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150) The Dave Clark Five – “Over and Over”

The Dave Clark Five were the first UK group to challenge The Beatles’ dominance of the US pop charts, launching “Glad All Over” into the Top 10 in March 1964. Nearly two years and 12 singles later (all but one of which went Top 40), the group finally scored their only number-one hit. Their solid chart run befits a band who built their career on steady quality and moderate talent rather than on surprise or innovation. They could sometimes bust out a great hook like the “DUN DUN” in the chorus of “Glad All Over,” or break out in a thrash as on “Bits and Pieces.” But even with their trademark “big beat” (not for nothing was the band named after the drummer), the group’s genial blandness always kept them a step or two below the thrilling highs of bands like The Beatles or the Stones.

In a way, The Dave Clark Five were the quintessential British Invasion group, schooled in vocal harmonies and Lennon-McCartney chord changes but without the distinctive personality and arty streak of the more enduring acts. Yet there was also a certain retro quality that set the band apart from the rest of the Invasion. While their peers were starting out in afterschool skiffle or blues bands, the group then known as The Dave Clark Quintet toured London-area military bases, playing lite jazz and dance pop in officer’s clubs. Even after the band switched to beat music, their prominent use of saxophone and commitment to unambitious rock and roll tied them to the ’50s long after most of their compatriots retired their Chuck Berry covers.

Fittingly, the group’s sole US number-one was a cover of a song first released in 1958, the flipside of Bobby Day’s hit “Rockin’ Robin.” The Dave Clark Five’s “Over and Over” sticks relatively close to the original, apart from adding a harmonica break and changing Day’s line “everybody went stag” to the stupid-brilliant “everybody there was there.” Instead of boogie bounce and Day’s nuanced delivery, though, their version emphasizes the bash of Clark’s drums and the blast of Mike Smith’s voice. What this take on “Over and Over” gains in rock and roll power, it loses in personality. Which, contradictory as it may seem, makes it the ideal choice for The Dave Clark Five’s number-one: it’s a perfectly competent, somewhat unexciting record by a perfectly competent, somewhat unexciting band.

With “Over and Over,” The Dave Clark Five became the last of the original run of British Invasion groups to score a number-one. Meanwhile, American garage bands were reclaiming the movement’s back-to-basics approach, while the more ambitious UK acts began expanding into harder, folkier or psychedelic strains of rock. Even as “Over and Over” became a hit, it also felt vaguely like an anachronism. The Dave Clark Five wouldn’t return to the Top 10 for another year and a half, scoring one last big hit with “You Got What It Takes” (another ’50s cover) before disappearing from the US charts altogether. Like the other British Invasion acts who wouldn’t or couldn’t keep up with the decade’s rapidly-shifting tastes, The Dave Clark Five found themselves left behind by the ’60s rock culture they had helped create. 5

Hit #1 on December 25, 1965; total of 1 week at #1
150 of 1015 #1’s reviewed; 14.78% through the Hot 100

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