Brit Mania by Mark Voger (book review).

I did wonder at Mark Voger’s book, ‘Brit Mania’, as to whether it would fit our remit since the focus is on British bands. From a nostalgic point of view, we do have the right age of people reading here at SFC. From a British angle, it does make an interest of how the Americans see us, more so in the 1960s and the ‘invasion’ of British bands onto their soil. It’s hardly an ‘invasion’ as they were all invited over and the Americans were already in love with the music.

Considering these top five were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, The Animals and The Moody Blues, there was enough variety to please everyone. I think I might have included The Hollies a bit higher, though. Liverpool became the centre point for music more than London.

I should point out this book isn’t solely about the bands but goes on to cover how our culture piqued American interest, especially when it comes to merchandise. Interestingly, our bands found it an opportunity to meet the American performers they were inspired by.

For the music lovers amongst you, there is also a scattering of interviews with various people, some of whom are not longer with us. In fact, I would go further and think you’ll be using the likes of UTube to stir some memories of these bands’ music.

As I read, my head clicks in with various facts and start looking for things omitted. I was surprised that prolific composer Graham Gouldman doesn’t get a mention, more so as he wrote hit songs for The Yardbirds, The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits amongst others. Then again, Jeff Lynne is only noted as a music producer not later as also the co-creator of the Electric Light Orchestra. Then again, as my memory is kicking in as I’m polishing this review, not a mention of The Move, neither. ITV’s ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ is mentioned but not BBC’s ‘Top Of The Pops’, although I doubt if either of them were sold to the States.

Part of being a reviewer is my head kicks in when I spot mistakes. Generally, you do expect a couple in any book as something will always get through the edit. When the number grows, I’d not be doing my job if I don’t point them out. This is where we have a problem with this book. Voger does know most of his music stuff, it’s the other things that become problematic. We all know Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were producers not puppeteers as Voger calls them.

When Chad And Jeremy appeared on the ‘Batman’ TV show, none of us in the UK had heard of them, although they are British, they’re career was really in the States. McGill not MacGill of ‘Man In A Suitcase’ was a sacked CIA officer not a British SIS officer. Actor Nicholas Parsons didn’t become a TV quizmaster until a decade later. I know these are probably going to be regarded as British details and probably added from memory but it isn’t as though its difficult to check.

Looking at the American magazines and merchandise principally of The Beatles and some of the other bands is truly staggering. Yes, they appeared in more adult mags more than junior mags in the UK but, if memory serves, all we had over here was Corgi releasing a yellow submarine toy. Beatlesmania merchandise was far more rife in the USA.

There’s also a detailed look at all the films from the 1960s-early 1970s that featured the British bands and individual performers, although I was surprised the Dave Clark Five 1965 film, ‘Catch Us If You Can’ was renamed ‘Having A Wild Weekend’. Some of these films do pop up on the British Channel 82 over here from time to time.

Despite some criticisms, this book actually stirred up a lot of old memories. Like Voger, I was a pre-teen when the music built-up and the radio was the choice to hear much of it. I’m sure if Voger dug deeper, he could probably fill another book, more so as many American groups and singers popped over here to perform so it wasn’t all one-sided.

There’s a fair bet that us older readers are going to love the nostalgia aspect of this book. With the younger generations, it might come as a surprise that current fan mania has nothing on what happened back in the 1960s.

GF Willmetts

November 2022

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2022. 191 page illustrated large hardback. Price: $43.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60549-115-2. Direct from them, you can get it for $ (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=95_96&products_id=1683  

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