Monday, September 18, 2006


One of the most famous recordings made at Abbey Road in the 1960s featured Cilla Black recording Alfie in Studio One produced by George Martin and orchestrated by Burt Bacharach, the song's writer. Cilla says that she agreed to do the song only if Burt would fly from America for the session, arrange the song and play on it too. She didn't think for one minute he would do it but he did! Burt was a hard taskmaster (genius's always are said George Martin) and after numerous takes George asked Burt what he was looking for. 'For that little bit of magic' said Burt. To which George answered 'Well Burt, I think we had that on take three.' George comments that the first line of Alfie is one of the nicest things he has ever heard.

(Richard Porter,

The lore of Tin Pan Alley has it that legendary song-writer Burt Bacharach reduced a young Cilla Black to tears in the sanctified studios of Abbey Road. He was insisting on take after take in the sessions which eventually yielded Cilla's classic version of Alfie. "I think I made Cilla do 31 takes," he recalled matter-of-factly. "We had Sir George Martin sitting in the booth and I think we wound up with take number one... I was just looking for 100%. From everybody, the orchestra and Cilla... All that mattered was the record came out the way I wanted it to come out." Bacharach is comfortable with the label of "perfectionist", though this scarcely does justice to his steely micro-management, and it's clear that shelves groaning with Oscars and Emmys have come at considerable cost. "It's like this jukebox in my head at night. It's taken me a while to accept it, that this is the price you pay. I remember working on Alfie and trying to finish it. I went to see a play. And I'm watching this play, but I'm still working on Alfie, so I'm not watching the play. So I lose on both. I don't enjoy the play and I don't finish what I'm working on with Alfie.
(Interview with the BBC, 2006)
Attending the premiere of Alfie with Patti Boyd and George Harrison. London, March 1966

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