I Remember Me - The First 25 years - Frank Ifield Autobiography Volume One
AUTOBIOGRAPHY VOL. 1
AVAILABLE NOW!

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Frank Ifield Memories

NOW!

'Frank Ifield Rarities'

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Double CD now available here!

This is a limited pre-release that features 59 Stereo tracks from the vaults of EMI.
Each CD is autographed by Frank himself and costs only $20 (Australian) plus $5 shipping & handling. Remember it is limited, so buy now!
Track Listing:
Disc 1
1. Fireball Mail
2. Cold Cold Heart
3. (Yes) I'm Hurting
4. Dark Moon
5. Roses From A Stranger
6. Devoted To You
7. Take Good Care Of Her
8. Long Gone
9. Love Song Of The Waterfall
10. Who Cares (For Me)
11. Lights Of Home
12. After The Heartaches
13. Here Comes My Baby Back Again
14. Rovin' Lover
15. Wolverton Mountain
16. Just Let Me Make Believe A While
17. I'm Learning Child
18. Give Myself A Party
19. Before This Day Ends
20. Good Morning Dear
21. Long Gone Lonesome Blues
22. Don't Forget To Cry
23. I'd be A Legend In My Time
24. Rainbows And Roses
25. You've Still Got A Place In My Heart
26. In A Mansion Stands My Love
27. Cool Water
28. Rover No More
29. Streets Of Laredo
      Disc 2
1. Maurie
2. When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again
3. A Stranger To Me
4. Cattle Call
5. Sweet Memories
6. Riders In The Sky
7. You And Me And Happiness
8. Just One Time
9. I'm A Fool To Care
10. Half As Much
11. Look What Thoughts Will Do (Tu Ne Me Verras Pleurer)
12. I Forgot What It Was Like
13. Blue Bayou
14. Innocent Years
15. Funny How Time Slips Away
16. Lost Love
17. A Hundred Days
18. Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
19. (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle
20. San Antonio Rose
21. Hey Little Bird
22. If It Comes To That
23. Love Me
24. Happy Tracks
25. Tumbling Tumbleweeds
26. It Don't Work That Way
27. I Just Can't Lose The Blues
28. Nottingham Fair
29. Old Man Duff
30. Pecos Bill

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Australian Release 7/7/07

Something Rare
& Wonderful


A new 2-CD compilation of, in Frank's own words..." rare and mainly hitherto unavailable material of mine, recorded around the world; spanning three decades from the sixties to the nineties." Includes the much sought after Crystal (I Can See Through You), Yesterday Just Passed My Way Again and Crawling Back, plus tracks from the Hickory, Spark and MAM labels, and recordings with UK band Barbary Coast. Includes album notes by Frank and by noted writer and broadcaster Paul Hazell.
Track Listing:
CD1 - 1. Roots & Rafters 2. Crystal (I Can See Thru You) 3. Silver Wings 4. Hearts On Fire 5. Close The Door 6. A Little Bit Of Push 7. I Remember You 8. Isn't It Always Love 9. God Made Love 10. California Cotton Fields 11. Daddy -You Know What? 12. (I'll Be Your) Hold Me Tight 13. Play Waltzing Matilda Again 14. Lonesome Jubilee 15. The Loving & The Leaving 16. Good Hearted Woman 17. You Only Live Once in a While 18. Beautiful Love 19. (Her Name Was) Joanne 20. Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast

CD2 - 1. Hurdy-Gurdy 2. Painting Myself Into A Corner 3. Who Am I to Say 4. Praised Be 5. Paint The World With Love 6. Broken Lady 7. You'll Never Be Missed 8. Till I Waltz Again With You 9. The Loneliness Of Ruby's Eyes 10. The Rise & Fall Of Soli Glick 11. Crawling Back 12. Something Rare & Wonderful 13. Lay In Your Arms 14. Rolling Stone 15. Angry At The Big Oak Tree 16. Love Ain't Worth The Living When It Dies 17. If Love Must Go 18. Yesterday Just Passed My Way Again 19. Teach Me Little Children 20. Please

Rajon Music Group, Catalogue Number: CDR1065


Click the play button to watch Frank Ifield performing
Crystal (I Can See Through You)

CLICK HERE to see more Frank Ifield videos on YouTube.


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INTRODUCING A BRAND NEW
EP COLLECTION OF
THREE GREAT MONOLOGUES!

'THEREBY HANGS A TALE'

 
Narrated by Frank with song and harmonies by Wayne Horsburgh, Amber Lawrence & Bob Howe. Instrumentation under the direction of Bob Howe. Recorded at Kenilworth Studios, Sydney for 'FIR' Recordings.

 


Notes from Frank:
  • I'm A Rolling Stone: This is a heartfelt tribute to one of my early heroes known as the 'Father of Australian Country Music', Tex Morton. I grew up with a love of story telling and this one touches me deeply as I can empathise with the drifter and his loyal dog.
  • You'll Never Be Missed: I first recall hearing this from my Australian Grandad. Being an impressionable nine-year-old kid, I cherished the moments listening to my 'Pep' tell tales of his younger days, while touring the outback by Cobb & Co coach, playing the part of Mr Interlocutor with the travelling Minstrel show. The message in this song teaches about the pitfalls of showbiz and life itself and I performed it on stage many times during my career.
  • Daddy, You Know What?: This was a song by Rex Allen that I remember doing on stage at the wondrous event of the birth of my first-born son Mark. Now, as a Grandad myself, I re-dedicate it to my Grandson 'Jack' who in echoing the sentiment of this lyric, knows just how to bring a lump to my throat and water to my eyes.

    The Yodelling Cowboy Years
    Frank Ifield
    The Yodelling Cowboy Years

    Jasmine Records JASCD 443

    31 vintage Frank Ifield performances many of which have never been available on CD before plus some rare tracks available for the first time on any format. Included in this compilation is Frank’s first commercial recording 'Did You See My Daddy Over There' and the elusive themes from 'Whiplash', the long running TV series and 'Cattle Carters'.

    Available from Jasmine Records
    Amazon (UK) and Amazon (USA)


    The Complete A-Sides and B-Sides CD cover
    FRANK IFIELD
    "The Complete A-Sides & B-Sides"

    If ever there were a showbusiness story that illustrates how intricately and irrevocably intertwined different forms of music can be, then the Frank Ifield story would be an excellent choice. His is a story that unashamedly embraces everything from the early hillbilly music of the 30s, through jazz, blues and big band sounds, through the heady days of the 60s UK pop boom to the country rock of the 70s and 80s. Frank was on the scene throughout it all and has recorded some pretty good examples of most of it!

    This set is unique for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is the first time that all Frank’s UK “A” and “B” sides have been presented together in one collection. Secondly, it is an ideal way of showing how Frank’s eclectic musical influences enabled him to build such a diverse career. The outstandingly successful recording career that he enjoyed during the 60s positioned him perfectly to explore even wider musical directions in the 70s and to return by the end of that decade to the music that first enthused him. Thirdly, some tracks are presented here for the first time in stereo in a UK released Frank Ifield collection and fourthly, we are delighted to make a newly mixed, updated version of Frank’s immortal “I Remember You” available to the public for the first time anywhere.

    The full track listing (64 tracks on 3 CDs) plus an extended version of the
    liner notes by noted writer and broadcaster PAUL HAZELL, continue here...

      CD 1
    1. Lucky Devil
    2. Nobody Else But You
    3. Happy-Go -Lucky Me
    4. Unchained Melody
    5. Gotta Get A Date
    6. No Love Tonight
    7. That's The Way It Goes
    8. Hoebe Snow
    9. Tobacco Road
    10. Life's A Holiday
    11. Your Time Will Come
    12. That's the Way It Is
    13. Alone Too Long
    14. Bigger Than You Or Me
    15. I Remember You
    16. I Listen To My Heart
    17. Lovesick Blues
    18. She Taught Me How To Yodel
    19. The Wayward Wind
    20. I'm Smiling Now
    21. I Remember You (German version)
    22. She Taught Me To Yodel (German version)
      CD 2
    1. Nobody's Darling But Mine
    2. You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry
    3. Confessin (That I Love You)
    4. Waltzing Matilda
    5. Mule Train
    6. One Man's Love
    7. Say It Isn't So
    8. Don't Blame Me
    9. Angry At The Big Oak Tree
    10. Go Tell It On The Mountain
    11. I Should Care
    12. Another Cup Of Coffee
    13. Summer Is Over
    14. True Love Ways
    15. Don't Make Me Laugh (Don't Make Me Cry)
    16. Without You (Tres Palabras)
    17. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
    18. Lonesome Number One
    19. Paradise
    20. Goodbye Now
    21. Nobody's Darlin' But Mine (German version)
      CD 3
    1. I Guess
    2. Then Came She
    3. There'll Be Another Spring
    4. Don't Be Afraid
    5. No One Will Ever Know
    6. I'm Saving All My Love (For You)
    7. Call Her Your Sweetheart
    8. All My Daydreaming
    9. You Came Along (From Out Of Nowhere)
    10. And I Always Will Do
    11. Up Up And Away
    12. Roses, Moonlight And One Little Bottle Of Wine
    13. All The Time
    14. In The Snow
    15. Some Sweet Day
    16. Singing The Blues
    17. (You've Got) Morning In Your Eyes
    18. Oh! Such A Stranger
    19. The Swiss Maid
    20. Baby Doll
    21. I Remember You (2004 pedal steel version)
    Available from all good music stores in the U.K.
    (Catalog No.) EMI 474 5442
    or internationally through Amazon (UK) and Amazon (USA)

    The following is an expanded version of the liner notes...

    THE GOLDEN YEARS OF FRANK IFIELD
    by PAUL HAZELL

    Early Years

    Born in Coventry, England on November 30th 1937 of Australian parents, Frank Ifield’s earliest recollections of music are of the combined harmonies of Hitler’s bombs, community singing in the air raid shelters and BBC radio shows like Big Bill Campbell’s Rocky Mountain Rhythm.

    In 1947, with Frank still very young, his father decided that he and the family would return home to Australia where they settled in the delightfully rural area of Dural, New South Wales. There Frank would milk the cows and perform other chores before embarking on the long walk across country each day to attend school. At home, he would regularly listen to the radio – and local radio in Australia in those days often meant exposure to country music. Through listening to those early “hillbilly” shows, Frank became fascinated by the likes of Canada’s Hank Snow, Orval Prophet and Wilf Carter, America’s Sons Of The Pioneers, Roy Rogers, Slim Clark, Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family. He also grew to love the home-grown songs of local artistes like Buddy Williams, Smoky Dawson, Tim McNamara and New Zealand’s Tex Morton. In fact, these formative years were when Frank first learned to yodel. Most of the songs featured a yodel and Frank discovered that he could sing and yodel himself. He also found that yodelling whilst milking the cows improved the yield of milk!

    At school, Frank benefited hugely from his headmaster who taught him to “perform” poetry though the use of expression, vocal emphasis and posture rather than simply recite it. This passion for expressing words through vocal variation and body language was to put Frank in good stead in later years. The hundreds of thousands of people who have attended Frank Ifield concerts through the years will testify that Frank’s performances delivered huge impact as much through the way he expressed the songs as through the strength and quality of his voice. Back in the late forties though, Frank already had the seeds of that famous voice – it was already strong and true.

    Four great names of Australian showbusiness also had crucial input to the Frank Ifield brand in those formative years. Chief Little Wolf was a wrestler who took Frank under his wing when Frank was starting out in showbusiness. He taught Frank that being in the business was not just a matter of singing and strumming a guitar – it was the “business” of “show”.

    Frank learned from Little Wolf the importance of dressing immaculately and stage-managing what the audience see. Even today, Frank is horrified to see youngsters in scruffy dress preparing stage equipment in full sight of the audience, then clambering on stage in the same clothes to present their show. In Frank’s day, you did not see him until the curtain was drawn back and Frank would appear in colourful stage dress, immaculately groomed and beaming that characteristically infectious smile.

    It is difficult to explain to those who have never encountered the talents of Tex Morton, just what a giant of showmanship he was in his day, but even though Frank never knew him personally, he learned a lot from this legend of Australasian showbusiness – about timing, putting feeling into a song, keeping your name – positively – in the public eye, as well as a few useful guitar licks and yodels! To this day, he still loves to recite the old bush poetry for which Tex also became famous.

    The third of those four key names in those early Australian days was an ex-boundary rider turned impresario and cowboy singer by the name of Tim McNamara. McNamara established himself as the kingpin of country music around the city of Sydney and became as well known for the spectacular music and talent shows that he staged as he did for his many top selling records. Possessed of a warm, golden singing voice and a crystal clear yodel, he became a hero to many of the youngsters of the day – including the young, star struck Frank Ifield, who asked him for a spot on the McNamara show.

    The relationship with McNamara was soon to come down to earth. Tim at first turned Frank down for his show but Tim’s brother gave Frank his first break when the show came to Hornsby Pacific Caberet, a few miles outside Sydney. After a terrified Ifield had raced through Hank Snow’s “Golden Rocket”, Tim realised that Frank had real potential so he extended the offer to a regular spot at one guinea per show. Frank learned the discipline of timing and entering and exiting on time and in the right way. Tim then taught Frank a valuable lesson in economics – when Frank asked for a raise, Tim sacked him!

    Finally, Frank was given another important break by husband and wife country music duo Rick & Thel Carey. The Careys were very big in those days and they carried a lot of influence. It was they who gave Frank an introduction to Southern Music in Sydney and it was that introduction that led to Frank becoming a Regal Zonophone recording artiste in 1953.

    Frank’s first commercial recording was a sad war story he learned from an early Eddy Arnold record. The title was “Did You See My Daddy Over There” and it was backed by a yodelling showpiece built around Wilf Carter’s theme tune, “There’s A Love Knot In My Lariat”.

    Frank went on to become a huge name in Australian showbusiness through the rest of that decade. He recorded more than 40 sides – firstly on Regal Zonophone 78s, then on Columbia 45s and even had one of the first LP records to be recorded in Australia, “Yours Sincerely”. The first tracks were recorded with just Frank’s guitar for accompaniment, but he later went on to record with country bands and some of the best jazz and session musicians in the country. For more details on those early years and 30 of those early tracks, see the EMI Gold release 'Frank Ifield Sings Country & Classics' on EMI 7243-5-41734-2-4. To hear "There's A Love Knot In My Lariat" from Frank's first ever commercial 78 and one of his early compositions, "A Mother's Faith", seek out a copy of the 4CD set "A Cowboy's Life Is Good Enough For Me: 100 Songs Of The Plains And Life In The West" on the UK-based Jasmine label JASBOX 13-4. This set also includes hitherto rare tracks by Tim McNamara, Tex Morton and Hank Snow along with many others

    Frank also became a household name on radio and, when TV was introduced in Australia in 1956, he was in at the start with his own TV series called “Campfire Favourites”. Successful tours of Tasmania and New Zealand capped his achievements. He was in fact riding the crest of a wave; young, successful and popular with the girls! What more could any young man ask? Frank could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels and enjoying the fruits of his success.

    Frank Ifield however, never was and still is not, a man to stand still for long! By 1959, he had done just about as much as could be done in Australia. Frank realised that he would need to travel overseas if he was to further his career. Frank’s first love in showbusiness had always been singing to a live audience. The thrill of the boards and the adrenalin rush from a crescendo of applause was where the real passion was for him. So now, he set his sights on performing in some of the World’s most prestigious theatres, like The Palladium in London and Radio City Music Hall in New York. To do that he would have to be a big name and to become a big name he would need a big hit with wider recognition than could be achieved within the local market in Australia. In hindsight we all know that he eventually achieved all this countless times over, but back then he was a young, bright star shining in a relatively small, local market and he knew that to really “make it” he would have to up his game.

    To embark on such a move would take considerable courage; he would be travelling from a home country where he was a kingpin at the top of the ladder to an unknown in a strange country halfway round the world, where the competition was far more intense and widespread. That would be the case whether he chose to travel to the USA or to the UK. Two factors combined to determine which of these he would choose. One deciding factor was Frank’s English heritage. The other was his manager, Peter Gormley, an astuste businessman and persistent personality. Peter felt that as the Columbia Gramophone Company was a London-based company, Frank might at least carry some weight with the London office by reason of being on the Columbia roster in Australia.

    So it was that on November 4th 1959, not long before his 22nd birthday, Frank left Sydney on the inaugural British Airways Comet flight. On arrival at Heathrow on November 5th, thanks to some careful planning and lobbying by Peter Gormley, Frank was met by the British press and by then British rock’n’roll superstar Tommy Steele. And that is where this collection enters the story.

    A Second Career

    Peter had done his share of advance promotion and had organised for EMI Artiste & Repertoire Manager and band leader Norrie Paramor to provide some mentorship and help to Frank in his new career. The fact that Frank was a likeable and personable individual and always willing to listen to the advice of others, placed him in front with Norrie. Norrie quickly realised that Frank had the qualities of stardom, complete with youthful good looks, strong voice and boundless energy. Nevertheless, notwithstanding Norrie’s new mentoring role, the first advice that Frank received – and observed – in England came from Peter Gormley. Peter advised him not to yodel – firstly because he didn’t know if the British audiences would like yodelling and secondly because he did not want Frank to be “type cast”.

    Frank is also a man of strong views and, although he will listen to others, he usually knows what he wants and will not hold back from saying so. Not surprisingly, this quality came to the fore very early on in the relationship between Paramor and Frank! Norrie arranged with Peter for Frank to enter into a recording contract. Frank chose for his first “A” side a bouncy teenybopper number with a country feel. The title was “Lucky Devil” – probably befitting the way Frank was feeling at that time – but Norrie felt it was too country for the UK market. To make his name in the UK, Frank needed a big chart hit and Norrie felt that “Lucky Devil” was not the kind of number to fit the bill. Norrie was highly respected in the business and had a long track record of successful recordings with – amongst others – England’s own Ronnie Ronalde.

    Frank however felt the song was strong and persuaded Norrie to give it a chance. Paramor eventually gave in and engaged Ken Jones to do the arrangement. So it was that, just a few short weeks after arriving in England, on December 23rd 1959 Frank found himself at the Abbey Road studios in London with “Lucky Devil” on the agenda. The track was coupled with Frank’s own composition “Nobody Else But You”. The song had a meaning to Frank that was a cross between cupid and nostalgia. In his early days in Australia, Frank’s high-profile life had brought him into contact with many beautiful girls and, being young and impressionable, he fell in love with most of them! “Nobody Else But You” was inspired by his susceptibility to the fair sex. The single was released on January 18th 1960 and “Lucky Devil” made the top 30, peaking just short of the coveted “Top 20” at number 22 – not at all an accomplishment to be sneezed at for an unknown youngster. Frank was delighted and so were Norrie and Peter.

    The next session took place in April 1960 but the recordings made at the session were not released until later in the year. In the meantime, another single was recorded and released. “Happy Go Lucky Me” could also have been written specially for Frank as it epitomises his cheerful, optimistic and outgoing personality. He was offered the number as one of the new songs emanating from the USA and his interpretation is light and catchy with a country feel – just as you might expect. Following the success of “Lucky Devil”, at the time of release in May 1960 it seemed a good contender for the charts. And it may well have done so, had it not been for George Formby being offered the song and releasing it at the same time as Frank’s version! Frank’s was a fine recording and he is in good voice but his profile was not yet as high as a long-time established favourite like Formby. Formby benefited from extensive airplay at the cost of Frank’s version with the result that the follow-up hit that he and Norrie had hoped for did not come with this song.

    The song was coupled with “Unchained Melody”, an old Al Hibbler hit that Frank had always loved. In fact, he liked it so much that he had already recorded it on his first album in Australia. So this version, recorded in London specially for the single, was a nostalgic trip for Frank. On reflection – in the light of the repeated success of the song for people like the Righteous Brothers, Robson & Jerome and Gareth Gates in subsequent years – perhaps it should have been the “A” side!

    The April session had provided five recordings from which were drawn the next two singles. “Gotta Get A Date”, released in August 1960 was another catchy “teeny” type song not unlike “Lucky Devil” and some of the songs Frank had recorded towards the end of his time in Australia. The track was slightly more pop than country and was picked up by Radio Luxembourg. Back in those days, youngsters kept up-to-date with the music scene by listening to Radio Luxembourg so the airplay from the station gave the record a welcome boost. In addition to that, the station ran a competition around the song, the prize being to go on a date with Frank! The winner chose to go boating on the river with some underprivileged children and this generated more publicity! The song was not a smash hit but it did enter the charts for a week, reaching number 49 and again demonstrating Frank’s chart potential. It was backed by “No Love Tonight”, a pleasant song well sung but never one of Frank’s personal favourites.

     

    The big hit was still eluding them though and the next song followed in the same style as “Gotta Get A Date”; catchy, light and reflecting the trend of pop ballads at that time including not a little of the Buddy Holly style of presentation. “That’s The Way It Goes”, from the Shadows stable was coupled with a country song written by Jimmy Work. Frank’s presentation of “Hoebe Snow” is a cross between rockabilly and straight country and stands out with “Unchained Melody” in indicating the vocal capability and presence that had so far remained largely untapped in Frank’s UK recordings. Frank was never happy with the track yet many rockabilly and country fans found his to be a refreshing treatment.

    Interestingly, the proposed “B” side to “That’s The Way It Goes” was “She’s The Girl Who Doesn’t Care For Me” which was much closer to some of the more mature ballads that Frank would perform in a few years time. It is not perhaps quite as good a song as some of those that he recorded later but when one listens, it is hard not to anticipate that falsetto break that was to become Frank’s trademark in the very near future. However, at this time, Frank was still following advice and not using that side of his voice and “Hoebe Snow” in this writer’s opinion was a stronger “B” side that could have been an “A”. “She’s The Girl” remained unissued until 1997 when it was included in a limited edition release, “Frank Ifield Remembering The 60s”.

    During this period Frank was raising his profile by appearing on TV and radio and touring whenever he could. His tours included stints with Duane Eddy, Emile Ford and Bruce Channel and he appeared with The Shadows in 1960 in the first Pantomime staged at the Globe Theatre, Stockton. Frank played the title role of Dick Whittington and The Shadows were “The Brokers Men”. He was a contender for the 1961 British Song Contest with “I Can’t Get Enough Of Your Kisses” (which reached number one in the sheet music charts) and that year also enjoyed a summer season at Swanson’s Hotel, Jersey, Channel Islands with top comedians Mike & Bernie Winters. So delighted was he to be back on a beach under the summer sun that one day he scribbled out a song during a spare 10 minutes. Even though he still lacked that big hit, things were not bad at all – he was making a name for himself, he was enjoying regular work, he was recording with one of the most respected producers in the business and here he was with a beautiful girl lying on the beach by his side! He had achieved all this by following his own instincts. That day, he wrote “I Listen To My Heart” on the back of a cigarette packet and tucked it away without further thought.

     

    Meanwhile, the search for a hit continued and the next “A” side was another bouncy, singalong song, “Life’s A Holiday” which Norrie thought might hit the charts for the summer holiday period. However, Frank preferred the “B” side, John D Loudermilk’s  as yet undiscovered classic “Tobacco Road”. Frank explains:

    “Having met John, I became more interested in seeking out his songs. I came across this gem gathering dust in the publisher’s back room and couldn’t wait to record it”.

    The song became popular on Frank’s stage performances and emphasised much more of his country roots than some of the previous numbers. The single failed to make its mark however and “Tobacco Road” – one of the most distinctive Frank Ifield recordings of those early UK years – sank into virtual obscurity with the saving grace being when it appeared as the title track of an early EP. A few years later the song became a massive hit for The Nashville Teens.

    “Your Time Will Come” came next and showed a strong leaning towards a Roy Orbison style of presentation. A robust Ifield composition presented with confident vocals, one cannot help but wonder if the sound was too “Orbisonesque” to make it as an Ifield single. Certainly there was nothing wrong with the song, nor with Frank’s performance. Sweden’s Anita Lindbloom covered the song and made the Swedish charts. The Orbison influence was a powerful one and emerged further in later Ifield recordings of songs such as “The Crowd” and “Blue Bayou” which won Frank extensive airplay. The coupling for “Your Time Will Come” was “That’s The Way It Is”, another catchy pop ballad. Frank felt that “That’s The Way It Is” might make the charts even if “Your Time Will Come” did not, but it was not to be.

    January 1962 found Frank recording a song written specially for him by popular vocalist Vince Hill. “Alone Too Long” enjoyed some success as it was entered in the heats for the Eurovision Song Contest. It was not the chosen song but did come third which gave it some airplay. Notwithstanding this, the record failed to make the charts. It was backed by “Bigger Than You And Me”, a song in which Frank’s vocals reflect another influence, that of the bluesy balladeer Brook Benton of “Boll Weevil” fame.

    Norrie and Frank were more than just disappointed. They had set out on a strategy to bring Frank to the attention of the British record-buying public and had followed the sounds of the day. They had made Frank visible through TV shows and high-profile tours, he had guested on all the big BBC radio shows and yet he still had not had that big hit he so much needed to escalate his standing to “Top Of The Bill” status. There was only one record to go to complete Frank’s Columbia contract and it looked like Frank’s bid to hit the big time would have to come to an end. They decided that if Frank was try his luck elsewhere, he would at least leave his mark on the scene. Frank resolved that the last record would reflect more of the true Ifield style and less of the style dictated by the pop market.

    Back in Australia he had recorded a number of old standards like “Autumn Leaves”, “Deep Purple” and “That Lucky Old Sun”. Frank now looked for another such song that he could adapt to a country presentation closer to the style he used to sing. He had also been impressed during the tour with Bruce Channel, with Delbert McLintock’s “mouth harp” playing on Bruce’s “Hey Baby”. Frank decided that for his final single of the contract he would “be himself”. He began to experiment to himself with some new ideas and the first thing to go was Peter’s ban on yodelling!

    One day, guitar in hand, he breezed into Norrie Paramor’s office, put his foot up on a chair and sang him “I Remember You”, from the 1942 film, “The Fleet’s In”, complete with falsetto breaks. The open-mouthed Paramor was at once astounded (he had never heard Frank sing like this), nervous (would doing this to an old standard win him sales or alienate the public?) and excited (this was certainly unique and the country-style “pick’n strum” guitar had never been matched with these old standards before). Peter Gormley too was concerned – he didn’t want Frank type-cast as a yodeller and once again restated his belief that Frank should refrain from yodelling in the UK. Frank however was undaunted; it was the last single of the contract – why should he not do what he was best at and leave his mark? Besides, it was only a few voice-breaks, not a fully-fledged yodel!

    Despite reservations, Paramor pressed ahead to produce the disc himself. Searches for country fiddle players and steel guitarists were unsuccessful so they settled on a simple sound supported by some subtle strings. The recording was made on 27th May 1962 and boasts one of the most memorable openings for a record ever recorded. The mouth organ plays the first bars of “Waltzing Matilda” after Frank’s opening guitar runs and is followed by Frank’s strong, country vocal and falsetto. The “B” side was “I Listen To My Heart” – the song Frank wrote that day on the beach, back in that summer season in Jersey. It was later covered as an instrumental by the Spotnicks as “Just Listen To Your Heart” and gave them a hit.

    The Big Time – At Last!

    This time though, it became apparent very quickly that something very different was going on. Far from alienating the public, “I Remember You” was capturing their imaginations! Released on June 29th 1962, this was the one he and Norrie had been waiting for. The first indicator of what was to come was when David Jacobs’ prestigious TV show “Juke Box Jury” that reviewed new releases, voted the record a “unanimous hit”! In early July, it reached the number one spot in the UK and had gone Silver within 2 weeks of release! It remained at number one for 7 weeks – in one day, 17th July, it sold 102,500 copies - in one half hour period alone selling 32,750! The single proceeded to stay in the chart for 28 weeks, sold millions and, with artiste royalties on “I Remember You” and songwriter and artiste royalties on “I Listen To My Heart” made sure that Frank would not have to worry too much about his finances for quite some time!!

    Needless to say, the expiring recording contract was quickly renewed and Frank received his first gold record. He also became the first artiste to sell a million records in the UK alone – the overseas sales made the record one of the most successful of all time. “I Remember You” was also a major world-wide hit.

    Things really took off now. Frank was a name to be reckoned with and the TV and personal appearance invitations poured in. Norrie, Peter and Frank had to move quickly to identify a follow-up. Clearly, the country feel of “I Remember You” had not done any harm, although Frank was anxious not to have a “carbon copy” to follow. What was apparent however was that the falsetto on “I Remember You” had contributed markedly to the record’s memorability. It was on everyone’s tongue and people would meet in the streets and sing “I Remember You – woo” to one another!!

    Frank delved back into his country roots and this time came up with a song that was a hybrid between outright hillbilly and vaudeville. Ronnie Carole and Frank were doing the TV show “Cool For Cats” and Frank was in his dressing room strumming his guitar and playing around with “Lovesick Blues” when Ronnie overheard him. Carole loved the song and immediately suggested to Frank that it should be his next single.

    The song had started life in a vaudeville stage show and became prominent in the 30s by a black-face minstrel by the name of Emmett Miller, who added some falsetto phrasing. Country songwriter and yodeller Rex Griffin had then picked it up as a country song and Hank Williams had added fiddles and steel guitar and enjoyed a huge US number one hit in 1949. But the Williams hit was more than a decade before. The facts were now that the twist was the “in” thing. So Norrie negotiated with Frank that he could do “Lovesick Blues” if he agreed to record it with a twist beat and an up-tempo band arrangement. Frank was true to the test and the record that followed was not only a classic of British pop, it would also give him another number one and stir up interest in country music amongst the younger generation! Now confident that people would like the falsetto, he used it liberally and “Lovesick Blues” became a showstopper.

    For the “B” side Frank was searching through more country songs when two things happened that made up his mind for him. One night he appeared on stage with a band that was so out of time that Frank asked them to stop playing after the opening number. He had to think on his feet and come up with a song that he could do with just his guitar. He recalled an old Elton Britt hit that he had loved as a lad and used to sing on stage in Australia. He was nervous though as it was an outright yodelling song and Frank was still mindful of Peter Gormley’s repeated warnings. Having built up a big name he didn’t want to damage the image now by singing something that wasn’t “cool”. Still, standing there, guitar in hand, in front of a theatre full of expectant fans focussed his mind and he launched – for the first time in years – into “She Taught Me To Yodel”. The crowd went wild! Frank suddenly realised that Peter’s warning – whilst well intentioned – had been based on assumption rather than factual evidence.

    The second factor was when Frank appeared on the Royal Variety Performance. The Queen Mother said she had heard that Frank could yodel (news travels fast!) and would he yodel “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” that night? Frank did not have the words or music to “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” with him but he did agree to yodel. Under Royal command, Frank overruled Peter’s recommendation that he should not yodel on national TV and once again performed “She Taught Me To Yodel”. Yet again the crowd went wild – it brought the house down – and the Queen Mother was delighted. Needless to say, “She Taught Me To Yodel” was hastily recorded and scheduled as the “B” side to “Lovesick Blues”. The two tracks were recorded on August 19th 1962, along with another Ifield composition, “I’m Smiling Now” which would very shortly become a very familiar song.

    In September of that year Frank received the “National Record Award” from Record Retailer and the Music Industry for the best pop single of 1962 for “I Remember You”. Now, following the award, the popularity of “I Remember You” and the overwhelming reception of “She Taught Me To Yodel” at the Royal Command Performance, surely no-one would ever again try to convince Frank that British audiences didn’t like yodelling!

    The Hits Flow

    In October 1962 Frank flew to the USA for his first appearances on the other side of the Atlantic. In the same month, “Lovesick Blues” coupled with “She Taught Me How To Yodel” was released and, not long after that, the airplay began. Favourite English yodeller and whistler Ronnie Ronalde recalls,

    “I was appearing in the west country and was taking a break in rehearsals one afternoon when this young chap came on the radio yodelling about going across to Switzerland. Well, I thought ‘I’ve Got Some competition now’”.

    Always one to support aspiring young talent, Ronnie called Norrie Paramor – who had also produced a lot of Ronnie’s records – and told him,

    “I don’t know who this new boy is but he’s very good. You’d better come and sign him up!”.

    The reply of course went along the lines of “I already have!”. Through the years it has emerged that Ronnie and Frank admire one another’s work. But back to 1962. The single became a double-sided hit with as many people requesting “Yodel” as wanted “Lovesick Blues”. Frank subsequently received a second gold record.

    Frank was now riding the crest of a wave for the second time in his career and he found more songs from the country music archive in the form of “The Wayward Wind”, which was recorded in November 1962 along with “Nobody’s Darling But Mine” and “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)”. “The Wayward Wind” had been a hit for cowboy singer Tex Ritter but Frank also remembered how it had been popular for Goggi Grant. The “outdoor” lyrics of the song could have been written about the young Frank Ifield and Frank felt a real affinity to it. This time the mouth organ and guitar so popular in “I Remember You” was brought back and the falsetto used only a little – although it was still there.

    If the title of “I Listen To My Heart” unintentionally reflected how Frank came to record “I Remember You”, then the title of “I’m Smiling Now”, which was used as the “B” side of “Wayward Wind” certainly reflected how Frank had cause to feel as 1962 drew towards its close.

    “The Wayward Wind” was released in January 1963 and received some criticism on “Juke Box Jury” but the public defied the jury and bought the disc in droves. Within a week it was in the charts, where it stayed for 13 weeks. Frank however was in Australia – his first visit home since 1959 – where he was greeted as a hero and awarded the Macquarie Tune Table Award for his outstanding achievements, the Conductors’ Silver Baton specifically citing him for “Leadership, Discipline and the Quest for Excellence”. Back in the UK, New Musical Express magazine awarded him “Best British Disc Of The Year” for “I Remember You” and named him “Top New TV Singer”.

    On February 21st, “The Wayward Wind” made the number one spot, holding back at number 2 the Beatles’ “Please Please Me”. It remained at the top for three weeks. The following month, the Guiness Book Of Records officially proclaimed Frank the first artiste in Britain to achieve three consecutive number ones in the British Pop Charts.

    Columbia were keen to keep the pot boiling and were by this time happy to trust Frank’s judgement about the songs he recorded. Frank felt he had enjoyed his peak for the time being – four consecutive number ones was just too ambitious. Mindful of Peter Gormley’s ongoing concerns about being typecast as a yodeller, he decided on a change of pace with the next single.

    “Nobody’s Darling But Mine” was a country standard written by ex Governor of Tennessee Jimmie Davis, who also wrote “You Are My Sunshine”. Frank dropped all trace of the yodel or falsetto for this one and gave it a beautiful and tender love song treatment that showed the quality and range of his singing voice. Compared to those early teenybopper singles, the emotion and vocal control expressed in this track was much more in keeping with Frank’s true talent. The flip side of this single was as strong as any of the “A” sides so far, a rousing treatment of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s big hit “You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry”, which had been recorded in the previous August. The single was released in April 1963 and within a week was riding at number 4 for a 13 week sojourn in the chart. “Nobody’s Darling” had repaid Frank’s faith in the song and “You Don’t Have To Be A Baby” was later covered successfully by the Caravelles.

    Over this frantic period, Frank was maintaining a hectic schedule of shows and returned frequently to the studios to build a stockpile of songs for future release. The Liverpool sound and the Beat craze were now leading the pop field so Frank and Norrie decided it was time to revert back to the tried and tested “I Remember You “ formula of old standards presented with a country feel. “”I’m Confessin’”, recorded the previous November as part of the same series of sessions that produced “The Wayward Wind” and “Nobody’s Darlin’”, brought back the falsetto with some fine phrasing by Frank. The “B” side this time would be a song that had become a great favourite on his stage shows – a rousing rendition of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, the Banjo Patterson composition “Waltzing Matilda”.

    In May 1963 Frank was awarded the Weekend Magazine Showbusiness award for “Top Male Vocal” and in June the new single was released. Within a few days Frank was rewarded with his fourth number one. “I’m Confessin’” stayed at number one for two weeks before being toppled by Elvis Presley’s “Devil In Disguise” and even then remained in the charts for a total of 16 weeks.

    By now, tracks were being chosen for singles from recordings laid down several months before. In September 1963, another international double “A” side followed and saw Frank back in the charts for 13 weeks, peaking at number 8. If country music had always been Frank’s first musical love, then jazz had to come a close second and he loved the music of artistes such as Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. From the vast stable of jazz standards, “Don’t Blame Me” was coupled with “Say It Isn’t So” to produce a double “A” side. Both sides were jazz classics given the now tried and tested formula of falsetto and a country influenced delivery. Whilst “Don’t Blame Me” led the way in the UK, “Say It Isn’t So” was extremely popular and much requested and entered the charts in several countries.

    Frank’s final single of 1963 was another Tennessee Ernie Ford country standard, “Mule Train”, which was released in October. Ever since he learned to express poetry by listening to his headmaster at school, Frank had always loved a song that could create pictures of other places and times in a listener’s mind. “Mule Train” does just that. In Frank’s own words, “You should almost feel the heat and see the tumbleweeds under the feet of the mules, straining to pull the heavy wagon. That’s how I saw it and that’s what I tried to depict”.

    The single was not as big in the UK as the previous ones – possibly because it was released so close on the heels of “Don’t Blame Me” - but it was a good seller and musically was very strong. Frank’s performance of “Mule Train” reflected the love he had for the song and this was also true of the “B” side, which probably showed off his voice control as well as any song recorded to that date. “One Man’s Love” is a tender song of love gone wrong but the arrangement required Frank to sing across a wide range, with some voice breaks at fiendishly difficult stages of the melody. It features all the qualities of “Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine” but with the added complication of the falsetto breaks, which come in some of the softer parts of the song, making them even more difficult. It is an outstanding piece of work and could just as easily have been an “A” side. It could also have stood its own in Nashville as it has a pure country feel to it.

    1963 also saw Frank’s second LP and his first UK album in the very country-influenced “I’ll Remember You” (Columbia SCX 3460), which became a major seller. It was followed the same year by the equally country-flavoured “Born Free” (Columbia SCX 3485).

    Perhaps a lesson was learned from the comparative lack of impact of “Mule Train” in the UK. A gap of several months now ensued until April 1964 when “Angry At The Big Oak Tree” was released, coupled with “Go Tell It On The Mountain”. A folky type of song, Frank gave “Oak Tree” a semi-country treatment with harmonies from Mary Mudd of the Mudlarks vocal group. “Go Tell It On The Mountain” is an old gospel song that Frank adapted to a love song and presented as a song and dance routine on the prestigious “Sunday Night At The London Palladium” TV show. Incidentally, it was whilst dancing with the girls on this show that Frank met the first Mrs Ifield, Gillian Bowden, who was one of the dancers. “Angry At The Big Oak Tree” was reminiscent in style to “Nobody’s Darlin’” and attracted so much airplay, that it became one of Frank’s most requested songs on radio.

    May and June 1964 found Frank recording again and from those sessions was drawn the next single with “Another Cup Of Coffee” from the May session being coupled with “I Should Care”, recorded in June, which was chosen as the “A” side. “I Should Care” was another jazz standard given the familiar country vocal treatment with some impressive falsetto. “Another Cup Of Coffee” drew from Country, Jazz and Blues to form an unusual fusion of styles.

    Frank’s old friend Tom Springfield of The Springfields wrote “Summer Is Over” specially for Frank, although Dusty Springfield also covered it. The song formed Frank’s next “A” side and was released in September 1964. Frank liked the folky feel as he had with “Angry At The Big Oak Tree”. However, “Summer Is Over” had something of a “dancing on the village green” feel about it and the merry, “toodling” flute added to the rural atmosphere. Norrie Paramor provided an unusual arrangement that moved from a ¾ tempo to a 6/8 and remains today one of Frank’s personal favourites. The song gained a lot of airplay and provided a total contrast to Frank’s gentle treatment of Buddy Holly’s beautiful “True Love Ways”, which formed the “B” side. Frank admired Holly’s achievements and included the song as his tribute to the great man.

    “Summer Is Over” was very popular on radio but did not become a major hit. Disappointingly, the single that followed it achieved even less impact. “Don’t Make Me Laugh (Don’t Make Me Cry)” was the record buyers’ loss – Frank had fallen in love with the lyrics and delivered an impassioned performance with a country treatment. Replace the strings with a steel guitar and you would think it had been recorded in Nashville! It was a great record and deserved better. Yet again we must ask – in hindsight was it wise to release singles so closely on the heels of one another? The “B” side was “Without You”, a beautiful love song that Frank had first recorded in Spanish in Sidges, near Barcelona, to coincide with a tour of Spain he undertook with Cliff Richard. For the single though, he recut it in English.

    1964 had been another whirlwind year, Frank had made it to the top of the business and demonstrated that he could stay there. He had also had two more LPs released, “Blue Skies” (Columbia SCX 3505) and “Frank Ifield’s Greatest Hits” (33SX 1633), which for some inexplicable reason was released only in mono!

    Time To Refocus

    Having achieved so much – more than he had ever dreamed – Frank could take whatever direction he wished. He was a massive, worldwide draw on concerts, whilst TV, radio and film studios beckoned continuously. Frank could work as much, or as little as he wished. The pressure was no longer on to score hit records, although there was continuous pressure to keep his public plied with new recordings. It seemed that, at this stage, Frank began to switch his attention away from trying to hit the charts in order to concentrate on his first love, performing. Not that he ever strove for anything less than perfection in his recordings; it was more that the urgency to score chart success now seemed less: Lps became the focus. Certainly, the next single was not released for six months and when it was, it went right back to Frank’s country roots.

    In January of 1965 Frank recorded two country standards by two of the greatest songwriters in country music history and they were also two of Frank’s most significant influences. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” was from the pen of the immortal Hank Williams and it affected Frank in a very special way. Frank had been very close to his father and was distraught when he passed away. He recalls today, “I equate this classic Hank Williams song to my emotional feeling of desperation at the passing of my dear father. Nobody but Norrie could have done such a beautiful and sensitive musical arrangement. It touches my soul”. The “B” side was the Don Gibson composition “Lonesome Number One”. Frank had always admired Gibson’s work and recorded numerous Gibson songs through the years. A superb coupling but perhaps just too country orientated to make the charts. The record was not a major seller for Frank and seemed to slip by relatively quietly – only to become much sought after in later years when collectors realised what they had missed!

    The next single was classic Ifield with some superb falsetto bordering on a yodel with the standard “Paradise” which has been often covered as a Hawaiian number. This time the single achieved considerable success both through sales and the airplay it generated. “Paradise” remained a favourite for years to come and often appears on Frank’s “Greatest Hits” compilations. The Orbison influence emerges again in the “B” side, “Goodbye Now”, which is one of Frank’s own compositions.

    1965 saw another Frank Ifield first. He starred in the film “Up Jumped A Swagman” and enjoyed a very successful soundtrack album (Columbia SCX 3559) for which he re-recorded “I Remember You”. One of the tracks from the film was another Ifield composition and successfully became his first self-penned “A” side. Issued to promote the film, “I Guess” was coupled with “Then Came She” from the pantomime “Babes In The Wood” in which Frank played Robin Hood, once again working in pantomime with The Shadows.

    One other single was taken from “Babes In The Wood”. “There’ll Be Another Spring” was Frank’s personal favourite from the show – perhaps because he had to sing it to Maid Marion, played by Tricia Money, star of the hit TV series “Emergency Ward 10”! “Don’t Be Afraid” was sung in the show to calm the babes when they were hiding in the forest. It was used as the “B” side. This pantomime also spawned a very popular album (“Babes In The Wood” Columbia SCX 6009) released the following year. On the LP as on the show, Frank shared billing with The Shadows.

    1965 saw one other album in the form of “Portrait In Song” (Columbia SCX 3551) which incorporated the usual mix of updated country songs alongside a few bigger production numbers.

    Enter: Nashville

    Despite the brief move away from the country influences on the singles front, country was to continue to play an important part in Frank’s recordings. He had long been well received in the USA and his frequent coverage of country songs – on record and stage – had endeared him to the country fraternity in Nashville. They were impressed with the Ifield sound and the sales he had achieved via his US and Canadian releases of the UK recordings through the Vee Jay and Capitol labels. Some of his recordings had even been featured on a special LP alongside titles by a new young group from the UK in an attempt to break the group into the US market. The name of the group? The Beatles! Now there was an eagerness to see Frank record on the US side of the pond. This was put to rights on May 9th 1966 when Frank arrived in Nashville.

    Frank signed to Hickory records in the USA and an agreement was made for the US recordings to be released on Columbia in the UK and the Columbia recordings to be released in the USA on Hickory. Frank’s stable-mates at Hickory included Roy Orbison, The Everley Brothers, Mickey Newbury, Don Gibson and Roy Acuff. For Frank, this was like a dream come true – recording alongside the same people who had long been his idols.

    The first Nashville-recorded “A” side was a reworking of the country standard “No One Will Ever Know”. Although much recorded before Frank, the song was given the true Ifield treatment, complete with falsetto and in 1966 Frank sang it on the Grand Ole Opry – country music’s most prestigious show. In doing so he realised another great ambition; to tread the boards of the famed Ryman Auditorium – the original home of the Opry. He loved performing there and the crowds loved him. The song was a big hit in the US and charted in the UK too. The “B” side was “I’m Saving All My Love For You”, a beautiful country love song on which Frank draws on his full vocal prowess to sustain some impressive falsetto notes.

    1966 would also prove to be a rewarding year as Frank was made a member of the Red Carpet Club by the Nashville Area Chamber Of Commerce and received Honorary Citizenship Of The State Of Tennessee from the then Governor of Tennessee, Frank Clements. All these accolades reflected Frank’s considerable contribution to the country music genre and it began to be apparent that the influencing was not only occurring in one direction! Big name artistes like David Houston and Slim Whitman were covering “I Remember You” and Hank Williams Jnr complimented Frank for “doing such a great job on my daddy’s song” (“Lovesick Blues”). Frank was an artiste who had earned the respect of the Nashville community for his talent, his originality and his business sense. His second album that year was the superb, contemporary country “Close To You” (Columbia SCX 6080) which featured a mixture of songs recorded in London and Nashville.

    To follow-up “No One Will Ever Know”, another US recording, “Call Her Your Sweetheart” was coupled with a London recording, “All My Daydreaming”, which was written specially for Frank. This single too did well on both sides of the Atlantic.

    February 1967 found Frank returning to the “Ifield Hits” formula with an old standard that had been popular in jazz and swing circles. “You Came Along (From Out Of Nowhere)” was released in July 1967 and did very well for Frank in the UK. Strangely, although Frank sang it to huge audience and critical acclaim on the Ed Sullivan TV show, it did not receive a US single release, which seemed to miss out on a clear potential hit. Nevertheless, the song was also the title track to a very popular album (Columbia SCX 6147) which again featured tracks recorded in Nashville and London, so it certainly earned its place in the Ifield Hall Of Fame! The UK single was backed with “And I Always Will Do” from the same team that produced “All My Daydreaming”. It was certainly unlike the material that Frank had recorded before and very different to the “A” side – a good song but one might argue that it did not match Frank’s style as well as others and he moved away from that presentation.

    Another change in direction occurred to great success with the next release. “Up Up And Away” was very popular by the Johnny Mann Singers and Norrie persuaded Frank that it would suit him as a solo singer. Norrie drew on his band experience to provide a big production behind Frank’s soaring vocals. The song was a hit and Frank found himself singing it regularly on stage and screen. Another Nashville-recorded song, “Roses, Moonlight & One Little Bottle Of Wine” was the “B” side and once again reflected Frank’s country roots.

    With Frank’s popularity ever growing in the US, the demands for personal appearances were growing too and Frank toured the USA more than in the past. During one of these tours he met country legend Mel Tillis who had recently written “All The Time”. Frank was impressed by Tillis as an entertainer (and to impress Frank is not easy!) but he was even more impressed by the song, which immediately set the Ifield creative juices working. Needless to say, “All The Time” was the next single, released in November 1967 and recorded with a bigger production than that used by Tillis. To back this one was “In The Snow” which enjoyed a folky treatment and still finds itself being dusted off every year as Christmas approaches – even though white Christmases are rare or unknown in most of Frank’s markets!

    1967 had continued the growing trend away from singles aimed at the pop charts and back towards Frank’s first love, country music. This trend continued in an impressive way with the outstanding and strongly country LP “The Singer And The Song” (Columbia SCX 6225). The album still sounds commercial today and featured predominantly country songs – four of them recorded in Nashville and all presented in a polished, contemporary sound that was well ahead of its time.

    1968 was Frank’s last year with Columbia and February of that year found him once again turning to country music. Frank does not recall where he first came across “Some Sweet Day” but believes it may have come, via Hickory, from the Everley Brothers. The “B” side was “Singing The Blues” a song with a very impressive pedigree and now acknowledged around the world as a country standard. Both Guy Mitchell and Marty Robbins had enjoyed big hits in the USA. The Mitchell version had also vied for honours in the UK with the Tommy Steele cover, which was huge for Steele. Frank’s recording broke away from an established pattern in that it was recorded at EMI’s Lansdowne Studios instead of Abbey Road, where Frank’s other UK records had been made. Abbey Road was where most of the Beatles’ hits had been recorded so maybe the writing was on the wall that Frank and EMI would soon head in different directions.

    Though Frank and Norrie may not have realised it, there were now only two singles still to come on UK Columbia and the first of those drew once again on Frank’s Nashville recordings. The “A” side was “Morning In Your Eyes”, a country number with a very modern feel for the times. They say that the UK and the USA are two great countries separated by a common language and Frank smiles today as he remembers,

    “I was picked up while singing this song by my American recording manager for my pronunciation of ‘Asphalt’. I pronounced it ‘Ashfelt’ where he said ‘Azfault’. Try singing quickly the line ‘The azfault carpet’s cold beneath my feet!’ It ain’t easy! But we managed it somehow!”

    Notwithstanding that Frank did a great job on “Morning”, the “B” side was to be recognized as one of the great recordings of Frank’s career. The song was Don Gibson’s perennial “Oh Such A Stranger”, recorded by Frank in April 1968; a strong song by anyone’s standards. As has been mentioned elsewhere in these notes, Frank had always admired Gibson and had a clear affinity with his work. When Gibson himself turned up at the studio for the recording session, Frank pulled out all the stops. The result was a passionate performance of a great song, with Frank pouring his heart into the vocals. Many Ifield aficionados rated this track as one of the best of his career to that time. Not too many years later, Frank would enjoy a big hit with another Gibson song, “Touch The Morning” but that is outside the scope of this release.

    For Frank’s final Columbia release, he retuned musically to where he had made his name back in 1962. Whilst from “I Remember You” onwards, Peter Gormley’s warnings of stereotyping had to some extent rung true – he had become labelled “a yodeller” – he had actually recorded very little outright yodelling. There was “She Taught Me How To Yodel” and “Cattle Call” – which appeared on an album – and a few tracks like “Love Song Of The Waterfall”, “Sweet Lorraine”, “My Blue Heaven” and “Paradise”, which came near, but no actual yodelling. For his last Columbia single, Frank brought out the yodel and added it to a pseudo-Swiss song that strangely had never before been recorded with a yodel.

    “Swiss Maid” had been written and recorded successfully by country humourist Roger Miller – who was not a yodeller - and when Miller met Frank he wanted to know why Frank hadn’t recorded it! The song had been covered with resounding success by Del Shannon. Although a competent yodeller in his own right, Shannon had not yodelled the song so the way was still open for Frank to score another “first”. And score it did – Frank added the song into his stage show and it immediately became a highlight. He performed the song with similar arrangement to previous versions until the end of the song, where he added a Swiss-style oompah band to which he yodelled an authentic Bavarian style (not Swiss) yodel. At the end of the song he would gather the microphone cable into a lasso and swirl it above his head as he yodelled. The crowds loved it and the song generated standing ovations wherever Frank was showing. Chart wise it may not have set the world on fire but it did better than that by generating the kind of fan enthusiasm that brings people back for more and sells albums along the way! It had to be recorded so musical director Fred Peters added a French Horn and on the day called in the cleaners to clap time and one of Frank’s great recordings closed off the Columbia stage of his recording career!

    The song was released with “Baby Doll” as the “B” side. Frank recalls that the recording session for “Baby Doll” appropriately coincided with the birth of his son, Mark. Whilst “Baby Doll” subsequently appeared on the album “Happy Tracks”, “Swiss Maid” did not and the stereo tape was misfiled. The song remained unavailable for almost 25 years until the stereo tape was rediscovered and included in a various artistes CD yodel compilation. The song was also included in a subsequent “Greatest Hits” type compilation of Frank’s material in Australia but for some reason the mono tape was used. Thus this set is the first time that “Swiss Maid” has ever been released on a Frank Ifield album in stereo anywhere in the world! A fitting close to an amazingly successful and productive phase in Frank’s long career.

    The final Columbia album of new recordings was “Happy Tracks” (Columbia SCX 6276) which followed a similar pattern to “The Singer And The Song” and included no less than nine tracks recorded in Nashville.

    Since The 60s

     

    Frank changed direction very sharply shortly afterwards. Norrie Paramor passed away and without the valued friendship and guidance that Norrie had always provided, Frank had to search for a direction that suited him. Creative spirit can be difficult to tame; it needs to be focussed. Over the next few years Frank experimented with musical directions. He recorded for a while with Decca, subsequently moving on to Mam, Spark and PRT.

    Frank now was no longer looking for the big pop hit. Rather he was looking for the right outlet for his creativity and the right recording outlet to keep his legions of fans around the world satisfied. Some fine tracks were recorded with Decca and some, in particular “Three Good Reasons”, sold very well. Musically Frank veered between country and aspects of classics, jazz and rock. A live album was cut in Japan in 1969 and demonstrated that Frank’s voice was as good as ever.

    However, it was not until he moved to Spark that Frank’s ultimate future musical direction really began to crystallize. The Spark recordings are very contemporary in feel and have elements of soft rock but are unmistakably country influenced and – in some cases – unashamedly pure country, full stop. Frank enjoyed hits in various parts of Europe, especially in the Netherlands with his versions of Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings”, the immortal “California Cottonfields” and Mike Nesmith’s classic “Joanne”. He eventually took time out from his major concert schedule in the late 70s to indulge himself in his first musical love. Backed by top British country band Barbary Coast, he toured the UK country music clubs and set up his own label, “Frank Ifield Records” (FIR) with whom he cut a number of contemporary country albums.

    The fans loved him for his decision to become more accessible by undertaking the more intimate venues and a happy Frank could be found night after night in rhinestone suit chatting with the fans that had turned out to hear him sing country. Ironically, many of these fans were of a younger generation and some assumed that Frank was jumping on the country “bandwagon” not realising that he had been singing country before they were born! In the meantime, the Guiness Book Of Records published the fact that Frank had notched up 158 weeks in the British pop charts over the years and held number 24 in the “Top 100 Hits Of All Time”! The call of the international market continued however and Frank was elected to the “Country Music Hands Of Fame” in Tamworth, the hub of country music in Australia in 1978 and voted “Best British Male Vocalist”and awarded the “International Country Music Award” in the UK in 1981. In 1981 he was also awarded “Honorary Lifetime Citizenship Of The State Of Kansas” following similar awards in Tennessee some years earlier. That was followed by being voted “Male Entertainer of the Year” in Texas in 1982. And through all this, the hectic tours continued. Frank was doing what he had always wanted – concentrating on personal appearances and his diary was full.

    The Third Career

    Then in 1986 through sheer exhaustion, he succumbed to a vicious infection and suffered a collapsed lung. His health hung in the balance for some weeks until exploratory surgery identified the nature of the problem. The surgery paved the way for treatment that rapidly brought him back to fitness. However, the surgery had employed a camera which had damaged muscles in Frank’s throat and left him unable to trust in his middle range. The days of “Frank Ifield – singer”, were over and for a time it seemed that his world would fall apart. However, never one to be despondent for long, Frank rapidly carved out a new career as a manager and groom of new talent and before long was winning awards for his TV presentations, talent concerts and writing skills.

    Since then and up to the present time, Frank Ifield has operated as a much respected figure in the administrative and management side of the business and has most recently visited the UK in his capacity as tour entrepreneur for aspiring young Australians.

    That just about brings the story up to date. Frank was inducted to the “Country Music Roll Of Renown” in Tamworth in 2003 and in 2004 received the TIARA (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards) for Services To The Industry. This award acknowledged the contribution he has made in recent years and highlighted the importance of his own “Frank Ifield Spur Award” that he presents each year to new, aspiring names in country music in Australia. The award is a prestigious vote of confidence in the potential of any artiste that wins it.

    In Conclusion

    We have added for your additional pleasure and to please the many Frank Ifield collectors, four bonus tracks. Firstly, three recordings in the German language of his big hits from the early days, “I Remember You”, “She Taught Me How To Yodel” and “Nobody’s Darling But Mine”. Then finally, a 2005 update of Frank’s original hit version of “I Remember You”, backed as Frank would have liked to have heard it back then – with some subtle but delightful country steel guitar.

    All these notes provide some context around a body of music that stands up very well on its own merits. However, when taken in the context of the life of the man that recorded the music, it becomes a document of the star-studded career of one of the 20th Century’s great music stylists.

    As you settle down then to listen to this set of Frank Ifield’s UK Columbia “A” and “B” sides, you will hear the developing style and uniqueness of a huge talent and a major influence on pop music in the 60s. Perhaps more importantly though, you will be listening to one of the major influences on the development of the appeal of country music of the second half of the 20th Century and its evolution into the 21st.

    ©2005 PAUL HAZELL

    Freelance Writer and Broadcaster.

    With grateful thanks to Robert Gunn and Bill Grant for their invaluable assistance in researching the recordings for this release.


    LISTEN to Frank Ifield and Bob Howe
    talk about the new version of I REMEMBER YOU
    plus hear a sample of the song in
    Windows Media™ or Real Audio™

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