As the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ formation draws nearer, interest in Brit pop from the early to mid-’60s — not to mention legacy recordings in general — continues to spike. On the heels of the recently reissued “T.A.M.I. Show” concert film (1964), “The British Invasion,” a five-DVD collection of titles showcasing rare video archives of Dusty Springfield, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits and the Small Faces, is being released this week. The titles, from Reelin’ In the Years Prods., in association with Voyage Digital Media, are being sold separately.
In addition to interview footage from the subjects and their contemporaries, the series is notable for its collection of unadulterated performance clips from talents in their heyday. “We’re about showing the whole song, showing it right, and focusing on the music,” says David Peck, who is producing the series with partners Phil Galloway and Tony Gulotta.
In just a matter of a few years, the San Diego-based company boasts the world’s largest music video library, representing the archives of more than 35 national TV outlets, many of which are based in the UK, Europe and Japan.
In addition to its “British Invasion” series (which will announce a new installment of titles April 8), the Grammy-nominated production firm is responsible for acclaimed DVD collections of classic Motown and Stax artists; traditional folk and blues singers, and a “Jazz Icons” collection that includes rare performances from artists ranging from John Coltrane to Count Basie. Reelin’ In The Years also maintains the licensing for these archives to other film, TV and DVD projects.
“They were very thorough and full of love and seemed to enjoy the job,” said Ian McLagen, keyboardist for the Small Faces, who went on to work with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart. “I was amazed because much of this footage I had never seen before.”
Peck said finding all these rare clips has resulted in some surprises and “disappointments.”
“Oddly enough places where you thought this footage might be, didn’t have much,” he explained. “The BBC has very little left from the ’60s. Unfortunately, they taped over a lot of it; threw it out.
“There was a TV outlet in France that had a lot of the shows from Olympia Theater in Paris. They had to make room, so they got rid of a lot of the music footage that had been taped there. It was all thrown into a dumpster, including the first show ever played by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. There was footage of the Beatles and the Stones. When I heard about it, I actually had tears in my eyes. That kind of thing happened all the time.”
In addition to running remastered and uninterrupted performance clips, the titles include extensive interviews and archival photos.
“We’re fans first and video directors second,” said Peck. “We figure if it cuts the mustard with us then it will be good for everyone else.”