Another study (as opposed to pop history biography) that examines the qualities of the bands that came to the United States in the wake of the February 1964 arrival of The Beatles. The now-legendary “British Invasion” is given a closer look with a series of compare-and-contrasts by author Simon Philo, director of the American studies department at the University of Derby.
In this book, Philo looks at the bands that made the biggest and consistent impressions on the American charts in their quest/desire to match The Beatles; certainly, while there was a fairly sizable slew of these bands, there weren’t many that went further than two or three hit singles at best (Gerry and The Pacemakers, Freddie and The Dreamers, etc.). And while some managed to ride the charts for a longer period (Herman’s Hermits, Dave Clark Five, The Hollies), even fewer had any kind of sustaining power and ability to grow and develop. There are the obligatory nods to The Who and The Rolling Stones; the acknowledgment that Dylan influenced The Beatles and they, in turn, him; the surge of the American “folk rock” scene and so on – as the book progresses through the decade’s end and the split of The Beatles. It also makes sure to include what influenced The Beatles and their contemporaries to give a full scope into the genesis of the shift of musical winds that took place in the early ’60’s.
By and large, it is a fine piece; there are a few oversights I picked up on – like assigning Jefferson Airplane to Warner Bros. (they were signed to RCA) but this is an excellent study into not only a musical phenomenon but a cultural one, as the United States looked to its “mother country” once again. If you are a fan of this period in music, this is, indeed, a volume you will want to add to your collection.
British Invasion: The Crosscurrents of Musical Influence is available now