TED CARFRAE, MY LIFE IN MUSIC: CILLA BLACK BACK TO BASICS – PART 2

Ted Carfrae, My Life In Music: The Planning & Recording of Cilla Black’s Beginnings Revisited Album Part 2

Ted Carfrae continues…..

I was very excited to have a new Bacharach/David song on the album, it was written for a musical but at that time had not been recorded by anyone. I remember that I was at home working on arrangement ideas or something and the phone rang, I picked it up and this voice said, ‘Is that Ted?’, I said ‘Yes it is’, and he said ‘This is Burt Bacharach here’, I was stunned for a few seconds and after my initial shock, we started to chat about music and eventually the song and he said he was delighted that Cilla was going to record it as he’s always known her to be a fine vocalist.

Burt Bacharach, George Martin & Cilla.

He said he was going to fax over all the chord charts for me so that I could make sure that when we record all the chords were right. I said, ‘That’s great’, and with that the call ended. That was a ‘You won’t guess what just happened to me’, moment. It’s actually quite funny because by the time Burt called, we had already started recording and his song was done so I never got to refer to his chord charts but gladly it all turned out as it was supposed to.

I decided that we wanted to record the old fashioned way with everyone in the studio together. I wanted these new songs to sit perfectly alongside the hits so I decided to record through a Neve analogue desk onto my Radar 1 24 track recorder. The Radar 1 is an amazing recorder because even though it is a digital recorder it sounded very warm like tape and you could really push the level without distortion.

Recording commenced at Westside Studios in June of 2004 and we completed recording all the basic tracks within four days. I remember Cilla sang guide vocals on all the songs in 90 degrees of heat and she never once complained – she was really amazing to work with. I brought in my usual amazing rhythm section – Ralph Salmins on drums, Steve Pearce on bass, Pete Murray and Dave Arch on piano and keys and Fridrick ‘Frissy’ Karlsson and the legendary Mick Green on lead acoustic and rhythm guitars. We then overdubbed strings and brass and my musical arranger Dave Arch did a fantastic job on the arrangements.

Cilla, Ted Carfrae & Chris West.

We recorded all the vocals at my friend Terry Britten’s private studio ‘State Of The Ark’ in Richmond, Surrey. Terry has written and produced huge hits such as ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ for Tina Turner and of course Cliff Richard’s monster hit, ‘Devil Woman’. I had recorded at Terry’s studio before two years earlier when I recorded some of David Cassidy’s vocals for the  ‘Then & Now’ album and I decided to return for one very special reason.

Ted At State Of The Ark Studios.

Terry’s studio has an original EMI 1,2,3,4 valve console installed – it has sliders rather than faders and the sound is amazing. In fact it was the same desk that the Stones recorded all their sixties albums on. Terry found the console in bits in a barn in France, brought it back to the UK and restored it to its former glory. Everything you push through the desk sounds rich and fat – truly amazing and usually very little EQ is needed.

Recording vocals on my albums is always a closed set with nobody around except myself, the artist and my sound engineer and in my experience, artists prefer to sing without distractions enabling them to concentrate instead on the performance, Cilla really enjoyed working this way I know.

I would collect Cilla from her house in Buckinghamshire at 3pm and bring her to the studio. There was always a bottle of Moet in the refrigerator and we would work through until the early hours.  I remember she was just amazing every day, her phrasing was precise, she was perfectly in tune and she was naturally instinctive completing her vocals on all eleven songs in just five days.

Cilla Black – Beginnings Revisited.

Another special moment was working with Sir Cliff Richard. Cliff had agreed to sing some backing vocals on ‘Imagine’ for me, so when he arrived at the studio I was eager to see what he would come up with.

We played the song through and he and I sang along to see what would and would not work. He had listened to the song earlier and came up with some great ideas and as you would expect, recording with Sir Cliff was a breeze. Chris and I were really impressed with his performance which was done in no time, it was another one of those pinch me moments.

The album was released in September of 2004 and though it did not set the world alight, for me it was a fantastic album to work on for so many reasons and a real highlight of my career. Click here for Cill’s site.

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