Cliff Richard: When in Europe
Unpublished Record Collector Article, October 1996. Co-authored with Peter Lewry.
Cliff’s extraordinary career has been well documented in pop history, but perhaps what is not as widely known is the wealth of foreign language recordings Cliff made between 1961 and 1974, and although some fans might be discouraged by the fact that the very collectable singles and albums are not sung in English, they are still worth investigating as they feature a fascinating insight to Cliff’s ability to record in German French, Spanish and Italian.
Only two foreign language albums and two EPs were issued in England between 1963 and 1965 – the Spanish set When In Spain was the first of these. No single was taken from it, and as a one-off project it offered no clues about Cliff’s musical direction, it did however tell us something about his widening appeal at this time as the album reached number eight in the UK despite the fact that most British fans could not understand the lyrics. The concept of the album was different to Cliff’s German language recordings in that the “Spanish” songs were relative to that country while the German ones were simply the German language equivalent of his British hits.
Worth noting here is that the Shadows had recorded some instrumental tracks for their own use during the “Spanish” sessions at EMI’s Barcelona studios, although it is unknown which ones. It is also worth mentioning that sessions back at Abbey Road found Cliff and Bruce (Welch) adding vocals to some of the tracks as guitar overdubs, and even later, more sessions would involve Cliff adding English lyrics to two of the tracks on Magic Is The Moonlight and Sweet and Gentle.
The next set of foreign language recordings released in England was an EP called When In France (1964) and was a collection of popular French hits recorded during a successful run in Blackpool. J’Attendrai and C’est Si Bon had both enjoyed chart success in France, and La Mer and Boum were two of the most famous songs from the pen of the great Charles Trenet. The second 12-inch LP When In Rome (1965) followed the same pattern as the Spanish set, with songs sung in the native language, and also included an Italian rendition of Don’t Talk To Him. Although this one didn’t register on the UK album charts, it was surprising that in 1966, Columbia lifted four tracks from the album, placed them on an EP, and called it Hits From When In Rome. It is interesting to note here that the backing tracks for this album were recorded in Lisbon during sessions held on 2 and 3 October 1964, and it was not until May of the following year that Cliff added his vocals which were produced by John Lee and M Di Ponti. The album was only made available in the mono format whereas the tracks for the When In Spain LP has been recorded in both mono and stereo, and released in both formats.
Cliff’s first German language single coupled Theme For A Dream with a track that had no British equivalent, Vrenli, as the B-side. This was to be one of only a few occasions where Cliff recorded a German song with no English language version. Throughout the sixties, Cliff would re-record many of his hits for the German market including Fall In Love With You, A Voice In the Wilderness, I’m The Lonely One, Don’t Talk To Him, On The Beach, Wind Me Up and On My Word.
Today it seems incredible that EMI never issued an album in the UK of all the German language hits which by the early seventies included The Day I Met Marie, Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha, and of course, the two Eurovision hits, Congratulations and Power To All Our Friends. There were some lesser known hits covered in German such as Don’t Forget To Catch Me, Sally Sunshine and You’re My Pigeon – all unlikely choices from a catalogue that contained much bigger hit songs, and it is further evidence with the tracks selected for the first German language LP Heir 1st Cliff which seemed to include similar selections, although we must remember the tracks used as requested by the German “Electrola” label, which may explain why there were such obscure titles as Questions, I Love You Forever Today, The Dreams I Dream and What’s Behind The Eyes of Mary.
Probably the most familiar title for German record buyers was a version of the Beatles Twist And Shout and that was more likely to do with the association with the Beatles than it was with Cliff. The surprising fact about this album was that it did not include any of Cliff’s big hits. All through this period Cliff was continuing to record German language versions of his hits, and strange as it may seem, they were all recorded at Abbey Road utilising the original backing tracks, although documentation does suggest that there was the odd occasion when new backing tracks would be recorded.
This, we think, is particularly true of the session that produced All My Love and London’s Not Too Far as the recording information sheets list additional musicians. The original session date for taping the German versions of On The Beach and Spanish Harlem was put back a month although the reason for this delay is unclear. Possibilities range from the unavailability of studio two at Abbey Road to his German coach, Mr Puritz not being available. The former had certainly been the reason for cancelling the French language recording session of Congratulations on 23 April 1968, when the only studio available was studio one, which was totally unusable for this type of recording.
In fact, Congratulations appeared to be riddled with problems when it came to recording the various multi-lingual versions. Firstly the Musicians Union had to permit the use of the existing backing tracks to be used, and several vocal coaches were employed for different versions. Margo Quantrell worked on the Italian version. Pepe Rivarola on the Spanish, Maurice Belfer on the French and although we could not find any documentation to confirm, we think it is likely that Cliff’s regular German coach Mr Puritz worked on that version. He had worked on Cliff’s first German album spending seven hours working with Cliff before and during the sessions for which he was paid the sum of ten guineas…