75 at 75
18 September 2015, Warner
Cliff Richard is one of those rare people who I suspect has secretly discovered an elixir which grants immortality. Whilst most ageing musicians seem tired and decrepit, wearily hanging on to their careers for that small taste of the glory days (ahem, Keith Richards), Cliff Richard is as spritely and fresh faced as he was in the 70s (well maybe the 80s). His newest album is an eclectic mix which comes in three volumes and contains a track for every year of his life thus showcasing a career spanning over 50 years which has tasted as much success as it has variation.
No matter what age you are, everyone will recognise the classics like ‘Devil Woman’ which made it to the top 40 in the US and ‘Living Doll’, as well as those favourite Christmas hits like ‘Mistletoe and Wine’. And who could forget ‘Congratulations’, which was the UK Eurovision entry in 1968 and has since become the anthem of all those who wish to find a more snazzy way of saying “well done”? My personal favourites however are ‘Wired for Sound’, a really happy and upbeat tune which although it was released in 1998 has that distinctive 80s sound and ‘Miss You Nights’, a very nice lilting and heartfelt ballad (although I wouldn’t advise listening to it if you’re feeling emotional).
The album contains a lot of collaborations, not only with Cliff’s own backing group The Shadows, but also The Drifters, Brian May, Phil Everly and a duet with Sarah Brightman, performing a surprisingly good version of ‘All I Ask of You’ from The Phantom of the Opera. I then found out that Cliff had actually starred in the West End musical Time which premiered in 1986. Who knew?
Whilst any die hard Cliff Richard fan will be glad to have all of their favourite hits in one place, anyone from a younger generation will probably find a lot of the tracks distinctly average and a little same-y, especially those from the 70s. One of the most dubious songs is ‘Big Ship’, the lyrics of which go “love is like a big ship following me” in front of a bland trumpet riff. Then there’s ‘Daddy’s home’ which just sounds a bit creepy.
The album is a bit like a pic’n’mix; you can rummage through it to find your favourites or you can just take your chances and hit shuffle. Either way, you’ll find something worth listening to, but just beware of stumbling upon the liquorice of songs: ‘The Day I Met Marie’. It contains both an offensive trumpet reminiscent of a Mariachi band and a bland depressing melody despite branding itself as quite a happy song.
75 at 75 is a decent enough album, even if it is a blatant way for Cliff to cash in on his birthday. He already has at least five greatest hits albums, but we have to hand it to him, he’s 75 and still going. For that at least it deserves a listen.