Friday, June 17, 2011

Manchester Enters: Freddie and the Dreamers: "I'm Telling You Now"

In popular culture there are some places that generate certain sounds; you hear a group or artist and you can just tell where they are from. The closer you are to the place, the easier it is; thus, if you were from the UK you'd know that Freddie and the Dreamers were from Manchester (clearly where the ravening horde of agents and managers went once Liverpool was picked clean), but your average American wouldn't know a Liverpudlian from a Mancunian, and so this song was a hit all over again in the US two years after it was here, under the general understanding they were Merseybeat when in fact they weren't; but with such unselfconscious exuberance, there was no mistake they were part of the massive British Invasion of the time.

Freddie and the Dreamers are Mancunian in that they have a lead singer who did a wacky dance, was not in the least conventionally 'sexy' and wore glasses. It was his spirit (and the band's co-ordinated dancing) that made them so successful, even if musically this is not exactly Lennon/McCartney*; the Other here is maybe not able to understand he loves her (or to understand what he's saying, altogether) for all the standing-jumping-jacks Freddie is doing. But then Mancunians have a way of reminding everyone they can sing and dance and not be mistaken for anyone else; a delightful awkwardness which is matched by confidence and persistence. Though swept up in Merseybeat as the UK was, Manchester stakes its claims to greatness in a typically oblique manner as if to say: "You think this is good? Wait and see what we have in store."

*Freddie and the Dreamers' effect on The Beatles was interesting; after they copied the arrangement of cover The Beatles did at the Cavern Club ("If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody") and had a hit with it, The Beatles realized they had to start writing their own songs, songs presumably too complex for just anyone to hear once and then cover themselves. Thus began the long period of hide-and-go-seek that The Beatles played with pop music, never really resting in once place long enough to be caught. (That a song by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas kept this off - "Bad To Me" by Lennon/McCartney - is one thing; that "She Loves You" was released the same week shows just how ambitious they were.)

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