The EP chart begins
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.
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.
Cliff Richard & The Shadows
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
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Cliff Sings No 1||1960||4|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Expresso Bongo||1960||1|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Cliff Sings No 2||1960||3|
|Cliff Richard||Cliff Sings No 3||1960||2|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Cliff’s Silver Discs||1960||1|
|The Shadows||The Shadows No 1||1961||1|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Me & My Shadows No 1||1961||5|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Me & My Shadows No 2||1961||8|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Me & My Shadows No 3||1961||6|
|The Shadows||The Shadows To The Fore||1961||1|
|Cliff Richard||Listen to Cliff No 1||1961||17|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Dream||1961||3|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Cliff’s Hit Parade||1962||4|
|The Shadows||Spotlight On The Shadows||1962||1|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Hits From The Young Ones||1962||1|
|The Shadows||The Shadows No 2||1962||12|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Cliff Richard No 2||1962||19|
|The Shadows||The Shadows No 3||1962||13|
|The Shadows||Wonderful Land of The Shadows||1962||6|
|The Shadows||The Boys OST||1962||1|
|The Shadows||Out Of The Shadows No 1||1963||3|
|The Shadows||Dance On With The Shadows||1963||3|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Holiday Carnival||1963||1|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Hits From Summer Holiday||1963||4|
|The Shadows||Out Of The Shadows No 2||1963||20|
|The Shadows||Los Shadows||1963||4|
|The Shadows||Foot Tapping With The Shadows||1963||7|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Cliff’s Lucky Lips||1963||17|
|The Shadows||Shindig With The Shadows||1963||9|
|Cliff Richard||Love Songs||1963||4|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Don’t Talk To Him||1964||15|
|The Shadows||Those Brilliant Shadows||1964||6|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Wonderful Life||1964||3|
|The Shadows||Rhythm & Greens||1964||8|
|The Shadows||Themes from Aladdin||1965||14|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Hits From Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp||1965||20|
|Cliff Richard||Look In My Eyes, Maria||1965||15|
|The Shadows||Dance With The Shadows No 3||1965||16|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Take Four||1965||4|
|The Shadows||Those Talented Shadows||1966||9|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows||Thunderbirds Are Go!||1966||6|
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 Famous, Rock ‘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.
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.