Dusty Springfield (photo: Dezo Hoffman/Rex USA)
Dusty Springfield (photo: Dezo Hoffman/Rex USA)

With the Beatles at the helm, the so-called British Invasion of the early ’60s rocked American music, changing styles, sensabilities and tastes in the gloomy aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Though Beatlemania was the dominant force, enthusiasm for all things Brtitish led to successive waves of teenage delerium throughout the United States as dozens of artists hit it big in North America.

The first in a series of “British Invasion” DVDs has arrived in stores, helping fans relive the excitement of the times through archival videos and retrospective interviews with those intimately involved.

The first DVD set features four artists — Dusty Springfield, Small Faces, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Herman’s Hermits — as well as a bonus CD including an hour of unseen performances by Springfield and Herman’s Hermits.

The Springfield disc is an inspiring collection of performances by the singer as well as interviews with collaborators Burt Bacharach and Simon Bell.

"British Invastion" DVD

“(Dusty) sounded like a black woman trying to sound white, rather than a white singer trying to sound black,” said background singer Madeline Bell in describing the power and extraordinary appeal of Springfield’s vocals.

The disc contains her greatest songs, among them “Son of a Preacher Man,” “I Only Want to Be With You,” “Wishin’ and Hopin’ ” and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” adapted from an Italian song written by Pino Donaggio and Vito Pallavicini that Springfield heard at the 1965 Sanremo Festival.

“If any young singer wants to learn how to sing, they should go out and buy (Springfield’s) catalogue,” advises Simon Bell, the Scottish session singer who became a close friend and confidante of Springfield’s. He founded the Web site Dusty Devotedly.

Aside from the performances of such songs as “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” “I’m Into Something Good” and “Listen People,” the most compelling footage in the Herman’s Hermits DVD is an extensive interview with singer Peter Noone, who talks about the band’s serendipitous career and its difficulty adapting to the psychedelic era.

The clean-cut Herman’s Hermits, he explained, were the boys next door playing for the kids next door, and their innocence didn’t translate to the more serious vibe of the late ’60s. One particular song, “You Won’t Be Leaving,” should have been a hit, Noone says, but the tune about a girl spending the night with her boyfriend was deemed too sexual by the band’s label.

Further, the band’s producer, Mickie Most, wanted the band to record in the key of C so that fans could more easily sing along, even though the key didn’t really suit Noone’s voice.

The Small Faces disc fatures “Tin Soldier,” “What’cha Gonna Do About It,” “Sha La La La Lee” and “All Or Nothing.” The Gerry & the Pacemakers title features “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and other classics.

The first “British Invasion” series was created by Reelin’ in the Years Productions, a Grammy-winning, San Diego-based company, in conjunction with Voyage Digital Media.

The breadth of this collection will make it most appealing to serious British Invasion fans, but anyone who loves British rock ‘n’ roll ot that period will find the collection fascinating.

For more information about the set, click on this link.

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