Aug 242020

Looking back in the RTH archives I see where there were some threads choosing assorted Mount Rushmores of Rock & Roll. Let’s resurrect that now with this British Invasion version.

What four acts would be on the British Invasion Mount Rushmore? Would anyone argue that The Beatles are not on it? Or The Rolling Stones? If you want to, proceed at your own risk.

Ah, but what are the other two?

I say The Kinks have to be number three. I think it can be creditably argued that “You Really Got Me” alone justifies the selection.

Add in whatever else you want – the other early hits, the string of impeccable albums from Face To Face up to Lola Versus Powerman & the Moneygoround – and they have to be carved on, although I’m afraid Ray’s gapped teeth could cause sculpting problems.

But what’s the fourth. The Who were just a little late. The Animals would bring something very different to the Mount but were they really that good, that impactful, that lasting?

And how about the bands with an album’s worth of great pop hits like The Dave Clark 5 or The Hollies or even Herman’s Hermits?

I hope this will be the first of many such threads. Feel free to define your own Mt. Rushmore and get it up here. But first, argue for or against my three locks and tell us your fourth.


  36 Responses to “The Mount Rushmore of Rock & Roll: British Invasion Version”

  1. I always took it as a given—since junior high, at least—that the holy trinity of the British Invasion is the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who. If we’re going to a fourth, for Mount Rushmore, than the Kinks seems the obvious addition to me, although I reckon one could make a convincing argument for the Yardbirds. It wouldn’t convince ME, but I think a spirited defense could nonetheless be put forward.

    It’s a sign of just how radically things have changed that the Who might be considered as coming along just a little late, when “I Can’t Explain” came out just under a year after the Beatles played Ed Sullivan.

  2. Al, can you define “a little late?” The Who’s first record is from 1965. I know their role in the British Invasion was probably minor over here during the invasion’s peak, but are you saying their influence a little bit after the fact takes them out of the equation?

  3. I had a previous discussion regarding this and my comment on the Who being “a little late” is valid from my view. I experienced the British Invasion in real time. I don’t really remember the Who coming across my radar until the song “Magic Bus.”

    So I reviewed the Billboard charts:

    4/3/65 I Can’t Explain #93
    2/12/66 My Generation #74
    6/3/67 Happy Jack #24
    8/5/67 Pictures of Lily #51
    5/4/68 Call Me Lightning #40
    9/28/68 The Magic Bus #25

    So the Who didn’t reach the American Top 40 until the month that Sgt. Pepper was released. At that point the invasion was over. the English had won and the occupation was well in place. I’m not saying that the Who aren’t a great band, even that their early singles couldn’t conceivably have contributed to the cause, just that they didn’t.

    To really make the cut for the English Invasion, I would imagine a group that had legitimate American impact by 1965, the invasion started at the beginning of 1964. It was a looong time before the Who had any American impact.

    To contrast with the Animals, who I proposed reluctantly as the fourth choice, they had four Top 20 US hits in circa 64/65, including, including House of the Rising Sun, which was #1 in late ’64. I’m not sure if they make the mount, but they certainly are a legitimate English Invasion contender.

  4. For more head to head comparison, the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” both reached #7 in 1964. Ans “Tired of Waiting for You” reached #6 in early 1965!

  5. Just for the record, some of those early Kinks LPs have a lot of needle lifters. Hell, the only solid track on Face to Face is “Sunny Afternoon.” That said, Kontroversy is solid as a rock.

    And everybody up here loves to bad mouth Herman’s Hermits, but they took the half assed “Dandy” and tuned it into a real gem.

  6. Mr Mod, I don’t have much to add to Geo’s explanation of “a little late”. Except maybe to say it could be more than “a little”. I also think their impact in the music world really comes much later – Live At Leeds, rock operas, Woodstock, Who’s Next.

    I’d like somebody to step up to fill the Scott (the Other One)’s role of “one” to argue for Yardbirds. That’s gotta be one convincing argument.

  7. BigSteve

    Geo’s rundown of the Who singles skipped over I Can See for Miles for some reason. According to Wikipedia “It remains the Who’s biggest hit single in the US and, after debuting on the Hot 100 at number 72 on 14 October 1967, their only one to reach the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, at number 9 on 25 November – 2 December 1967.”

  8. BigSteve

    To me the Big Four have always been the Beatles, Stones, Who, and Kinks, but that’s basing my ranking on their entire careers. If we’re limiting the choice to the early years of the invasion, the DC5 is the obvious choice They had many hits in 64-65 and were considered the Beatles’ rivals Then they couldn’t keep up with the changing times, and they were done. This why a Mt Rushmore built at the end of 65 would have been a bad idea. The Animals in some form at least lasted into the psychedelic era before running out of steam.

  9. BigSteve – I was transcribing a list that had all of their charting singles in no particular order and missed that one. I’m very surprised it got that high in the US charts because I really don’t remember the Who as being on AM radio. That may be because by that time the switch over to FM album oriented stations was on the horizon. It started in the spring of 1968 in Philadelphia.

    I wouldn’t argue that the four you name would be a very reasonable selection for the cream of the 60’s British bands, but I don’t feel like the Who really hit in that first blush when English bands were “invading.” That said, however, none of the others in the first wave showed the kind of long term artistic achievement to get carved into the side of a mountain of the Beatles, Stones and Kinks.

    Well maybe Freddy and the Dreamers.

  10. Thanks, geo and al, for confirming what I thought was meant by The Who being a little late: in real time. I do hate when history collects and reassembles happenings after the fact in ways that better fit historical significance, like any documentary about something that takes place in the latter half of the ’60s using the cut of hippies dancing in Golden Gate Park, as if long hair and free love were – overnight – the norm. I’m fine with putting aside The Who, although this will put a dent in tourist trips to this monument.

    The Animals? They might have had the best handful of killer, sustainable hits out of the remaining contenders. They carved out their own place in the trenches, matching the Stones in bluesy-ness but not at all copying them. The Hollies are the other band that comes to mind, but I think they lose some points for being faceless. Sure, few everyday rock fans can name more than one or two members of either band, but you don’t forget Eric Burdon’s pockmarked face. Get that face in granite!

    I can see consideration for The Yardbirds, but I think much of their impact came at the tail end and after the peak of the British Invasion. I’m not going to reach for the charts, but by the time Jeff Beck started blowing up things (in a good way), we’re at 1966, right? Earlier Yardbirds are like The Animals without the focus.

    If I’d been aware of the Dave Clark 5 at their height, perhaps I’d give their consideration more weight, but even when I was an aware little kid, by 1970, they had nothing more than a bubblegum appeal. I’d rank EPG’s beloved Herman’s Hermits above them.

    Give me The Animals for that fourth spot, if we must, but please note that I am a rare Townsperson who prefers their later psychedelic work, man.

  11. mockcarr

    I think we may be missing the point a little if we eliminate The Who completely. It doesn’t have to just be immediate impact and chart success. Just as Teddy Roosevelt is included for the conservation efforts and outsized personality and has a difficult time comparing his accomplishments to the other three, the Who charted softly, but carried a big rack of amplifiers.

  12. Mockcarr beat me to the Teddy Roosevelt/Who comparison.

    Not even gonna touch Plurbie’s comment about Face to Face with a 10-foot pole.

  13. I’m with Mockcarr. My view is that the timing of arrival is less important than the impact and longevity. The Who were close enough. Give me Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks. The other bands just don’t seem important enough. If we’re using historical comparisons, the U.S. came to WWI late, but are regarded as having been pretty important to the cause.

  14. I must persist in the “little late” criterion lest we open the door to someone championing The Moody Blues.

    Now, when we get to The Mount Rushmore Of Rock: Senior Prom Theme category, they are a lock.

  15. Oats, funny you mention your desire to steer clear of Face to Face. I’m actually curious to see – and take part in – the melee that could erupt over that album! I haven’t played that album in years, because I lean toward Plurbs’ take on it.

  16. Let’s go!!!! What are the other so-called winners on Face to Face???!!!!!

  17. What? You sing “Session Man” while taking a shower?

  18. Man, that echo in the shower stall is perfect for singing “Most Exclusive Residence for Sale” !

  19. diskojoe

    “What are the other so-called winners on Face to Face?..!!!”

    Let’s see, there’s Party Line, Rosie Won’t You Please Home, Dandy, Too Much On My Mind, Session Man, Rainy Day In June, House In The Country, Holiday in Waikiki, Most Exclusive Residence For Sale, Fancy, Little Miss Queen of Darkness, You’re Looking Fine, Sunny Afternoon & I’ll Remember

  20. BigSteve

    I’m with diskojoe.

  21. Thanks, diskojoe and Big Steve!

    In the interest of fairness, so E. Pluribus and Mr. Mod don’t have to listen to an entire 38-minute album, I’ll highlight these songs as absolute, as you would say, winners:

    Too Much on My Mind
    Rainy Day in June
    House in the Country
    Most Exclusive
    Little Miss Queen
    You’re Looking Fine
    I’ll Remember

    There’s not even any oom-pah-type Kinks songs a la “Tin Solider Man” or “Phenomenal Cat” for you guys to complain about. Too bad!!

  22. I enjoy them all. Team FtF.

  23. Your dismay with us, Oats, is palpable! I love it, and I love your preemptive strike against songs we can’t complain about. Well played.

    Listen, I’m going to do more than simply list out “winners” and “losers” based on my feelings – and mentioning my feelings, as I’ve just done, tells you that I’m going to be open minded and take responsibility for feelings others may not share. E Pluribus Gergely can bait people and call them names. I’ll part ways with him, if that’s how he wants to play it. You know I totally respect your feelings, even if I think they are in need of reconsideration!

    First, my copy of Face to Face is one of those near flexi-disc Spanish pressings I bought for $1.99 at Temple University’s bookstore in 1983. I’m not saying the poor quality of my pressing is an excuse, especially since I LOVE most of the run that follows Face to Face, all of which I acquired at the same time for the same price on the same crappy vinyl. I’m simply putting it out there, in case anyone wants to use the, “Well, Mod, this is an album that must be appreciated on pristine 540-gram vinyl through Lou Reed’s special headphones!”

    Second, I don’t HATE or even DISLIKE the album. I think it’s mediocre. To me, Face to Face is a first draft for what would follow. It’s got too much of that Nicky Hopkins (?) ivory tinkling gimmickry, for starters. I loved that sound when I first heard this album, but then it started to sound like it was tacked on.

    The whole album sounds funny, like in-between an earlier style Kinks album and the cohesive Something Else. “Holiday in Waikiki” is a good example of what I find awkward about the production. They could have given it a more direct, rocking approach, like someone off the excellent Kinks Kontroversy, and let the Hawaii stuff be suggested, or they could have played it like “A Well Respected Man,” using ukeles and merely suggested the rocking bit. Instead they tried to have it both ways, with the fade-in with the waves, the slide guitar, etc. I don’t know, it comes off very theatrical, which I think was so fine a line Ray Davies would be slated to walk the rest of his career. In this case, and in the case of other songs on this album, I think he fails to walk that line without doing harm to some decent songs. “Party Line” misses the boat, for me, too, by working too hard at the theatrics and losing the oomph that could have driven such a slight song.

    I love the Kinks, especially this golden age of the Kinks, but I think they are the worst-produced band relative to their great content. I don’t quibble with the sound on The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, by far my favorite-sounding Kinks album from this run, but even that album’s sonic delights are more a function of them not screwing things up than the production actually adding much to the sonics. The earlier Kinks Kontroversy, by contrast, sound cohesive and powerful. I’m not an audiophile or even remotely skilled engineer or producer, but perhaps someone like chergeuvara could better explain what I’m getting at.

    I’m going to lose some credibility on this next point, but I’m all about transparency: I think “Sunny Afternoon” is overrated. I like it, but the gimmick wore thin by the time I was 20 years old and had been hearing it since my early teens. Perhaps that’s just me. Perhaps it simply suffers from the other 40 Kinks songs I love more. The song strikes me as glib, which may be in character for its content, but it’s a rare well-crafted Kinks song that never once gives me goosebumps with a killer couple. I’ll take “Dead End Street,” thank you.

    “Dandy” is OK. Again, if I was listening to a Millennium or Herman’s Hermits album, “Dandy” would be just…dandy. When I was 20, I’d suck down a bong hit and think it was “cool” to hear the Kinks do something “psychedelic.” By the time I turned 22, it felt like a gimmick for them. I’ll take the Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now” when I want to hear that vibe done with gusto, thank you.

    “Too Much on My Mind” is good the way whatever song is relatively good on a post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys album. A year later, Ray Davies could crap out songs like “Too Much on My Mind” with the regularity and reach of rabbit turds.

    I prefer the Pretty Things’ “House in the Country.” It’s a perfect example of a song that’s second rate for a GREAT band yet top shelf for one that didn’t have much in the songwriting department. As for this Kinks version, somehow, “House in the Country” always seems to negate the fact that I just spent a few minutes barely interested in “Session Man.”

    Sorry, take what I wrote, above, and apply to “Fancy.” That’s the song that makes me want to listen to “Here She Comes Now” instead. “Dandy” is one of those jaunty songs that Ray would do much better in the coming years. It’s OK. Appreciating this album is like appreciating that Beatles for Sale album (is it technically an odds and sods collection?): it’s good enough and has some cool trinkets, but I don’t love the albums like I do surrounding albums.

    The best thing about “You’re Looking Fine” is that I used the title as the basis for the title of one of the first songs I wrote for Autumn Carousel, a wickedly fun offshoot band I was in with some of the characters you know here. If you think you’ve seen me and Plurbie go at it in the Halls of Rock, you should seen us fight at band rehearsals.

    The closing song, “I’ll Remember,” may be the sleeper. Hearing it again today, I’m reminded of how many times I tried to steal it for my own purposes. Maybe I’ll get back to trying to artfully work that heist!

  24. Well done, Moderator. I was going to suggest taking the All Things Must Pass slice and dice approach and turning the thing into an EP: 1) Sunny Afternoon, 2) Party Line, 3) I’ll Remember, and 4) This is Where I Belong (never understood why that more or less got buried in a tape archive). I see no reason not to use that track when the others are pretty so-so.

  25. Moderator, I just reread your piece. You nailed it!

    And it’s been such a long time that I forgot about that godawful harpsichord. The harpsichord is a lot like those Morningstar Farms Grillers, those fake hamburgers that my wife cooks up for our gang every two weeks or so. Sparingly, they’re actually kind of tasty. Not so when they’re served more frequently.

  26. diskojoe

    Well, Mr. Mod, I do appreciate the fact that you stated your feelings toward Face to Face in a constructive manner. My feelings are a bit different from yours, however. There are many great songs on that album and that includes Sunny Afternoon & Dandy. I also like the harpsichord a lot. Too Much on My Mind could have been on Pet Sounds. I’ll Remember is Buddy Holly updated to the Sixties. The demo version of that song sounds more like the Crickets. To me, Face to Face is the first blooming of the Kinks post YRGM which continued up to the VGPS. Fun Fact #1: the album was going to have links to each song until Pye put the kibosh on it. The beginnings of Holiday in Wakiki & Rainy Day in June are survivors of that concept. Fun Fact #2: The voice in the beginning of Party Line is one of their plummy mangers, either Robert Wace or Grenville Collins.

  27. I’d take the Troggs first LP over Face to Face any day of the week. I still listen to it every three months or so, which is a lot more turntable time than Face to Face gets. And interestingly, the Troggs opt to use the harpsichord on one track only: “Jingle Jangle.” Again, used sparingly, it can be effective. Not everything is improved with a coating of fairy dust.

  28. I understand not wanting to hear too much Nicky Hopkins on a Kinks record, but Sunny Afternoon is a 5 star lock song.

  29. Has anyone yet delineated what makes one qualify for Mount Rushmore in this context? Is it entirely popularity? Largely popularity? Impact at the time, or in totality?

    My argument against the Animals is that while they were great great GREAT…they didn’t write. And that was one of the hallmarks of the Beatles and then the Rolling Stones (because of the Beatles) and later the Who (because of the Stones).

    But even going back a bit, even as early as the founding fathers of rock, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly all wrote (or co-wrote) most if not all of their best material, and while very obviously some of the greatest rock/rock ‘n roll ever was created under different conditions (Motown), writing most of your own material is, for me, at least, absolutely essential to be considered as the most serious of serious artists. Yes, I acknowledge that many of the greatest artists ever didn’t (Elvis, Sinatra, Manilow), but for me they’re both the exception to the rule and generally speaking pre-date at least the Fabs if not rock in general.

  30. Part of the appeal of this exercise is to have people hash out their criteria of what makes the grade for mountaintop immortality. I think of the British Invasion as that rush of bands that followed immediately in the Beatles wake.

    Although I completely agree that the Who are clearly the group I would add to Beatles/Stones/Kinks, when the premise is British Invasion, I’m just not feeling it. By the time the Who made an impact by invading America, it was already full of American bands trying to be English often with significant success. (Byrds/Lovin Spoonful)

    Valid point about the Animals not writing their material. But I looked at my little Animals retrospective and, surprisingly enough, Alan Price wrote “House of the Rising Sun,” or at least took credit for it. I do recollect a pretty similar song with the same title on Bob Dylan’s first album which even he didn’t take credit for, but maybe that’s a coincidence.

    The Hollies feel as if their impact was slightly closer to the BI era, although not in the thick of it like the Animals. They did write a lot of their material, although not their biggest American hit, Bus Stop.

    BigSteve mentioned the Dave Clark Five. Despite their lack of staying power and the inclusion of a sax player in the line up, (not to mention their being named after the drummer.) I’m leaning that way. They had a lot of hits in 64/65, in fact seven top tens. They wrote a very credible Beatles knock-off, “Because” in addition to their normal stomping schtick. I’m leaning toward the DC5 to complete the foursome.

  31. Oh and the DC5’s first hit “Glad All Over” charted in February 1964. That’s the equivalent of the first wave at Normandy Beach!

  32. diskojoe

    Geo, “House of the Rising Sun” was an old folk song that appeared on Dylan’s first album. The Aminals decided to cover it & they cooked up an arrangement for it. Now, if you rearranged a Public Domain song, you can get the credit & more importantly that sweet royalty money. That’s how Shel Talmy got credit for “Driving On Bald Mountain” that he had both the Kinks & the Who do. Anyway, the Aminals single comes out and the arrangement credit goes to Alan Price. The rest of the band were told by their management that all their names couldn’t fit on the label & Alan’s name was chosen. Alan Price got the credit & the money & refused to share w/the others, which lead to his leaving the band & poisoning their subsequent reunion efforts.

  33. Great story, Diskojoe. The Price Isn’t Right.

  34. Dave Van Ronk told a funny story in the Bob Dylan documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, about how Dylan heard Van Ronk play it (probably many times) and asked if it was okay if he recorded it for his first album.
    Dave said, actually, Bob, I’m hoping to record it soon, so…
    And Dylan said, essentially, “oops. I already recorded it.”
    Subsequently, Van Ronk had to stop playing one of his signature covers, because everyone thought he was ripping off Dylan.
    But then he laughed when he said Bob later told him HE’D had to stop playing it just a few years later, because everyone thought he was ripping off the Animals.
    The circle of life.

  35. discojoe – I was being facetious about the authorship of HOTR. But I didn’t know about the Price aftermath regarding the royalties. That’s interesting, especially in light of Alan’s subsequent “Oh Lucky Man” soundtrack which included this gem:

    Also, Van Ronk indicated that Dylan specifically was using the arrangement that Van Ronk had developed.

    Another Dylan debut album number, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” was credited to Rod Stewart on his first solo album, I believe.

  36. The Kinks slide into number 3 with ease. While the Who seem obvious, if were are to look at just the first wave, I say The Yardbirds. I am basing this purely by dissecting the Nuggets and Pebbles comps

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