Listen to This, Not That: The British Invasion – Part 2

This is part 2 of a two part series on British Invasion bands that didn’t get covered in the main series (Beatles, Stones, Who, and Kinks). You can read Part 1 that goes from The Animals to The Moody Blues here. In this part, we will be talking about bands from Peter and Gordon to The Zombies

Peter and Gordon

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller were a pop duo in the 60s, best known for the McCartney-penned “A World Without Love”, which sold over a million copies. Peter is Jane Asher’s brother and met Gordon as classmates at Westminster School, a fancy public school (note: in England, what is called a public school is the kind of school rich people send their kids – what others call private school). They had a lot of success in the US, but by 1967 the music world moved onto psychedelia and blues rock. Peter Asher ended up moving onto behind the scenes work in music by working in A&R and as a producer and manager. Gordon only released one solo album, but it didn’t go anywhere. He appeared in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He started a publishing company in the 90s. He passed away in 2009.

Instead of That:

  • “A World Without Love” (#1 UK & US)
  • “True Love Ways (#2 UK, #14 US)
  • “I Go to Pieces” (#9 US)
  • “To Know You is to Love You” (#5 UK, #24 US)
  • “Lady Godiva” (#16 UK, #6 US)

Listen to This:

  • “Five Hundred Miles”
  • “If I Were You” – b-side to “A World Without Love”
  • “The Knight in Rusty Armour”
  • “Till There Was You” (Beatles cover)
  • “Woman”

The Searchers

A Merseybeat band. They got their start as a skiffle group and got their name from the 1956 western film of the same name. Like The Beatles, they played in Hamburg. They and The Swinging Blue Jeans (best known for the “Hippy Hippy Shake”) were the next two groups from Liverpool to have a hit, after The Beatles.

Instead of That:

  • “Sweets for My Sweet” (#1 UK) – Drifters cover
  • “Sugar and Spice (#2 UK, #44 US)
  • “Needles and Pins (#1 UK, #13 US) – Jackie DeShannon cover
  • “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” (#1 UK, #16 US) – The Orions cover
  • “Love Potion No. 9” (#3 US)

Listen to This:

  • “One of These Days”
  • “Unhappy Girls”
  • “Alright”
  • “Money (That’s What I Want)”
  • “Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya”

The Small Faces

A pint-sized rock band with every member being 5’4” or under, they were formed in London in 1965. Steve Marriott was a child actor from East London who made his acting debut in Oliver! playing The Artful Dodger and played a bunch of Cockney roles, but he didn’t have the passion for acting that he did for music so he went back to his first love, music. He was in the band The Moments before forming The Small Faces with fellow musicians Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones. The band broke up in 1968 when Steve Marriott announced during a gig that he quit. Steve Marriott was such a powerhouse, that when the Small Faces became the Faces, it took two musicians to replace Steve Marriott: Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.

While the band didn’t have much success in the US, they are a favourite of the mod subculture and influenced so many bands like Led Zeppelin, The Jam, and Oasis. It’s weird to include them in this series because they’re such an under appreciated band and I don’t think any of their songs are overplayed.

Instead of That:

  • “Sha La La La Lee” (#3 UK) – gives me similar vibes to Do Wah Diddy
  • “All or Nothing” (#1 UK) – the band’s first #1
  • “Itchycoo Park” (#3 UK, #16 US) – Their only US hit, if I had to say any song by The Small Faces is overplayed, it’s this one, even though it’s really good
  • “Tin Soldier” (#9 UK, #73 US) – With PP Arnold
  • “Lazy Sunday (#2 UK)

Listen to This:

  • “Hey Girl”
  • “You Need Lovin’” (Willie Dixon cover) – Robert Plant must have been influenced by this version
  • “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” – instrumental on the album of the same name
  • “Rollin’ Over” – B side to “Lazy Sunday”, imo the better song of the two – the guitar riff in the beginning has to be inspired by “Foxy Lady”
  • “Afterglow of Your Love”

The Spencer Davis Group

Most of you might know this as the band that launched Steve Winwood’s career. This band were formed in Birmingham in 1963 by Welshman Spencer Davis (Davies, changed the spelling because people kept pronouncing it wrong) when he met brothers Steve and Muff Winwood playing at a pub. At the time, Steve was only 14 and still in school. They got signed to a record label in 1964 and chose the name Spencer Davis Group because Spencer was the most chatty of the group and enjoyed doing interviews. They were best known for the songs “Keep on Running” and “Gimme Some Lovin”. Steve Winwood left the band in 1967 to join Traffic.

Instead of That:

  • “Keep on Running” (#1 UK, #76 US) – Written by Jamaican reggae musician Jackie Edwards. This single was released when Steve Winwood was 17.
  • “Somebody Help Me” (#1 UK, #47 US) – Another song written by Jackie Edwards.
  • “Gimme Some Lovin” (#2 UK, #7 US) – An original by the band and the band’s best known song in the US
  • “I’m A Man” (#9 UK, #10 US) – Not to be confused with the Bo Diddley R&B standard that is commonly covered by rock bands. This Hammond organ-driven hit was an original written by Steve Winwood. The last song that the band released before Steve and Muff Winwood left for bigger and better things.

Listen to This:

  • “My Babe” – from their first album
  • “Georgia on My Mind” – Ray Charles cover
  • “Together Till The End of Time” – Motown cover
  • “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”
  • “After Tea” – Post-Steve Winwood, their attempt at psychedelia (very Mike D’Abo Manfred Mann). Cover of Nederbeat band After Tea.


Them were Ireland’s first famous rock band, but were marketed as part of The British Invasion because all the Irish musicians go to the UK for bigger and better opportunities. They were formed in Belfast in 1964 and were best known as the band that launched Van Morrison’s career, although he left after a couple years to pursue a successful solo career. The band’s name came from the 50s horror film, Them! Their music was inspired by R&B music and Van Morrison would ad lib lyrics on stage, turning the usually less than 3 minute long “Gloria” into a 20 minute epic. That song was famously covered by The Doors, The Shadows of Knight, and Patti Smith. I love this band name just because it’s one of those that would confuse people – The Who, everyone knows who they are – too mainstream, but do they know Them? Not if they’re not 60s obsessed or a boomer.

Instead of That:

  • “Baby Please Don’t Go” (#10 UK)
  • “Here Comes The Night” (#2 UK, #24 US)
  • “Gloria (interestingly enough it never charted that high even though it’s a garage rock classic and standard – The Shadows of Knight version reached #10 in the US though)

Listen to This:

  • “Mystic Eyes” – This is definitely one of my favourites by Them
  • “You Just Can’t Win
  • “I’m Gonna Dress in Black” – reminds me a lot of The Animals
  • “Bright Lights Big City”
  • “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

The Tremeloes

The Tremeloes were formed in Dagenham (now part of London) in 1958. They were originally known as Brian Poole and the Tremoloes. When Decca Records were looking for a Beat group, they auditioned The Tremeloes and The Beatles and ended up picking… The Tremeloes! Part of the reason because they were closer to the headquarters of the label. After Brian Poole left the band in 1966, The Tremeloes continued as a four piece band and changed their sound to a more contemporary poppy sound and they had a lot of success in that era with multiple top 10 hits.

Instead of That:

  • “Twist and Shout” (#4 UK) – Released months after The Beatles released their version
  • “Do You Love Me” (#1 UK) – Motown cover
  • “Here Comes My Baby” (#4 UK, #13 US) – Cat Stevens cover
  • “Silence is Golden” (#1 UK, #11 US) – Four Seasons cover
  • “Even the Bad Times Are Good” (#4 UK, #36 US)

Listen to This:

  • “Someone, Someone”
  • “Time Is On My Side”
  • “Good Day Sunshine” – Beatles cover
  • “The Right Time”
  • “Suddenly You Love Me”

The Troggs

Originally called The Troglodytes, they formed in Andover, Hampshire in 1964 and were known for their garage rock and port punk sound. Childhood friends Reg Presley and Ronnie Bond formed an R&B band when they were kids and then Pete Staples and Chris Britton joined the band. They got signed by Kinks manager Larry Page in 1965. The band were best known for “Wild Thing” released in 1966. It was originally recorded by The Wild Ones, but that version was not successful. The band had a handful of hits, but by 1969 their popularity was declining as the music world moved on. Still, they got praise and many punk and garage rock bands were influenced by them. Lester Bangs said they were “progenitors of punk”.

Instead of That:

  • “Wild Thing” (#2 UK, #1 US)
  • “With a Girl Like You” (#1 UK, #29 US)
  • “I Can’t Control Myself” (#2 UK, #43 US)
  • “Love Is All Around” (#5 UK, #7 US)

Listen to This:

  • “Night of the Long Grass”
  • “Gonna Make You”
  • “You’re Lyin’”
  • “66-5-4-3-2-1”
  • “Jaguar and Thunderbird”

The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds were the launching pad for three legendary guitarists’ careers: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck – all three considered to be some of the best guitarists of all time. In fact, Led Zeppelin were going to call themselves The New Yardbirds, but there were trademark issues, but I guess things happen for a reason. The Yardbirds were formed in 1963 and the other members besides the ones mentioned were Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, Chris Dreja, and Paul Samwell-Smith. Their style was more blues rock – especially inspired by Chicago blues music, but incorporated psychedelic rock – fuzzy tones and reverb, and some hard rock. Their trademark was their “rave-up” instrumental breaks between songs. Honestly, I could write a whole post dedicated to them.

Instead of That:

By no means are any of these songs overplayed, especially on the radio, but these are their best known. I wouldn’t even call any of these overrated. These are all amazing.

  • “For Your Love” (#3 UK, #6 US) – Written by Graham Gouldman and Eric Clapton played on this one, but he left the group shortly after because he didn’t like that The Yardbirds were going more poppy, but hey, it’s because of him leaving The Yardbirds, that he joined supergroup Cream
  • “Heart Full of Soul (#2 UK, #9 US) – The Yardbirds first single after Jeff Beck replaced Eric Clapton as lead guitarist. Jeff Beck’s use of the fuzz box on this song was One version of this song has a sitar on it.
  • “Shapes of Things” (#3 UK, #11 US)
  • “Over Under Sideways Down” (#10 UK, #13 US) – From Roger the Engineer, my favourite Yardbirds album

Listen to This:

It’s really hard to just pick 5 songs, but here are just a few of my favourites.

  • “A Certain Girl” – Eric Clapton era Yardbirds. B-side of the band’s debut single, “I Wish You Would”. Did not chart
  • “Mister, You’re A Better Man Than I” – B-side of “Shapes of Things”
  • “Stroll On” – Performed in the 1966 movie, Blow Up
  • “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”
  • “White Summer” – An Indian and Irish folk inspired instrumental Jimmy Page wrote for The Yardbirds and later on incorporated into Led Zeppelin concerts – often in a medley with “Black Mountain Side”

The Zombies

British Invasion band formed in St Alban’s in 1961 by Rod Argent, Paul Atkinson, and Hugh Grundy. A year later, Colin Blunstone joined and later Chris White joined. Many of the band members had a background of singing in church choirs. They originally called themselves The Mustangs, but they found that there were too many other bands with that name so they needed something that stood out, so original bassist Paul Arnold came up with the name “The Zombies”. He left before the band made it big because he wanted to become a doctor. The Zombies got discovered in a beat group competition and got signed by Decca and quickly got to recording and so their first hit single came out, “She’s Not There” in 1964 – a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The band were only active for a few years and broke up in 1969. Rod Argent went on to form prog/hard rock band Argent. Colin Blunstone had a solo career. Paul Atkinson worked behind the scenes. Unfortunately, they had to deal with fake bands touring as The Zombies, but they reunited in the 90s and 2000s.

Instead of That:

The Zombies were a band that deserved better than just having a handful of hits. I’m guessing poor marketing might be to blame. Begin Here and Odessey and Oracle are both such great albums.

  • “She’s Not There” (#12 UK, #2 US) – This was one of my gateway songs and I listened to this so much when I was in secondary school
  • “Tell Her No” (#42 UK, #6 US) – The follow up to “She’s Not There”
  • “Time of the Season” (#3 US) – Oddly enough not a hit in the UK, there was a 3 year gap between albums for The Zombies.

Listen to This:

  • “I Got My Mojo Working” – Written by Preston “Red” Foster and popularised by Muddy Waters
  • “What More Can I Do”
  • “Maybe After He’s Gone”
  • “Hung Up on a Dream”
  • “Changes”

This concludes the two part British Invasion special of Listen to This, Not That! Let me know what are your favourite underrated songs in the comments! Next band covered in this series will be Pink Floyd. Below, you can find the Listen to This, Not That: British Invasion playlist

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

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