Recently while channel surfing I happened upon the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, where Tom Hanks made an impassioned speech inducting the Dave Clark Five. Lo and behold, the next day I got an e-mail saying that this album is available only on iTunes for $7.99, so I decided to get it since it seemed like a good deal. And after listening to this album I can see why the Dave Clark Five (or DC5) were a big deal back in their 1964-67 heyday, when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan a whopping 18 times (more than any other pop/rock act) and for a while were the biggest threat to The Beatles' popularity in America (they had less success in their U.K. homeland). Although fondly remembered by those who lived through the British Invasion, for years the DC5 were severely overlooked and shockingly underrated for a band who scored an amazing fifteen consecutive top 20 hits. Sure, their songs could be a bit on the generic side, but they always played the heck out of them, led sonically by Clark's big drumbeats. Although Clark was clearly the band's leader, co-writing most of the songs, as well as producing and managing them, the DC5 were most definitely a band in the truest sense. It was actually organist Mike Smith who sang most of the band's songs (including all their biggest hits), and very well at that, while Lenny Davidson (lead guitar), Rick Huxley (bass), and secret weapon Denis Peyton (sax, harmonica, and guitar) rounded out the lineup. With a drummer, organist, and sax player featured so prominently, the DC5 were bound to stand out, but what really matters all these years later is that the band's best songs still sound fresh and exciting, and they don't sound dated unlike so many of their British Invasion peers. Major hits such as "Glad All Over" (the band's signature song and a #1 U.K. hit, this tune really does make you feel glad all over), "Bits and Pieces," "Any Way You Want It," "Catch Us If You Can," "Because" (the band's best ballad which shows off their excellent harmonies; I'll bet that many of you thought this was The Beatles), and "Over and Over" (hook-filled and doo wop influenced, this was the band's lone #1 U.S. hit) still sound great, and though this compilation is overly generous at 28 tracks (most of the band's songs were around 2 minutes long), there are few performances here that aren't genuine. The band may have lacked the grit and soul of The Rolling Stones or The Animals, the songwriting talent and adaptability of The Beatles, and the innovation of The Yardbirds, but believe me when I say that the DC5 were a top second (or maybe third) tier British Invasion band who were not totally undeserving of their Hall Of Fame induction if one considers their chart success, historical importance, influence, and overall listenability. Of course, said induction was not without controversy, as supposedly they should've been inducted in 2007 but Jann Wenner shamelessly rigged it to induct a hip-hop group instead. I'm not sure if that's true but it's certainly believable that it might be given Wenner's low credibility when it comes to such matters, and then there's also the matter of Ron Ryan, who insists that he deserves at least co-songwriting credits for many of these songs. Regardless, there's no denying that Clark was a first class businessman, as the band owned their own masters and were pioneers of the music video medium, which is why they were one of the few bands who managed to quit (in 1970) and actually stay retired, which actually enhances their reputation as far as I'm concerned. Like I said, I could live without some of these songs, but by and large the band's lively, tightly executed performances makes even their more generic entries mildly enjoyable, and there's a killer 30-minute playlist in here somewhere for those with the patience to compile it. And as an added enticement to collectors, The Hits includes a pair of previously unreleased bonus tracks, the latter of which ("Every American Citizen") is actually quite a nice "thank you" to their American fans.
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