Cliff With Strings: Between cult and kitsch: Cliff Richards orchestral album

Cliff With Strings
Between cult and kitsch: Cliff Richards orchestral album

Cliff Richard has converted his hits into swing numbers. photo

© –/WMG Warner/dpa

He has been on stage longer than almost all of his British musician colleagues. At the age of 83, Cliff Richard is now releasing an orchestral album on which he sounds surprisingly youthful.

After 65 years in the music business Cliff Richard still not enough. Anyone who thought that his “The Great 80 Tour” was a farewell to the stage was wrong. In November, the now 83-year-old Sir Cliff is going on tour in the United Kingdom again.

And shortly before that, the tireless singer with the soft voice released a new album with old songs, on which he was accompanied by an orchestra. Richard calls it an “emotional journey” into the past.

“Cliff With Strings – My Kinda Life” isn’t quite career-spanning. The repertoire is largely limited to the first half of Sir Cliff’s long-lasting and successful career. The tracklist includes catchy tunes from the 50s and 60s (“Living Doll”, “The Young Ones”), 70s and 80s pop hits (“We Don’t Talk Anymore”, “Wired For Sound”) and his rather sappy ballads the late 80s and early 90s (“The Best Of Me”, Peace In Our Time”).

Original vocal tracks were used

Sir Cliff didn’t re-sing the songs – who can blame him at the age of 83? The high notes of “We Don’t Talk Anymore” or “Carrie” probably no longer come as easily to the music veteran as they did 40 years or more ago. Instead, the original vocal tracks were used for “Cliff With Strings – My Kinda Life” and combined with new band and orchestral arrangements. The British hard rockers Def Leppard recently did something similar.

Rock’n’roll oldies like “Living Doll” or “Summer Holiday” have become wonderful swing numbers in the new arrangement. How fitting, because Sir Cliff has always been a crooner – more of a Bobby Darin than a Tony Bennett. In “We Don’t Talk Anymore” the synthesizers have given way to orchestral accompaniment. The atmospheric strings give the danceable pop ballad a touch of Burt Bacharach.

With “Marmaduke”, the only song on the new compilation that was not a single, Cliff Richard surprised in 1989 with a fat rock sound, with pulsating drums and powerful electric guitars. The newly arranged version, on the other hand, is significantly scaled back and doesn’t have the gigantic orchestral sound. It’s more of a mix of blues, country and bluegrass with harmonica, violin and slide guitar.

The former rocker has had a bit of kitsch since the 1970s at the latest, sometimes a bit more. “Cliff With Strings – My Kinda Life” is no exception. His version of Bryan Adams’ mega-ballad “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” is so thick that it sounds like the musical version of an Internet sunset meme posted on Facebook on your wedding day. By the way, the vocals come from Sir Cliff’s Millennium concert in 1999.

Duet with Olivia Newton-John

The new version of “Suddenly”, the duet with Olivia Newton-John, who died in 2022, from the trashy cult film “Xanadu” from 1980 is not necessarily less kitschy, but is still very beautiful. The soundtrack from back then was not used for this, but a live one -Recording from 2015 on the occasion of Richard’s 75th birthday.

“I’m always amazed at how well our voices sound together, and at the crystal-clear elegance that Olivia always radiated,” says Sir Cliff in the accompanying text. “I’m happy that I was able to highlight this great performance again.”

Since 1958, Cliff Richard has released almost 50 albums and more than 200 singles – an impressive discography. In comparison, his new album is almost a bit short with only twelve songs. For example, a cult classic like “Lucky Lips”, which was a number one hit in Germany and several other countries, is missing – a shame. But otherwise “Cliff With Strings – My Kinda Life” is an entertaining musical pleasure.


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