Cliff Richard The Collection

Released by EMI Gold in July 2010. Liner notes (with Peter Lewry).

Cliff Richard - The Collection

It is remarkable to think that Cliff Richard was one of only a few artists from the 1950s to have begun his album career with a live record. His debut, Cliff was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in front of a live audience in February 1959 – and it’s the faster-tempo live version of Cliff’s first single, Move It, that opens this collection of tracks, taken from 32 of Cliff’s most popular albums.

Six months after Cliff was released in April 1959, Cliff returned to Abbey Road to start work on his second album, Cliff Sings. Breaking away from the purely rock ‘n’ roll tradition of his debut, Cliff recorded an equal mix of standards and rock ‘n’ roll classics, each genre taking an equal share in the album. It is from the rock ‘n’ roll side of the original vinyl that we have taken Cliff’s version of Elvis’s Blue Suede Shoes for this compilation. One year later, and still enjoying an almost uninterrupted run of hit singles, Gee Whiz It’s You was the first European single to chart in Britain, and quickly became the favourite track from the Me and My Shadows long player, which remains arguably one of the greatest British rock ‘n’ roll albums of its time.

Continuing along the lines of Cliff Sings, and repeating the mixture of both ballad and rock ‘n’ roll standards, Cliff released Listen To Cliff, 21 Today and 32 Minutes and 17 Seconds, in quick succession between 1961 and 1962. On all three albums, listeners were treated to Cliff’s renditions of such familiar numbers as Happy Birthday To You, Blue Moon and When My Dreamboat Comes Home.

Although Cliff had started his movie career in the same year that his debut album was released, it was not until his run of technicolor musicals that he became a box-office smash. The most successful of these by far was Summer Holiday. And its soundtrack album was equally popular. With 16 songs from the film, the album also provided three hit singles including Bachelor Boy and, even if not quite as pivotal, The Young Ones, Wonderful Life and Finders Keepers, also represented on this collection by their respective title songs, still proved to be runaway successes.

Another genre in which Cliff seemed to excel was in the field of foreign language recordings, which he started back in 1960 with German versions of recent hits. But it was not until 1963 that he completed his first album in this style. When In Spain was taped during a run of sessions in Barcelona and surprisingly became a Top 10 hit when released, despite the fact that most listeners would not have understood the lyrics! He repeated the success of internationally-flavoured songs with Kinda Latin three years later. However, despite the album title, the songs were actually sung in English. Whilst the album did not provide him with any hit singles, tracks like The Girl From Ipanema still proved a hit among fans. As did his next two albums, Don’t Stop Me Now and Love Is Forever, which returned Cliff to his well-tried formula of recording a combination of contemporary hits of the time alongside some rock ‘n’ roll standards. In 1967, Cliff recorded and released Good News, his first gospel album, which was recorded at Abbey Road while the Beatles, interestingly enough, taped the songs for their Magical Mystery Tour EP in the studio next door.

By the summer of 1968, Cliff was back in Abbey Road with The Shadows to lay down 14 tracks for Established 1958, which would be their tenth anniversary offering, but also their last studio album together. It was released in September 1968, just three months after they celebrated the end of their first decade together in show business, and three months before The Shadows went their separate ways. Probably one of Cliff’s most mixed bags of material, recorded over a 15-month period, were the tracks for Sincerely, released in October 1969, one year after Cliff had sung Congratulations in the Eurovision Song Contest. The album was in many ways typical of the kind of material Cliff was putting out at that time, which, to all intents and purposes, was nothing more than a hotchpotch of songs made popular by other artists, and seemed light years away from his debut album, or indeed what was waiting for him in the wings…