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

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

  1. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    It's a real pain, my two year old Peugeot has no CD option. The bonus is I don't have a glove compartment full of CDs, and I make compilation 'albums' to put on the MP3 thingy, but if I buy a new CD, I no longer can whack it on in the car. So, with 'Stronger thru the years', it sits unplayed - as I've already got a 7 CDs worth Cliff compilation to play instead.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  2. StephenB

    StephenB Well-Known Member

    Location:
    UK
    It really is a pain in th3 backside, especially as one of them has no memory so 3verytime youvstart the car you have to scroll through everything on the USB to get back to where you were!
     
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  3. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Inspired by the "STRONGER THRU THE YEARS" compilation and the addition of a new subwoofer to my system, I decided to play one of my favourite Cliff albums yesterday. We have dealt with "STRONGER" before, but it is an album that I keep coming back to. It is also one of Cliff´s best recorded albums, IMO, so that was the excuse I gave myself for picking out this album one more time. (I listened to the remastered version.)

    The experience was almost magical. The new subwoofer added a lot of authority to the listening experience, and the songs emerged as the great recording they are. The only negative aspect of the sound was Cliff´s vocal. I did wonder what kind of a mic was used -or it might simply be the mastering. His voice sounded a bit more "trebly" than I liked. Sibilants were a bit sharp.(Except on one track, where his vocal was a bit lacking in treble. Go figure...)

    Anyway...

    The first two songs are Cliff classics, I feel. Both "STRONGER THAN THAT" and "WHO´S IN LOVE" - the latter with a guitar part worthy of Mark Knopfler,and actually sounding more than a bit like him! Of the two mixes of "STRONGER THAN THAT", I think I prefer the album mix, though I like both.

    The album was off to a very good start. The warm sound of Alan Tarney´s synths works wonders for Cliff. "THE BEST OF ME" was the lead single from the album, and a great success back in 1989, reaching No. 2 in the charts. I still like it, but now I tend to think of it as a generic hit ballad for Cliff, and I no longer consider it one of the highlights of the album. Solid, but unremarkable. (I am making an effort not to go back and read what I wrote the last time I covered this album. I like not to be influenced by what I wrote then.)

    "CLEAR BLUE SKIES" was another track chosen for the "STRONGER THRU THE YEARS" album, and though I don´t think it´s among the best tracks on here, it´s catchy, melodic and fun. (On another album it might have been the highlight.) "LEAN ON YOU" was a revelation on my new set-up. It´s such a gorgeous arrangement of a lovely song. I think it´s one of Cliff´s - almost - hidden gems. It did go to No. 17 in the charts, but it´s still underappreciated, I think. A great song, and it sounds almost regal on this album. I can´t praise this song enough. '

    Another underrated little song is the lovely and warm "KEEP ME WARM". The combination of Cliff´s voice and Alan Tarney´s melody and arrangement is perfect here, and the song is always better than I remember it. Simple, yes, but a very warm and inviting listening experience. Every time.

    I feel much the same about "I JUST DON´T HAVE THE HEART" as I do about "THE BEST OF ME". This Stock/Aitken/Waterman "monstrosity" is an effective, pacey and fun pop song. Totally forgettable, but it works.

    I know I have stated before that I´m not that fond of the ballad "JOANNA". (Cliff has mentioned that it´s his favourite track from these sessions.) Listening to the traack tonight, the penny finally dropped. Or - almost. It is still one of those generic 80s ballads of which Cliff recorded so many, mainly for B-sides, but listening on my stereo tonight, I heard a lot of beautiful details in the background. It sounded really big last night.

    "EVERYBODY KNOWS" bears no relation to the Leonard Cohen song apart from the identical title, but in my opinion,this could have been a single. (As could indeed any of the songs on this album.) It´s one of those perfect pop songs that you never really grow tired of. I feel the same about "FOREVER YOU WILL BE MINE". I know most of you don´t like this song very much, but I like the typical Alan Tarney interlaced and interwoven rhythms and melodies going at the same time. (Just like he did with "GIVE ME LOVE YOUR WAY", "ANYTHING I CAN DO", "OH NO, DON´T LET GO" and others.) For me, this is always interesting, and I admire the skill needed to create something like that. And it´s a pleasure to listen to them. One of Tarney´s idiosyncratic techniques, but I love it.

    I find myself liking "BETTER DAYS"... Well... Better and better. With the new subwoofer, the song sounded "rockier" and heavier than before, and although I could never have been a single, it´s one of those quality Ciff songs that reveal layer upon layer of details every time you play it. Love it.

    The last song on the album proper is "SHARE A DREAM", co-produced by Aswad. I like the melody, and I would have loved to be able to hear a properly arranged and recorded version of this song. As it is, the soundstage is very narrow and confining, and the sound is pure plastic reggae. (Surprising, really, as I like quite a few of Aswad´s other pop reggae songs.) The lyrics are the usual piffle about coming together and creating peace, but we could always use another one of those? Sort of. :righton: This is the one track where Cliff vocal sounds a bit muffled instead of "trebly". It´s noticeably different from the other tracks. That shouldn´t surprise me, as it was recorded under the guidance of different producers and engineers.

    So, a great Cliff album with many highlights. I was so happy to hear it again - and sounding so good.

    I know this is a repetition of songs we have covered before, but I just wanted to share. Feel free to do the same with your pet Cliff albums!
     
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  4. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    The wonders of modern technology for us "old" guys. :agree:
     
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  5. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    I've had a listen to both 'Stronger' and its predecessor 'Always Guaranteed' again following reading this. As I've mentioned before, 'Always Guaranteed' was my first Cliff album, indeed, my first album by anyone, so it has a special place for me. I remember being disappointed at the time with 'Stronger', but looking back I find it equal to 'Always Guaranteed' with a proviso.

    'Always Guaranteed' for me has a strong set of very similar songs, which some could see as a weakness, but ONE NIGHT, ONCE UPON A TIME, SOME PEOPLE, TWO HEARTS, UNDER YOUR SPELL, MY PRETTY ONE, REMEMBER ME and ALWAYS GUARANTEED all being good songs to me. It makes for a cohesive listen, and the other two tracks join in well enough too! My in-car playlist has these listed above, minus the album's title track.

    'Stronger', has to me grown...erm...stronger thru the years, but it has a couple of low points which I wish were not on the album, as they spoil the flow of the album. Indeed, on my MP3 compilation for the car, the two tracks I had no issue in leaving off were THE BEST OF ME and I JUST DON'T HAVE THE HEART. I could well be in agreement with Alan Tarney that the album should have been a full Tarney production as he had envisaged. Obviously those two tracks were added as they were the two biggest hit singles, but I feel it would have been a far better album without them. You could even add perhaps HEY MISTER in place, as a light-hearted track, and one with a different topic for Cliff than usual. I'm ambivalent about SHARE A DREAM. At least it's tagged on the end out of the way!

    So, the in-car playlist includes: STRONGER THAN THAT, WHO'S IN LOVE, CLEAR BLUE SKIES, LEAN ON YOU, KEEP ME WARM, EVERYBODY KNOWS and BETTER DAY. Seven tracks of each album. LEAN ON YOU being the album's classic track. Great promo video too.

    It may be just me, but I also feel that Tarney's production on 'Always Guaranteed' is a shade warmer than 'Stronger', which seems a bit sharper and crisp to listen to.

    Or maybe it was all down to the album covers - one was one of the classiest of Cliff's entire career - the other is awful!
     
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  6. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    I´d love to comment on your entire post, Anthony, and I will do, later, but I found one of your sentences very thought-provoking. You mention the "LEAN ON YOU" B-side "HEY, MISTER!" as a light track and as "one with a different topic for Cliff than usual". That got me thinking. 90% or so of Cliff´s lyrics deal with romantic love, six or seven % deal with religious themes -and most of the remaining ones deal with the same subject as "HEY, MISTER": music, Cliff´s thoughts about music and the music industry. I thought about it as I was falling asleep last night, and realised there are more such tracks than we may realise. These are just random examples:

    "MOVE IT!- the song that started his whole career is a simple, almost childish, lyric about rock´n´roll being better than ballads and country music.
    "WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE", 1960 and 1984 version - tangentially about music and dancing. (Yes, I know there are other, "bluer" interpretations.)
    "ON THE BEACH"
    "BLAME IT ON THE BOSSA NOVA"

    There must be quite a few more from the 50s and 60s, but I move on to the period covered in this thread:

    1971: "SING A SONG OF FREEDOM"

    1972: "A BRAND NEW SONG"

    1973: "POWER TO ALL OUR FRIENDS" - "power to the boys that played rock´n´roll" or something close to that.

    1976: "I´M NEARLY FAMOUS" (the title track) - about the music industry.

    1977: "MY KINDA LIFE" - also about the music industry.

    1978: "WHY SHOULD THE DEVIL HAVE ALL THE GOOD MUSIC" - about Cliff´s (and Larry´s) take on Christian music.
    "START ALL OVER AGAIN" - "Rock´n´roll music isn´t going on the way it should be" - same sentiment as "Hey, Mister".

    1979: "ROCK´N´ROLL JUVENILE" (the title track) - about Cliff´s views on music.

    1981: "CUZ I LOVE THAT ROCK´N´ROLL" - more or less the same sentiments as in "Hey Mister".

    1984: "MAKIN´ HISTORY" - about performing music.
    "LEARNING HOW TO ROCK´N´ROLL"

    1986: "BORN TO ROCK´N´ROLL"

    I am sure that there are plenty of others I have overlooked, but these sprang to mind just now. I have thought about it fleetingly before, but I just realised that Cliff has had a running commentary about the music he likes. I like all of these songs, and I think they would have made for a more interesting compilation than "STRONGER THRU THE YEARS". There are sixteen songs on here - if I searched through his catalog, I am sure we could unearth at least five more. They could be made into an interesting compilation of Cliff songs about music.

    If you remember any other tracks that I have overlooked in my haste, please feel free to add them to the list. (I know some of my choices are a bit of a stretch, but they do fulfill the criteria.)

    If I get my CD burner in working order again, I will make this compilation!
     
  7. StephenB

    StephenB Well-Known Member

    Location:
    UK
    How about THE SINGER from 31st FEBRUARY STREET.
     
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  8. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Nice one! Written by that prolific songwriter who also wrote the big single you all have as your favourite, "BIG SHIP". He, he. (As I have admitted before, I rather like that runt of the litter of Cliff singles.)

    But that´s a good song. ("THE SINGER", I mean.) From a very good album. I am sure there must be others, but we´re off to a very good start.

    And I can´t believe I missed this: "WIRED FOR SOUND" itself. Sometimes I feel so stupid, and at other times I realise I AM stupid.
     
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  9. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Interesting to read about how you came to discover "ALWAYS GUARANTEED". I understand how an album being the first makes a huge difference to how you feel about it - my first Cliff album was my sister´s copy of "THE BEST OF CLIFF, VOL. 2", and that is one of the reasons it remains a firm favourite. (Even "I´LL LOVE YOU FOREVER TODAY", "GOOD TIMES" and "BIG SHIP". The three "important" Cliff singles. I also happen to love the single that should have been on there, according to the charts, "DON´T FORGET TO CATCH ME".

    Anyway. it was also interesting to hear your views on the sound of the two albums. I always felt a bit let down by the sound of "ALWAYS GUARANTEED". Alan Tarney was very good at creating a warmth synthesizer sound on his songs, but with "ALWAYS GUARANTEED" came his dreaded programmed drums and sounds, and I felt the whole album sounded clinical and cold. Very machine-like. I felt he rectified this with "STRONGER" - to me, the sound was richer and much warmer. Loved it from the first time I heard it. (I even made a tape copy for a friend of mine. He was definitely NOT a Cliff fan, and he didn´t share my enthusiasm, but admitted that it was one of Cliff´s better.)

    So, I like that we once again have to admit that we hear the music very differently. None of us is right, and none of us is wrong. We just being different experiences and preferances to the music.

    I mostly agree with your choices from "ALWAYS GUARANTEED", though I can´t bring myself to like "UNDER YOUR SPELL". "TWO HEARTS" is an OK album track, but I realle hated it as a single. So plodding and dull. On the othe hand, I like the build-up to the chorus of "THIS TIME NOW", so I rather love that one. After thirty years of listening to this album, my two favourites emerge: "REMEMBER ME" and "ONE NIGHT". The first two singles are both very good commercial pop, but they have become overfamiliar by 2017.

    Again, I mostly agree with you about the "STRONGER TRACKS", though I have to admit that I love "FOREVER YOU WILL BE MINE". I always did. I do have a thing for Alan Tarney´s crazy polyrhythms going, so maybe that´s it.

    I like the first two singles, and they work in the context of the album to a certain degree, but they´re not favourites of mine, either.

    Ands yes - I could not agree more about "LEAN ON YOU". It´s hardly a forgotten song as far as we fans are concerned, and it did make the Top Twenty. Even so, I think it´s largely forgotten by most people. It´s quite similar to "SOME PEOPLE" in style and arrangement, but I vastly prefer "LEAN ON YOU". Yes, it´s a classic. I wish that more people got to discover it.

    I understand why you´re ambivalent about "SHARE A DREAM". To me, it´s a missed opportunity. Rewrite the lyrics a little bit, and give a more "rootsy" sound, and I think it would have worked. It´s not a bad song per se, just presented in a somewhat unappetizing manner. And the inclusion of the supposedly "live" version on "FROM A DISTANCE... THE EVENT" still rankles. One of the worst "let´s include a studio song and pretend it´s live" ever. So amateurish and crass.

    Looking back, I´m glad Cliff released these two Alan Tarney-inspired albums, and I´m very happy they continued his second comeback. Somebody give that man a medal. Alan Tarney, I mean.
     
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  10. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    Cliff's 'Stronger Thru' The Years' drops just one place for its 4th week in the official UK album charts this week to number 40.

    (14-25-39-40)
     
  11. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    That´s rather impressive. It´s nothing compared to his heyday, of course, but that was a long time ago. We have to accept that Cliff is no longer that relevant to most people. Understandable.
     
  12. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    As things are quiet, how about a few cover versions of Cliff Classics?
     
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  13. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    In it's 5th week, Cliff's 'Stronger Thru' The Years' climbs to number 31.

    (14 - 25 - 39 - 40 - 31)
     
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  14. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Hope everyone has dug out their Together With Cliff Richard album this week.:D
     
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  15. StephenB

    StephenB Well-Known Member

    Location:
    UK
    That’s great news!
     
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  16. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    I find the production and track listing on 'Cliff at Christmas' to be preferable, when I'm feeling festive. I don't generally get to feel so festive as to not skip THE MILLENNIUM PRAYER. There's still not sufficient alcohol in the house to enjoy that one.
     
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  17. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    I've never heard Cliff At Christmas. I like Together, though it's a bit too long. The cover picture is strange... It looks like he's being touched inappropriately.:D
     
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  18. Anthony Holland

    Anthony Holland Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cheshire
    He looks like he's enjoying it though... :)
     
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  19. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Viv Stanshall - a LONG way away from the Bonzo Dog Band and "TUBULAR BELLS". A funny version of the song, and, by now, a more interesting one.
     
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  20. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    "STRONGER THRU THE YEARS", otherwise known as The Little Album That Could. The proximity to Christmas could be a factor, but I would think this would work against it as much as for it. Rather a lot of popular releases around Christmas. So, I´m impressed - second week in a row.

    Thanks to Anthony for keeping us posted.
     
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  21. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    Not yet, but I will. I´m looking forward to hearing some of the songs on there.
     
  22. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    He, he. A must to avoid. I don´t mind it if others like it, but I have successfully managed to avoid this certain track for years. I´m going for the record...
     
  23. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Norway
    He, he. You could both be right.
     
  24. Tim Cooper

    Tim Cooper Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Southampton UK
    Yep got my copy out, and yes, have played "this certain" track!
     
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  25. RonBaker

    RonBaker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jackson, Ohio USA
    I bought a US CD single of it although I already had the UK single. In addition to the title track, we got "Two Worlds" and an instrumental version of "Millennium Prayer"
     
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