Friday, September 23, 2011

Going Out On Top: Spencer Davis Group: "Gimme Some Loving"

And here we are, dancing wildly on the edge; the crowning song of the beat boom rightly belongs to the hardest working band out there, the Spencer Davis Group. The band (even in this...Swedish?...version) is tight, Steve Winwood sounds as if he's much older than 19, and the kids are raving in the sweating club, the emblematic Hammond organ conjures up all sorts of images of what 'groovy' and 'Swinging' could mean...

...and there is something sweet, too, in a band from Birmingham - right in the center of the country - uniting everyone in the face of a cold and uncertain winter (Cathy Come Home had just been aired on tv; unemployment was rising yet again). The effervescence of the mid-60s was slowly wearing off, for various reasons; obviously the party continued for many, but even from this version I get that something more contemplative and not quite as simple is around the corner for Winwood. There are only so many nights you can pound out foot-stomping classics - even one as elemental and contagious as this one - without wanting to vary things up a bit, expand what you can say and how you can say it. In short, this is another club banger, from a band used to making people dance, and there is no topping it (though the Winwoods' last single with them - "I'm A Man*" - is as fitting a goodbye as possible). Both of these songs were produced by Jimmy Miller, an American who had drifted (anyone know how or why?) to England (see also Tony Visconti and Joe Boyd - here beginneth the era of Americans helping to push UK music forward**). He got to work with The Rolling Stones with his success here - making a song sound as if it was the apex of the boom itself, the figurative end of the long hard week so many bands had had so far, zooming through the years, riding on their own hard work and good luck and love of music.

I hope I am not getting too sentimental about this time, but the joy and innocence and simple good times of the mid-60s should not be forgotten; they help to define the decade as a whole and are the only way the late 60s make any real sense. By now, John had met Yoko; drugs were in wide use, LSD in particular being what the self-consciously cool types were dropping; those mutant energies were growing stronger and would not always be satisfied with a simple "boom-boom-boom-boom-BOOM-boom." That is sad, maybe, but expanding minds were going to change the way music sounded, the way it sold, even the way it was performed.

For now we are going to leave the sweaty club, the land of a thousand dances, happy to hear this pounding out and even now I can hear the giddy "Hey" and hands clapping in unison. Goodbye mid-60s, you won't be forgotten.



*Forewarned: I will be including as many songs from my wedding cd on this here blog as possible, because I can. I hope you enjoy them!

** Shel Talmy, producer of the early singles by The Kinks and The Who, is also American. This makes me wonder just how British the British Invasion was, sometimes...

2 comments:

mintness said...

The subtitles are Finnish. :)

Lena said...

Ah! Thanks for the correction.