As a collection this hits all the DC5 buttons for UK and US fans. Most of the really major hits and more are here. Before I do details on the music, some background that may be of interest to newcomers.
Uniquely (so far as I know) amongst the 1960s biggest pop stars Dave Clark retained (or regained) complete control over his band's output and has controlled its re-issue very tightly in the subsequent years, with only very sporadic availability of their hits. This has had two effects: First, the band's output has been somewhat under-represented on "Classic Hits" radio stations around the world and perhaps diminished the memory of just how big they were, though it has to be said they were rather bigger in the USA than they were in their homeland UK. Second, there has been a healthy trade in used copies of the few re-releases that have happened, as well as, of course, a somewhat feverish 2nd hand market for the original hit singles and albums.
As a business strategy, keeping the market wanting more is based on a simple premise - namely that the demand would persist until one day a release like this one came along. Both Mr Clark, and we the great unwashed, are about to find out whether that strategy has worked. Your reviewer has always sensed a certain arrogance inherent in this strategy which leaves a bad taste, but that's just a personal feeling. There is no rule that says that a hit record becomes a commodity that should always be available - much as that is mostly the defacto case.
Anyway, enough of the business background, to the music!
For newcomers: This is mostly pop-rock music. Probably the kind of stuff that Bruce Springsteen would have been doing if he'd been a star in the 1960s. Highly percussive stuff, often accompanied by call-response vocals - stadium rock if you like. Think Beatles version of "Twist and Shout" with added drum depth, and sometimes brass too and you're in the ballpark.
The CD is beautifully packaged (I like it, others seem to decry its simplicity) and is full of interesting liner and inlay notes. Photos of each band member adorn the booklet and there's lots to read in there too. The music has all been digitally remastered from the original tapes - and on some of the tracks the sound quality is a revelation.
For me the highlights are:
Their biggest UK hits:
Do you Love Me, Bits and Pieces, Glad All Over, Can't You See She's Mine, Catch us if you Can, Good Old Rock 'n' Roll, Everybody Knows.
However some of their UK hits are missing:
No One Can Break A Heart Like You, Red Balloon are notable absences. As a niggle, "Good Old Rock 'n' Roll" came in two parts, not quite all of it is provided here. "Reelin' and Rockin" from Part 2 is provided here, "Memphis" is not.
The DC5 version of Jerry Keller's hit "Here Comes Summer" is a belter, and should be part of all radio stations spring cycle of Beach Boys and summer songs.
Inclusion or not in this collection seems to be bit arbitrary, not being overtly tied to chart placings (i.e not all these were top 10 hits). A double CD release would have eased this problem, but my guess is we're in for a "more gold" sequel release if enough of you buy this one 8-)
Now to that sound quality thing...
Some tracks don't sound to me significantly better than they did on Vinyl. What follows is an explanation of that, not a criticism.
During the early part of the band's career they were recording on 2 or 4 track tapes. To get that powerful sound I would guess that they recorded as many elements of the backing as possible on each track, and then did overdubs. This technique often meant that the bringing together of the production elements involved playing one or two already recorded tapes, whilst adding live overdubs to them and simultaneously recording the whole thing onto yet another recorder.
Tape to tape copying always involved some degree of quality loss, though this and other defects, were seldom apparent when listening to the resulting tracks on vinyl (one thinks of the famed squeaky bass drum pedal on The Searchers' "Needles and Pins", for just one example - pretty much inaudible on mono Vinyl, but painfully obvious on stereo CD release). After overdubbing, it was often only the resulting composite tape that was retained as the master, the element tapes were often discarded, having served their purpose.
Some of these tracks seem to have been the victim of this process, meaning that the individual crispness of many of the deeper music elements can never be regained. "You Got What It Takes" - the prime example here - is a massive, joyous sound with a big band sound and Mike Smith doing vocals that do some amazing dancing around the offbeat. However, the backing is rather muddy sounding and doesn't sound all that different when compared to my old 45 RPM single. I surmise that the number of overdubs needed in 1967 to get that massive sound is to blame. Having said all that, the track is still a classic (Marv Johnson eat your heart out!) and I'm in love with it all over again and will no doubt listen to it periodically for the rest of my life - explanation not criticism.
So, the music is great, but don't attach too much to the "remastered" tag. By contrast "Good Old Rock 'n' Roll" - for one example - sounds far better than it ever did on Vinyl (I would guess they had got onto 8 or 16 track recorders by then, so all the original recorded elements survive).
So, a superb retrospective of the DC5 for those of us that were there (as a kid I used to walk past Dave Clark's rehearsal place in Philip lane, Tottenham - so I was there, sorta...) and a brilliant intro for those who are wondering what all the hoopla was about. Four stars rather than five because of the omissions mentioned and perhaps just a tiny bit of grouchiness that this has taken so long to appear 8-)