My Songs By Cliff Richard
Released by EMI in August 2003. Track annotation, interview and picture research (with Peter Lewry).
“I always tell people that I don’t write songs, but then EMI dug up a lot of songs that I’ve written over the years and, would you believe it, suddenly I’m a songwriter” – Cliff
This disc of Cliff’s own songs is probably the first time a Cliff Richard album has showcased a lesser known side of his already accomplished musical career. One listen to this album will leave you wondering why such a compilation wasn’t done before now. Of course limiting Cliff’s own compositions to one disc was a pure headache when you look at the list of over 50 songs. Certainly Cliff has chosen the best of them. In an interview from April 2003, he gave a background history to many of the songs included here, how and when he composed them, and what the inspiration behind some of his favourites was. What’s fascinating about this collection of Cliff’s own personal favourites is that they span a period of over thirty years. A period in which his own songs appear to have taken a back seat to make way for the more familiar songs written for him.
Without You – Release Date: October 1961
One of Cliff’s earliest self-penned songs, taken from the sessions for the 21 Today album that ran from January to July 1961, interrupted only for recording the film soundtrack songs for The Young Ones. With the then familiar Shadows line-up of Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch on guitars, Jet Harris on bass and Tony Meehan on drums, at Abbey Road on the evening of 11 July this track was taped, alongside three others. The song was co-written with both Hank and Bruce, a composer credit that would appear frequently in the future. The 16-track album that included this song as a side two selection, was released, appropriately enough, during the month of Cliff’s 21st Birthday in October 1961. It subsequently provided Cliff and the Shads with their first #1 chart album the following month.
“I used to write with The Shadows. That’s why I’m there with Bruce Welch on Bachelor Boy and Don’t Talk To Him. I co-wrote On The Beach and Without You with Bruce and Hank Marvin. We’d often arrive at a concert venue and there would be a press conference, so The Shadows would say to me, “You’re the star – you talk to the press”. Two hours later I’d get back to the hotel, and they’d say, “What do you think of this?” – and they’d written a song. I wasn’t involved but I didn’t mind because I got all their hits!”
Bachelor Boy – Release Date: November 1962
This is one of Cliff’s best known movie songs that also recognised his emergence as a songwriter. First issued on the soundtrack album two months before Summer Holiday was premiered in London, the track was recorded at Abbey Road on Friday November 16th for release as the b-side to The Next Time in the same month. According to Steve Turner’s biography of Cliff, Bruce Welch remembered the he wrote the song with Cliff because “I thought it would be a great song for him. We both wrote words and music. It was an afterthought as far as Summer Holiday was concerned but it became a million seller.” With both sides placed at #1 for the week of 10 January 1963, Elvis, Cliff’s biggest threat for the chart crown dropped to #2 with his latest movie song, Return To Sender and The Shadows were at #3 with Dance On. Although Cliff doesn’t believe the lyric was prophetic, it is probably the one that still best associates him with youth and being single.
Don’t Talk To Him – Release Date: November 1963
Issued as a single in November 1963, the year that Beatlemania began, this track gave Cliff his nineteenth consecutive top five hit on the UK singles chart, an achievement that has not been equalled to this day. Recalling his 1963 Summer Season with the Shadows at the ABC Blackpool in the programme notes of the Hit List tour, Cliff wrote, “I bet you didn’t know that I wrote this with Bruce in a rented bungalow in Blackpool. Although I say it myself, I think I should have gone back more often!” The song was eventually laid down at Abbey Road on 13th October 1963 following Cliff and The Shadows returning from a two week tour of Israel. It was during this period that Bruce Welch announced, due to health problems, that he was leaving. The Shadows although following further consultation with a specialist he decided to stay. As for the reviews, they couldn’t have been better if Cliff had written them himself. One reported that this, Cliff’s 23rd single was “a haunting melody in slow cha-cha tempo, written by Bruce Welch and Cliff himself. Don’t see how Cliff can go wrong here, ‘cos it’s ideal for dancing and makes easy on- the-ear listening.” The song also became the lead track on an extended play release with the same title as the single. The success of both single and EP prompted Cliff to record it in German and Italian. Sag ‘No’ Zu Ihm and Non L’Ascoltare were released in their respective territories, with Cliff recording his foreign language vocal over the original backing track. To this day, the song has turned up as a regular choice for various home and international compilations ever since it first found its way onto the 1965 More Hits By Cliff album.
On The Beach – Release Date: June 1964
Another of Cliff’s hit movie songs. This one, taken from Wonderful Life was co-written with Shadows frontmen Bruce Welch and Hank Marvin, and was taped during a session at Abbey Road in November 1963. Originally issued as a single in June 1964, as public tastes were shaken up by The Beatles and their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, this infectious dance number from Cliff and the Shads still managed to reach # 6 in the UK charts. It was also featured as the opening track on the Hits From Wonderful Life EP in the December of that same year. Interestingly enough, on the original issue, Cliff is heard coughing after the first verse, but ever since Cliff At The Movies was released in 1996, the cough has been removed. Bruce’s count-in however, as featured in the movie, has now become a regular feature of this track.
“A lot of the songs I wrote, I wrote because of my Christian commitment. I would go abroad and they’d say, ‘it would be great if you had a song for us’ and I’d write a song, like No Power In Pity, because you feel so helpless, and all you got is pity for these people and there’s no power in that. You can’t do anything for them. So I was inspired in that way many times.”