You are currently viewing The Dave Clark Five: The Fab Five

The Dave Clark Five: The Fab Five

While browsing through the record stores in Los Angeles, one thing that I really enjoyed was slowly taking my time and picking through the bargain bins. The sheer number of records that were listed at $1 was mind boggling, especially since I live in a country where records are fairly hard to find! And those that you do find tend to be copies of the same albums again and again. I can’t tell you how many copies of Elton John’s “Honky Chateau“, “Blue Moves” and “Madman across the Water” I have come across in the last ten years in Taiwan.  If I had a dollar for each copy I’d seen in the used-record bins, I could retire. Those never need to be repressed in my humble opinion, not because they aren’t any good (they probably are) but because there are already so many copies of those albums available in the second hand market that you would have to be foolish to ever buy a newly-pressed full-priced copy!

What I found in the bargain bins in L.A. instead, were lots of great fun albums that have been on my radar for years, but were always too expensive to purchase from an on-line market place (especially when you factor in the international shipping charges).

One of my favourite finds this trip was a great stash of original mono albums by The Dave Clark Five! I owned none of these albums because they have all been out of print for many years! In fact, prior to 2019, nothing by The Dave Clark Five was available anywhere! As of 2019, A few albums have been digitally remastered and made available digitally (Spotify has some), but where is the fun in THAT when you can get an original mono pressing on vinyl for a buck?! By going to several different record stores in Los Angeles, I managed to find SIX original mono-pressings of their albums, and one album that was unfortunately in stereo that I bought anyway!

Unfortunately? Why would I be disappointed to find the albums in stereo?

Believe it or not, The Dave Clark Five recorded and released everything exclusively in mono except their last three US albums. Any earlier album claiming to be “Stereo” is, essentially, the mono tracks re-processed with excess bass on one channel and superfluous treble and reverb on the other. While this technique gave the impression of “stereo” on a rudimentary hi-fi from the 60s, it actually sounds pretty awful by today’s standards, and particularly bad through modern headphones.

There are only two Dave Clark Five records of earlier material that have been released in true stereo: A UK release called “The Best of The Dave Clark FIve (Regal Starline 1970, SRS 5037) and a US-only double LP simple called “The Dave Clark Five” (Epic 1971, EG 30434) released a year later. Both of these albums contain a selection of greatest hits that have been remastered into proper stereo. Neither record gives the name of the engineer who did the remastering, but whoever they were they did a great job! The songs are centered properly, with nice, wide-open sounding stereo. There are a few overdubs missing (possibly lost due to the mono mastering process) but for the most part the songs sound fantastic… but I digress.

It was around this time (early-70s) that The Dave Clark Five masters began getting pulled and by the mid to late seventies, the records themselves started going out of print and becoming difficult to find. To make a long story short, Dave Clark owns the rights to all the masters, and he was opposed to reissuing and repackaging stuff ad nauseum without proper compensation, so he pulled everything and, for whatever reason, let it all go out of print for nearly 40 years… to the point where most people have never even heard of this band that actually played quite a big part in the history of the British Invasion! In fact, they were as big as The Beatles at first.

Nowadays, the problem that the average record collector finds themself with is this: as stereo records transitioned from being a novelty to becoming the norm, the mono versions of the albums stopped being pressed and became harder to find as the more expensive “stereo” albums became the de-facto standard release. This is true for pretty much all of the rock and pop output of the sixties. This means that there are a lot more “Stereo” copies of the albums out there than mono ones.

Perhaps one of the most well known cases of this being The Beatles. The Beatles, especially beginning with their “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” era were very involved in all aspects of their music, not only from the compositions and recording, but also the mixing and getting just the right sound that they wanted. The Beatles worked tirelessly on their mono releases and left the novelty stereo releases in the hands of whoever was available, especially in their pre-1967 releases.

The Dave Clark Five also worked this way, it would seem.

Here is what I think is a likely reason for the mono-centric thinking of the day. Since the 50s, rock and roll had always been considered a medium best suited to singles (AKA: 7″ 45rpm records). Since most radio stations were mono broadcasts and most affordable record players were also mono, singles were pretty much exclusively released in mono. There was no need to worry about stereo. Stereo was considered the realm of the elitist: the classical music affectionado, lovers of high-brow vocal pop, or perhaps some of the Big Band buffs. It wasn’t necessary for the “kids” buying rock and roll. With this in mind, most rock bands were expecting their music to be heard in mono and therefore released in mono.

This changed in the mid sixties, however, when The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five and others began to prove that rock and roll, or more simply rock as it was becoming known, was not only capable of selling albums, but in some cases demanded the longer format, and although mono would remain the norm for singles until the mid 1970s, stereo was starting to become the norm for long playing albums.

It may seem strange in this day and age to mention The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Dave Clark Five all in one breath. Who even knows the music of The Dave Clark Five these days anyways? It makes sense in the context of the times, though! Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys has always said that he felt an intense competition with The Beatles. The Beatles were in turn inspired by The Beach Boys‘ “Pet Sounds“, so that makes sense. But where does a band like The Dave Clark Five fit into this?

The Dave Clark Five were one of the bands that formed the first wave of the “British Invasion”! They took the Ed Sullivan show by storm a month after The Beatles‘ appearance (appearing 18 times on the show!), and created a similar kind of hysteria across the North American continent wherever they traveled! “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five was also the single that knocked The Beatles‘ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” off the top spot on the British charts! It was around this time that The Beatles actually went on record to say that it was The Dave Clark Five that they considered to be their biggest threat and rival. It was The Dave Clark Five that kept them on their toes and kept them busy trying to outdo each previous effort! (Thanks, Dave!)

It seemed the rivalry went both ways as well. When The Beatles released “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964, directed by Richard Lester (“Superman II”, “Superman III”), The Dave Clark Five followed suit a year later in 1965 with “Catch Us If You Can” (released in the US as “Having A Wild Weekend“), directed by John Boorman (“Deliverance”, “Hope and Glory”, “Excalibur”). It’s clear who had the better director, but I digress. 😉

Unlike The Beatles, however, The Dave Clark Five didn’t play themselves or perform any musical numbers in the film, though they did provide the soundtrack. The members of the band play a group of stuntmen. Dave Clark had actually worked as a stuntman previously, and the band appears at-ease in front of the camera, giving performances that are better than what you would usually expect from a pop star! The film itself is also not what one would expect from a pop band, and worth seeing. You should catch it if you can *wink wink*. Also: the soundtrack is great!

It was with all of this in mind that I was excited to find some of the early Dave Clark records in the bargain bins… and mono pressings to boot! I was really looking forward to hearing the music that had not only inspired The Beatles to push themselves, but also caused them to worry about keeping their top spot on the charts!

The records that I found were “Glad All Over” (1964, $5.00), “American Tour (stereo)” (1964, $1.00), “I Like It Like That” (1965, $1.00), “Having A Wild Weekend” (1965, $4.00), “Coast to Coast” (1965, $5.00), “Satisfied With You” (1966, $4.00) and “The Dave Clark Five’s Greatest Hits” (1966, $5.00). Of these records, most of them were in excellent condition, some even close to near mint sounding once I cleaned them. The only one that caused any grief was “Coast to Coast“, which skipped (jumped) on two of the tracks (luckily I had both those tracks on another album!). In total, $25 for seven records was a nice deal, especially considering how amazing they sounded after a good soapy wash on my record cleaner!

So what did I discover about The Dave Clark Five after all of this? I already knew most of the hits, so there were no surprises there, but some of the deep cuts were great! I was surprised with some of the tracks on the earlier albums. They were as strong as anything The Beatles had released at that point. I was also a bit surprised to discover that The Dave Clark Five regularly included instrumental on their albums. Some of these are amazing (“Ol’ Sol“), while one or two were a bit “meh”.

Listening to the albums from 1964 and 1965 I could see why they were giving The Beatles a run for their money. The one record I found from 1966, “Satisfied With You“, however, was really dull. Their early rocking sounds had been mostly replaced by drab ballads. It was also becoming apparent to me that they weren’t quite able to keep up in the songwriting department since their albums regularly included covers, a practice that The Beatles had long since abandoned. Despite the 1966 album being a dud, though, the album closer was a pretty good cover of “Good Lovin” (made famous by the Rascals); not stellar, but good.

There are definitely some Dave Clark Five songs that you MUST hear in your lifetime. This is not an exaggeration. They have some songs that are THAT good. For a good time, check out these foot stomping tracks and you will understand what people meant when they said the “Tottenham Sound”… you’ll also see that they sound a lot like a bunch of football lads having a great time: “Glad All Over“, “Bits and Pieces“, “Any Way You Want It“, “Do You Love Me“, “All Of The Time“, “I Know You” and “Catch Us If You Can“. Lead singer Mike Smith had an AMAZING voice with a deep growl that likely drove every teeny-bopper girl into fits of squealing frenzies (check out how sexy his growl is on “I Like it Like That“).

Check out the gorgeous “Hurting Inside“, the killer “Can’t You See That She’s Mine“, and the absolutely fantastic “Because“.

When I was a kid, and for the longest time, I thought they were Beatles songs that I just couldn’t find on any of The Beatles‘ records. If for no other reason than for these three songs, you need to hear the music of The Dave Clark Five. “Hurting Inside” is available in stereo on Spotify, but as with most of the 2019 remasters, the other two songs, “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” and “Because“, are the original mono recordings. All three have been remixed into true stereo on the above mentioned stereo compilation albums from the early 70s, though these mixes are not available on Spotify.

Are The Dave Clark Five the best thing since sliced bread? No. Were they a great band? Hell, yes! The first few albums are strong sixties rock and roll and they still kick ass and take names. I am really pleased that I was able to find these in such good shape! I am keeping my eyes open for a few more albums because, despite being less than impressed by “Satisfied With You“, I know a few of the songs that came out on later albums and they are just a good as any of the earlier stuff (“Tabatha Twitchit” from 1967 and “Red Balloon” from 1968 to name a couple)! Maybe “Satisfied With You” was just an anomaly. With everything being out of print the only way to know for sure is to keep digging in the bins… and I, for one, am looking forward to my next opportunity to do just that!

Check out The Dave Clark Five on Spotify with a playlist that I have curated just for you!

#music #Daveclarkfive #vinyl #myvinylcollection #recordcollection #myrecordcollection #vinylcollection #黑膠唱片 #音樂  #Taiwan #Chiayi #birdienumnumstw #musicboxtw

Leave a Reply