Sometime late in 1973 Dudley Moore and I booked
a recording studio for a late night ad-lib session after performing
what seemed like the millionth performance of Good Evening in New
York. I never believe performers who maintain that constant repetition
of the same material is not enormously tedious. Once I have got
through the tension and excitement of the first night and the brief
period of elation or despair that comes from reading the critical
reaction, acting becomes just another job.
The one redeeming factor about our show was that
we had written it and therefore felt quite entitled to mess about
with it to a cerain extent; but there is a limit to how much one
can alter a show, which in our case opened to very flattering reviews.
We both fell that we really ought to offer up at least a fair approximation
of what had been described in the press. I suppose we felt restrained
by the Trade Descripions Act. We had to produce the advertised goods.
Moments of pleasure came when something technical went wrong. Lights
would go out, teapots shatter for no good reason. . .at times like
these we felt perfectly free to imrovise and guiltlessly enjoy ourselves
with no text to follow.
This brings me to why we went to Electric Lady Studios,
armed with several bottles of wine, just to see, what happened if
we talked with no prior ideas into two microphones. We had no preconcieved
attitudes or inensions.
What emerged, on the whole was a shower of filth,
with no socially redeeming or artistic value. We heard it back the
next day and found it to be funny, but on the other hand we had
no idea what to do with it. What we did was very practical, i.e.
nothing. A few weeks later we decided to try out the same sort of
rambling filth on a small audience. We did and they laughed. This
time we did something; we sent a whole bunch of unedited tapes to
a long time friend of mine, Christopher Blackwell, head of Island
Records. He and his good lady also laughed and wondered what the
hell to do with them. The whole matter lapsed. Dudley and I went
on tour round the States and forgot about the tapes, in our relentless'
pursuit of dollars.
Christopher played them to various people in pop
circles, most of whom laughed. On our tour we began to meet a number
of Rock groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin
etc. who all had 'Pirate' copies of the tapes. They too found them
funny. I got the cynical thought that if rock groups found something
funny then probably people who like rock groups would find it funny
Suddenly the thought of making money out of a few
hours 'work' began to appeal. We left it all until we got back to
Britain and, down at Island Records, listened back to the two separate
sessions, one without an audience, one with. To myself, Dudley,
and Christopher they still sounded very funny and jointly (pardon
the pun) we thought why not put them out as an L.P.?
All of us had certain fears. Dudley and I because
we thought it might destroy our 'cuddly' family image and Christopher
for legal reasons and the possibility that his normal distributors
E.M.I. would not distribute the record. In this he was right, but
at the moment of writing we are number 12 in the L.P. charts, the
highest to my knowledge that a comedy L.P. has ever reached.
Smith's and Boots have lent their traditional support
in banning the record from their shops, thus ensuring it some kind
of notoriety, depriving themselves and their shareholders of income
and increasing sales at other outlets.
In the few weeks that the album has been out we
have done a great deal of interviews. On the whole the music papers
have been very favourable to the album, with its resolute 'single
entendres'. The only bad reaction we had is from the impermeable
'Upper Class' (such as Emma Soames of the Evening Standard who came
out with lines such as 'How could two such witty satirists, such
as you, resort to material such as this?' We have a simple reply,
its not resorting, its just a part of us that has always been there
and what's the harm in putting it out?
Over the course of the interviews we have gradually
put together a composite of what Derek and Clive are: they are probably
both mechanics, strongly Tory, like a drink, are embarrassed by
women, like football and think the whole world's gone f***ing mad.
Life ended for them with the 'Big Bopper'. They don't like poufs
or having to pay taxes when the country goes down the toilet. They've
never heard of The Tatler but would prefer it to The Socialist Worker.
On the other hand if the Socialist Worker offered 'reddies' instead
of a cheque from the Tatler they'd probably settle for the untaxable
cash. There are a lot of Derek and Clives about .
(filched from the 'Sheffield & North