REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/04/2009
Sir Cliff Richard is Britain’s most successful pop star, bar none. He holds some ridiculous records quoting staggering sales figures for the last five decades, beat out by only one man, Elvis Presley. The Indian-born singer, along with his backing group, The Shadows, was constantly played on radio stations all around the world during the ‘50s and 60s. The guys were clean-cut and fine musicians, and their handsome leader was barely out of high school but had the voice and looks to melt many a girl’s heart.
Earlier this year, Cliff got the old band back together to talk about a way to celebrate their 50th anniversary year. New material was quickly ruled out, and while a world tour was the obvious way to go, instead of plugging another compilation of those well-known hits, the guys decided simply to rerecord them. This is not an uncommon move, but those early singles were (and still are) magnificent, so I purchased this album knowing full well that I could be in for utter disappointment.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised, and although a lot of logistics had to be knuckled out to achieve a cohesive effort, it was well worth the trouble. Lead guitarist Hank Marvin lives in Perth, Western Australia these days, so all of his parts were recorded there. Cliff recorded all of his vocals from his home base in Miami, Florida while the rest of the gang – Bruce Welch (guitars) and Brian Bennett (drums), along with a few helpers – did their business from England. You wouldn’t know this, of course, by listening to the disc because it sounds like they were all in the same room and ripped through these songs within a few hours.
Richard has looked after himself, and although he no longer has the range he once did, he has no trouble in doing any of these songs justice. The rhythm section is tighter than ever, and if this is the kind of quality they dish out onstage, then I’m sure that the tour will be a runaway success. I was a little surprised myself (being only thirty) that I knew so many of these songs because I wouldn’t count myself as a fan of these guys. It is, of course, a testament to their endurance and the fact that they still receive heavy rotation on classic radio stations that they’ve seeped so deeply into my consciousness over the years.
All the stellar hits are here, and there’s no monkeying with the arrangements either – these guys know their stuff ain’t broken, so they don’t try fixing it. “I Could Easily Fall (In Love With You)” and “The Young Ones” are as sweet as ever. “Move It,” “Living Doll,” and “Summer Holiday” have lost none of their exuberance while lesser-known tracks like “Sea Cruise” and “Bachelor Boy” hold their own. A cool waltz through “Willie And The Hand Jive” works a treat, as does their take on “Lucky Lips.”
All in all, there are twenty-two hits here, reworked for the fans – and it all works really well. Some more cynical reviewers would tell you that this release was completely unnecessary, but I think that music this good is always a welcome addition to my collection.