I just caught this this morning. Pop Gear is a British film recapping some pop hits of 1964 with staged performances by bands such as The Spencer Davis Group, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, and many others. Concert footage of the Beatles (singing She Loves You and Twist and Shout) opens and closes the film. The producer assumes familiarity, an intimacy between performers and audience, to the extent that the Master of Ceremonies (whose hair resembles a worn-out blond mop) never bothers to introduce himself, nor does he bother to introduce many of the pop groups by name. This is irksome for a lay cultural historian like myself, but that's the way it was, baby. There's a lot of good music and the songs are generally rather brief - 2 minutes on average. A cinematic, widescreen variety show, with more hits than misses. Recommended for fans of 60s radio pop.
Go Go Mania
Action / Documentary / Music
Go Go Mania
Action / Documentary / Music
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This Pop Rock documentary features, in color, only recording acts from The British side of The Atlantic, in a music video" format, 2 decades ahead of its time. Also, "Adult Contemporary" is well-represented by International Pop star Matt Monro, who sings "Walk Away" and "For Mama". Concert footage of The Beatles is included to "open and close the show". They are seen performing "She Loves You" and "Twist And Shout". Among the many recording acts are The Animals singing "The House Of The Rising Sun" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas performing "Little Children", The Rockin' Berries does an excellent cover of The Tokens's earlier recording of "He's In Town",The Honeycombs, featuring female drummer Honey Lantree, performing "Have I The Right" and "Eyes" and Herman's Hermits performing their breakthrough hit, "I'm Into Something Good". In back-to-back rocking performances, Billie Davis sings "What You Gonna Do" and The Spencer Davis Group with Steve Winwood sings "get down" with "My Babe". As with The T.A.M.I. Show (1964),there are some bright dance segments, which is probably why the original U.S. title in 1965 was "Go Go Mania".
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Fun Stuff and Sometimes Very Weird
Absolutely amazing time capsule look at the British pop music scene in 1964. There are sixteen groups (or solo singers) and several sing two of their 1964 hits, one being The Beatles who bookend the whole thing with color concert footage of "She Loves Me" and "Twist and Shout". It's the best early Beatles stuff I have ever seen and the editor does a nice job cutting between the group and the audience-mostly girls who scream and swoon-while the few boys in the audience sway to the beat and try their best to look interested.
The rest of the groups are filmed in a studio-with either lip syncing or ADR supplying the audio. The guitars are unplugged but they are playing and singing-it works fine because they are mostly on beat and it is easy enough to suspend disbelief. Jimmy Savile, a British radio personality who looks like a cross between Edgar Winter and Marty Feldman; handles the introductions. Things were very different back then-imagine trying to get 15 of today's chart topping groups to cooperate with something like this.
It is an interesting mix of British recording artists, most were just starting out and they would have extremely varied futures although few would last out the decade. About half the songs made it onto the American charts and some were big hits. This was the first wave of the British Invasion and those that didn't make it were quickly replaced by groups like The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Velvet Underground.
1. First up is Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas doing "Little Children" on a set with giant alphabet blocks. The greased back hair and the conventional suits made this guys look outdated even in 1964.
2. Susan Maughan sings "Make Him Mine", she was a solo artist and arguably pop music's all-time prettiest girl.
3. The Four Pennies sing "Juliet" (a B-side song that unexpectedly became their biggest hit) and then later "Black Girl" (by Leadbelly).
4. The Animals do "House of the Rising Sun" and "I'm Just a Soul Whose Intentions are Good". Eric Burdon is amazing.
5. The Fourmost sing "A Little Lovin"; both group and song are forgettable.
6. The Rockin' Berries do "He's In Town" and "What In the World's Come Over You". These guys are an unexpected treat with Geoff Turtone's falsetto voice very distinctive. They are a beat group whose name came from their fondness for Chuck Berry.
7. The Honeycombs do "Have i the right" (the first time he growls "Come Right Back" is one of the top ten moments in rock and roll) and "Eyes of Someone in Love" (illustrating the one-hit wonder phenomenon). They have a female drummer.
8. Sounds Incorporated perform something I did not recognize and follow it up with an up-tempo version of "The William Tell Overture" (it would be a great song for a high school football game halftime show). A five member instrumental group, at one point they have alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones going at the same time-they could have made it big if they had thought to incorporate an oboe. They also jump up and down a lot.
9. Peter and Gordon do "Please Lock Me Away". Watch Peter play a 12 string guitar complete with a back beat-he is the one of the pair who looks the most like Jane Asher (not surprising since she is his sister).
10. Matt Munro does a couple of completely dreadful songs-he looks like a cross between Perry Como and Bobby Darin and is completely out of his element in this production.
11. Herman's Hermits do "Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good".
12. Tom Quickly & the Remo Four perform a song about nursery rhymes that may have inspired Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song".
13. Billie Davis does "Whatcha Gonna Do". Billie is a girl, she is very cute and wholesome.
14. The Spencer Davis Group does "My Baby" and it is a stretch to classify it as R&B.
15. The Nashville Teens try to do C&W. Except for the Stones, British groups have always struggled with country inspired tunes and the two songs here ("Tobacco Road" and "Goggle Eyes") will be quite painful listening for Americans, and the Dexy's Midnight Runner look (complete with a little boy dressed as Huck Finn) will send you scrambling for the fast forward button.
This is essential viewing for those interested in pop history and should be a lot of fun for casual fans.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
a collection of music videos before they were called that.
Unfairly trashed by all mainstream media at the time of its release in early 1965 when I first saw this movie. This was the first time that I saw concert footage of the Beatles:- in color! The Beatles open and close this movie playing LIVE in front of screaming fans at the height of Beatlemania. The energy blew me away. I was 14 at the time. All the other groups mouth along to their records which was a bit disappointing I thought back then. Fans of this particular genre of pop music, particularly mid 60s British, are going to love this treasure trove. As well as some of the better known bands like the Animals and Herman's Hermit's this film also contains performances by the superb Rockin Berries and Four Pennies; two bands huge in England but never had a big hit in North America. All performances are lovingly filmed although spartan in appearance. No annoying split second cuts that have so long been the standard in music videos these days. I cannot believe this style is still in vogue to this day. There are no doubt thousands of fans such as myself who deeply enjoy music of this era and a movie such as this is a rare and valid document.