I'd always been a big fan of Peter Cook and Dudley
Moore, from the days of Not Only But Also and, later, Behind The
Fridge which I was fortunate enough to see.
I remember begging my parents to take me to see
it 'cos we didn't live in London and I was only a kid. Just seventeen,
if that. We went to a matinee. Top quality show - I was howling
with laughter all the way through it. Don't ask me to recall special
bits - I can't. I went to see Barry Humphries' show about 6 or 7
years ago. That was bloody hilarious too, but I can't recall
any skits or jokes now. So it's useless asking me about something
25 years old.
As you no doubt know the original Derek & Clive
tape circulated as a bootleg. One of many such tapes that went around
studios and music circles. A famous one was The Troggs Tape - "We
need a bit of fairy dust on the bastard!" - but there was also
a rude tape of Marianne Faithfull and the Mars Bar. Marianne's on
a train talking to somebody and she starts, well, playing with herself,
basically. I think it was Marianne Faithful, unless it was
somebody pretending to be her. It might have been just the Mars
Bar. To me then - I mean, at the time pubic hair had only
just started appearing in Playboy - I'd never heard pornography
on tape before, so I suppose I was quite shocked. Now, of course,
we're all older and hardened to it but even so, young children of
today must have a period where they don't know about naughty things.
I was rudely awakened to the seedier side of the music biz with
the first recording session I ever worked on. It was with Mott The
Hoople, and members of The Grease Band - Joe Cocker's old backing
group - were there, too. I went into the loo to find two black girls
in there, holding two of The Grease Band guys' willies while they
were peeing into the urinal. There was quite a lot of debauchery
that went on in music then - there still is, now. But a lot more
then, before AIDS.
However, back then, Peter singing "I'm a nigger
and I've fucked a white chick" was totally out of control and
not on. It was so outrageous you couldn't help but laugh - but sometimes
you laugh not out of amusement but out of nervousness. But most
of that stuff is funny, it's so off the wall no-one else can have
thought of that stuff.
What happened with Ad Nauseum was I had just started
working for Virgin Records at their Townhouse Studios on the Goldhawk
Road. The studio had only been open for a few months. Or a few weeks,
even. It might have been a few days. That was one of the first sessions
at that studio. I was just told, "You're doing this",
being a dogsbody, more or less, but when I found out it was Pete
and Dud I thought, "Oh great!"
The sessions would start in the afternoon and we'd
go through till around 11 at night. I can't remember exactly now,
but I think they recorded for two or three days. Probably just two
days. Subsequently, I went to Virgin's other studio, The Manor,
near Oxford, with Pete and all the tapes. We were there to edit
some 20 hours of tape down to an album's length. Everything they
said was caught on tape. Pete and I spent two and a half weeks sifting
and editing. Dudley had no part in that process, so his credit as
co-producer is a bit 'cosmetic' since all the decisions were Peter's.
If you play the Ad Nauseum album and then watch
the Derek & Clive Get The Horn video you'll notice different
versions of the same material. "Labels", for instance,
has the same premise but they're different versions. That's because
they would busk the material, trying it various ways, like a band
would experiment with alternative arrangements for a song. You know,
honing it, getting it right. If you see them performing "The
Horn" on the video, Peter asks me at the end how long they've
been going. I reply "About an hour". So both the film
and album versions of he Horn are edited differently. This wasn't
some contract filler or sloppily "slung together at the last
minute" job. Peter and I worked hard in sequencing that sketch,
cutting superfluous waffle and rearranging sections to make it play
Of the two, Pete was the most prepared with ideas.
Apart from the "Durex Handicap Horseracing" thing, nothing
was in a finished script form. He had lots of scribbled notes and
words on sheets of paper, which would remind him of some comic idea
they could ad-lib and extemporise on.
It was very interesting because Dud was just beginning
to make his career in Hollywood and Pete was - not jealous, that's
not the right word - somehow disapproving in a way. Dud, I think,
came from Hollywood back to London the night before we started in
the studio. I think they hadn't met before the first day at the
Townhouse. Peter, I feel, was very much leading the show; Dudley
was hardly contributing much more than an "Oh yeah?" and
"Right". In some ways it's really a Peter Cook solo album
since 75-80% of the impetus is his. Dudley may have been jet-lagged
or just unprepared for the job.
If I'm remembering this right, Peter had not long
come out of a drying-out clinic and he was on the wagon. He was
sober and pretty straight for the first day, but at the end of the
evening he started to crack under the pressure of carrying the whole
show. There was minimal effort on Dudley's part. And at the end
of the first day or beginning of the second day he had to get some
wine, because I guess he felt he had to get pissed to be funny or
just relax. I don't recall Dud getting into the drink; his vices
were cough linctus and French figs. But whatever kind of internal
strife or friction was going on between them, I've never met or
worked with anyone as funny as Peter Cook. He was classic. So good.
In the film there's the fake drug bust in the studio.
That was Richard Branson's prank. I was informed, but under strict
instructions from Richard not to let on. I think Russell Mulcahy,
the director, knew as well. My God, Dudley was extremely pissed
off! Scared. But Peter was going, "That's the last time
I ever do a policeman's ball!" I think Richard got the idea
from the first day's session - the filming was done on the second
day because, during breaks in recording, Peter would be saying,
"Hugh - roll us a joint, will you?" He had a little bit
of hash in some aluminium foil, and Richard thought, "Right,
I'll get you and your Jazz Woodbines".