EPs: the charts, Cliff Richard and The Shadows

The EP chart begins

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Expresso Bongo: Cliff Richard, EP, Columbia 1960
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Record retailer, 12 March 1960

Record Retailer introduced the first EP chart on 12 March 1960, and showed the Top Ten. Expresso Bongo by Cliff Richard was the first #1 EP. That chart stretched to fifteen EPs the next week then soon rose to a Top Twenty. The New Musical Express, Disc and Melody Maker kept the LP chart tiny, and ignored EP charts altogether in the early 1960s. A few EPs (such as Twist & Shout by The Beatles) crept into the main singles chart.

The start of an EP chart marks the point when EP sales were moving from “non-pop hit” genres to chart artists. That first year of EP charts was mainly 1950s style. While Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley had the first number one EPs, which were followed by Emile Ford and The Checkmates and Adam Faith, other genre records still dominated. See the first chart … Elmer Bernstein, Mantovani, film OST from Pat Boone and Tommy Steele. Comedy songs from Paddy Roberts.

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Strictly For Grown Ups: Paddy Roberts, EP, Decca, released in 1959
The best selling EP of 1960

Paddy Roberts Strictly For Grown Ups EP was number one in the EP charts for nineteen weeks that first year, and twelve of those were consecutive weeks. Paddy Roberts Strikes Again EP was top for a further two weeks. What is striking is that Paddy Roberts never had a hit single.

Then Highlights From South Pacific had the top spot for ten weeks of 1960. See the section on EPs From Musicals.

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Highlights From South Pacific, OST, RCA EP 1960
#1 EP for ten weeks in 1960

Cliff Richard & The Shadows

The Shadows To The Fore: EP, Columbia 1961

By 1961, it was all pop artists, with The Shadows at #1 for an astonishing forty-one weeks out of fifty two with The Shadows and The Shadows To The Fore. The latter was #1 for twenty-three consecutive weeks, and returned in 1962 for a further five weeks at the top. In total, it spent 81 weeks in the EP chart.

The domination of EMI in the EP charts was also remarkable … The Shadows (Columbia), Cliff Richard (Columbia), The Beatles (Parlophone), The Seekers (Columbia), Acker Bilk (Columbia), Manfred Mann (HMV), The Beach Boys (Capitol) were all on EMI labels.

The Shadows are so far ahead because several EPs were credited to Cliff Richard and The Shadows. OK, a sexist statement. More girls bought Cliff EPs, more boys … overwhelmingly more … bought The Shadows. I can argue it … I’ve seen both in concert and I have done lights on The Shadows too. Their huge popularity compares with The Ventures. An old pub quiz question used to be ‘Which is the second best-selling group in the world?’ and apparently the answer was The Ventures who were huge in Asia … no language barrier.

The domination of Cliff Richard and The Shadows was massive. This is from The Chart Book: The Record Retailer EP Charts 1960-1968 by Lonnie Readioff. (Download only).

Weeks on EP chart:

1 The Shadows – 889
2 Cliff Richard – 442
3 The Beatles – 393
4 Elvis Presley – 374

Then there’s a large gap

5 The Seekers – 170
6 Nina and Frederik – 162
7 The RollingStones – 153
8 Mr Acker Bilk – 136
9 Manfred Mann – 111
10 The Beach Boys – 110

The Shadows EP gallery… click to enlarge

Cliff Richard & The Shadows in the EP chart

artisttitleyearEP chart
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsCliff Sings No 119604
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsExpresso Bongo19601
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsCliff Sings No 219603
Cliff RichardCliff Sings No 319602
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsCliff’s Silver Discs19601
The ShadowsThe Shadows No 119611
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsMe & My Shadows No 119615
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsMe & My Shadows No 219618
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsMe & My Shadows No 319616
The Shadows The Shadows To The Fore19611
Cliff RichardListen to Cliff No 1196117
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsDream19613
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsCliff’s Hit Parade19624
The ShadowsSpotlight On The Shadows19621
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsHits From The Young Ones19621
The Shadows The Shadows No 2196212
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsCliff Richard No 2196219
The ShadowsThe Shadows No 3196213
The ShadowsWonderful Land of The Shadows19626
The ShadowsThe Boys OST19621
The ShadowsOut Of The Shadows No 119633
The ShadowsDance On With The Shadows19633
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsHoliday Carnival19631
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsHits From Summer Holiday19634
The ShadowsOut Of The Shadows No 2196320
The ShadowsLos Shadows19634
The ShadowsFoot Tapping With The Shadows19637
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsCliff’s Lucky Lips196317
The ShadowsShindig With The Shadows19639
Cliff RichardLove Songs19634
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsDon’t Talk To Him196415
The ShadowsThose Brilliant Shadows19646
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsWonderful Life19643
The ShadowsRhythm & Greens19648
The ShadowsThemes from Aladdin196514
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsHits From Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp196520
Cliff RichardLook In My Eyes, Maria196515
The ShadowsDance With The Shadows No 3196516
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsTake Four19654
The ShadowsThose Talented Shadows19669
Cliff Richard & The ShadowsThunderbirds Are Go!19666
Cliff RichardLa-La-La-La-La196711
Dominating the EP chart
Serious Charge (OST): Cliff Richard, EP Columbia 1959. Predates the chart, and The Shadows were still known as The Drifters

And so to Cliff Richard. 100 albums exactly by September 2013. 47 studio, 7 soundtracks, 11 live and 35 compilations, but I wouldn’t really count compilations. 154 singles. 46 EPs. More EPs than any other artist, British or American. Fourteen UK #1 hits (at the time of writing). It’s a mountain. This is not all of it.

There are many positive feelings about Cliff. Move It was and still is a credible rock ‘n’ roll record. Some of my happiest teenage moments were spent watching The Young Ones and Summer Holiday, both endlessly repeated at the local News Theatre, which was basically a teen snogging venue with films on constant rotation all day. So you could watch a film twice on a cold wet night. I liked the films so much that I timed to arrive as the main feature started, leaving the heaviest snogging for the Edgar Lustgarten Presents B-movie and so watched the songs with attention. I struggled to pick out Travellin’ Light and Please Don’t Tease on bass guitar. When it finally emerged forty years late, the abandoned 1962 live album Live At The ABC Kingston 1962 proved to be one of the best live recordings dating from that era, with The Shadows acquitting themselves superbly backing Cliff. I respect and admire his persistence and stamina, and agree that it’s a calumny that snotty major label record executives declined to release his singles in recent years, and even worse that radio stations castigated DJs who did play him. I heard him on Clive Anderson’s Radio Four show, calmly side-stepping the inevitable joshing, then doing a solo Move It accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, leaving us amazed that he was that good a guitar player as well as retaining his voice.

There are negatives, and I know from the writing on record collecting what some are. There are an awful lot of unwanted Cliff LPs in cardboard boxes in charity shops. The Silver Hits collection, Almost Guaranteed and Wired For Sound are easily found. However, other LPs, like The 31st Of February Street never turn up, and are sought after. I’m Nearly FamousRock ‘n’ Roll Juvenile and Silver aren’t rare, but they don’t end up in the cardboard boxes on the floor under the musty old overcoats because they’re three of his best. It’s true that once Cliff singles reach picture sleeves in the early 70s, they are not in the slightest collectible. On the other hand early EPs and singles are valued, though Cliff is said to be the only artist where reissue singles are sought more than originals. I guess that, like Cliff, they’re cleaner.

Some Cliff songs are anathema to me. I loathe Congratulations almost as much as I loathe Engelbert’s Release Me. I can’t stand Bachelor Boy, that song title being a gift to forty odd years of tabloid headline writers. I don’t like It’s All In The Game in Cliff’s version. Nor The Twelfth Of Never. I could run up a list at great length pretty fast, with lots of early 70s religious stuff, but that is not the point.

Cliff was the EP King.

Gallery – Cliff, the EP King – click to enlarge

Cliff and The Shadows are lost impetus about the time EPs died.

The EPs decline can be traced the reduction of the EP chart to a Top Ten in April 1966, then abandoning the EP chart altogether in December 1967. This is the final one (and EMI still has six out of ten … Capitol, Tamla-Motown, Columbia, HMV):

Cliff wasn’t quite finished with EPs though. Back then, each country in Eurovision had a preliminary contest to choose its entry. In several years, the shortlist were released on EP as with Congratulations: 6 Songs For Europe in 1968.

Congratulations: Cliff Sings 6 Songs For Europe: Cliff Richard, EP, Columbia 1968

The last major, focussed EP release was Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles. The EP has never died … there are odd examples through the 70s, 80s and 90s, but they were no longer likely to get near singles in sales terms. Record Store Day has seen a number of EP 7″ releases in recent years too.

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