THE DAVE CLARK FIVE AND BEYOND: GLAD ALL
Review by Norman Kelsey
Stars: Mike Smith, Dave Clark, Tom Hanks, Paul
McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Whoopi Goldberg, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Gene
Director: Dave Clark
Audio: DTS HD 5.1; Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM Stereo
Video: High Def 1080i; Multiple aspect ratios
Studio: Dave Clark International Productions
Features: See Review
Length: 122 Minutes
Release Date: May 13, 2014
“Those were big, powerful nasty sounding records, man. A much bigger sound than say the Stones or the Beatles.” – Bruce Springsteen
They say no one remembers who came in second place. Well, Dave Clark will be darned if he’s going to let that happen and The Dave Clark 5 And Beyond - Glad All Over is proof.
Hit after hit by the Dave Clark 5 (DC5) came storming out of radios from 1964 to 1966: “Glad All Over;” “Bits And Pieces;” “Over And Over;” “Because;” “Do You Love Me;” “Catch Us If You Can.” You can probably hum or stomp out all of these top 10 British Invasion chart monsters. These were the Beatles true London rivals on the charts in the UK and the USA. The Mersey Beat versus the Tottenham Sound. In the UK, “Glad All Over” kicked “I Want To Hold Your Hand” off the throne and the battle was on.
This is the story of the silver medalists that could. Everything the Beatles did, the Dave Clark 5 did in their wake: the Ed Sullivan show, movies, royal command performances, promotional films, TV specials and seemingly in greater quantity, if not with greater quality. Definitely with greater volume. The DC5 influenced American rock acts from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to Kiss as evidenced by the interviews in this new documentary (that originally aired on PBS in the States) directed by Dave Clark himself.
Musicians of all ages take note and learn from Dave Clark. The film is keen to demonstrate that Clark possessed a savvy that peers/interview subjects like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Elton John did not. From the start Mr. Clark was a shrewd business man. He produced his own records and leased the masters, meaning he owned and controlled his music. He managed the band, meaning he was more than happy to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show a record 18 times. Most cannily, he was the face and name of his band, which was vocally fronted by keyboardist and co-writer Mike Smith. The lesson is that Mr. Clark is very creative, very wealthy and answers to few.
Glad All Over features wonderful footage of the band performing all of the aforementioned hits. The DC5 stomp through each one in glorious black & white and color for Ed Sullivan and the royal family. Their later, Dave Clark directed concept pieces Hold On and Hits In Action seen here rival or top the contemporary Magical Mystery Tour and Head for creativity and storytelling.
There is much to enjoy hearing famous names talk about rivalries or influences. The British Invasion story is so Beatles and Stones heavy that it is easy to forget that the Dave Clark 5 had nearly as many chart hits as the Beatles and were certainly better loved than the Stones in that short span.
Interspersed throughout are highlights from Tom Hanks’ kinetic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction speech for the DC5 in 2008. Tragically, Smith passed away as the result of complications from a fall in his home just weeks before the event. His contributions to the documentary were taped several years prior, but they are insightful since Clark kept the rest of the group virtually anonymous - and silent - for 50 years.
The Rock Hall ceremony also marked one of the last times in memory that Clark himself appeared in public. So apart from his narration, you have to wait the length of the doc before you see recent footage of him. It is a bit odd that you get more of Whoopi Goldberg in a Dave Clark documentary than Dave Clark; considering how highly Clark regards Dave Clark.
That said, Clark should be applauded for one significant accomplishment here: championing Mr. Smith’s status among the British Invasion elite. Because so much of the DC5’s music was unavailable for long stretches by Clark’s choice mind you (most notably at the dawn of CD, when the Beatles, Stones and the Who made giant splashes), Smith’s bluesy baritone was relegated to oldies radio rotations. My guess is most people think Dave Clark is the lead singer of the Dave Clark 5.
With the help of this documentary and luminaries like Springsteen, Gene Simmons and Wonder weighing in, Smith is restored to the pantheon of howling pop heavyweights. In the vibrant archival footage that fills the first 90 minutes, you see him vying for screen time with the band’s grinning namesake. When you get a wide shot of the whole group, try to not watch Mike Smith. In any other British Invasion group, Smith would have been a legend on level with the Who’s Roger Daltrey or the Animals’ Eric Burdon. Smith was a marvelous singer and an underrated instrumentalist. That’s his organ riff on their immortal ballad “Because.” Clark faithfully works to restore Smith’s legacy. Music fans, please relish the moments you get to spend with the late Mike Smith during the film.
If you are a true fan of Dave Clark, add another half star to the rating of the film. If you come at this only interested in the British Invasion, consider subtracting a half. The last thirty minutes of this documentary get mired in revisiting Mr. Clark’s West End effort Dave Clark’s TIME: the Musical from 1986. Virtually unknown in America, it is best remembered for featuring a hologram performance from Lord Laurence Olivier; and an accompanying concept album featuring Cliff Richard, Dionne Warwick and Freddie Mercury. Several participants interviewed generously offer that Clark was simply ahead of his time; dancing around commenting on the actual quality of the thing. It is as hard to imagine a revival of Time as it is to stifle laughter hearing about this show thirty years on.
While there is a certain fascination watching
Clark put together the show, this segment really alters the tone. It is
understandable that Clark is proud of his career; but a disconnect hovers over
discussion of Time. So it’s kind of a downer and just odd. We lose the
freewheeling frolic of the first half that focused on the household name DC5 and
all of their singalong hits. It’s like being told to eat your vegetables after
having your favorite dessert.
Mr. Clark would have done well to have made two distinct documentaries. Considering that he accesses an extensive library of exclusive vintage footage that he owns, including the British TV show Ready, Steady, Go; uses his own home movies; and adds sequences from the Ed Sullivan Show; this program is chock full of special glimpses into the musical culture of the 1960s that haven’t been seen before. Because, if as Tom Hanks touts, the DC5 will make you glad all over, let’s forget Time and stick with the DC5.
In British Invasion lore, the Dave Clark 5 were second only to the Beatles. No one else can make that claim. Sometimes it is refreshing to hear the voices of those who took the silver. Even if they have to tell their own story themselves. Mr. Clark was an innovator and unrivaled as a musician who understood the industry well enough to stay ahead of the game. He may have played second fiddle to the Beatles artistically, but as a young entrepreneur he had no rival.
The movie utilizes a variety of sources dating back to the early 1960’s from video to 35 mm film. Some of the vintage color promotional spots pop off the screen; the remainder is adequate. Remember, this was made for television.
Considering the age of the tracks and the scarcity Clark has created, they boom out of the speakers. If nothing, the DC5 was known for stomping songs. Crank it up.
Disc Two is the extended footage of pieces found in the main feature.
The first part is for Dave Clark 5 diehards and those who love British Invasion history. It contains complete performances by the DC5; the groovy Hits In Action, a long form music film directed by Dave Clark which played in theaters; and another cool interview segment with Mike Smith.
The second half of the disc is 45 minutes of archival interviews about the creation, staging and recording of Dave Clark’s Time the Musical and the Album. No pun intended, this section is a time capsule of the mid-1980s. Especially, the opening night footage and the interview with Julian Lennon. Hard to look away, if you lived through it.
The biggest treats here are full length interviews with the late Lord Laurence Olivier and Freddie Mercury, to whom the disc is lovingly dedicated. Naturally, Mercury steals the show and makes you want to put on a Queen album. Trivia: Olivier and Mercury’s final stage performances are linked to Time. You’ll have to watch the bonus material to find out how and why.
The Dave Clark 5 And Beyond - Glad All Over would make a wonderful, brisk 90 minute documentary. The DC5’s journey as the runners-up to the Beatles, Dave Clark’s pioneering genius and the underrated musical partnership of Clark and Smith are worthy of their own film. The Beyond (Time) should have been another project entirely. Regardless, fans of the British Invasion shouldn’t miss out on the Dave Clark 5’s story.