They followed hot on the heels of The Beatles in early 1964 as the second British Invasion band, and by the time they quit in 1970 they’d released 15 consecutive Top 20 U.S. hit singles within a two-year period--more than any other group except the Beatles--and appeared a record-breaking 18 times on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Yet the Dave Clark Five—drummer/bandleader Dave Clark, lead vocalist/keyboardist Mike Smith, saxophonist Denis Payton, bass guitarist Rick Huxley and guitarist Lenny Davidson—have somehow remained relatively underappreciated in America. Indeed, it wasn’t until 2008 that the band was inducted (by Tom Hanks) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, long after many of their also deserving contemporaries and after both Smith and Payton had died (Huxley died last year).
But now comes The Dave Clark Five and Beyond—Glad All Over, a two-hour documentary that premieres tonight on PBS and will be rebroadcast Friday. The program includes interviews with Hanks, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, Stevie Wonder, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Whoopi Goldberg, Dionne Warwick, Twiggy and Ian McKellen, all sharing their memories of the DC5 and the music of the ‘60s and the cultural revolution it sparked.
Also featured is vintage TV and film footage of the band along with performances by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Dusty Springfield, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Freddie Mercury and Laurence Olivier.
Considering all these names—and the title—The Dave Clark Five and Beyond tends to overreach in the early going and lose its DC5 focus. Part of the problem is that few of the big guns have anything of real substance to say, such that the many “original fans” that also comment are both more intelligible and illustrative of the time than Goldberg and Twiggy, for instance.
Ozzy, who says he wanted to be a member of the Dave Clark Five and speaks of “the heaviness of the drums,” actually comes off as well as both McCartney, who at least dispels the press-fueled Beatles-DC5 “rivalry,” and Springsteen—though the latter does rightly relate that the DC5’s records were way bigger-sounding than those of both The Beatles and Stones, and in fact sounded as if they were “ripped out of the radio.”
Van Zandt goes so far as to call them “the most powerful records ever made”; both he and Springsteen attribute this to Clark’ s slamming drum sound, as Springsteen puts it, “a big, powerful, nasty sound.”
“He banged away at the drums like the Wild Man of Borneo,” contends Gene Simmons, while Springsteen’s E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg explains that it was Clark’s signature snare drum rolls and tom-tom builds that produced what Elton John calls the “raw power” of the DC5 records.
Still, Clark was embarrassed when he met his hero Buddy Rich, and told him he couldn’t play a fraction as well as the jazz great. “Don’t knock it, Dave,” Clark remembers Rich responding and then saying that by selling millions of records and concert tickets, “what you’re doing is great for us drummers.”
Not to overlook the vocals of Mike Smith, who while the lead singer, was always stationed behind his keyboards in the back near Clark.
“Mike smith is really an unsung hero vocally,” says Simmons, who is in Kiss costume, yet is the most effective analyst. “Not a lot of people point to him, but that’s one of the great voices of rock ‘n’ roll.”
And as for the Dave Clark Five as a whole, Stevie Wonder demonstrates that as powerful as the group’s records remain, they’re also wonderful. He’s shown exuberantly singing and playing along with the big hit “Because,” citing the “joy of love” exuded by the DC5's discs.
Here Hanks pretty much nails it, in taped excerpts of his right-on but way over-the-top RockHall induction speech: “Pounding out in 4/4 time the message that to be joyful is to be alive, and joy was in the music of the Dave Clark Five.”
At the same time, Hanks made too much out of the frequently cited link between the British Invasion and the Kennedy assassination that immediately preceded it, which gives far too much credit to the sadness and malaise that fell over America following the assassination, thereby leaving the country susceptible to the joyous jolt that The Beatles brought forth some six weeks later.
“For weeks and months, still bowed in mourning, mourning became morning as the sun rose in the East coming out of England,” rhapsodized Hanks. “You want to hear a song that will make you feel ‘glad all over’ by the Dave Clark Five.”
For sure, the DC5’s debut U.S. hit “Glad All Over” made you feel exactly that, while its foot-stomping follow-up “Bits and Pieces,” ironically, echoes the cadence of the Kennedy funeral march that is briefly shown.
“Taking our joylessness and smashing it to pieces--bits and pieces!” declared Hanks, defiantly shouting, “so turn up the radio, Dad!” But truly, the DC5—not to mention The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion bands—would have taken the U.S. by storm regardless of the post-Kennedy mood, just as they did everywhere else in the world.
Accolades aside, Glad All Over shows how Clark and his schoolmates were able to arise out of the ruins of post-war London (its Tottenham area, hence the DC5’s “Tottenham Sound”) and apply both their athleticism and musicality into a group that John says was the hardest-working one in England, what with 13 albums in four years and incessant touring--though Clark, an “absolute, stone cold genius,” John says, made sure the band found time to enjoy the hectic schedule.
And as Hanks noted, the Clark Five were especially made welcome in America, home of the music they learned while playing U.S. military bases in England, then giving it their own stamp and sending it back home.
But Clark, who famously engineered the ownership of his early masters and thereby controlled his artistic destiny (The Beatles, says McCartney, signed anything, “That’s why I don’t have my publishing to this day!”), had wanted to stop in 1967, while he and the boys were “still standing up.” They agreed to quit two years later, and finally did so in 1970.
And then began a lesser known (in America) chapter of Clark’s storied career, but one that he feels equally proud of. He purchased the historic British rock/pop music television show Ready Steady Go!, which helped break everyone from The Beatles to the Stones and the DC5, in order to preserve the vintage live performances for future generations.
And after studying acting, he decided to try directing and created a hugely successful musical theater piece, Time: A sci-fi story about the quest for universal peace, it was accompanied in 1986 by a concept album featuring Laurence Olivier, Freddie Mercury, Julian Lennon, Dionne Warwick & Burt Bacharach, Ashford & Simpson and Stevie Wonder.
The Dave Clark Five and Beyond—Glad All Over covers all this and beyond, thanks to a wealth of source material—including home movies taken by each of the Five during their U.S. tours and clips from the band’s English TV special and movie Having a Wild Weekend (released in England as Catch Us If You Can, the 1965 film was John Boorman’s first, and so good it led to his follow-up classic thriller Point Blank).
And the band’s legacy?
“The legacy of the Dave Clark Five—you’re looking at ‘em,” Simmons concludes, “and there’s lots more like me: Go see the biggest bands in the world! The Dave Clark Five is alive and well.”
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