singles as well as those that missed clasping the charts. The band’s most commercially viable period occurred between the years 1964 and 1966, but as this collection indicates they continued releasing quality sides until they dismantled in 1970.
Winning tracks such as “Glad All Over,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Can’t You See That She’s Mine,” “Concentration Baby,” “Do You Love Me,” “Catch Us If You Can,” and “Bits And Pieces” reel directly in on the Dave Clark Five’s forte for banging out hard driving dandies, threaded tightly with hammering rhythms, gigantic hooks and a decidedly danceable factor.
Highlighted by a cool keyboard solo, “Because” radiates to a soft and gentle beauty, the heart-stopping “I Miss You” dispatches a doo-wop feel, “Satisfied With You” contains a whiff of a country air, the giddy “Here Comes Summer” pays homage to the surf rock stylings of the Beach Boys and an instrumental, “All Night Long” rustles and bustles to a bluesy shuffle, complete with the raspy screech of a harmonica.
Although the Dave Clark Five never crafted a Revolver or Their Satanic Majesties Request, they did have a brief fling with psychedelic music. Built around a trippy chorus, flashes of spiky guitar riffs and a twitchy break, “Maze Of Love” is a particularly fine expression of the band’s foray into the genre.
Stable and structured, but capable of loosening the bolts just enough to supply their songs with teen scream appeal, the Dave Clark Five were a great band. Possessing an aptitude for both booming rockers and sweet ballads, their instinct and intuition was always dead on. Soulful but poppy vocals, heated horn arrangements, mountains of melodies and addictive grooves were the core components manning the band’s work.
Despite the fact the band received many offers to reform, Dave Clark refused to do so, stating it would be impossible to recapture the magic they had. A reunion will sadly not be in the cards now, as Mike Smith, Denny Payton and just recently, on February 11, 2013, to be exact, Rick Huxley passed away. But their legacy remains firmly intact.
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