- Historic Sites
A British-invasion Top Ten
December 1997 | Volume 48, Issue 8
the Beatles. Of the early Invasion singles, this one best shows Lennon and McCartney’s steel-clad confidence in their songwriting abilities. Like “She Loves You,” this song isn’t about dancing or mating or romance; it’s simply and joyfully about being young. If you need convincing, listen to Paul McCartney’s Little Richardesque falsetto “oooh” on the chorus. In 1964, when you lifted the needle from this 45, life seemed once again ordinary and dull.
the Dave Clark Five. Handsome, clean-cut London lads in white turtlenecks, pocket squares, and double-breasted blazers, the DC5 specialized in loud, dumb tunes like “Glad All Over.” O.K., O.K., undeniably catchy tunes too. “Glad All Over” and a string of seventeen Top Forty hits make them the progenitors of frat rockers like the Kingsmen and Huey Lewis and the News.
the Kinks. The follow-up to “You Really Got Me” featured Ray Davies’s weirdly languid vocals floating atop the buzzsaw chord work of his brother, Dave. In this song and in other of the Kinks’ early efforts, you can detect the nascent grindings of heavy metal.
the Zombies. This is smart, blues-and-jazz-tinged pop with an achingly beautiful lead vocal by Colin Blunstone. No song better conjured for American teen audiences the unutterable hipness of walking off your broken heart on the slick cobblestones of a drizzly London lane. Was it the electric piano?
the Animals. Here is an earnest attempt at American roots reinterpretation by a British R&B band that was fronted by a diminutive and talented growler named Eric Burdon. The lyrics (of a traditional American blues about a whore-house) were refitted for sixties teen audiences, and though it was dismissed as piffle by Mick Jagger, the Animals’ echoey arpeggios sent a generation of American boys to the music store for a guitar and a couple of lessons.
the Rolling Stones. This song contains the greatest guitar riff in all of pop music history. Mick Jagger’s lyric, fighting for attention above the band’s chugging, charging 4/4 beat, is the adolescent loner’s perfectly phrased complaint. As fresh for the Beavis and Buttheads of 1965 as it is today for the teenage rebel in all of us.
Dusty Springfield. Perfect heartbreak. Perfect pitch. No Invader, male or female, sang a pining lyric better than Dusty.
the Moody Blues. Before they went all arty with the Mellotron, this band—in a different incarnation—made an honest, bluesy, and wonderful ballad, one of the best of the era.
Manfred Mann. It was a No. 1 single in 1964. Lead singer Paul Jones, shaking his maracas—hell, the entire band shaking and shimmying—showed in this simple I-IV-V variation (a Brill Building tune, by the way) much more depth and understanding of R&B than the lyric would have you believe.
the Beatles. The harder-edged B side of 1965’s “We Can Work It Out,” this instant classic remade the group’s sound: Bye-bye, Mersey beat; hello, sixties. Nobody knew what the heck the lyrics meant, but George Harrison’s guitar riff, a bottom-string-andup variation on Duane Eddy and Roy Orbison, made us care not a bit.