Vocalion, a company that specialises in historic recordings re-issued on CD, has recently released a Fiona Richmond CD consisting of the entire score to the 1977 Richmond film ‘Hardcore’, plus selected music from the two other Richmond vehicles ‘Expose’ (1975) and ‘Lets Get Laid!’ (1977). The CD contains 34 tracks in all, 6 from Expose, 3 from Lets Get Laid and 25 from Hardcore (3 of which never made the finished film).
A selection that would no doubt find favour with Miss R herself, who once claimed to Cinema Blue magazine that Hardcore was her favourite of her films on account that it featured “no rubber glove murders, blood and gore” and that “I am the star”.
Anonymously financed by Richmond’s ‘enabler’ Paul Raymond, the Richmond films were for that reason the more lavish and stylish examples of their genre, and the soundtracks are similarly classy, piano-led affairs. Chronologically first is Steve Gray’s score for Expose, the initial Richmond film (and the one with the “rubber glove murders, blood and gore”) while the films director James Kenelm Clarke took over composer duties for Hardcore (which featured Herbie Flowers on bass guitar) and the final Richmond film Lets Get Laid, whose budget stretched to a 1940s setting, was described by one critic as “not unlike a George Formby movie with tits”, and whose nostalgic soundtrack is mainly represented on the CD by Clarke’s Ivor Novello inspired “You Turn My Legs to Water”.
The CD’s accompanying booklet includes an essay by Clarke on the making of the films and their soundtracks, as well as a piece by Vocalion’s Oliver Lomax which effectively serves as a bio of Clarke and the recently deceased Steve Gray. Both Clarke and Lomax speak highly of Gray, whose haunting soundtrack for Expose was, astonishingly, recorded in just one day at a studio in Denmark Street. While Clarke’s directing career has been reasonably well documented over the years, this is the first time his work as a composer has been written up, and reveals him to have been quite prolific in the library music field, composing for such library music companies as KPM and Amphonic music, and as a result subsequently seeing his work turn up in TV shows as diverse as The Sweeney and On the Buses. Clarke is refreshing candid about his career in his essay, admitting he lost a fortune on his first film “Got It Made” in 1973, and was eager to sail into more commercial waters with the three Fiona Richmond sexploitation films, becoming aware of the genre’s commercial possibilities after directing a documentary on the British sex film industry for the BBC’s Man Alive programme in 1975. “These three films represent” writes Clarke “a certain rather oddball example of the British film production in the 1970s; under-financed, little recognised but doggedly triumphant in terms of their overall success. The music represents, in turn, some of the best studio playing of that period”.
Never before commercially released, the CD has been mastered from the original analogue stereo tapes, and is available directly from Vocalion’s own website