The Savoy Sessions: Fenella Fielding vs. Public Image Ltd.

Legendary actress, Fenella Fielding takes on John Lydon’s “Rise” and wins.

This is one of the many brilliant tracks from the recently re-released Savoy Sessions, a fabulous collaboration between Ms. Fielding and David Britton, owner of Savoy Books, author of the banned comic (and novel) Lord Horror and “the last man in the country to be jailed under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act”.

Britton approached Fielding in 2002 to record extracts from J. G. Ballrd’s novel Crash. At first, Ms. Fielding demurred, but Britton’s persistence paid-off and a thrilling creative partnership began.

Fielding recorded Britton’s La Squab, as well T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, and selection of work by Collette - which Ms. Fielding had originally performed on stage in 1970.

Ms. Fielding is perhaps best known for her role as Valeria, the delightful, kooky vamp to Kenneth Williams’ Dr. Orlando Watt in Carry on Screaming, which tends to greatly over-shadow her legendary career in theater and revue. She was hailed by Noel Coward and Kenneth Tynan as one of theater’s greatest actresses, her performance as Hedda Gabler was described by The Times as “one of the experiences of a lifetime”. She was a versatile comedy actress and had performed in a series of successful comedy revues, including Pieces of Eight (co-starring Kenneth Williams, written by Peter Cook and Harold Pinter), and her celebrated one-woman show at Cook’s Establishment Club. Ms. Fielding also provided the announcer’s voice for The Village, in Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner. And if this weren’t enough, she was adored by Frederico Fellini.

In 2006, Britton invited Fenella to a studio in Rochdale, where she recorded a selection of popular hits - including PiL’s “Rise”, New Order’s “Blue Monday”, Kylie Minogue’s “I Can’t get You Out Of My Head”, and even Robbie Williams’ “Angels” - re-interpreting them through her own unique and distinct style, which Kim Fowley described in 2009:

Her Succulent/Velvet-Blue-Saloon vocal tones made me believe I was having Naked Lunch in a Berlin bubble-bath, next to Marlene Dietrich… Somewhere in Berlin, circa 1928–1932.
Hence, we have a message in an aural bottle, from a 21st Century, Axis Sally/Tokyo Rose: Fenella Fielding.

Bring on the smelling salts! Then give me the Silver-Spoon and Golden Needle, so I can blend into the Wonder-Word Void, where Ms Fielding must surely reside.

Fenella’s delivery of the following titles places me squarely at the foot of her bed, on my knees, in a position of worship!

Find your copy of Fenella Fielding’s The Savoy Sessions here.

Here then, for your delectation and delight is the beautiful Ms. Fenella Fielding and “Rise”.

Bonus video clip of Fenella in the Studio, plus taster clips, after the jump…
With thanks to Robert Conroy

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment