Cliff Richard Sings The Standards

Released by EMI Gold in August 2003. Liner notes (with Peter Lewry).

Cliff Richard Sings the Standards

Although the material Cliff Richard recorded in the 1950s confirmed his status as a rock and roll icon, Britain’s answer to his own musical hero, Elvis Presley, there was more to him than the rebellious image portrayed by the national press. Both Cliff and his manager realised that to sustain any long-term popularity it would be necessary to diversify. A move into big screen films aimed at all the family was one career move that paid off well. The other was Cliff’s decision to record material that would appeal not only to teenagers but also their parents. The sleeve notes for his Dream extended play album described the content as a ‘collection of romantic ballads, standards and evergreens.’ It is that description that also defines the content of this album.

Just six months after the release of Cliff in April 1959 – his first album which, quite naturally, focused heavily on a string of live rock and roll repertoire, Cliff returned to Abbey Road, the recording studios of EMI, where under the guidance of producer, Norrie Paramor, he taped a selection of standards accompanied by Paramor’s String Orchestra of 28 musicians. Those tracks ended up as half the album content of Cliff Sings in the November of that same year and is where both Embraceable You and As Time Goes By (from Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca) were first heard and praised by an unsuspecting public and critics alike.

Further forays into this genre were explored again on Listen To Cliff in 1961 and on 32 Minutes And 17 Seconds the following year. Two selections from each album are included on this set. From Listen To Cliff (originally titled Stringy and Swingy due to the nature of the album content) are Unchained Melody and Blue Moon, and from 32 Minutes, Fats Domino and Ben E. King are the original artists that Cliff turned to for Blueberry Hill and Spanish Harlem.

Throughout the sixties Cliff released over forty extended play albums and a number of ‘evergreens’ received their first outing on this format. Doris Day’s Secret Love appeared on Love Songs in 1963 and All I Do Is Dream of You on Dream in 1961. Two more, It’s All In The Game and The Twelfth Of Never also appeared on EP from around the same period, but also as A-side singles.

It wasn’t only Doris Day’s songbook that provided Cliff with material to cover, but also Frank Sinatra and Gene Autry’s. Fly Me To The Moon and Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, were just two of the romantic ballads that were included on Love Is Forever in 1965.

Kinda Latin, the following year found Cliff adding that particular musical theme to a number of songs and although some, The Girl From Ipanema and Blame It On The Bossa Nova could be seen as obvious choices for the album, Dylan’s Blowing In The Wind and the pop hit, Concrete And Clay seemed strange choices to include on an album tinged with such international flavour.

The tracks taken from Cliff’s 1967 album Don’t Stop Me Now, however, offered Cliff the opportunity to add his own style to a selection of hit singles from a variety of originals; The Drifters’ Save The Last Dance For Me, Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat and Lennon and McCartney’s I Saw Her Standing There from the Beatles first album. And for Sincerely Cliff, two years later, songwriters Goffin and King’s classic, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow mirrored the Don’t Stop Me Now content of cover versions.

The newest track on this compilation despite dating back thirty years is (You Keep Me) Hangin’ On – Cliff’s only released single for 1974. It appeared elsewhere as a live version on the previously unavailable (in Britain) Japan Tour double album that was primarily aimed at the Japanese and Far East audiences only…