Sunday, March 2, 2008

Another story from the video game biz, with music nostalgia


Late in my videogame career, I got a job at LucasFilm Games. I was working on a project called Defenders of Dynatron City. Lucasfilm, being a big name and all, got the project turned into a pilot for a cartoon show with DIC, a big name in cartoon production at the time, and a six issue comic book with Marvel Comics.

Only problem was, the game sucked and the superhero parody wasn't much better than the game.

We had hired away a "big name" from Nintendo to help LucasFilm Games become a major player in the videogame cartridge market. He had a head full of Nintendo marketing knowledge, but he spent most of it in useless focus group testing. LucasFilm Games did have success in the computer game field, but in cartridge world, not so much.

I had been in the industry over ten years when I was at LucasFilm Games, and this meant I was often one of the oldest people in the room at meetings. One of the pointless focus group meetings we had was about the name of the superhero group. The idea was that one of the heroes in the group should be promoted to leader, so that the game could be called Jet Headstrong and The Defenders of Dynatron City instead of the name it started with and was eventually marketed under. The marketing guy from Nintendo said that was a better marketing strategy.


I was getting a little bit of that mid-meeting irritation that I'm sure others reading this have experienced. "So for marketing purposes, instead of calling your band The Beatles, it would be better to call them The Dave Clark Five."

A younger person in the room piped up. "Who's the Dave Clark Five?"

"I rest my fucking case." I replied.

"No, really, who's the Dave Clark Five?"

Some of the older guys started reminiscing about the Dave Clark Five. I bring this up because they are getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. I remember reading a teen pop magazine back in the day, Tiger Beat or 16, I don't recall which, that speculated on who would be the biggest band in the world after the Beatles had come and gone. It wasn't going to be those scruffy guys from London, the Rolling Stones, and that gimmicky band that destroyed their instruments The Who wouldn't take over the hearts of the public. No, the next in line was the Dave Clark Five.

Let me say some nice things about the Dave Clark Five. Because may be my favorite sappy pop ballad ever. And here's something about Glad All Over. How many rock songs have a hook that's a drum beat? The chorus is dominated by the kick drum/bass tom-tom thump on beats one and two. Heck, even the biggest beat pumper in all of rock history, Mister James Brown, wrote songs where the hook is given to the horn section or the guitar.

So kudos to the Dave Clark Five on their induction. Sadly, their lead singer Mike Smith died this week, so he won't be at the ceremony. Since he's gone, won't you sing it with me?

Oh, baby am I THUMP THUMP Glad all over, baby am I
THUMP THUMP Glad all over, baby am I
THUMP THUMP Glad all over, baby am I
THUMP THUMP Glad all over, so glad you're mi-yi-yi-yi-ine.

3 comments:

FranIAm said...

Oh - how well you describe the meeting, its length, your feelings and so forth. I know -or should say knew it well. Sadly I will have to return since that whole Megamillions thing has not worked out. (which by the way if it does, still goes whether you like it or not mister!)

The year was 1965 and an 8 year old FranIam, accompanied by her mother (oh the shame but to be 8 meant such shame!)went to the RKO Theatre in White Plains NY to see this film which was followed by an appearance on stage by the Dave Clark 5.

No they did not sing - they literally stood on stage and were whisked off almost immediately.

Then just as quickly, Freddy and The Dreamers were whisked on and they lip-synched to "I'm Telling You Now."

Such was the limits of my 8 year old Merseybeat existence.

What was my fucking point?

Don't answer that, ok.

Matty Boy said...

I got the point, Fran. Good story.

The Dave Clark Five were definietly in the second tier of British invasion bands, but they put out some good tunes. It does kind of make the name "Hall of Fame" a misnomer, but I'm glad (all over) that they get some recognition at this late date.

FranIAm said...

How sad is this- I can't even do the math for my age. If it was 1965, I was most likely 7, not 8.

Sheesh.

I could read at the high school level by 8 though -that must count for something?