Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Catch Us If You Can"

British Invasion: Part 5
From Manchester, England, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders were a beat group that formed in 1963 like many other British Invasion bands. In April of 1965, they had their big break when "Game of Love" hit #1 on the US singles charts and #2 in the UK, which led to a tour of America. Unfortunately, after a few unsuccessful singles, Wayne Fontana left the group later that year (actually in the middle of a concert), and their guitarist Eric Stewart took over lead vocals. Then becoming just The Mindbenders, they released another chart-topper in 1965, "A Groovy Kind of Love." The video below is from another NME Poll Winners Concert performance with Wayne fronting The Mindbenders with the fun "Game of Love."

Forming in 1964, The Troggs were a rock group from southern England, fronted by the raspy-voiced Reg Presley. With their chart-topper, signature hit "Wild Thing" (a tune included among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time), the group is considered influential in the punk rock and garage rock genres that followed. In the summer of 1966, the group had another #1 UK hit with Reg Presley's "With a Girl Like You," which earned a gold disc after it sold over one million copies. However, their success in America was limited as they were not allowed to tour in the US until 1968. This live performance is likely another from the British NME Concert in 1966. I should probably be posting "Wild Thing," but here's "With a Girl Like You" instead, just because my husband happens to love this tune.

In 1964, the rock band The Moody Blues formed in Birmingham, however, their early style and initial lead singer were different from the symphonic rock band that they evolved into in the late 1960's. In their early years, they began as a beat group with Denny Laine on lead vocals, and it was their second single, "Go Now," that launched their career in November 1964, becoming their only #1 UK hit to date. However, after some unsuccessful singles to follow, Denny Laine left the group (and later joined Paul McCartney in the 1970's group Wings) and Justin Hayward took over lead vocals. Even with the new lineup, the group continued to perform this song for awhile, and it would later be considered influential in the genre of prog rock with its lush instrumentation and strong baroque elements.

Originating in North London in 1959, The Dave Clark Five were the second band during the British Invasion (after The Beatles) to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and become an even bigger success in the US than in their native country. With Dave Clark as the drummer and manager, this group was unique as they also included a saxophonist in the lineup. In 1965, the band released their own film, Catch Us If You Can (the US release titled Having a Wild Weekend), and the theme song of the same name became one of their top hits (I still have my dad's vinyl LP too!). Written by Dave Clark and guitarist Lenny Davidson, this song was quite 'catchy' as it begins with finger-snapping as the only accompaniment. As the group was promoted as having a 'cleaner' image than The Beatles, they were one of the first British Invasion groups to tour America, and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for a total of 18 times. This is just one of their many hit songs of the era.

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