The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 February 2008

That Tottenham sound

DC6, actuallyIt took long enough, but the Dave Clark Five are finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — though poor Mike Smith, DC5 vocalist and keyboard player, won't make it to the ceremony: yesterday he died at a hospital outside London. He was 64 and had been in poor health for some time; a fall in 2003 had left him partially paralyzed. (Before that, he had kept up his performing schedule; Dawn Eden reports from onstage.)

The Five were perhaps the most serious rivals to the Beatles during the early days of the British Invasion; they appeared 18 times on The Ed Sullivan Show, and famously got about the States in a plane of their own — though not this one, which I worked into the cover art for a DC5 compilation I made for home and road use. Dave Clark was the drummer, and he contributed some major thump to the recordings, but the true heart of the DC5 sound was Mike Smith's voice, supplemented occasionally by his Vox Continental organ. There was an effort to promote the Five as having a Tottenham sound, as distinguished from Merseybeat up in Liverpool, but not a whole lot came of it. Besides, DC5 singles were easily recognizable anyway: they were quick — only one of their big hits, a 1967 cover of "You've Got What It Takes," grazed the three-minute mark — and they were punchy. (Sample for a limited time only: "Try Too Hard", from 1966, on which Smith sings and plays a simple but memorable piano bit. It runs a whole 2:08.) "The music was fun," said Smith in a 1988 interview. "It had no message. It was just supposed to be about fun and good times." And good times they were.

Posted at 8:01 AM to Tongue and Groove