Wednesday, May 02, 2007

“Glad All Over” / The Dave Clark Five


In 1964, every music pundit was dying to anoint some new band as the “Next Beatles.” When I first heard of the Dave Clark Five, that was the buzz – “These guys are going to be bigger than the Beatles.” For one thing, they had FIVE band members, not just four, and they had an organist. They were clean-cut and cute – what more could music fans want? When “Glad All Over” dethroned the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in January 1964, doomsayers predicted that the Fab Four were history.

Yeah. Right.

I tried to like the Dave Clark Five, honestly I did, and yet . . . . Maybe even as a kid I could tell they weren’t quite the real thing, even though they wrote their own songs (whether Clark deserved co-writing credit is another question; it’s also rumored that the actual recordings were done with session musicians). I was baffled by the name, since Dave Clark didn’t sing lead vocals -- keyboardist Mike Smith did, which was fine with me because he was much cuter. Though I was too young to judge, Clark wasn’t even much of a drummer – hence the group’s tendency to record very basic pop songs like “Do You Love Me,” “I Like It Like That,” “I Knew It All the Time,” and “Over and Over.” The only really rhythmically interesting record they ever made was “Catch Us If You Can,” which featured finger-snaps for most of the percussion. (The Monkees would later rip this sound off for their theme song -- "Here we come, walking down the street . . . .")

But what was worst, somehow they just didn’t sound British, whatever that meant to my pre-teen ears. Tell the truth – if any of those songs came on the radio with no introduction, would you think “British Beat” right away? And -- no surprise -- from the spring of 1964 on, their records always did better in the States than they did back home.

Still, “Glad All Over” is a perfectly fine track. It has all those nice tight harmonies I had learned to love from my Beatles records, with a cheery call-and-response echo, and the sentiments were straightforward teen pop – “You say that you love me [say you love me] / All of the time [all of the time] / You say that you need me [say you need me] / You’ll always be mine [always be mine].” In the infinitely more complicated emotional territory of the Beatles, such absolute devotion could spell trouble, but for the Dave Clark Five, it inspires only one thing – it makes him feel “glad all over,” as he tells us three times in the chorus, setting off each repetition with two big whomping drumbeats. (Two honks on the sax, too – that rudimentary horn section was ahead of its time.)

Verse two declares his side of the issue – he’s gonna make her happy, always be true, et cetera – and verse three happily predicts that their love will last until the end of time, and all those other pimply hyperboles. In the bridge, there’s the briefest shadow of a problem – “Other girls may try to take me away [take me away]” – but it’s quickly resolved, with the loyal declaration “But you know, it’s by your side I will stay,” in the great tradition of grammar bent out of shape just to land a rhyme.

Simple. Loud. Fast. That’s what the Dave Clark Five could deliver, all packaged with neat-but-casual sweaters and Mike Smith’s adorable smile. So what if they couldn’t live up to the “Next Beatles” hype? In 1964 we were hungry for British bands, and these guys were first out of the gate. There would be more to come.


Julie said...

You're right, Holly. They haven't really withstood the test of time. Amiable enough, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Glad All Over - a true knockout!
I was a hard core DC5 fan - the follow up ¨Bits and pieces¨ was also a favourite.
...and as everybody else, nearly, had Beatles as a favourite group, I supported DC5.
Mike Smith was the ¨engine¨ in the group, indeed. And they were smart dressed with black jackets and white polos.
Of course, in the long run, Beatles were much better.
I like that you wrote about this, Holly.

Mr L

Iñakink said...

I have to admit I don't know the DC5 a lot, but I love this song. They're on my "list of bands to check before I die". :D

Anonymous said...

Omigosh! Thank you! I have had this song in my head for a few days. Could not figure it out. Heard it at Walgreens. I couldn't shazam it because it wasn't loud enough. Sounded like the Beatles. My husband is a Beatles fanatic. So I knew it wasn't them, but maybe a band that sounds like them. What led me to your website is that I googled "big drumbeats" and "I'm mad over". Thank you!!

Holly A Hughes said...

That's pretty cool, actually, that Google could find it through those two phrases. (And how clever of you to do those phrases!) I'm glad to have helped solve the mystery for you!