Thursday, September 10, 2009
Rant #83: Nosedive on the Dave Clark Five
Now that the Beatles have received a higher profile through the release of digitally remastered albums and the video game Beatles Rock Band, I turn my attention to a story that has gripped at least a portion of rock fandom for a number of years, although it is probably not that well known outside of that specific fan base.
The Dave Clark Five were the Beatles’ prime competitors during the early days of the British Invasion. From 1964 to 1966 or so, they had a bushelful of hits that put them right up there with the Beatles among the most popular acts of the day. “Glad All Over,” “Everybody Knows (I Still Love You)” and “Catch Us If You Can” were among these hits, and their hard-driving, stomping Tottenham sound—mixed with their clean appearance and overall good looks—enabled them to be mainstays on The Ed Sullivan Show and countless other TV programs during this period when they were all over the radio.
The hits continued into 1967, but with changing musical tastes, the DC5 as they were known, began to fade. They hung on for a few more years, but by 1970, they had disbanded.
Band leader, drummer, writer, producer and overall jack of all trades Dave Clark was one of the most astute businessman in show business, and he was able to retain the rights to just about everything that the DC5 produced during the band’s tenure.
In fact, the other members of the band—Mike Smith, Dennis Payton, Lenny Davidson and Rick Huxley—were paid employees of Clark, which was an oddity back then and remains an oddity to this day.
Anyway, after the band disbanded, through the emergence of the CD as the dominant music format in the late 1980s, the band members pretty much stayed away from any type of spotlight that could have been shown upon them. There were no reunion tours, and the individual members basically did other things that did not garner them much publicity. Clark continued his astute business operations, and added to his fortune.
Record-wise, a few compilations on vinyl emerged during this period, but that was pretty much about it.
In the mid-1990s, there was a glimmer of hope. There was an agreement with Disney’s Hollywood Records which saw one compilation released, but nothing else came from this brief union, and it was allowed to lapse.
Since that time, although the band was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, very little, if anything, has been forthcoming from the band on CD. A digital album of their greatest hits was released to coincide with their Hall of Fame entrance, but that was it.
In the meantime, two band members—Dennis Payton and Mike Smith—passed away.
In a market where you can get countless greatest hits albums and re-released LPs on CD from everybody from Abba to ZZ Top, there is nothing available from the DC5. No actual CDs, no re-released albums, no unreleased material, nothing.
Grey-market releases—less than legitimate offerings—are available, but since Clark owns just about everything having to do with the DC5, the question keeps on getting asked—“Why is there nothing out there on the DC5?”
Clark reportedly is not a person who likes to look back, but ahead, and he considers his musical legacy old hat.
Collectors have been clamoring for re-releases since the early 1990s at least, but even though some positive words by Clark on this front have been uttered from time to time, nothing is imminent.
Various groups on the Internet—made up of members who either chastise Clark or deify him—have kept the flame going, but the fact of the matter is that it is easier to find a “Best Of” of an act like one-hit wonder Keith (remember “98.6”?) than it is to find a similar package for the DC5.
Thus, Clark has been cast as a source of mystery in collectors’ circles, and I don’t think anybody can figure this guy out.
Again, I am not comparing the Beatles and the DC5, but you can readily get any Beatles release that you want ad infinitum, but nothing from the DC5.
I seem to think a good record label could do something nice with their catalog, a la what Rhino Records did with the Monkees catalog or what Sundazed did with its Paul Revere and the Raiders re-releases. These releases would bring the music of the DC5 to the next generation, a generation which, right now, doesn’t know that a Dave Clark Five ever existed.
Clark, ever the businessman, is probably looking at the bottom line here. He doesn’t think he will make much money off of this project, and thus, has balked.
Art be damned! Money isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!
I am glad I still have my vinyl records of this band, an act that I have enjoyed since 1964. But the time has come for my CD player to be used to play the band’s LPs.
Here is my open letter to Dave Clark:
Mr. Clark, if you are reading this, the time is now to release something. No, you won’t make gobs of money, but you will please fans of your old group, many of whom have been with you since 1964 and still keep the flame burning.
The DC5 has already taken a nosedive, we don’t need a full crash at this stage of the game. Mr. Clark, put something out … if not to please yourself, then to please the fans that helped you reach the level you are at today.
“Any Way You Want It,” just do it. And do it now.
(For further information on the DC5, check out http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/DC5/.)
Posted by Larry at 4:06 AM