Cliff Richard - Back from the Wilderness Singles and Albums 1975 - 1995

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Jarleboy, Sep 28, 2016.

  1. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    "I made it through the wilderness," Madonna sang in her hit "Like a Virgin". Well, Cliff has often been referred to as a born-again virgin, and in the mid-seventies, he really was in the wilderness. He started out as a rock´n´roller, deeply influenced by Elvis Presley. But in 1959, barely a year into his career, he started releasing MOR hits. The rock´n´roll tracks were still to be found on his albums, but the single releases grew more and more dependent on ballads and pop tracks. He kept on scoring hits, though, and he even weathered the onslaught of Beatlemania pretty well, and the hits kept a-coming. After scoring a big hit with the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest entry "Congratulations", things were looking peachy.

    Things changed, however, as they often do. The singles became safer and less interesting, and, to quote a certain @Bobby Morrow, the song chosen for singles sounded as he was desperately looking for another hit in the Eurovision genre. (He eventually found one, but that´s another story.) Personally, I like these songs, even love them, but I grew up listening to them.

    In 1975, it seemed his career might be at an end. The hits didn´dry up completely, but they were now to be found in the lower echelons of the charts, and a couple of releases even missed the charts completely. It seemes that Cliff was destined for the scrapheap of pop, and it was clear that a new game plan was needed.

    Enter Bruce Welch, and, to a lesser degree, the rest of the musicians in and around The Shadows. We start our journey with two non-charting singles that nevertheless heralded a new era of Cliff´s career, and his first real comeback was just around the corner.

    I´ll be back with those two singles later today. Cliff is a much-maligned artist, and many found him almost laughable. I shall try to point out that he has some pleasant, if rather simple hits that kept him in the charts, but he also had other kinds of material. I don´t consider him a serious artist, in the sense that Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell are, but he can sing a song with warmth and plenty of enthusiasm, and when he gets the right song and the right producer, he can do wonders with the material.

    I hope to present a side of Cliff that is not known by all, as well as the hit singles that made his name.
     
  2. Rigsby

    Rigsby Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    If one of those songs is Its Only Me You've Left Behind I'm looking forward to your next post. It was definitely a surprising but welcome comeback. And that's a great tune!
     
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  3. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    It is indeed, and I´ll reveal my own thoughts about it as well as Cliff´s own comment about it. :agree:
     
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  4. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Looking forward to this. It's been a long time coming.:D I know @Zaragon will enjoy this thread too.
     
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  5. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    It's very hard not to join in with the handclaps on It's Only Me You've Left Behind.:D
     
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  6. Rigsby

    Rigsby Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    I love the wonky 70s synth as well!
     
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  7. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    I can remember him performing it on TV. I want to say on Kenny Everett's show, but it might be a bit early for him. Perhaps Lift Off, or something like that?
     
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  8. bob60

    bob60 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London UK
    As a cool young teenage glam rock fan t0 me Cliff was as uncool as can be, he was all cheesy Saturday night light entertainment.
    But I remember when he released Miss You Nights and me and my best friend Debbie both really liked it. This presented us with a dilemma as to us credibility was everything. We agreed that we wouldn't tell anyone and that it would be our little secret.
    As I recall that was the beginning of a new era for Cliff making great singles. Actually thinking about it Cliff never jumped onto the Glam bandwagon just to try and get back into the charts, he just seemed to miss that whole period and then reappear once it was over and he felt it was safe to return.
    I am so pleased that the awful couple of years he has had is now finally coming to an end.
     
  9. Rigsby

    Rigsby Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    I think his run of singles from 75 to 82 is incredibly strong. He loses me again at that point but there are some real gems in that period. Looking forward to this thread. I've never investigated the albums but interested in views or recommendations
     
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  10. Zaragon

    Zaragon Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
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  11. Zaragon

    Zaragon Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
  12. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Cliff always seemed to be around. Even if you didn't like him you'd know his records because he was often on TV and Radio One played him constantly. I didn't start following the charts until 1973. In fact the record he had out at that time, Take Me High, was a minor hit. Not his finest hour, but pleasant enough.

    I'm looking forward to this thread and remembering 'lost' singles like It's Only Me You've Left Behind, Honky Tonk Angel and, erm, Please Remember Me. There'll be some I've forgotten, I'm sure, though I always listened out for his singles. @Jarleboy will do a fine job escorting us through Cliff's catalogue.:)
     
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  13. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    Here goes... 'We Don't Talk Anymore' and 'Wired For Sound' are real guilty pleasures of mine.

    :hide:
     
  14. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Single No. 63: 1975 March 14 — UK — EMI EMI 2279
    A-side: "IT´S ONLY ME YOU´VE LEFT BEHIND" (Written by Hank Marvin & John Farrar)
    B-side: "YOU´RE THE ONE" (Written by Alan Tarney & Trevor Spencer.)
    A-side arranged by John Farrar, produced by Marvin, Welch & Farrar, B-side arranged and produced by Marvin, Welch & Farrar)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    1975 started out as most years since his career started in August 1958. He had released two less than successful albums in 1974, the live-in-the-studio project "Help It Along" and the more interesting "The 31st of February Street", to which Cliff contributed no less than four self-penned songs. (And they are among his best compositions.) He only released one single, a cover of The Gosdin Brother´s "(You Keep Me) Hangin´On", which got to No. 14 in the charts. It was a country song, a direction in which both he, Olivia and The Shadows seemed to be moving at the time.

    In March of 1975, he released the new single, "It´s Only Me You´ve Left Behind". It was a catchy little number, and it received a lot of airplay and generally good reviews all over. Written by Marvin and Farrar, and backed by the nucleus of musicians in the Shadows universe, it was the very first song released by Cliff that sounded like he had finally arrived in the 70s. What could possibly go wrong?

    In a word, everything. Though a sprightly, fun and catchy song, with a great arrangement, it never seemed to get taken to hearts of his fan base. For the second time since 1958, a nationally released single of Cliff´s failed to reach the charts. One must wonder why - to me, the song is one of the best he ever recorded, and I always include it when I make compilations for myself. Everyone I have played it to loved it, so... It´s an anomaly.

    Cliff gave his own thoughts on the song in his book "Which One´s Cliff?": "I never understood the failure of this single. I always loved it, and it´s one of those songs that I, to this day, still sing in the bath. It´s catchy, it´s rock´n´roll. It´s a great song."

    The B-side is not up to the quality of the main side. It´s a rather dreary ballad, penned by Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer. There is slight increase in tempo and/or enthusiasm in the middle of the song, where the production takes on a hint of calypso. For me, it´s the only part of the song with any energy. It´s not bad, just slightly boring.

    Here is a clip of Cliff lip-synching to the song:


    These are some facts, with some opinions of mine thrown in for good measure. So, folks, whaddaya think about this little non-hit?
     
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  15. bob60

    bob60 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London UK
    I have no recollection of this single, which is strange as I was well up on pop music at this time. It's not bad on first listen, but looking at that video I would have guessed that it was filmed in 1969.
     
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  16. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Here´s a clip of the B-side. It´s better than I remembered it - pleasant, nice and certainly not bad. But not great, either, IMO. :shake:
     
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  17. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Oh, too bad. :shake: I know "Take Me High" is typical of those "Eurovision-wannabes", but I think it´s by far the best of them. I love the anticipation of going from the verses into that great chorus. In fact, I like most of the songs from that film, and I absolutely LOVE "The Anti-Brotherhood of Man". Should have been a B-side.) The film itself is rather silly, bland and forgettable, and the acting is sometimes so poor you feel sorry for the poor actors! Still, it´s fascinating, in a car-crashy kind of a way.

    Even so, the title track will always be pure class to me.
     
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  18. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    For those interested in the facts behind every Cliff song, I heartily recommend the Cliff Richard Song Database. It´s not all that easy to navigate, but there are hours of information there. (Make that days of information.)

    Here´s a link: Cliff Richard Song Database - 1970s Songs »
     
  19. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    I agree with on that period, and I would add the years 1987-1995 to the ones you mention. I didn´t like every song he released, but there were som gems in there. His "Stronger" album from 1989 is one of his strongest pop albums ever, IMO.
     
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  20. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    As I said in an earlier post, I do remember this single. He performed it on TV and it was played on the radio. I liked it, but not enough to buy it. I had to be careful with my pocket money then.:)

    The next time I heard it was on the 2001 CD remaster of I'm Nearly Famous. One of the best in the reissue series as it contained 6 bonus tracks. All of which I liked! The B-side is included too. It's not unpleasant, but not exceptional either. Perfect B-side material, in fact.:) I remembered IOMYLB despite not hearing it for 25 years. Cliff is right. It should've been a hit. It sounds very 1975 but just didn't catch on for some reason. It's the perfect 'Cliff' song.

    Still, this and the preceding 31st Of February Street album were a step in the right direction. I wouldn't have minded a bit if It's Only Me... had found a home on I'm Nearly Famous. It's certainly much better than the couple of weak tracks that end the album...
     
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  21. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    I hope this will be interesting for those who are open to Cliff´s music. It isn´t for everyone, obviously. I am very excited about reading what you all think of the songs - especially the lesser-known ones, like the two tracks above.

    Man, I thought I´d be able to do both 1975 singles in one go. Took a bit longer than I planned.

    The upside is I am reminded of all these songs that I have loved for so long. Even the bad ones stir up good memories. I´m a happy man.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
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  22. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Take Me High is OK. I think it peaked somewhere between 20-30 here. Decent for Cliff at this stage, though of course he'd be disappointed with that chart placing.. Was Help It Along from around this time? I remember that one as well.
     
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  23. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Agree about "You´re the One" - the perfect B-side. The A-side is very 1975, and its performance - or lack thereof - in the charts is still a mystery, as I see it.

    I´m happy to have both tracks on the "I´m Nearly Famous" remaster. I wasn´t aware of this particular single until I discovered it on a list of non-charting singles. Imagine, this song failed to chart, while "The Millennium Prayer" went to No. 1. Go figure... :righton:
     
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  24. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Not sure what show this clip is from, or why it's in black and white. It's the perfect song for Cliff's special 'moves'. :) Say what you like about him, he puts his heart and soul into his performances. Even if they do sometimes make you cringe a bit.:D
     
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  25. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Perfect - No. 27. Your memory is impressive!

    "Help It Along" was the single before "Take Me High". (That is - a single with two A-sides and two B-sides. It was called a "maxi-single" back in 1973, but for all intents and purposes, it was an EP. The other A-side was "Tomorrow Rising", and the B-sides were the rather naff "Days of Love" and "Ashes to Ashes".)
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
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  26. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    The Millennium Prayer should have been the second single Cliff banned himself.:D
     
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  27. mark ab

    mark ab Well-Known Member

    Location:
    UK
    Great thread. I'm not familiar with his work from this era apart from the well known hits. One exception is Hey Mr Dream Maker. I had that song on an old VHS tape and thought it was excellent.
     
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