I’m surprised more authors haven’t followed Mark Lewisohn in investigating the session history of a major artist, and then presenting the findings in book form. Lewisohn’s Complete Beatles Recording Sessions set an almost impossible standard, of course, as it was written with the help of almost total access to EMI’s studio archives, recording personnel and even Paul McCartney. Lewry and Goodall had one major drawback when they were writing this book: they couldn’t hear the tapes. Rather than attempt to emulate Lewisohn’s session-by-session account of the Beatles’ deveopemnt, then, they’ve divided Cliff’s career into 12 stages, written a brief introduction for each era, and then presented the hard information. The basic details of each session – where, when, who was there and what resulted – are fleshed out by a fascinating array of illustrative material, including original tape-logs, recording sheets, acetates and rare photos. The result is an ideal reference work, even if it doesn’t – as Lewisohn’s book undoubtedly did – give a striking new perspective on the musical development of its subject’s career.
– Record Collector
If you’re just wild about Harry, this is the book for you: full details (minus songwriting credits) for every one of Mr Webb’s recording sessions from ’58 on… and the bachelor boy is nothing if not a hard worker. Like Presley, he’s recorded more than his fair share of turkeys and really odd stuff (Have Nagila and TheWidow Twankey Song for a kick-off), and the unreleased stuff sounds fascinating: there’s a cover version of How To Handle A Woman (the mind boggles), a complete concert of Cliff and the Shads at their toe-tappin’ peak (the ABC Kingston, March ’62) plus promising-sounding titles like Shoom Llamma Boom Boom and Postmark Heaven. Best of all, in November ’65 Cliff recorded not only A Spoonful of Sugar but also Chim Chim Ceree. Is that supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or what?
When Cliff and his four backing musicians entered that small recording studio above the HMV Oxford Street store, back in 1958, little did they realise just what they were starting! The two songs they recorded, under the name of Cliff Richard And The Drifters were Lawdy Miss Clawdy, and Breathless. For years now, most fans have believed that Cliff’s performance on these recordings, probably owed much to his idol, Elvis Presley. However, since I own the acetate, I can reveal to you that the performance clearly shows the influence of Jerry Lee Lewis. From his first known recording, Cliff signed with EMI records, and this book refers to every recording session he undertook right up to the end of 1990. Its an ‘information reference book’ rather than a story book, but it is full of interesting facts, and can provide Cliff fans with hours of fun and enjoyment. I immediately delved into my Cliff record collection and checked the exact dates that they were recorded. If you are one of those people who keep a diary – and have done for some years – it might be amusing to check back, and discover exactly what you were doing on the day Cliff was recording those particular songs that mean so much to you. It’s certainly one of those books that you’ll keep referring to, time and again. The attention to detail is admirable, and the layout is clear and easy to follow. There are some great photos and illustrations that fans will definately enjoy. Ultimately, its a book with appeal to Cliff fans. But oh, what a welcome addition to Cliff memorabilia. Now, all that remains to ask, is whether the Great Man will be Number One at Chritsmas. Check out the B sde when it appears for a special treat.
– Music Collector