Friday, April 22, 2011

"You Really Got Me"

British Invasion: Part 6
So here we are again with the good ol' Kinks, one of the most important and influential bands of the British Invasion. Forming in 1964 in North London, The Kinks consisted of brothers Ray and Dave Davies on guitars and vocals, with Pete Quaife on bass and Mick Avory on drums, who had their breakout hit in August 1964 with "You Really Got Me." Written by Ray Davies (chief songwriter and lead vocalist), this tune topped the international charts, and has since joined the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as well as #4 of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. Built around power chords (perfects 5ths and octaves for you musical folks), this song became the blueprint for hard rock and heavy metal music that followed. Throughout their 32-year career that varied with a wide range of musical styles, The Kinks (as well the Davies brothers' solo acts) continue to perform this song, generally as the show's closer. Unfortunately during the Invasion, The Kinks' initial US success was hindered because they were banned from touring in America for four years; they were known for being a bit rowdy on stage!

A solo artist among the British Invasion was pop singer-songwriter Crispian St. Peters, who began his musical career playing guitar in unknown bands in London. In 1966, he had his first big hit with a version of "You Were On My Mind," but his signature song became "The Pied Piper," a transatlantic hit later that summer. However, the shy singer was transformed by his manager to be rather arrogant, boasting that he was better than The Beatles and Elvis. Although he later explained himself, saying the claims were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, the music press was not impressed. Hopefully that side fact doesn't ruin this spunky song for you. Looks like another NME Concert performance; also sounds like the key is a little too low in first and second verse!

Formed in 1959, the Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers rivaled The Beatles as they had the same manager, Brian Epstein, and were also from Liverpool. With the group's main lineup including Gerry Marsden (lead vocals and chief songwriter) and his brother, drummer Freddie, along with Les Chadwick, and Les Maguire, they released "How Do You Do It?" in early 1963, making them the first Epstein/Liverpool group to have a #1 hit (until The Beatles released "From Me to You" a few weeks later). In 1965, the group starred in a film called Ferry Cross the Mersey, and the song with the same name was another big hit, written by Gerry Marsden. 'Mersey' refers to the River Mersey that flows into the Irish Sea at Liverpool. Although they had a string of hits including "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," Gerry and the Pacemakers unfortunately disbanded in 1966. Here's the classic Mersey-crossin' tune from that particular film.

Finally, the last group of the day is Them, a Northern Irish band that formed in Belfast in 1964. Playing in styles like garage rock and blue-eyed soul, this group was the springboard for singer Van Morrison, who went on to have his own musical career later in the 60's. Marketed as part of the British Invasion, this Irish band is best known for their garage rock standard "Gloria," which was originally the B-side of the single with "Baby, Please Don't Go." Written by Van Morrison and released in November 1964, "Gloria" has become a staple of rock bands and unknown garage bands for decades (including my dad's garage band in the 60's!), as its three-chord progression is easy to play. Considered amongst the best rock singles of all time, here's that memorable tune by Them.

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