Sunday, April 13, 2014

"The Dave Clark Five And Beyond" reviewed.

PBS TV is running a Dave Clark Five documentary as part of their "Great Performances" series called "The Dave Clark Five And Beyond", correction they're running a Dave Clark documentary because after watching it you will realize if you did not already know that there is no Dave Clark Five. The entire affair was produced and released by Dave Clark enterprises, nothing like masterminding your own documentary.  Sound horribly smug and full of self love?  Just a little, maybe a full truck load.  It begins with 20 minutes of celebrity accolades from all and sundry ranging from the odd to the unexpected/bizarre: Stevie Wonder, Sir Ian McKellan, Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Twiggy, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, and even Sir Paul McCartney, who though popping up frequently amusingly never once really has anything to say about Dave Clark or The DC 5 musically.  My favorite is Gene Simmons from Kiss in full stage regalia, or as my wife put it: "Hold on I've gotta put on my make up and spiked breast plate to do this interview".  And of course there's Tom Hanks induction of the DC 5 into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame which plods on at Oscar acceptance speech length. We're then treated to a dozen or so "original DC 5" fans who go on about them like their line up had Mingus, Lennon, Presley, Beethoven and Lead Belly all in one group. In the end you're wondering if anyone participating signed on for a check.

The whole documentary is the biggest piece of self promotion since Monty Burns had Senor Spielbergo make a film about his life for the Springfield Film Festival . We're told (by Clark) that he walked into EMI and came away with an independent producer's contract and the right's to all his own material.  No mean feat in the days when Sir Joseph Lockwood ruled with an inflexible hand, though we're not told how.  Lead singer/organist Mike Smith is on board for a bit and after watching this like me you'll no doubt reckon that the band should have been called The Mike Smith Five instead as it's his gravely/powerful voice we hear on all their hits. For ages rock cognoscenti have maintained that Clark did not drum on his records and that session man extraordinaire Bobbie Graham was indeed the man behind the "Tottenham sound". There's one cringing scene in color from '65 or '66 of Clark in the studio playing a drum solo that never once actually shows him hit the skins or cymbals other than some odd shots of someone's arms doing it, but never a full body shot. There's a long segment from the 60's of Clark wandering around his native Tottenham that culminates with him standing in the middle of the pitch at White Hart Lane while an almost psychedelic wash of Hotspur's fans chanting "Glad All Over" from the terraces blares forth for what seems like ages.  There's then the most awful version of "Glad All Over" you'll ever hear in a horrible slowed down contemporary fashion style with musical backing straight off a Whitney Houston record that looks like it was filmed for the Tottenham Council's tourist board (is there such a thing?).

There are some great moments though. There's the mod '66 brilliance of "Try Too Hard" from their answer to "Magical Mystery Tour"; 1967's U.K. TV special "Hold On" (proving that once again bassist Rick Huxley invented the Weller helmet hairdo) for instance (along with other killer tunes from the film like "I Need Love" and the "I Am The Walrus" knock off "Inside And Out" with Clark acting like he's in charge of the production). There's a raw version of "Nineteen Days" from a Royal Command Performance with sax player Dennis Payton on fuzz 12 string (oddly there are two clips meshed together, in which leads me to ask which was was the audio connected to?!). The band's 8mm home movies from NYC are cool to see of vintage '64-'65 New York complete with Broadway marquees and girls who magically appear on every corner in packs to chase their car for a block or so till the next gang takes over.

There's overkill of all their early "thumping" hits with every one in complete running length with Clark doing his wind up monkey pretend drum technique where he keeps his arms crossed in his lap never raises them to hit anything. Oddly Max Weinberg is on hand to rave about what a great drummer he was.  Whaaaaaat?! There's a zillion Ed Sullivan show "appearances" (my fave being "You Got What It Takes") and then Dean Martin being his usual douche bag self on "Hollywood Palace" again with his Rat Assed/Rat Pack long hair jokes and the DC 5 come on in their shop coats and fake "Catch Us If You Can".

There's a big fanfare about the above mentioned "Hold On!" and Clark's screen kiss with guest star (leading lady?) Lulu and Richard Chamberlain in a "Blow Up" spoof which tries too hard to disguise his sexuality.

After the first hour you can basically turn it off as it becomes a bit tedious with a bit too much time spent on Clark's "acting career" and his stage musical "Time". There's also loads of cringe worthy footage of Dave's rapidly arching eyebrows (Botox?). There is however some good "Ready Steady Go" footage, which Clark now owns after purchasing what remained and was not wiped in the 1970's.

You can watch it all on the PBS website for a limited time by going here.


Gary Field said...

Now hopefully there will be a push to release the complete DC5 catalogue on long can you hold your breath?

Shackman said...

Glad to see you saw the same show I did.Good job. It was Graham on drums and it was Eric Ford on bsss btw.