In this exclusive interview from the the Cliff Guaranteed fan club magazine, Nigel talks to Carol Hall about the August 05 release of the Cliff Richard Soundtrack Remaster Collection…
Carol: Whose decision or idea was it to re-release some of the Cliff soundtrack albums?
Nigel: Not long ago, with Peter (Lewry), I did a catalogue report for EMI on which we recommended that something be done with the movie soundtrack albums, either reissue them as newly upgraded remasters or special edition packages, like the Summer Holiday one we did a few years ago.
Carol: The Summer Holiday one was an exceptional package, why was that pattern not followed?
Nigel: Simply economic. Special packages, like the Summer Holiday one, are very costly to produce. If you think, Summer Holiday has lobby cards, reproduction poster and a special sized booklet in a three fold-out gatefold 7-inch sleeve, we were giving more away than the Elvis soundtracks do. It’s interesting but the Summer Holiday was kind of the template for the Elvis collectors label (Follow That Dream) when they followed Summer Holiday with the first three Elvis soundtracks (and still going on). They used the same 7-inch sleeve format that EMI’s designer Phil Smee came up with on the Kingston album and again repeated for Summer Holiday. If we want to get into Cliff vs Elvis, the Elvis soundtracks don’t have any giveaways like we had. So Summer Holiday was quite pioneering in its packaging and content. And certainly our original idea for The Young Ones would have been to have treated it in the same way, but as I say economics and costs prevented EMI following the same pattern
Carol: Why have the Two A Penny soundtrack songs been added to the Take Me High album?
Nigel: Simply because at this stage, there were only to be four film soundtracks issued, so we had to make a conscious decision, that we were like one album short, and the best way to get round it, because there were only four songs in Two A Penny, we thought it best to add the four songs to Take Me High plus the German vocal version of Questions. And we’ve also added Celestial Houses as it was the B-side to Take Me High.
Carol: You have also added some non-film bonus tracks. What is the reason for that?
Nigel: Simply because we were short of film out-takes and bonus songs, so we have added things that are sort of relevant and we hope the fans will like to have on these collections. We thought In The Country was particularly important as it was the A-side to Finder’s Keepers and What Would I Do was the b-side to Visions, and although has nothing to do with the movie it was the single doing the rounds when the film was either in production or on release. And of course, What Would I Do has never been available on CD before.
Carol: And what’s the reason for Angel on Wonderful Life… was the song originally meant for the film?
Nigel: No. The story behind Angel is that it was originally a movie song written for Elvis’s Follow That Dream, and Cliff’s version, recorded a few years after Elvis, was only ever available on an import single, and because Cliff had performed it on his 2002-2003 world tour, we thought it would just make a good selection to have on the album and because of the type of song it is, and how it sounds, it sort of fits well. It’s the sort of song that could have well been a movie song. It was for Elvis so why not for Cliff. And if you think about it, listen to it, it would have been a good song for Wonderful Life, so whereas I’d love to tell you it was a song cut from the movie, it isn’t.
Carol: Do you have a favourite Cliff film?
Nigel: I’d probably pick The Young Ones and Summer Holiday, because those were the ones I remember seeing when Cliff and Elvis movies were popular at the cinema. There was a whole kind of magic of seeing Cliff and Elvis on the big screen in the sixties. I remember we always had to queue, there was never a seat left in the house, and the atmosphere of girls screaming, like in the We Say Yeah scene from The Young Ones was how it really was in those days. And although I am not religious, I do like Two A Penny, simply because it presented Cliff with an opportunity to play a character you wouldn’t expect him to play. And the ending, I thought was very unique, where the audience is left to decide on the conclusion of the film. I would rate that film in the same league as when Elvis did Flaming Star, which like Cliff in Two A Penny, was more or less a straight acting role.
Carol: You are quite a film buff though, aren’t you, you have written quite a few film biographies?
Nigel: Well, I am not sure that film buff is the right description. Yes, I love movies, because I was kind of bought up on them. I spent all my out of school time at the local picture house, if not seeing the movie, making friends with the people who worked there, scrounging stills and lobby cards and posters, and just hanging out in the foyer. I just loved the magic and atmosphere of cinema then. Totally unlike it is today. And of course, every so often, usually a Tuesday night, where I grew up (in Tunbridge Wells), we had a pop package tour taking over for the night on the stage. You know people like Adam Faith.
Carol: You mentioned seeing Elvis movies, do you have a favourite Elvis movie?
Nigel: That’s so much more difficult than choosing a favourite Cliff movie, because he made so much more. Three a year one time. I guess the first one I went to when I was about 12, Kid Galahad would be a personal favourite simply because of the association that it was like the first time I had witnessed such frenzy in a cinema with girls screaming every time Elvis was on screen. And as I mentioned before, in those days, there was something really magical about seeing a pop movie. There was no video, Elvis was hardly ever on TV, he wasn’t playing concerts, and certainly not in England, so the only way you could see Elvis was at the cinema.
Carol: How did you choose the bonus tracks on each of the albums?
Nigel: A simple case of elimination. It certainly helped that we had listened to all of Cliff’s session tapes up to 1963 when we worked on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Years in 1996, so we had everything logged for that period, so we had a pretty good idea of what was there and what wasn’t. We also had a good idea of other out-takes for the whole movies period from when we did At The Movies, also in 96, so again, our research did not have to be too expansive because much of the ground work was done. We came up with a possible list from which Cliff’s engineer (Keith Bessey) made the final decision and selection of what was suitable for release. Although we have used some bonus tracks that have been previously released, we have also used some of the ones that haven’t. Whenever we work on projects like this, we do try and find as many previously unheard tracks as we can. And of course, everything has been remastered so that what you hear, we hope will be a new listening experience anyway – and to have the originals in really good quality, we think is pretty much of a bonus in itself.
Carol: Do you think there is much unreleased footage lying in the vaults anywhere, like deleted scenes?
Nigel: That’s a million dollar question. There was a jail scene shot for Summer Holiday, but whether the footage was ever stored or kept is anyone’s guess. We have to presume not, because if it existed, I am sure it would have been included on the dvd of the film as an extra.
Carol: There weren’t many extras included on the dvds of the films. Is there anything that you feel should have been added?
Nigel: Well, we got the trailers so that was good, and there was a director’s commentary. A commentary by Cliff would have been good, And maybe, especially where Summer Holiday was concerned, the deleted scene that we know was shot (if it exists), and perhaps a ‘Making of’ featurette. In fact it was suggested that a behind-the-scenes documentary type of thing was done for the 40th anniversary of Summer Holiday for the dvd and television, but the idea was never picked up by television or film company
Carol: Where there ever any plans that you know of to restore or re-release any of the films back into the cinema.
Nigel: When we were working on the Summer Holiday CD, John Herron at Canal + (formerly Lumiere – the company that produced the film) came up with the idea of restoring the film for a limited re-release, but it never came to anything. Would have been great though, to see it back on the big screen. Although we have widescreen TV’s these days, the only place to see a movie is on a big screen. Trouble is with doing something like that these days would probably be that it would only have limited appeal with the general public. The cost of restoring and remastering an old movie like Summer Holiday, with its now limited appeal would, I imagine, make it an almost prohibitive or risky project. Guess the argument would be that the film is either available on VHS or DVD, it is always on TV, so would anyone bother going out to the cinema to see it again? Warners tried the same thing with a restored, recut and remastered Elvis – That’s The Way It Is, and I don’t think that worked either. Well, not in terms of box office, and no film company is going to entertain doing such a thing unless they think they are going to do good box office with it.