Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Dave Clark Five - Complete vol. 3



Year Of Release: 1965

This immediate follow-up to American Tour seems rather rushed to me, or - a more probable case - somewhat poorly sewn together by worthy representatives of the American musical industry. First of all, it's even shorter (eleven songs this time, instead of the typical American dozen, always opposed to the somewhat stuffier British fourteen), which probably symbolizes that they were scraping the bottom of the barrel at the time, while the band itself was busy writing new material for a more "real" LP.
So the album's primary bait is definitely the lead-in track, the band's contemporary hit single 'Any Way You Want It', which, together with 'Glad All Over', still remains as the DC5 defining tune - good enough to have later been "glorified" by being covered by KISS and the Ramones, two bands symbolizing the "brutally simplistic" approach to music (albeit in two radically different ways). It's got all it takes, of course: maddeningly catchy melody, a pompous, thunderous beat, emphasized by a nagging sax pattern, groovy echoey vocals, twisted harmonies, and a genuine feel of joy and excitement. Just the thing to set your average dance club raving and reeling. However, as good as the song is, its glaring weakness cannot be omitted - that breathtaking buildup in the chorus is essentially a re-write of 'Please Please Me' (cf. "come on (come on), come on (come on)" - "it's all right (it's all right), it's all right (it's all right)". And as great as 'Please Please Me' was, it certainly is a bit unsettling to realize that in late '64/early '65 the Dave Clark 5 were so stubbornly stuck in the rut of early '63. 'Glad All Over' is still comparable with 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', which it is said to have originally dislodged off the charts; but put side by side with 'Ticket To Ride' or 'Help!', 'Anywhere You Want Me' acquires a decidedly caveman character.

Plus, none of the other songs on Coast To Coast come close to matching its power anyway. The band's overall style hasn't changed much since American Tour, but the album is definitely less diverse. I miss all the cute little vaguely experimental instrumentals, for one. Where's that 'hoarse harmonica' thing? Where are the groovy basslines? Where's the occasionally "odd" saxophone part? How come I'm deprived of even the tiniest bit of "risk" associated with the "Tottenham sound"? The risk is gone, replaced with a bunch of teenybopper ballads that are about as much fun to listen to as the Wall Street Journal is fun for a non-businessman. 'What Is There To Say' is the closest to "decent" out of these, but really, this quasi-Shadows guitar droning is soooo past as well... and this particular arrangement brings on definite Beatles associations as well, namely, the instrumental reworking of 'This Boy' for A Hard Day's Night. (And the "passionate" singing in the middle-eight once again reminds me just how unique John Lennon's vocal delivery was for the epoch). Of the rest, 'Crying Over You' is a poorboy's 'Sometimes', a tune that could have been penned in two minutes. 'When' opens with a piano line that seems to have been the primary object of hate for the Residents, as they kept inserting similar 'parodic' two-three-note phrases in so many of their records. And 'To Me' is a song that the Beatles wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole even in their earliest days. (Okay, that's slobberingly exaggerated. Ever took a thorough listen to their BBC Sessions? 'Honeymoon Song'? The Beatles were falling victims of similar lapses of taste just as well, except that those BBC recordings date back to 1963 - and were never intended for official release until thirty years later - and this is early 1965 we're speaking of).

Any way you want it, things only get better with the faster "poppers". 'It's Not True' (not to be confused with the superior Who song of the same name) stomps along gleefully and could have easily passed round as a Beatles song (a good Beatles song). Just cut out that organ and replace it with some Harrison guitar around the edges. And stuff like 'I Can't Stop Loving You' or 'I Can't Stand It', while it does all sound the same as far as instrumentation, harmonizing and everything goes, is still peppered with solid hooks that are bound to grow on you. Although here as well I would like to etch a complaint - just how many of their songs have to have the same bombastic introduction as 'Any Way You Want It'? I know the 'Tottenham sound' is a rather limited concept, but come on, not that limited. Not even blues songs all begin with the 'I woke up this morning' line, you know. A rather curious, if altogether subjective, tendency typical of the DC5 was to alternate a good (enjoyable) album with a bad (intolerable) one, which more or less represented the difference between albums the band really cared about and "post-production" phenomena, scrapped from leftovers and garbage. But Coast To Coast is more than just leftovers; it's the first true sign hinting at the band's unreadiness, in fact, the band's complete inability to fit in with the times that are a-changin'. I could make a vile nationalistic remark here about it hardly being a coincidence that the same album happens to feature the band against a huge map of the good old USA on the front cover, but I won't. Although I guess it is true that by early 1965, the Dave Clark Five were far better marketable in the States than in their own country. You know how it goes - once you've cracked them Yanks, they just won't let you go!


Year Of Release: 1965

Like the movie which spawned this soundtrack, this isn't all that bad, but neither is it a lost classic. "Catch Us If You Can," a big hit, is the obvious highlight, and the raucous '50s-styled "Having a Wild Weekend" is OK. "Don't Be Taken In," a fine downbeat Beatlesque midtempo tune that is strongly reminiscent of the "No Reply" kind of material on Beatles for Sale, is a genuinely overlooked gem, but it appears on the History compilation. There are a couple of kinda neat surf-drag-spy-movie type instrumentals with dirty sax, and probably no group harmonized with as much exuberance on shabby original material as the Five did on their album filler, but this isn't an essential addition even for DC5 fans. Note how they try to tap into a Walker Brothers vibe on "Don't You Realize."

1 - 11 Lp Coast To Coast12 - 23 Lp Having A Wild Weekend

01 - Anyway You Want It02 - I Can´t Stop Loving You03 - I Can´t Stand It04 - What Is There To Say05 - Everbody Knows ( i still love you)06 - Crying Over You07 - Say You Want Me08 - When09 - Don´t You Know10 - To Me11 - It´s Not True12 - Wild Weekend13 - New Kind Of Love14 - Dum Dee Dee Dum15 - I Said I Was Sorry16 - No Stopping17 - Don´t Be Taken In18 - When I´m Alone 19 - If You Come Back20 - Sweet Memories21 - Don´t You Realise22 - On The Move23 - Catch Us If You Can 

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