The label tells it like it is – “Beat Beat Beat was a German music programme that ran during the sixties. Not to be confused with the other well known German pop programme Beat Club. Beat Beat Beat was broadcast out of Frankfurt commencing in 1966.” Well you wouldn’t want to confuse the two programmes as far as getting the DVDs of material from them is concerned, coz while the Beat Beat Beat (ABC Entertainment) disks give you classic mod, British Invasion, freakbeat, pop and even soul performances, on the The Best of Beat Club vol 1 & 2 (Eagle Vision) you apparently get Deep Purple, The James Gang, Johnny Winter, Santana, Procol Harum, Nazareth, Free, Humble Pie, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper, The Kiki Dee Band, Johnny Rivers, The Hollies, Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Doobie Brothers, Ten Years After, Canned Heat and Three Dog Night. So while a mixed bag, the The Best of Beat Club vol 1 & 2 will appeal more to headbangers and others of that ilk; whereas Beat Beat Beat is a groovers kinda thang! That said, there were earlier year by year compilations of Beat Club and those for 1965, 1966 and 1967 look a lot better than the more recent ‘total overview’ disks… But I’ve only seen them listed online, I’ve not actually viewed them.
There are Beat Beat Beat DVDS running to about 10 minutes each devoted to The Small Faces, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Eric Burdon and the New Animals, The Spencer Davis Group and The Hollies. Performances by these acts are not particularly rare and I’ve certainly seen enough footage of them to know the Small Faces totally rock onstage, whereas the Kinks or The Yardbirds (both of whom made records I love) tend to look too static and overall not that great. With more tunes and some groovy but less well known acts, The Best of Beat Beat Beat compilation disks are a better option, despite a really odd selections of talent.
At 41 minutes The Best of Beat Beat Beat volume 1 offers the longest running time. There’s Barry Ryan (Eloise), Cat Stevens (Granny and Matthew & Son) and Chris Farlowe (Out Of Time and Ride On Baby) lip-synching really badly to pre-recorded tracks. Farlowe in particular looks completely uninterested in what he’s doing, but remains compelling in a train wreck kinda way, especially as he is one sad and ugly motherfucker who had an obsessional interest in Nazi memorabilia (fortunately it was illegal for him to wear his fascist uniforms on German TV). There’s straightforward sixties pop from Herman’s Hermints (No Milk Today and My Reservation’s Been Confirmed) that while adequate need not detain us. By way of contrast, Casey Jones and The Govenors (Come On And Dance and Don’t Ha Ha) are a bit of an oddity.
In the UK Casey Jones AKA Brian Casser is known to music fans (but not the general public) as the bloke who booked The Beatles as his support act and briefly had Eric Clapton as his guitarist, but not really for his music. In Germany he had a huge hit with Don’t Ha Ha, hence his inclusion here. And if you like primitive beat sounds then you’ll dig the two Casey Jones and The Governors tunes on the The Best of Beat Beat Beat volume 1. It is probably unnecessary to add Don’t Ha Ha was a Huey ‘Piano’ Smith song. Volume 1 also gives us two tunes from The Trinity featuring Julie Driscoll (Save Me and Road to Cairo), with keyboardist Brian Auger’s theatrics totally upstaging his singer Julie Driscoll (who sounds great, albeit not as good as Aretha Franklin when covering her, but doesn’t have much stage presence). The best is saved for last, The Easybeats doing Loving Machine (incorporating the Batman Theme) and that old stomper Friday On My Mind. As prot0-punkers The Easybeats completely outflank Casey Jonees and The Governors.
Volume 2 is shorter but better. The Minderbenders do a Wilson Pickett medley in the form of Land Of A Thousand Dances/In The Midnight Hour and their big hit Groovy Kind Of Love; and also Don’t Cry No More and a medley of C. C. Rider/Jenny Jenny Jenny. P. J. Proby’s What’s Wrong With My World provides another spectacular train wreck; his lip-synching is terrible and the old rocker looks both off his box and down on his luck – he has to be seen to be believed! The disk winds up with two total class acts, P. P. Arnold and The Creation. A former Ikette (an Ike and Tina Turner backing singer) and session vocalist for the likes of The Small Faces, Arnold is diminutive but her voice is 100% pure soul and her two tracks here (Speak To Me and The First Cut Is The Deepest) are just fabulous.
You’d think there’d be nothing in the Beat Beat Beat vaults that could credibly follow Arnold, but The Creation are up for it! Aside from being a truly awesome song writer and musician, their guitarist Eddie Phillips also had the greatest haircut of 1966, just look at the shape of it around his ear in the footage of The Creation doing their cover version of I’m A Man! The Creation look fabulous in their dark trousers and button-down shirts with contrasting white details (buttons and belts). The shame here is that on the same edition of Beat Beat Beat (their first TV appearance) they also did That’s How Strong My Love Is and Makin’ Time, but they ain’t included on the DVD. Still you do get to see Eddie using his innovative technique of playing his guitar with a violin bow, something much imitated by lesser talents like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. What you also see here is The Creation doing Painter Man a year later, with their hair a little more grown out; the band still look really stylish but a little freakier. When I was a teenager back in the 197os I was on the lookout for some Creation vinyl for a long time, and when Raw Records stuck out Makin’ Time and Painter Man on either side of a 45 in the latter part of that decade, I grabbed a copy as soon as it came out. I really love this band, Makin’ Time in particular. And, of course, we should never forget the famous Eddie Phillips quote: “Our music is red with purple flashes.” Incidentally, after The Creation broke up, Phillips joined P. P. Arnold’s backing band.
Volume 3 of The Best of Beat Beat Beat features solid sixties pop from The Searchers (Love Potion No. 9, Sweets For My Sweet and C. C. Rider) and The Tremeloes (Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever, Silence Is Golden and Here Comes My Baby). Then there are the more psychedelic sounds of The Move (Walk Upon The Water and I Can Here The Grass Grow). However, the real highlight is The Smoke doing My Friend Jack, a song banned by the BBC in the sixties because it is about LSD! My Friend Jack is a psyche classic and everything else on this particular disk looks second-rate in comparison… so surely we could have had more than one track from The Smoke!
I’ve also spotted but haven’t acquired a two band Beat Beat Beat DVD compilation featuring The Troggs alongside Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. I love The Troggs but I figure the DVD ain’t worth getting coz there won’t be enough of ‘em. Likewise, any disk you see in the Beat Beat Beat series will probably feature gawky looking teenagers dancing badly to groovy sounds… You can also see most of this stuff and much more for free on YouTube, although it comes and goes and the image is obviously heavily compressed- whereas on these disks both the audio and visual quality is really top-notch. Weird how you can see and hear so much shirt now that just wasn’t available to those of us based in London back in the old days, but I ain’t complaining! It’s like time travel for ravers…
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!