Saturday, January 21, 2006

Some British Invasion Songs

Last week I watched The Knack...and How to Get It. I plan to write a review of it sometime, not to mention discuss the passing of Tony Franciosa, but tonight finds me with a sore throat and I really don't much feel like writing anything. Anyway, The Knack...and How to Get It has left me in the mood for Swinging London and the music associated with it. I thought I would then give you some links to some of the songs of the era.

"You've Got Your Troubles (I've Got Mine)" by Chad and Jeremy

Discovered by producer John Barry (yes, the John Barry who wrote the James Bond theme), Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde failed to make an impact in their native Britain, only to have a series of hits in the United States. Indeed, they became popular enough to warrant a guest appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show playing themselves! Their cover of "You've Got Your Troubles (I've Got Mine)," originally a country music tune which was performed by such folks as Buck Owens and Brenda Lee, would become one of their more popular songs. While I can't say I like country music, I like Chad and Jeremy's rendition of the song. The song is interesting in that it deals with an individual who refuses to lend a sympathetic ear because, well, he has lost his lady love too...

"Lady Godiva" by Peter and Gordon

While many of the British invasion groups emerged from working class backgrounds, Peter and Gordon were one that did not. In fact, Peter Asher could only be described as "upper crust." His father was Dr. Richard Asher, the psychiatrist who discovered Munchausen's syndrome. His mother was Margaret Augusta Eliot, who taught classical music at the Guildhall School of Drama and Music. His younger sister is actress Jane Asher (once the fiancee of Paul McCartney). Gordon Waller was born to wealth as well. In fact, the two met at Westminster Boys School. The two would have their first hit with "A World Without Love," a tune by Paul McCartney. The song hit on both sides of the Atlantic and soon they became top sellers in the early days of the British Invasion. "Lady Godiva" was one of final hits and did the best on the charts besides "A World Without Love." I have always loved the song for its sense of humour--a rather wry twist on the Godiva legend. BTW, for those who are not familiar with the British movie ratings system, "Certificate X" refers to the rating given to those movies (mostly horror films in the early days, by the Sixties it was mostly given to movies with, well, sexual content) to which only adults were permitted.

"All Day and All of the Night" by The Kinks

I suppose I don't have to explain who The Kinks are. Although today they are counted among the biggest British Invasion groups, they did not have much success in America after 1965 until the release of "Lola" in 1970. The primary culprit in this was the American Federation of Musicians, who effectively banned The Kinks from performing in the United States after an unfortunate incident on the TV show Hullabaloo. This is sad, given their early success on this side of the pond. Both "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" went to number 7 on the American Billboard charts. "Tired Of Waiting For You (a song I think most people have identified with at one time or another...)" did even better, going to number 6. I rather suspect that if The Kinks had not been banned from performing here, such classics as "Dedicated Follower of Fashion (which only went to number 36)" and "Victoria (which only went to number 62)" may have been huge hits. Anyhow,"All Day and All of the Night" has always been my favourite Kinks song.

"This Boy" by The Beatles

More so than The Kinks, I don't think I have to explain who The Beatles are. "This Boy" has always been one of my favourite Beatles songs. It's a simple, heart broken song of a fellow who has lost his girl and wants her back.

I wish I could provide you with a link to an audio file for "Something to Say" by The Action. Sadly, none exist, perhaps because The Action were one of the best bands to emerge from the United Kingdom in the mid-Sixties that never really saw success. Formed in 1963 as The Boys, the band was renamed The Action in 1965. They were signed to a recording contract by none other than George Martin himself. Sadly, they never had any real hits in either the United States or the United Kingdom. "Something to Say" is from an album called Brain that was unreleased in 1967 and remained so until 1996. The song, which centres on the subject of a man who has, well, something to say to his lady love, sounds very advanced compared to other songs of that era. Currently, Brain is available as Rolled Gold from Reaction. It is certainly worth checking out.

As a side note, while I am in the mood for the music of Swinging London, "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes is going through my head right now. Right era, wrong place, I suppose. LOL. Anyhow, I am off to bed to try to recover. Let's hope hot totties really do help a sore throat...

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