What is immediately apparent is just how musically tight and together an outfit they...
Michael Quinn 2008-09-05
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich have been around, in one form or another, since the late 1950s. Still together, the Wiltshire five-piece are currently touring again in their sixth decade together as what used to be called 'a popular beat combo'. This 22-track ''very best of'' compendium provides a colourful and tuneful, if unrelentingly loud and exhaustingly fast-paced, reminder of a band who spent more weeks in the UK charts than The Beatles in the second half of the 1960s.
Despite such a boast, ex-copper Dave Dee and his own fab four have always seemed a quirky, chirpy footnote in the history of British pop music. Yet while they never appeared to offer much that was distinctive or unique, the campest whip-crack in music aside (in their only No. 1, 1968's The Legend of Xanadu), they received the ultimate imprimatur of hipness last year when Quentin Tarantino used Hold Tight in his segment of the portmanteau collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, Grindhouse.
If you haven't heard the band in a while (or ever) what is immediately apparent is just how musically tight and together an outfit they were. It takes more than quirky chirpiness, after all, to spend 152 weeks in the charts. So while Legend of Xanadu retains its impressively over-blown, wide-screen bombast, Zabadak is a bizarre blend of boiling percussion, lush Hollywood strings and lyrics that are decidedly peculiar even by the standards of the Sixties.
It's an indulgent treat to hear again the swaying boulevard ballad Okay!, the romping histrionics of The Wreck Of Antoinette and the infectiously silly tumble of time signatures in delirious disarray that is Bend It. And, not least, to catch up with the most explicitly political piece the band produced, the anti-Vietnam War idiosyncrasy that is Mr President.
But be warned: ''very best'' is a far too elastic concept for whoever put this collection together. The Everly Brothers medley and cover versions of You Keep Me Hanging On, Roy Orbison's In Dreams and the odd decision to close the album with a coupling of Stairway to Heaven and Pinball Wizard will have you rushing to the dictionary to check the meanings of ''very'' and ''best''.