Friday, January 09, 2009

Down Memory Lane Again

Given the choice, I will almost always pick music from the 60's to listen to on my mp3.  I do load up modern albums from Coldplay to Dido but somehow those simple tunes and even simpler lyrics from over 40 years ago are the ones that have stuck in my mind. 

My theory is that I was in my single buying days back then and also my mind, for want of a better word, was at its most receptive.  Not that any of my teachers would agree !  My musically active teenage years were spent confined in a Catholic boarding school in N. Ireland (1962-1970) and I lived for the mid week BBC music charts. We all had our favourite groups back then and we'd await their new chart positions with some excitement and a butt load of teenage competitiveness. 

Never one to follow the crowd, I wasn't a big fan of The Beatles or The Stones and my musical support was spread out, in a non gay way, between many US West Coast bands and 'lesser' UK groups like The Tremeloes, The Hollies and David Harman.

David who now ?

David Harman, better known as Dave Dee, was the front man/vocalist for the bizarrely named Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.  Not a group name you tend to forget in a hurry.  I don't know what it was about their songs that I liked so much as I've never tried to analyse why I like any of the songs and groups I've supported over the decades. I just like them.

Back in 1966 they released their 4th single, Hold Tight, and this started a short run of 10 consecutive singles that got into the top 20 in the UK charts.  Towards the end of this 3 year run of success, their songs became epic mini productions with half an orchestra backing them and tunes so complex that they stood apart from the usual, simple 'flower power' songs of the era. 

Remember "The Legend of Xanadu" when Dave even cracked a whip several times to highlight the 'du' of Xanadu ?  That tended to shake up the Top Of The Pops audience who used to move around the studio dance floor more like drug induced zombies than music loving groupies. In fact, Dave did hit one of the group just before their first appearance on Top Of The Pops and not surprisingly, it was Dozy !

That single was followed by the highly produced "Last Night In Soho" and while we were still trying to work out how to sing along to that one, out came the incredible "Wreck Of The Antoinette" which was to karaoke what Westlife were to progressive music. A non starter.

Then the fans had enough of this sort of music. I assume they wanted songs they could actually sing along to and dance to at parties. It was also the time of groups like Led Zeppelin and Free and so the camp, semi comic tunes from the group didn't fit in.  Their next single, in 1969, was another over produced effort called "Don Juan" which continued the story telling theme with orchestral backing. It only reached 23 in the charts and the rot had set in.  The following year Dave left to try a solo career and to try acting and the rot became permanent.

That was pretty much it until the late 90's when the group reformed (except for the original Beaky) for the lucrative oldies circuit and have been going steadily since then.

Until now.

Dave Dee died today at the age of 65. He'd been suffering from cancer for the last 3 years but didn't let this stop him performing.  Here are the lads from their TOTP performance in 1968 with The Legend Of Xanadu.  

Camp ?  Over produced ?  Theatrical ?  Mimed ?

Hell yes but I still love it.  I'm just not sure what the love child of Mick Jagger and Angelina Jolie is doing in this still from the video !!

RIP Dave.


Jennyta said...

Brillinat! That just took me straight back to my college days. :)

Daphne said...

I remember hearing that for the first time, sitting on the floor of Amy's daughter Lynda's flat next to Potternewton Park in Leeds. They had TWO speakers. STEREO! Amazing. And the walls were brown and orange. I was in my early teens and I thought the whole experience was the coolest thing imaginable. And I was right. I didn't know that Dave Dee has died and I'm sorry. 65? Never! Always a young man to me.

Jay said...

Oh, how sad ... I loved Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, too. All those songs you mentioned - I could still sing sizeable chunks of them!

Thanks for the vid. Took me right back to an interminable family car trip, me in the back seat with my little tranny pressed up against the window where it could pick up a signal. Xanadu was a bright spot in a very dull and painful afternoon. Oh, gosh, I was travel-sick in those days!

RIP, Dave.

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